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In all things…

Okay, so I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, and I woke up grumpy.

I had a bunch of work to do, a baby who wanted my undivided attention (when I just wanted to work,) and a lap-top that chose to be persnickety.

Needless to say, I was not in a mood to be thankful for much. It was a crappy way to start the day, and I felt completely justified in my bad attitude.

Then I opened my Bible and, of course, the Lord knew what I needed to read:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJ)

I’ll be honest here…at first I balked, I didn’t want to be thankful, I wanted to grumble and complain. I mean, I deserved to have a little attitude right? I was tired, I have a lot on my plate, life was giving me trouble…

Then, out of the blue (or maybe not, lol) this thought hit me:

I’m 39 years old…where was I half my life ago?

I was 19.

My mother had just died, everything I owned was is three suitcases, and I was living in my pastor’s house making less then minimum wage. I was overweight, with a bare-minimum of social skills, no girlfriend, no money, barely graduated high-school, and not much in the way of a hopeful future either personally or professionally.

Ugh. You could have stamped “loser” on my forehead.

But I knew what I wanted. I knew what I hoped to have and what things I wanted to accomplish is my life, even though there was no reason to suspect that I would ever attain them.

My “dreams” at 19 boiled down to three things…

1. I wanted to be a husband.
2. I wanted to be a father.
3. I wanted to be a writer.

Nineteen more years passed…to find me sitting at my keyboard this morning.

Nineteen years in which God has shown unbelievable, unimaginable grace and mercy in my life, in which Jesus, friends, and family have “bailed me out” time and again, helping me when I shunned help, lifting me up when I deserved to fall, and loving me when I was, again and again, unlovable (I mean, really unlovable!)

Then this morning the Lord showed me 1 Thessalonians 5, and asked me, “What are you thankful for?”

You know what? I took a quick inventory…

1. I have a beautiful, intelligent, faithful wife who loves me beyond all reason. Far beyond what I have ever deserved. A woman who could have had anyone, but chose me.

2. I have an amazing daughter who is a certifiable miracle, and defines joy, who makes me smile and laugh a dozen times a day.

3. I have two published novels and more written work than many deserving authors with twice my education and talent, allowing me to spend my days doing what I love and being with my baby.  

I realized, this morning, that God has given me everything I ever wanted.

EVERYTHING I ever hoped for.

He has overcome my own weaknesses and failures and blessed me with the very things that I longed for, and that seemed so unattainable twenty years ago.

I don’t mean to be maudlin or sappy in this post, I’m not looking for kudos or pats on the back. The things I’ve said about myself are not self-deprecating, that are the truth. I simply want to state the facts as they are.

How can I not rejoice, how can I not give prayers of gratitude without ceasing, how can I not be thankful?

I deserved nothing, and I’ve been given everything.

My pastor likes to say that “a man with experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”

I believe that, this morning more than ever.

So, my dear friends, please take a minute, look back on your life “half-your-years” ago, and reflect on what God had given you.

If you want to post these things below, I’d love to hear them and say “amen.”

As my Vickie taught me to say, “God is good, all the time.”

Imagine what life would be like if I could remember this every morning…

Blessings,

-Perry

PS – Vickie, Rich & Deb, Dean, Doug…this post is about you..

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11 thoughts on “In all things…

  1. If anyone ever wondered why I married this man, please re-read the above. You’re obviously not paying attention.

  2. Dean S. on said:

    Well, Perry P. Give yourself that pat on the back. There’s this book titled “The God Who Won’t Let Go” by Peter Van Breemen and a quote from the book is “In all the world’s great religions, people seek God. Christianity, however, introduces into the world an unexpected reversal: Christianity reveals a God who seeks us, a God who loves us far more than we love ourselves.” We need to remember that we don’t initiate anything in our lives, God does. And then we make the choice what to do about it You made the right choice and got at least me a Vic thinking about it also. If you can make more right than wrong choices I think you are ahead of the game!!!

  3. An interesting post.

    I have been struggling with a similar issue. I feel very frustrated with my life at the moment. I was on the front lines side by side and helping people who are changing thier countries for Christ. And now I have to be content to encourage them, send money to help, and pray for them. I feel like I have a much better understanding of how Vietnam vets felt. You come back home to find that no one seems to care that you placed your life on the line for them.

    On the other hand I have a lot of things to be thankful for.
    1. I am loved by a beautiful amazing women of God.
    2. I have 3 awe inspiring children
    3. I will be out of debt in the next few months
    4. I have a place to live with many comforts I have never had before
    5. Not only can I afford to pay my bills but I have extra to support the things God places on our hearts

    But I think God puts a little bit of discontent in our lives to push us to try for something more and not get to comfortable.

  4. I’m just chiming in to say that half my life ago I was 11.
    I just thought I would take this oppurtunity to make Perry feel old. That is what little sisters are for, right?
    Actually, now that I think about it. You and Vic got married when I was 11, so for half my life now I have had a big brother, that’s pretty cool, I always wanted one of those.

  5. Wow, Perry. What a blessing and encouragement to read this today!

    In many similar ways, I have been given a life that I would have never been able to even ask for. Half my life ago, when I was 17, if you had asked me what kind of life I dreamed of, I would have just stared at you blankly. It wasn’t until I met the Lord that I ever understood what living was. Or joy, or peace, or love, or fulfillment, or purpose. In Him, and through the miracles of Dan, Nathan, & Sam, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think “I can’t believe this is my life. I would never have imagined”

    Today, we rent a home, have very little money, unemployment in our near future, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. The Lord’s blessings are abundant, and in every circumstance He deserves praise. He is awesome.

    Thank you for reminding us!

  6. Mikey on said:

    I was agnostic. Told by my mother, (someone I looked up to and dearly loved) that she would rather kill herself than have me in her life. My longest relationship was 8 months and my only skill was bouncing quarters into shot glasses. I switched jobs randomly. I used to climb rock faces I did not think I would make it up, so when I fell none of my friends would think it was suicide.
    I wanted to feel like I was part of a family
    I wanted someone to love
    I wanted a career that fit me
    I wanted a reason to live
    I am a christian and have been for over a decade; I have a christian “mom” that loves me as one of her own and shows me time and time again what being a christian is really about. I have a lovely wife that is so amazingly perfect for me (and I for her); three wonderful children a home we (and the bank) own. I have a job I am good at (I walk around talking to people and eating food)

    More recently 2 1/2 years ago we moved about 300 miles away from all our family and friends. We knew no one in town and had only been there for 2 months when I wife became deathly ill; I remember calling one of my best friends while following the ambulance; he was at work and dropped everything to pray, and then got on the phone calling anyone he could think of to pray for us. I got several calls from people all willing to drop everything and drive to where I was at.
    I am thankful everyday that I still have my wife and that I have friends (family) that truly love me enough to earnestly pray for me and are even willing to anything they can to help me when I need it.
    I am thankful to Christ for all these things.

  7. Thank you Perry sharing so honestly and inspiring us all to think about the amazing things that the Lord has done in all of our lives. It is this blog and its responses that for me provide the strongest case for Christ. We can pour over historical and archeological evidence attempting to prove He was what He said He was and does what He said He would do, but the answer is in the lives that He has changed. There is no better proof than the absolutely miraculous changes in so many lives. It defies any explaination other than He is our saviour and actually does love us beyond reason.

    Half a life ago, I myself was sitting in my room with a pair of scissors on my wrist wanting to be dead rather live a life of hopelessness and misery. I had few friend ( and those I had were driven away by my depression – dont blame them I wasnt very pleasant to be around), a mother who was too caught up in her own depression and drug use to notice I was depressed, a sister entirely consumed by her drug use and depression to even care, no hope and an athiest who figured that even if God was real, I hated him anyway for creating this horrible world. What did I want? Love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness…

    Ask anyone who knew me then; no one would believe that I am happy, let alone a happy stay at home mom of three beautiful girls with a husband who works his tail off to provide for us. I am thankful every day the Lord chose to reveal himself to me. I have everything I ever wanted and more. I didnt even have enough imagination to fathom what the Lord could do. My mother…what did she want? Love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness…She is, in the same amount of time, still even more alone, consumed by her depression and still self medicating and completely hopeless and miserable. She thinks all paths lead to God and the Bible is little more than Roman propaganda written to control a people. Thank you Lord for choosing me because I know what the alternative looks like.

  8. To Respond…

    Vic – obviously you are biased, as you have stuck with me these last 12 years. Let’s hear is for bias!!! You are my greatest blessing, and the mother of my fondest dreams!

    Dean – consider my back patted. I do consider my self FAR ahead of the game, once again a testament to God’s grace.

    BTW, I just ordered a copy of “The God Who Won’t Let Go” I’ll post my review as soon as I read it!

    Drew, I couldn’t agree more. I think that God has a far better idea of the joy that is available to us, and presses us ever onward towards it! As the guy who shared your apartment, I know that we both have been blessed with more than we ever hoped or imagined.

    Jeni, I often think of you as my female “testimonial” counterpart. We have both experienced the darkness and have been overwhelmed by His (so unearned) gift of light. Vickie, Dan, Gracie, Nathan & Sam are our unarguable testimonials.

    Mikey, you (like me) have been so blessed beyond the slightest ability of our comprehension that we would have to be far stupider (than we are,) to not acknowledge God’s amazing grace in our lives. How else did we end up with these women?

    Mel, I relate. How amazing that God can take the dead-end moments of our lives (yours a pair or scissors, mine a loaded pistol) and re-weave them into the tapestry of love and joy that we now know?

    Looking back on that moment, how could we have ever imagined Van, Vickie, Emma, Leah, Gracie, and Sarah?

    How can we not, daily, rejoice and give thanks for what He has delivered us from?

    Blessing,

    -Perry

  9. Dinana on said:

    i’ve still got a stamp…

  10. Oh dear Perry. You bless me.

    Since I turned the BIG Hawaii 5 0 this year, 25 years ago is my half. I had been a struggling Christian for 2 years at that time. That was the year my ex husband & I remarried. It is quite a blessing to say, this will be our 25th wedding anniversary Dec 31st. We aren’t just married, we are happily married! This, all due to our surrendering our lives & marriage to the Lord. WE have 2 beautiful (and I’m not just makin’ that up) daughters and a new son in love. Also an adopted & very loved daughter (also beautiful, still not lyin’) and you dear Perry. You are family to us, along with precious Grace Sharon.
    I once was a very wild girl. God saved me from myself. Now I want all my wild, to be in Him, as my prayer is to be fearless in my 50’s. I am much more dangerous now, than I ever thought I was, back in the dark days. May that triple.

    Let’s live for Him!

    Ma

  11. Sharon on said:

    How amazing is it that God knows the hearts and desires of every single person on this earth (past, present and yet to come) and wants nothing more than to love on us and have us thank Him for it! And as much as we enjoy His blessings, they are really for HIS GLORY!

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