Happy is the man…

Welcome  I spend a lot of time journaling and one of the journals I use is a gratitude journal.  I have mentioned this journal in several other posts and I really love its format.  It has many blank pages for me to write my own thoughts of gratitude, but there are also some pages with prompts to encourage my growth in this area of my praise and worship.  I’m going to share from one of these pages today.

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Food For Thought  Some of my gratitude pages start with a quote as a prompt or springboard for my thinking in this important area of my life.  I want to share one of these quotes today.  The quote is from Ovid, a Roman poet from around the same time period as Jesus Christ’s earthly presence.  The quote is this: Happy is the man who can count his sufferings.

At first it may seem like this is a terrible way to start off a time of gratitude and praise, thinking about sufferings.  I don’t know many people, myself included, that enjoy sufferings.  Suffering certainly doesn’t make me happy.  Yet this suffering is a part of life, no matter our faith, belief, moral decency, or demographics.  Everyone is suffering from something, somewhere.  When I first read this quote, I was perplexed at how I was going to express my gratitude for my sufferings, but then it became very clear.

In this quote, I began to pay special attention to the words in the middle, leading up to sufferings.  I decided to focus on the phrase “who can count” for my period of gratitude.  In my personal reflection I decided that if I am an individual who can actually count how many tragedies or times of crisis I have faced in my forty-year existence, then I am truly a blessed person.

Seriously, I can count on one hand how many true experiences of suffering I have faced in my life.  Now, if I were to get nit-picky and fall into my old pessimistic habits, I could count every time someone hurt my feelings or left me out.  I could count all the times God made me wait or I just flat-out didn’t get my way.  I could add up all the disagreements with my husband or parents or think about all the times I felt under the weather or had an ache or pain that persisted.  But I don’t think those are the types of sufferings being referred to here.  When I think true suffering, I think of events like battling a serious illness, being a victim of violence or abuse, being homeless or destitute, and the like.  I think of the time I had my reputation destroyed and my good name marred from a simple, unintentional mistake.  I think of medical diagnoses that has impacted my life in different ways and will continue to do so.  I think of the period of time where my mind listened to the fears and lies of Satan, rather than God’s promises and mercy, bringing me to my very lowest place.

But when I look back over my life, I realize one of the biggest and best things I have to be grateful for is what I haven’t received. Thus far, praise God, my family and I have been spared tragedy and disaster.  I believe prayer has a lot to do with this.  Praying for protection and peace matters.  No, I won’t always get my way and some things will come up that are uncomfortable, unpleasant, frustrating, and even sad.  This is the nature of living in an imperfect, sinful world.  I was able to write in my journal that day, scribing my infinite gratitude to God for protecting me and my family from the biggest and worst sufferings of this world.  Truly, we are blessed and grateful.

If you choose to spend time counting your sufferings, make sure you spend even more time counting your blessings!

Today’s Scripture  As I journaled through the Ovid quote, I kept thinking of this Bible passage in Philippians.  How we define our sufferings and our blessings is a matter of perspective and contentment.  I am fully aware that I have viewed many things in my life as suffering, when in fact, God has spared me from any real tragedy.  I just need to look at the moment with a different perspective.  Were all of those moments really that bad?  And even if they were horrible experiences, did my faith in Christ bring me through, even stronger than before?  Spoiler alert–the answer to that question is YES!

 

Today’s recommended products from Amazon  If you are interested in keeping a gratitude journal, may I recommend the following (the journal I reference in this post is the first one on the list):

Gratitude: A Journal

Good Days Start with Gratitude: A 52-Week Journal

The One-Minute Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal with KJV Bible Verses

Gratitude Journal for Daily Thanksgiving and Reflection

 

Today’s Recipe  As October is coming to a close, the fall season is in full-swing, and what better dish to serve on a crisp fall evening than soup!  For those of you who do not know already, I have a severe tomato allergy.  This presents a few challenges when preparing soups.  Tomato soup is obviously out of the question, but I also have to get a bit creative with chilis and stews.  One of my family’s favorite soups is this Tomato-Free Taco Soup.  If you want to make yours with tomatoes, simply swap one or two of the bell peppers for a couple of cans of Ro-Tel-style tomatoes.  It is hearty and delicious, either way!

Tomato Free Taco Soup
Tomato-free for my personal allergies, but packed with flavor from peppers, onions, taco seasoning, and beef. A great dish for a chilly fall evening!

 

Tomato-Free Taco Soup (serves 8-10)

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 bell peppers (I use 1 green, 1 red, and 1 yellow)
  • 1 lb ground beef (I use 93/7)
  • 2 pkgs low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can corn, drained
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • For serving: shredded taco cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce

 

In large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Peel and chop onion and add to hot oil, stirring occasionally until turning opaque and fragrant.  Wash and dice peppers.  Add to the pot and continue to cook another five minutes or until peppers are beginning to get soft.  Push vegetables to edges of pot and place hamburger in center of pot, breaking up with wooden spoon or spatula.  Add taco seasoning to hamburger and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally.  Add drained corn, beans, and beef broth.  Stir until well combined and simmer on medium-low for 20-30 minutes.  Before serving, stir in crushed tortilla chips.  Serve with shredded taco cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce if desired.