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A Summer of Gratitude
by Amy Auker
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Attending the Tuesday morning “Choosing Gratitude” study this summer was such a beautiful source of encouragement. Each week, Karen Melnick would graciously open our time together by allowing for each of the women to share one thing that had been easy to be thankful for and one thing that had been difficult to be thankful for that week. Furthermore, we were challenged to journal through items to be grateful for each day — “common mercies” and spiritual gifts, among other things.
My growing list of things I am grateful for began to reveal my heart to me. It was so easy for me to list material blessings. But, how difficult it was for me to articulate the spiritual gifts… It was so easy for me to be thankful when things were “easy” or “clear”. But, oh, how difficult it was to be thankful when I chose not to trust God in those moments of uncertainty… The patterns of circumstances that caused me to “whine” rather than “worship”.
Sure, I could have read the book “on my own time”. Maybe I would have gleaned the same information. Maybe I would have been convicted by the same scriptures embedded in the text. Maybe I would have been brought to tears by the same anecdotes that saturate Nancy Leigh deMoss’s chapters. However, I believe what was most edifying, challenging, sharpening, and encouraging about the “Choosing Gratitude” study this summer were those beautiful moments we shared our thanksgivings. Being in fellowship with other women – from all stages of life — and hearing their hearts of gratefulness throughout easy and difficult circumstances was irreplaceable.
I missed one Tuesday morning near the end of our study due to a family vacation. As 9:30 am came around, I found myself on a walk with my husband, Cameron, in the quaint, little town of Maine that I have visited every summer since my mother herself was pregnant with me. I found myself very sad with the notion that I was missing out on the other women’s thanksgivings. I turned to Cameron and asked him if I had ever told him how we started our meetings. He said I had not. I explained to him the process and he hesitantly agreed to try with me. Those ten minutes that we shared our “easy” and “difficult” things that we were grateful for were absolutely captivating as his heart was revealed.
My relationships were greatly impacted this summer as I was convicted regarding my ever-present “silent gratitude”. For example, I have always found it easy to be thankful for my husband – for his humble intellect, his “Lancaster County work ethic”, etc., but, how many times have I just taken his servant’s heart for granted? Or not articulated my gratefulness – whether it be his uncanny ability to know just when I need that Sheetz Soft Pretzel after a long day at work or his relentless willingness to serve me (as I write this, he is building our little one’s crib)? The more that I articulated my gratefulness for my husband – to him and to the Lord — the more abounding joy I experienced. It was just one example of how “silent gratitude” is no good to anyone. That there is sacrifice in choosing gratitude. That choosing gratitude is a discipline. And, finally, that the discipline of choosing gratitude can be a heritage for your children.
As Cameron and I eagerly anticipate our little one these next few weeks, I pray that I would continue to choose gratitude. I pray that our child(ren) would choose gratitude and be thankful – for the “easy” and the “difficult” things. And, finally, I pray that our child(ren) would embrace being part of a covenant family that continues to “give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.” -Psalm 136:1
Some Challenging Questions that are Provided as an Online Resource:
1. How is gratitude a revealer of your heart rather than just being a reporter of details? As you hear yourself relating everyday events to others, what are you learning about your heart?
2. We rarely think the source of our problems is tied to our lack of gratitude. How do you think gratitude is the solution that will help us experience God’s best in our situations?
3. Nancy says that “unavoidable guilt, plus undeserved grace, should equal unbridled gratitude.” Yet, unbridled gratitude is often not what characterizes our lives. Why is that, and is there anything we can do about it?
4. Nancy suggests four practical ways to cultivate a lifestyle of gratitude: speaking up, singing out, kneeling down, and expressing gratitude privately and publicly. Which of these suggestions did you find most helpful? Which do you plan to implement? Did you think of any other ideas?
5. George Matheson (described in an anecdote shared in Chapter 8) realized he had never thanked God for his “thorn”. Have you experienced the heartache or pain of a “thorn”? How has that pain impacted your relationship with the Lord? Have you ever thanked the Lord for the thorn He’s allowed in your life?
About Amy: Amy and her husband, Cameron, have been attending New Life for 3 years. They are expecting their first child in early September. Amy enjoys baking, reading, and walking.
Scroll down toward the end to read a message from Kathryne Marple, NLICC Women’s Ministry Committee Chair
Women’s Discipleship Opportunities
- Care Groups
Although care groups are not just for women, they are the primary way in which the church ministers to each member – spiritually and physically – as we meet weekly for Bible study, prayer and fellowship. Watch for the flyer in late August with the various Care Group times and locations and sign up.
- Titus 2
“….Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live…to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women…”
All ladies 18 and over are encouraged to join a Titus 2 group. This is our primary means of women’s discipleship apart from Care Groups – it’s not just for those married or with children. Titus 2 is a monthly Bible study that meets in a mentor’s home for a shared meal, fellowship, Bible study and prayer. There are groups meeting at various days and times of the month to suit most any woman’s schedule. Titus 2 groups meet for seven months beginning in September or October.
This year’s study is It’s Time to Step Up: The Psalms of Ascent by our own Karen Melnick.
Signups will be in the foyer the next three Sundays. Books will be available at signup table or in the office for $5.
- Women’s Bible Study
Women’s Bible Study meets weekly on Tuesday mornings beginning September 9th from 9:30-11:30 in room 217. Child care is available in the nursery – $20 each child for 10 weeks (2 sessions) Newborns and nursing babies are welcome in class. This year we will study The Promised One – Seeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie and Karen Melnick will be leading us. It is a 10 lesson study that we will do over 20 weeks. There are 40 min DVD sessions from Nancy Guthrie that we’ll watch every other week as well. Books may be pre-ordered in the office from Christine for $12 (prepaid) by August 31st or you may purchase on your own. RSVP to Christine in the office email@example.com if you will need child care.
Help! Curriculum Materials Accidentally Picked up from Hall Table
From Laurie Burrows: One of our Jr Worship books went missing Sunday morning. It was on the table in the front hall to let the volunteers who would be teaching this fall take a look. Nearby was a box with miscellaneous items and a sign that said ‘free resources’. I think someone understandably thought my items were part of that grouping. Anyway, it is a thick coloring book like item- God Loves Me Coloring Pages-ages 1-2. If someone mistakenly took this book home, could you please bring it to the office or the ministry office (off the front hallway). Thank you. FYI I will be out of town this weekend, but people could send me an email or text if it’s found – Laurie Burrows firstname.lastname@example.org or (540)226-2796.
Church Picnic this Sunday, August 24th, after Morning Service
Bring your own meat and a salad, side or desert to share.
Baby Shower for Katie Crawford, Sunday August 24 from 2-4 pm at 3 Wolcott Road, Fredericksburg (Ferry Farm area, friend Dena’s home).
Please join us as we celebrate the upcoming birth of Katie’s baby girl! RSVP, directions, and questions to Sarah Schroeder. Please RSVP by August 10th. Katie is registered at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon.
Baby Shower for Tracey Fischer, Saturday, September 6th, 2-4pm at the Lorei’s
You are invited to a Baby shower for Tracey Fischer on Saturday, September 6, 2-4pm at the Loreis, 5215 Leavells Crossing Drive, Fredericksburg 22407. Tracey is having a girl and is registered at Buy Buy Baby. In lieu of a card please consider giving a book to start Baby Fischer’s library. RSVP to Lucinda. Please join us to celebrate with Tracey!
Prayer Shower for Expectant Moms, September 13, 9am in the Fireside Room
More babies are on the way! Come join us for breakfast and a time of prayer for our expectant and brand new mothers. If you are able to bring something to share, please sign up here.
Time with the Clark Family Running Out – Schedule time with them soon!
Thank you, Lucinda, for reminding us that Billy, Yashmin, and the girls will be leaving Fredericksburg on October 19th. If you would like to spend some time with them before they leave, the following are the dates they will be in Fredericksburg, don’t miss your opportunity:
September 3, 4 and 16-18
Nursery Help Needed
Karsta Toscano is looking for two people to help in the nursery. One person will serve as a nursery supervisor just one Sunday a month. The nursery supervisor checks children into the service before the service and then checks them back out to their parents afterwards. The other person will serve on a weekly basis during the Sunday School hour. She tries to keep the same people there first thing in the morning because often this is the first time the younger babies are entering the nursery and it is very comforting for them to see the same face week after week. You may serve for three or six months at a time so that you won’t have to give up adult Sunday School for a whole year. We are blessed with many new babies and more on the way and Karsta would like the extra warm arms and hearts ready! Contact Karsta if you can help.
Looking for a childcare worker for Women’s Bible Study on Tuesday mornings beginning September 9th
Contact Christine in the office (540)786-4848 if you are interested.
Do you have an interest in an Evening Women’s Bible Study for Fall?
Are you interested in being a part of a weekly women’s Bible study in the evening beginning in September? We’d study the same book as the Tuesday morning class – The Promised One – Seeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie over 20 weeks. If so, let us know what evenings are best for you at email@example.com. If there is no interest we will not have it as an offering, so please let us know!
Fall is a great time to fold bulletins – older children are in school, schedules are more regular, and you can plan a lunch date and follow it up with service to the church! Do you have a couple hours on a Friday afternoon you can spare? Sign up HERE to fold bulletins after 1 pm some Friday. Takes about 2 hours (faster if you bring a friend!) Questions? Ask Pam in the office.
“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Phil. 4:11b and 4:13
Two Sundays ago my husband took our 22 year old son Brian to Liberty University for his first time as a college student not living at home, and on that following Tuesday, I went with our youngest, Paige, to help her get settled in for her junior year at JMU. In a span of two days Steve and I officially became “empty nesters”. I have to be honest and say that although that first week was a little sad for me, I am content to be in this new season. After almost 25 years of sharing our home with the three precious children God gave us, I am excited to have opportunity for a new focus, while still loving on my “babies” from afar and recognizing that this season may be fluid as they come and go. I know my grieving over a finished season is not over yet, and I take comfort in knowing there are others of you going through the early stages of this season as well. As we begin this new leg of the journey God has called us to travel, I have hope and confidence that God will continue to give us joy and purpose in Him as He gives us the strength to do the things He has called us to do.
Do you have information or needs that you’d like passed to the women of the church, activities or studies you’d like to see? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
in His grace,
the Women’s Ministry Committee
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