From Ugly to Beautiful

Joy is the fruit of gratitude.

And gratitude is rooted in perspective.

And when one's rooted in Christ, one has been given the gift of the eyes that really see.

So joy is always possible.

As long as thanks to God is possible, then joy in God is always possible.

Joy is always possible.

Ann Voscamp ~ One Thousand Gifts

I hope everyone has had a good week. I have had a very interesting one after counting my blue blessings. The color blue has kept popping up all over the place. Have you ever had that happen? When you are meditating on something or maybe after hearing a sermon on a certain topic, the main subject seems to keep reoccurring somehow. I will hear about it on the radio, television, a friend will bring it up in conversation that did not hear it, or I will suddenly read about it. During the past week I have become more interested in Pinterest which is a a popular form of visual social media. I found that I kept coming across so many beautiful blue things that I started a whole board dedicated to the color blue. I enjoyed doing this since blue has always been my favorite color. I couldn't believe the absolutely gorgeous blue ocean and sky pictures I was coming across without searching for them. It is like they were exploding across the screen at me. I actually got teary! And how could it be a coincidence that then there it was.....a huge blue eye staring right at me! I will be honest when I got this prompt I thought; Oh this is a lightweight one. I did not know how this would work to come up with three things to be thankful for that are blue. The ocean and the sky thing - we can all think of that one. It just did not feel personal enough to me and yet I was very thankful. One of my true loves is the ocean. My children's blue eyes were more personal. But, I was wrong. God has His ways when you give it up to Him and really thank Him. Just like Ann says in her above statement "gratitude is rooted in perspective." When yours is rooted in Christ, God will give you the eyes to see.

I had gotten uncertain news about my health about three weeks ago. I had to have a test done last week. So, I started this thankful journey while I was waiting for the test results. If the test results were to come back positive, it would be serious. So, I waited and prayed. It helped to be doing this while I was waiting. Our blessings become magnified in times like this. It should not be this way. But it is for us humans. We need things like this to happen in our lives to knock some sense into us. I feel like God was talking to me. He was reminding me of the simple yet magnificent beauty that I had just stated in my blog post. There is so much joy, so much beauty that surrounds us every day.

I had another event to help take my mind off of the test last week. My Nativity Nigeria 2009 teammates organized a get together for dinner Friday night. We have not all been together as a group (just us) since we first got back from our Nigeria trip. I was SO grateful. It could not have come at a better time. We caught up with what is happening in each others lives. As it happened, there was a huge thunderstorm here Friday night. The power went out in our area. I had to call to make sure the restaurant we were going to was still open. The power was still on there so our plan was still set. Why this is all relevant is we traveled to Nigeria in August. The month of August is part of Nigeria's rainy season. So most of the time it is raining. Also, in Nigeria there is very little electricity. We couldn't believe we were having dinner together on this night. It was actually perfect. We called it our "Nigeria weather night!" We laughed, shared our stories, our love for Nigeria, the people, and the friends we made there. We all said how we would love to go back one day. We said we would not only love to go back but how much it would mean to us to go back together as a group again. We share a special bond.

(#4) Thank you God for these wonderful people who went to Nigeria and supported me while I was there. (#5) Thank you for them showing up in my life Friday night when I needed them. (#6) Thank you for these old friends who can share and remember those special memories with me of Nigeria and our dear friends in Nigeria. Three things not even on the list!

(#7) Let me not forget this - The test result came back negative yesterday. I am okay! Lord help to keep me thankful and may I always be rooted in You so that I have "eyes that really see."

Grateful to You Oh Lord for this.

This week's thankful prompt is what gifts have you been given in your life that have gone from ugly to beautiful? Have there been circumstances in your life that God has turned from bad to good? Sometimes we have such hard difficulties in our lives and while we are going through them we certainly find it hard to see any beauty in them. But later, we find a gift in the difficult circumstance in that it has somehow brought us good maybe even joy.

My three gifts from ugly to beauty that have happened in my life are:

1. Difficult Circumstance ~ Blessing

I had a "different" kind of family as I was growing up. I always felt different. Growing up in the 60's and 70's (yes, I am that old :) ) I often felt out of place with divorced parents. Each of my parents are actually divorced twice. I had a difficult childhood and teenage years. Without going into too much detail here, there was a lot of chaos in my life. I did not want anyone to know what was going on in my home so I did not have many friends. There were family broken relationships, friends of our family who did not stick around for the mess, my Mom got sick, my younger brother got the grace of God I did not. I needed to work to help my Mom out and somehow take care of myself and pay for my college education. I NEVER thought I would see the light at the end of this tunnel.

(#8) Thank you God for this "different family" because it made me who I am today. The circumstances were so hard. But because of this I know there is such a thing as God's grace. I received it. I love my family. My family and I have learned, grown and healed together. (#9) Thank you for the beauty - the gift of good that I became a stronger person by going through those struggles because I believe it has made me a more empathetic person. (#10) Thank you for the bigger heart I grew. It is why I love the broken hearted people of this world. I want to help people. I feel it is why I wanted to go to Nigeria. I was so determined to go there and I was not afraid. This was a huge blessing in my life.

Grateful to You Oh Lord for this.

2. My Will ~ God's Will

I could not have biological children. After being married I could not wait to get started on having children. I had a dream or you could say a plan of starting my own family. After trying to have a biological child for five years and after much tears and frustration I was worn out.

(#11) Thank you God for showing me that your plan is more beautiful than mine could ever be and to remember that relief comes with surrender of even our most precious dreams when they are not meant to be. (#12) Thank you for showing me how You are so faithful. My husband and I realized that we would love to adopt children who were in need of parents who were in an orphanage. We now have two beautiful wonderful children. Our son will be 15 in about 10 days and our daughter is 14 years old. God had a better plan in store for us then our own. His plan was more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. We would never trade our experiences of going to Russia to seeing them for the first time, bonding together with them there in the small apartment in the freezing cold temperatures. We will never forget the wonderful families who hosted us. We did not care that it was 40 degrees below zero! We were together at last! We were with each of our babies! In the end, we were with the babies we had dreamed of! It is true what they say...born of your heart. (#13) Thank you God for our amazing children and our unique unforgettable experiences.

Grateful to You Oh Lord for this.

3. My Sins ~ Fully Forgiven

Thank you God for the best gift of ugly to beautiful - the forgiveness of my sins. You make me new and beautiful from my ugly sinful self.

Grateful to You Oh Lord for this.

This week try to think of three gifts that you can thank God for in your life that has changed from ugly to beautiful. Please share with us in the comments section below.

...counting more of His endless gifts...thanks be to God.

Book Cover by Gin Gin Dionko