My word for 2021 is Embrace

I have been doing the One Word challenge https://www.onewordchallenge.com/ for several years now. I wish I had written them all down. I do know that 2018 was Blessed because I realized how often I forgot how much I had for which to be thankful. Who would have guessed when I chose Prayer as my 2019 word, it would be so needed as I battled Guillain Barre Syndrome chronicled here. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie 2020’s word Generosity was an easy one to choose. I wanted to pay forward the generosity everyone shared with Dottie and me the previous year. Covid19 gave me lots of ways to practice generosity. Thinking of and stepping out to serve others kept me from self-isolation pity parties and spiraling into discouragement. If these last few years have taught me anything, it has been stuff happens that is totally out of my control. That is why my word this year is EMBRACE. My focus will be on two different meanings of the word. “an act of holding someone closely in one’s arms.” and “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.” Instead of trying to figure out why things happen, I want to trust God enough knowing “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. Therefore, I can be thankful in all things.
Charles Stanley writes-“Signs of God’s blessing are all around us, but discerning them can be difficult. We tend to think God is moving and blessing us when things are going well—when marriages are thriving, we get the promotion, or sickness is healed. But He blesses us even in the wilderness of our lives—in the unknown, unpredictable, and uncomfortable. When things are difficult, it’s common to believe the solution is to move past our problems—to change our circumstances. But God doesn’t just pluck us out of the desert places. Usually, He comes alongside us, bringing life, water, and renewed hope as we journey onward.”

This is what I want to do with 2021. Embrace whatever comes my way. Over these last two years, I have experienced God’s presence in ways that have deepened my faith. I have learned the need to Abide in Christ to have the confidence I can trust Him no matter what the outcome. Jesus teaches in John 15 that we are to cling to the True Vine. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. I think we can all agree that clinging on to something during these stormy times sounds like a pretty good idea. It has certainly worked for me and I believe it will work for you as well. This passage communicates we are to be grafted into a place God has prepared for us as a result our faith in Him. The better that attachment the more our new life of faith can flourish. My hope is as I focus on clinging even tighter to my relationship with God, more of what He wants for my life will appear. The result will be the fruit https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/galatians/5/ produced by my embracing Him no matter what 2021 brings with it.

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There will be others!

It has taken me awhile to figure out what I wanted to post this week. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have the desire to sit down and write. Many thoughts and topics crossed my mind but for different reasons, I ruled them out. It finally dawned on me a couple days ago that I was having a hard time being thankful. How can one post on a blog about being thankful in all things when you don’t feel thankful?
Gratefully, I came across this devotional thought from my friend Tom. “One of my “Thanks” this year is finding my Joy in God. ” The joy of the Lord is my strength,”  Neh 8:10. This crisis makes me go deeper into my relationship with the Lord, and the deeper I go the more thankful I am for him.  This  trial has me seeking him constantly, where he becomes, “my joy and my delight.” Ps 43:4.
My friend’s words stopped me from focusing on the sadness of knowing there would not be 35 family and friends (pictured below) packed around tables for Thanksgiving. It provided another lesson learned that adversity makes me lean in and go deeper in the trust I have for the One who created and wants only the best for me. Proverbs 23:18 reinforces this affirmation by saying, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”


If that wasn’t enough, Facebook reminded me of a prayer I wrote last Thanksgiving.
My Thanksgiving poem-

Gratitude for which I strive

Instead of stress eating me alive 

The world wants us to never be content 

Achieving much, asking what’s next. 

So on this another Thanksgiving Day

Lord I ask that my heart does stay 

Focused on you and all that You give

Abundance abounds and in that thought I’ll live

So my encouragement to you is this simple exercise. Stop focusing on what you don’t have, where you can’t go, or who you can’t visit. Instead, take the time to look around you and take in all the abundance you have in your life. Once you have gotten yourself refocused with an attitude of gratitude, find some ways to bring thankfulness into others’ lives knowing this season will indeed pass and another Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. I can’t wait to celebrate it with the folks pictured below 😀


missing Maggie and Caroline

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How are you dealing with tension and stress?

There is so much tension in the world these days. It comes from so many directions. Stop for a moment and think. Maybe even find a piece of paper. Write down from where the tension in your life is originating. I think you will be surprised by how many things come to mind. It may explain why you are feeling tired and discouraged. Think about your computer or smart phone. Throughout the day, you are opening different apps and websites. With each one that is opened, the battery starts to run down and the system starts to get sluggish. We need to regularly go in and clear the cache, close the apps and websites. We also need to plug it in so it can recharge. So it goes with our brain and nervous system. Look back at your list. So many things are flying through your brain that you forget or aren’t able to shut down. They unconsciously weigh you down and tire you out. The question is how do we acknowledge and deal with the tensions so that our mind can find time to relax? We also need to figure out the best ways to allow ourselves to recharge so that we can venture out with a mindset of wanting to make a positive difference in the world. It reminds me of an earlier blog post linked here. http://thankfulinallthings.com/to-what-are-you-tethered/ It is so important to venture out knowing we have a way to get back.

Why is acknowledging tension, fatigue, and discouragement important? There are many reasons but the one I want to focus on is how it impacts how we love our neighbor. I am generally a pretty even keeled, slow to anger person. When I look back at why I lash out or find myself being short with someone, I realize it is because I am tired or some other stress triggers it. Therefore, I have found setting reminders so I stop throughout the day to defrag and clear out the stress that has come my way, helps me in dealing with others. It also makes sure I get a good night sleep so I can be recharged for tomorrow. How do I know this will work?

I trust in the Lord and obey Him even if friends choose a different path or when suffering or discomfort is guaranteed. Seeing His will done is more important than my own comfort or personal ambition. I commit the consequences to God and cling to His promises: He will never leave us (Heb. 13:5), and He makes good out of every situation (Rom. 8:28). I can cling to these promises because I can look back and see where God was present in my adversity and His good was evident even when I didn’t see it at the time.

I read a book years ago called Travelling Light. With the Twenty-third Psalm as his guide, the author writes about burdens we were never intended to bear. Using these verses as a guide, Max Lucado walks us through a helpful inventory of our burdens. May God use this Psalm to remind you to release the burdens you were never meant to bear. Yes, fellow Weary travelers, we are called to rest and lay our burdens down. As Matthew 11:28-30 instructs, “ “Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him. You will find Him gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”

Take the time to Be still friends and know that God is with you and wants to replace all of your anxiety, fears, and stress with His peace that “surpasses all human understanding.” If you find these posts helpful, please subscribe to the blog so you can be notified when new content is posted. You can contact me by email at michael@mrg7175.com

Will you choose to retreat or strive forward with a desire to impact others?

Last week I wrote about how we can live with Hope knowing from our past that God will be with us. Habakkuk tells us that, “ The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.” – HABAKKUK 3: 17-19. Notice the tense here is in the future. “He will make” not “He might” or “He probably” or even “He did” meaning it is only in the past. The picture above is not only beautiful but denotes a quandary. When I come into the presence of God, Will I choose to turn left or right, or will I continue to move forward even if I don’t know what the new day will bring? My friend Pamela Bunn gave me permission to repost her blog From this AM because she makes the point In such an eloquent manner.

Never the Same

“When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead.When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.” Ezekiel 46:9-10

Moses’ face altered in appearance with its heavenly glow. David was renewed with strength for battle with sin and soldier. Nehemiah gained clear direction for what to do next. Daniel and John had visions of their majestic God and His kingdom plans. Once before their Lord, these men of God never returned or saw the same way, but went ahead with Him in new understanding, passion, and power. (Exodus 34:29,34-35Nehemiah 1:4-11Psalm 32:3-5Daniel 2:19-23Revelation 1:10-114:1-11)

Every time we come before the Lord, we have opportunity to retreat unaltered the same way we entered, or to go out different. Spending meaningful time with the Prince of Peace, the King of kings, the Ruler of the universe, changes us, and this is our holy God’s intention. 

When we go before our Lord in devotion, what is our desire and expectation? If our hearts are not malleable, and our ears deaf to all but our own voice, we will miss the opportunity for God to have His way. Are we checking the “Quiet Time” box off our list, or are we seeking genuine worship and communion? Do we bring a list of requests we’ve tallied, or ask Him to search our hearts and speak to us with conviction and instruction? Do we allot a hurried amount of time, or converse, and wait, until He is finished with us? (Genesis 17:2218:33)

Do we approach the feast He has prepared and sup in such a way that when we enter weary, we leave refreshed? When we enter bitter and angry, do we leave cleansed and emboldened to forgive? If we enter confused over relationships, decisions, finances, future plans, do we leave trusting the Spirit to guide one step at a time?

What has God revealed about Himself and His manner of work in individuals, the church, and the world, in recent time together? How has He reshaped our thinking, or assuaged our fears? What niggling sins has He removed, what new resolve has He prodded, what changed attitudes and transformed affections has He created?

When we want much from Him, He will never disappoint. Our prayers may not be answered how and when we desire, but Almighty God will not fail to bring about His intentions for us and for His kingdom. (Isaiah 46:9-10)

Isn’t this so good? I can promise you God through adversity has revealed a great deal to me. 1st through my health challenges due to Guillain Barre Syndrome and 2nd with having to deal with staying healthy and away from any chance of coming down with Covid19. The closer you become to God the better person you will become, your life will have more purpose and and have a positive impact on those around you. I use the future tense “will have” because as Much Afraid learned in the book Hinds Feet, when you step out in faith, God promises an abundant life (John 10:10) and desires that it be full of Joy. (John 15:11)

I encourage you to subscribe to https://astherainandsnow.com/author/astherainandsnow/ as well as this blog www.thankfulinallthings.com if you haven’t already. You can contact me via email at michael@mrg7175.com

Acknowledging the tension between Sadness and Gratitude

How could this picture bring about sadness? Doesn’t everyone look like they are having a good time? I mean you are on a dock looking at boats on a beautiful day with family. What could be better? The gratitude part for Dottie and me says, “we are blessed to get away to a beautiful place with those we love. Nothing brings us more joy. So where is the sadness? The sadness is what isn’t pictured here. It reminds me that my son, his wife, and three kids weren’t with us leaving a huge void. Not being the one to pull the wagon conveys Dottie and me having to stay socially distanced because of Covid19. There is not one picture of us and our grandkids because we couldn’t even be inside, hug them or have them sit in our laps.

Scripture like the one pictured above remind us of this tension. No matter what comes our way, we can remain “Thankful in all Things” because God made tensions like these for our own good. This tension and others like “out of adversity comes strength”, “letting go allows God to do His thing”, and “peace in the midst of turmoil” are used to strengthen our relationship with God. Our creator who is always with us in the good and the bad. Like the footprints in the sand poem, God is always there. We just sometimes forget to look for Him.

Kellie Balarie prays- “God, help us. Where we are weak, make us strong. Where we are wavering, help us lay our anchor down. May we find strength through knowing you hold us. We no longer need to be held down by the world’s claws. May we believe you are so believable we see your hand in our everything.”

May we seek contentment in everything whether it produces Gratitude or heart felt Sadness. Jesus tells us how in John 15:10,11.
“Keep My commandments and no matter what remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” I pray the same for each of you who read this blog.

For the story of how this blog got started, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie You can reach me by email at michael@mrg7175.com

How can Suffering create Thankfulness

The theme of this blog post is “Lessons learned in my journey through adversity” I am grateful for how so many of you have shared what this blog has meant to you. It won’t come as a surprise when I say we all face adversity and deal with it in different ways. I thought you might like to read how one of my good friends, Tom Trevillian, is dealing with his wife’s serious health challenges. The following is what he sent me when I asked him, “What does it mean to remain Thankful in all Things?

Did you ever think of “thanking” as a discipline? One could say, “Is it genuine thanking if I have to conjure it up like an appointment to actually thank someone.” “It needs to come from the heart.” How we have learned to have an attitude of gratitude becomes apparent when life takes a turn for the worst. I have been learning what it looks like to have a thankful heart. Can we be joyful in our suffering?  Is this really possible? We know God knew we would experience trials and temptations because His Word spends a lot of time teaching how and why this is possible.  James, the brother of Jesus wrote, “Count it all joy when you encounter various trails.” I found myself asking what does this mean?

My wife of 43 years and best friend had a near fatal brain hemorrhage in January. She has been besieged with pain and suffering are part of the human experience. Most of the time we struggle to find the reason God would allow the event(s) take place. We know trusting that He wants what is best and is with us has to be our focus. One of the Bible’s main subjects is suffering and pain and how to deal with it. James encourages us to be joyful in our suffering. Job learns to accept God’s sovereignty without any explanation. Pain and suffering leave us with a lot of questions but also with our greatest opportunity.

In this opportunity God removes our weaknesses and builds us up. It will humble us, remove self regard and pride. We begin to examine ourselves, seeing our weaknesses. Suffering will turn us toward the more important things in life such as family and faith. Most importantly it should renew and strengthen our relationship with God. John 15 exhorts us like a branch to a vine, If we cling to Him it will strengthen us and create a new and deeper understanding of His faithfulness.

The Bible spends as much time on this as any other subject. Romans 5: 1-5 and James 1:2-4  tells rather bluntly that suffering has its rewards. It both reminds us of the benefits of perseverance: our character. Romans 5:5 says that pain and suffering produces perseverance and character, and then provides hope for life. It produces the wonderful fruit : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.  Without the trials when faced with adversity, true perseverance and character can’t be developed.

As mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to dodge pain and suffering in this life. Gayle almost died that night in the UVA Hospital. Gayle struggled for five weeks to get out of ICU and into rehab. After progressing well in rehab, she suffered  multiple seizures setting her back to her first rehab days, totally dependent on others. These type of setbacks are so hard.

Gayle is my best friend, my soul mate. We were a young 70, married 43 years, with no serious health problems. We had good genes and were thinking we would make it to 90 years old.  Our kids were grown with their own kids. We were enjoying grandkids, traveling and retirement. This was not supposed to happen.  Rising every morning for 40 plus years to read our Bible and pray together I now know prepared us for this time. We are learning the hard way that we have what it takes to face a life of disability. Pain and suffering are a school unto themselves but God continues to remind us of His presence. Both are teaching perseverance and strengthening the character in me, Gayle, and her amazing sister, Pam. Please pray that Gayle. Pam and I will hang in there. Pray I serve her with unconditional love, patience and that as CS Lewis writes, “that I might be Surprised by Joy.” There are great life lessons here. I am learning that, to work through difficult times (persevere), God shows us we can accomplish more than we can ever imagine and our hope must be in Him. There is no doubt, Suffering will give you this opportunity.

Tom and Gayle Trevillian Married and best friends

You can follow Gayle’s continued journey at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gayletrevillian I can be reached via email at michael@mrg7175.com