BLT — M-M-M!

I’ve had a new favorite sandwich this summer.  Oh, it’s not really new.  It’s been around for decades.  It’s the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich—so yummy!  It’s my new favorite.  In past years I’d be lucky to get one BLT a summer.  This year I’ve been enjoying three or four a week!  The element that made the difference this summer is my discovery of turkey bacon.  I love the taste of bacon, but very seldom ate real bacon in the past because I always felt like I was eating just big hunks of fat.  I switched from ground beef almost seven years ago to ground turkey, and sometimes eat turkey sausage, so when I found turkey bacon on sale a couple months ago, I decided to try it.  Yum!  Yum!  The flavor is just as good, in my opinion, and wa-a-a-a-y less fat!

When you see a picture of a BLT in a magazine or an advertisement, you usually see little ruffles of leaf lettuce sticking out of the sandwich.  Pretty to look at perhaps, but I prefer the cool crunch of iceberg lettuce.  Big, double or triple layers of it.  Almost zero calories, but when it is stacked high, that sandwich is impassive!  I cut it in half and use toothpicks to hold the halves together, and then you still have to scrunch it down a little and open wide for that first bite!  Am I making you hungry yet?

Then there are the tomatoes…  Now, ideally I would slice into big, red beefsteak tomatoes, homegrown from a friend’s garden (I am no gardener, myself!), but since I have not been offered any homegrown tomatoes yet, I have settled for greenhouse-grown tomatoes from the produce department of my grocery store.  I almost always use roma tomatoes for everything else, but not for my BLTs.  Romas are too puny.  I get the biggest, fattest, ripe but firm tomatoes I can find, and store-bought or not—they taste great in a BLT!

Toast the bread (I use either a dense multi-grain or Italian), put a very thin spread of light mayo or Miracle Whip on each slice of bread, layer on the bacon, then the tomato slices and finally the lettuce—and viola!  A delicious summer treat!  Yes!  Now your mouth is watering for a BLT, isn’t it?

BLT.  I do the happy dance each time I enjoy one!  In fact, I just had one for breakfast this morning since I had all the ingredients ready to go and only had to toast the bread and assemble the sandwich!  It got me thinking about those three letters and what they might represent in bringing joy into our lives and the lives of others.

B—Blessings.   We enjoy the blessings of God in our own lives every day, don’t we?  The big ones that we sometimes take for granted, like home and family, health and protection and freedom; and the little unexpected blessings like a great parking spot just when we need it most, a surprise in the mail, or a little wish granted that we never expected to come true.  We see the hand of God in those things and recognize the blessings with which He showers us!

As He blesses us, so we can be a blessing to others.  When my spouse is nagging or being critical or cranky, and I find myself becoming irritated, I can choose to put away the negative thoughts I am harboring toward him, and instead purposefully think of some little blessing I can bestow that will bring a little spot of happiness to him in the receiving, and myself, as well, in the giving.  Maybe it is something as simple as a hug and a kiss and a “Thank you for all that you do for me and the children to make our lives easier and more comfortable.  I may not always say it, but I truly do appreciate all your hard work.”  Perhaps your blessing may be through his stomach—making his favorite breakfast, baking a cake, just bringing him a cup of coffee when he least expects you to wait on him.

Blessing our children with praise, encouragement, hugs and kisses, playing a game—anything that says “You are precious to me and I want to take the time out to let you know that!”     We can bless our friends and neighbors and church family by taking a plate of cookies or cupcakes to someone who needs a little lift; doing some yard work for someone who cannot do it herself; making an encouraging phone call or sending a card; offering a ride and a shoulder to lean on to someone going through a physical trial.

I cannot think of a better passage of Scripture than Romans 12:10-21 that speaks of being a blessing to others:

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

L—Love.  Blessing others is an outward action; love is what motivates it.  Jesus told us that we are to love the Lord first of all, and then to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves.  “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  (Luke 10:27)  He went on to tell us that we in the body of Christ are to love one another as a testimony to the rest of the world that we are followers of Him.  “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  (John 13:34-35)  Finally He tells us that it is not good enough to simply love God, love ourselves, love our neighbors, love our brothers and sisters in the Lord—but that we must also love our enemies and those who hurt us.  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”  (Matthew 5:43, 44)

And what is the nature of love?  It is not merely an inner emotionIt shows up in the manner in which we treat people.  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails…  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13)  Blessings are those things we do for others.  Love is what motivates them and how we do them.

How can we not love our family, our neighbors, our brethren, our enemies when we have experienced the amazing grace and love of God in our own lives.  Love that is so undeserved, so deep, so everlasting—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38, 39)

T—Thankfulness.  I cannot go through this life without thinking every day about how truly blessed I am by the Lord.  We don’t always have all the material things we’d like to have, and notice others who are better off financially and materially than we are, but I know this one thing—we are far, far better off than most of the people in this world and I am so grateful to God for the life He has given us.  We have our share of physical trials and health issues, but I know this one thing—there are others who suffer far greater tribulation than we do.  I would love to have my children and grandchildren close by so that I could hug them and do things with them anytime I wanted to, but I know this one thing—I am so thankful that my children love and serve the Lord and are faithfully serving Him where He has called them.  I truly would not want it any other way.  I would love to be able to travel and see the world someday, but I know that most likely will never happen.  However I this one thing I do know—I am so grateful God put me in America where I am free to worship Him, speak my mind, and live peacefully.

When we are discontent, and grumble and complain about our lives, our lacks, or our limitations, we grieve the Lord.  It is a slap in the face to Him who gives us far more than we deserve and who knows what is best for us.  It is saying we are ungrateful and that we do not trust Him.  An attitude of gratitude, on the other hand, blesses Him and brings joy and contentment into our own lives, as well.  Counting our blessings opens our eyes and adds zest to our days, for how can we be discouraged when we are truly grateful for all that God has done for us?  I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is the will of God because He knows that it is what brings peace and joy to us.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:19, 20)  Is not that a picture of a happy person—a person who literally has a song in his heart because he is thankful to God!  I want always to be that joyful person!

BLT—letters that say YUMMY!  And BLT—Blessings, Love, Thankfulness.  Letters that spell out the recipe to a delicious life!

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