Hey Swamp Bloggers,
It's good to write to all of you this week! I hope you've stayed safe throughout all the crazy weather we've been having. Just a reminder to sign up for our 25th Anniversary celebration if you haven't yet. The link is at the bottom of the page!
As I was thinking about what to write this week, gratitude popped into my head. I started thinking about all of the grateful devotionals at camp, and how much I love them. It is so impactful and sobering when we verbally express what we're grateful for, as well as when we hear others share what they're grateful for. It puts things into perspective and helps us to see what really matters.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever."
-Psalm 136: 1
Gratitude is an incredible thing, yet we so often forget to be grateful. When I searched the definition of gratitude, one of the things that showed up was eagerness to return kindness and to show thankfulness. I think of some of the older people in church who have opened up their homes and lives to me, and I can't help but think of how much they meet that definition. Gratitude is also something that helps us to be close to God. I know I, personally, can focus so much on the things that I don't have that I forget all about all the things that God has blessed me with. Thinking about all that I have been given reminds me of God's love and protection that is so much more than what I deserve.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
Right before I got online to write this, I was on the phone with my mom. She was telling me that it was my family's fourth straight day without power since Hurricane Irma came to Georgia as a tropical storm. Yet, she wasn't upset and didn't complain. She just talked about how she knew other people had it so much worse in other places. Of course, she wasn't super excited about not having any power for four days, but she saw what she did have more than what she didn't have. I think looking at things in this way, whether big or small, can help us to not only be grateful, but to have empathy for those that have less.
Speaking of trials and having less, it is one thing to be grateful when times are going great. But, it is a lot harder to allow our hearts to engage in gratitude when times are difficult, especially when we feel hurt or don't feel God's love. This thought brought me to Paul's final greetings in the book of Philippians. Paul is thanking the church in Philippi for renewing their concern towards him. He then says that he writes this not because he is need. Rather, he says that he has learned the secret to being content no matter the circumstances.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4: 12-13
Many times people use verse 13 of this scripture to say they can do anything they aspire with God's help. While this is true in some instances, I think what this scripture really shows is the power of gratitude. Paul had been through so much by the time that he wrote to the Philippians, yet he writes that he has learned the "secret of being content." Despite the trials we may be facing or will face in the future, Philippians gives hope that there is a way to find joy and gratitude.
This week I want to challenge you. Sometime this week make a list of ten things you are the most grateful for and read it every day for the next seven days. I'm going to do it, too. Let's see how it changes our perspective of God and our lives! Until next week!
Swamp's 25th Anniversary Celebration
If you haven't heard the news, camp is hosting a giant 25th birthday party in honor of 25 years of camp! The celebration will be at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta on October 29th. Attendees include international camp directors, alumni of all ages, and we hope, you! It's going to be a great time. Not to mention, we will be having a camp-style singing devotional and barbecue for lunch! Click the link below to learn more and purchase tickets.
If you are a Swamp alumni and you have a camp memory to share for an upcoming blog, send me an email at email@example.com !
Much Love & Respect,
Dec. 29-Jan. 1
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