Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Hey Friend,

Since later today and all day tomorrow, I will be a cooking fool, I wanted to offer you a Thanksgiving blessing:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with Thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through
all generations.
(Psalm 100)

Thanksgiving is a time when we stand at a crossroad...a fork in the road if you will.  We can choose to take the low road of dwelling on our misery, or we can take the high road of seeking out, and thanking God for our many blessings.

Make no mistake, however, that Thanksgiving and Christmas can be two of the most difficult holidays to bear.  In this world blessings and sorrows are intermingled and holidays can bring to mind the losses we have experienced in our lives.  God does not ask us to stuff those feelings or to pretend they don't exist. Quite the opposite, He wants us to raise our pain and our petitions before Him.  The only thing He asks is that we do so with a heart of thanksgiving.

Even if everything in our world seems bleak and full of pain...there is still one blessing that we can give thanks for.  That blessing is that God, in His awesome love and power, has given us the gift of life eternal in paradise with Him...all we need to do is to accept this blessing with a grateful heart.

In an attempt to help you focus on God's many blessings this year, I offer you some exercises in gratitude that will get you heading on the high road.

Thanksgiving Walk:  This Thanksgiving, take yourself on a walk alone.  Whether you go around the block or on a several mile hike.  While you walk thank and praise God for all the blessings you can think of (small or big).  Your mind will wander, but gently bring it back to the task at hand and as you walk and continually thank Him, I believe you will experience His peace.

Thanksgiving Going Forward:  Don't look at Thanksgiving as the conclusion of the race. Instead use it as a stepping off point.  Write down a list of all the people in your life that you are thankful for.  Starting now, and over the next several months, commit to writing and mailing (yes, snail mail) short notes to each person on the list - letting them know that you are thankful for them being in your life.  My daughter did this and I received a random note one day thanking me for being special to her...well let's just say it made my week!!

Pay It Forward:  Thank God for the core blessings you have - a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, food, clothing, etc.  Then pay it forward.  Do a good deed for someone else.  Pay for the latte for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive through.  Bend down and pick something up for a stranger.  Have fun with creative ways to bless others.


If you would like a very tangible way to pay if forward and give thanks...I could still REALLY use financial help with bringing the blessing of Christmas to the children who have found refuge from the streets, hard labor, human trafficking at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.

First Christmas Gift Ever:  For most of the children, this will be the first and only Christmas gift they will receive.  We may take for granted a pair of shoes or a warm piece of clothing in the cold, but these children do not have that luxury.  Will you consider sending a modest donation to cover the cost of one child for a gift and a warm Christmas meal ($20. suggested, but ANY gift amount helps!!)

Deadline Dec. 8th:  In order to make preparations, I need to get donations by this date.  If you are moved to help...
Make checks payable and send to:
Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

Thank you in advance.  And now I pray for you and all my readers that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding would be with you this and every day.  May you have a blessed Thanksgiving and may it be just the beginning of a lifetime of offering up thanks.  We are the ones who are truly blessed whenever we give thanks!!!

In His love,


ps.  I have a sensitive heart to those who deal with depression and I know just how difficult it can be when the "gray glasses" are on to give thanks and to see your blessings.  Know that God has a tender spot in His loving heart for you. Sending a special prayer your way... 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Are You Offering Dry Crumbs?

Hey Friend,

With God, I believe, there are no coincidences.  In the past two weeks or so, I have heard or read the phrase "dry crumbs" when it comes to something we are offering.  I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I got it that God was probably trying to tell me something. 

I don't know about you, but I am used to being the helper vs. being the "helpee".  I am the mentor not the "mentee".  One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement, so I am used to being the one doing the encouraging.  You need a leader for a Bible study, a small group or mission team...I'm your gal.  That's just what I do.  It's what I've always done.

What about you?  Where do you see yourself on the scale of helping vs. being helped?  When a crisis arises, are you the first one to lend a hand.  If a volunteer is needed, are you the first one to say, "Here I am Lord, send me."?

More importantly, do you do this even when you have nothing in your tank left to give?

Don't get me wrong, the Bible calls us to serve and have a servant's heart.  But God's word also calls us to offer "living water" not "dry crumbs".

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  (John 7:38)

What is flowing from within you? 

God says for us to draw near and to stay in touch with Him...even in our busiest moments.  God, however, encourages us to actually withdraw in order to be close to Him.  Even Jesus had to withdraw from the crowds to pray and be close to His Father.  Otherwise, instead of offering living water, he too would be offering dry crumbs. 

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.  (Luke 5:16)

As the masses approached Jesus, sometimes he actually had to withdraw and get this...there is no sin in doing this!  If Jesus had to withdraw to be replenished, how much more then do we?

Also note the frequency.  Jesus would often slip away.  Jesus knew that if He wasn't filled, there was no way that He would be able to fill others. 

So, why then do we give and give and give until the tank is empty?  This is a good question to reflect upon...

One of my very favorite words is the word Abide.  Through trial and error...mostly error...I have realized that I am no earthly good to anyone unless I am abiding in Christ.  In order for living water to flow through me I need to abide in Him.  I love this passage from the book "Abide in Christ".

"Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us.  It is a work He does for us - the fruit and the power of His redeeming love.  Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform."

I have fallen into the trap that I don't think that I am serving well enough unless I am completely exhausted.  Do you realize how silly that sounds??  Yet I, and I am guessing you, sometimes do that?

If your "giving tank" is empty, will you take a break and come away with Jesus to the well of living water.  Take long drinks until the thirst is quenched.  Then go and offer living water to others...BUT don't forget to come back to the well often...again and again. 

Lord help us to accept and receive the rejuvenating living water that you offer.  Let us not be too proud or to busy to come back to the well often so that we can offer living water to others instead of dry crumbs.  Amen.

In His love,


I need your bring some joy this Christmas to the orphans and destitute children who now call Redeemer Christian School their home.  A modest donation will give a child shoes, or a warm sweater as well as a meal this Christmas.  Help me to show them that others DO care. 
Send contributions to:
Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

Thank you and may you be blessed...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving: Command or Blessing?

Hey Friend,
It was exactly two years ago that I came out from under the knife from what turned out to be much more complicated knee surgery than what I had expected.  For one month, I was not allowed to put any weight on it whatsoever...none, zip, zilch, nada.  I needed the crutches for every movement that I made.  I needed them and I cursed them in the same breath. 
Visitors and meals arrived for the first two weeks which was wonderful.  I am so grateful for those who gave of themselves to help me.  A few weeks went by and the world went back about its business and I was still miserably benched on the disabled list.  As the days and weeks ticked on, I became more and more depressed.  I had to start from the beginning with miniscule baby steps toward recuperation.  Had I known then that I still had a good year's worth of recovery ahead of me...well, let's just say that not knowing is sometimes the best thing.
Also as the weeks went by it became more and more all about ME!!
My outward focus had turned dramatically inward.  I was a dancer inside a corpse.  I became suffocated by my inability to do most anything.  It was a slippery slope and I was already sliding.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)
Yeah right. 
When in the crucible of suffering it is almost impossible to give thanks sometimes.
Yet His command remains:  Give thanks in all circumstances.
Why? thanks is an act of obedience to our Creator.  God, however, does not need our thanks.  He is the Alpha and the Omega and He really doesn't need anything from us...especially not our pitiful attempts at feeble thanksgiving.
Actually, I believe the secret is locked up in the second half of the scripture above:  "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
We have a God whose very essence is lovingkindness (I love that word).  We have a God whose love for us does not endure for a day; His love endures forever!  We have a God who is merciful and compassionate and who loves us so much that more important than the obedience to a command is the blessing we receive whenever we give thanks.
Thanksgiving is the catalyst for God's blessings being poured out upon us.
My selfish frame does not know what to do with God's unselfish act of blessing me.  Furthermore, there is a promise in God's command and blessing.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:6-7)
God wants me to experience true peace and in order to do that I need to have an outwardly focused heart filled with thanksgiving. 
In other words, "It's not about you or me!"  When we utter words of thanks, we are transformed by God.  It might not be instantaneous.  In fact it may take some time, but God will change us and bring us a peace that passes understanding when we humbly offer up our thanks to Him.
I love how my writer friend Abby puts it, "Suddenly, instead of fixating on me, I centered my thoughts on the One who gave me life."  (Abby McDonald)
I wish I could wrap this up with a neat little bow and say how I was instantly transformed when I gave thanks.  Far from it...I started out grudgingly and like a long distance runner, built up my endurance and my ability to give thanks.  Over a long time, the peace began to outweigh the despair. 
Fast forward to today.  In a moment I will lace up my sneakers and set out upon a walk in this absolutely gorgeous fall season God has painted for me.  Step by step I will feel the leaves scatter and crunch beneath my feet.  I will offer up my joyous thanks for my ability to walk unencumbered.  I will sing praise and extol my God.  I will thank Him for His patience with me in growing my thanksgiving muscles.  Thank you Lord for not giving up on me and for loving me enough to offer me the blessing and promise of thanksgiving.  Amen.
May you be blessed as you offer up thanksgiving to God.  If you have any stories of how God has brought you peace through thanksgiving in times of suffering, would you share to encourage us all?
In His love,
Will you help me bring Christmas to the children who have sought shelter and refuge at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan?
Time is running out...if you would like to show Christ's love through the gift of shoes or a warm sweater for a child who has nothing as well as share the good news of the gospel over a warm meal, would you not put off and write a check today?
Checks (or cash) can be sent and made payable to:
Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513
Thank you!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When You Are Weary

Hi Friend,
I had several other potential topics I was going to write about, but I'll be honest, my heart just wasn't into them.  You see, I'm feeling rather weary. 
A family situation that I have prayed about night and day for years seems to be getting worse instead of better.  My loving senior dog, Zoe, who has dementia has been ill lately and I wonder if "that decision" will soon be on my doorstep?  I have also had to realize that people have their churches, and their preferred charities and some simply don't care.  It's hard when your zeal and passion for a certain cause are not necessarily shared by others. 
I know better than to let my circumstances dictate my contentment with life...
But, yet they do sometimes.  I know that Christ gives me the power to be content no matter what my circumstances, but life sometimes has a way of dragging me down.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30)
I have read this verse many times, but when I examine it more closely I notice that it doesn't say, "Come to me if you ever get weary and burdened."  No, it says:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened..."
Our Lord is the one who sees and who knows.  He knows that we all ARE weary and burdened at some point in our lives.  He made us.  He is mindful of our frame.  He knows that we are human and that we ARE going to be weary and burdened at certain junctures in life.
Look what He does...He doesn't judge - far from it.  He extends his hand, tilts our face toward His and says, "I will give you rest."  I do like The Message translation when it says,
"Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Oh how I yearn to live freely and lightly right now.  And so, I climb into my Father's lap and I rest my head upon His strong shoulder and I abide with Him.  I wait with Him and I learn from Him and I know that in His time, my burdens will be lifted...maybe not fully, but the clouds will dissipate. 
I draw close to my Heavenly Father (my Abba/Daddy).  I let the truth of Romans 8:38-39 sink into my soul:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us (me) from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Life's circumstances will try to pry me away from the contentment that is found in being in relationship with my Lord.  I am comforted to know that He will not let NOTHING...pry me from the palm of His hand.  He loves me.  he loves you that much!!
Are you feeling weary and burdened right now?  If you are, know that you are not alone. The Lord deeply loves you.  Keep company with Him and He will teach you how to live freely and lightly. Maybe we can learn together?  I hope so.  Be blessed...
In His love,
Help Needed to Bring Christmas to the Children of Redeemer Christian School!!!  The doors have barely opened and the homeless, the fatherless and the destitute children of Pakistan have been flocking to Redeemer Christian School.  Those who have nothing, are being given something - the Love of Jesus and the opportunity for an education. 
Unlike our Children:  These children will not receive any presents for Christmas unless compassionate hearts are willing to give.  Our hope is to give each child a pair of shoes or a warm sweater this Christmas (cost $15.)
We also hope to provide a meal. 
Christmas Program to be offered mid-December so if you want to help out, please send cash or check soon to:
      Bev Rihtarchik/RCS
      103 Silver Lining Lane
      Cary, NC  27513
Thank you in advance for spreading Christ's love this Christmas!
Thank you and congratulations to the winners of the drawing to say "thank you" to loyal subscribers of my blog.  Winners of Starbucks giftcards and DaySpring Holley Gerth perpetual calendars have been notified.