THANK-FULLNESS

We are taught as children to say “thank you” when someone gives us something. We see them…..we see and hold the tangible object given to us, so it’s easy to remember to say thank you. But, what about our thankfulness to God for all that He gives us every moment of every day?

The “Thanksgiving Day” has passed last week, but the Scriptures teach us to be thankful every day, in every circumstance! Easy to say…..hard to do…right?

An eighty year old friend told me a few days ago that she searched for God’s will for her life for years. Then one day as she was reading I Thessalonians 5:16-18 she understood what God’s will for her was in all of life’s trials and joys. And, even though she is in a wheelchair now in a nursing home and her future is filled with pain and the uncertainty of quality of life for her days on this earth, she rejoices in knowing God is with her…..and she is FULL OF THANKS.

These words of wisdom affected my perspective on dealing with the seasons of life….The good and the bad. So,as you read this scripture today…be encouraged that God’s will for you is to be thankful…no matter what!!!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  “Be joyful always;  pray continually; GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS.”

Thy Word

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A Grateful Heart

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On my personal blog I’ve been writing this month about being grateful. And not just being grateful sometimes, but about how to cultivate a grateful heart in this whiny, self-absorbed world we live in.

It’s tough sometimes, isn’t it? We want what we want, when we want it & whine when we don’t get it. At times we think the world revolves around us, and we whine when it doesn’t. We gaze at the new (fill in the blank) the neighbor has, and think, I should have that, too…

No? Just me, then?

I am truly so grateful for my life. But when bad stuff happens, or things don’t work out as planned, or, or, or… sometimes a swell of mopey overcomes my normally good-natured, grateful self. And I cringe.

I cringe at the silliness of it all. I cringe at how childish I am. I cringe to think of others I see daily who have a reason to be moping about, but aren’t. I look around at how stinkin’ blessed I am, and I want to slap myself upside the head and say, “STOP IT!”

So I’m working on it.

Let’s work on it together. One little change daily will turn your heart around. Think of one thing. ONE THING you are thankful for today, and write it down. Do it again tomorrow, and the next day. And the next.

I’m not a journal-keeper. Believe me, I’ve tried. But this I can do – I keep a gratitude journal where I write at least once a week the things I’m thankful for. I leaf through the pages and look back on it often.

And you know what? It always produces a smile. And a change of heart in that moment.

I could go on and on about how there are studies to back this up, but let me just leave you with these wise words:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

 

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 106:1

 

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

What are you doing to cultivate a heart of gratitude?

 

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Prince of Peace

What do you think of when you hear the word peace?

I think of being content. When there is no stress or worry. Being still and quiet, sitting in the presence of God. Having a heart that is calm. Peace is defined as a state of tranquility or quiet.

Where does all this come from? How can you have this?

The answer is Jesus!

Jesus IS the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

“For to us a child born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.

 Jesus IS peace.

Ephesians 2:14

“For he himself is our peace…”

Ephesians 2:17

“He came and preached peace to you

who were far away

and peace to those who were near.”

God sent his son to be born on this earth and live in the flesh and die so that we could have peace.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled

and do not be afraid.”

 

God GAVE us peace. We didn’t have to do anything to earn it! He wants us to have peace, but it can only be found in Him! God tells us to be still and know that he is God. Are we doing this? Are we separating ourselves from the chaos of this world and resting in his peace? You cannot find true peace in the things of this world. The world will leave you unsatisfied and constantly searching for more. GOD IS ENOUGH. He is all we need. He will fulfill every need we have. What an incredible promise that is!

 

My challenge for you this Christmas season is to take time to rest. Take time to be still and experience Jesus’ peace. Stop searching for peace in the world. God has it for you. It is available to you, you have to take the effort and look for it!

 Peace

This is peace to me… being still, not thinking of anything but looking at the ocean with a breathtaking sunset. God’s beautiful creation! This was the sunset this evening in San Diego, Ca! Winter in Southern California!

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PURE JOY!!!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

One evening last May, my little godson Matthew called me to ask if he could have his 6th birthday party at my house – a dance party! You see, I am an “auntie” to a lot of my friends’ kids since I don’t have any of my own. All of them like to visit Auntie Kristin’s house because I have a cool basement filled with disco lights, electronic drums, bongo drums, games and DJ equipment with big speakers – and my buddy Matt is no exception.

Well, of course I said yes, and told Matt that we could plan a disco dance party at my house and he could invite all his friends. He started designing invitations that day. The funny thing was, he had over 5 months to wait until his birthday in October! This fact did not dampen his excitement, so the countdown began.

FINALLY, the day of the party arrived! I had spent many, many hours planning and preparing my house for a flock of tiny people to come have fun and go crazy! I was so excited and proud of what Matt’s Mom and I had done to prepare. I couldn’t wait for Matt to arrive and see what I had created JUST FOR HIM! I did all of it just because I love him so much and wanted to see him enjoy his big day with his friends!

Matt’s family arrived early before the guests. I was outside in the back yard setting up tables and chairs. Once the car parked I assumed Matt would see that I was in the back and that he would come straight to me. However, he hopped out and ran to the front door, which I had left unlocked. I quickly went back into the basement hoping to meet him when he came down the stairs to the party room.

As soon as I got inside, Matt burst through the other door and there we were, just the two of us. I already had all the lights on and some music playing. The disco ball was spinning, and birthday decorations were everywhere!

He looked around and took it all in, then he began hopping and clapping and squealing with glee! He ran to me and jumped into my arms, bear-hugging me and whispering, “THANK YOU AUNT KRISTIN” in my ear.

It was a special, intimate moment I will never forget. The pure joy and gratitude of a 6-year-old boy who knew I loved him so much that I would go to any lengths to provide him with the birthday party of his dreams.

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Isn’t this how we should be every day when we see what our Father God has created for our pure enjoyment?

God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die and give us life. And beyond that, look at the beautiful earth He created for us to inhabit! We tend to get complacent about the everyday – a shining warm sun, green trees, flowers, lakes and streams, animals, food and clean water, family, a job – the air we breathe and a beating heart every morning we wake up.

Webster’s defines Joy as: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; delight; the expression or exhibition of such emotion; bliss; enjoyment.

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Take a look around today, soak it all in, and JUMP FOR JOY into your Heavenly Father’s arms, expressing your deep gratitude for His gifts to you. He not only provides enjoyment for you on this earth, but He has also prepared for you a boundless eternal home as well. His love for you is overwhelming, unconditional and limitless! Unbridled joy and gratitude is appropriate!

1 Corinthians 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

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The Gratitude Diaries

 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.          Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS)

Here we are coming off the week of Thanksgiving.  Much has been written about being thankful and grateful and not going too all-out crazy on black Friday.  We have been chided and challenged to keep a heart of gratitude all year long, not just the last Thursday of November.  So, how’s that working out for you?

I’ll admit that until this year, I rarely gave it a second thought.  The busyness of the holidays blows by with the force of a hurricane most years, with me left at the end of it all with messy hair and feeling like I’ve missed it. Like there should be something more fulfilling about this season.

The past year has found me on a journey of being more spiritually aware, and I have slowly moved toward being increasingly deliberate about my daily walk.  It’s a slow process, but there have been many rewards.  Striving for a heart of gratitude is part of the territory.

And so, a friend’s post on Instagram on November 1st that she was accepting a challenge to share something she was thankful for every day struck a chord with me.  I accepted the challenge, too.

It’s simple, really – for the 30 days of November, name one thing each day that you are thankful for & post a photo about that thing.  So simple.  But as it turns out, not easy.

It’s not that I couldn’t think of many things every day I’m thankful for – so coming up with just one was not difficult.  It was the planning to post something deliberate every day that got me.  Consistency and discipline are not my strong points, and this exercise brought that home.  Most days I was making my daily thankful post from the bathroom while brushing my teeth.  At midnight.  Not exactly the disciplined soul I pretend to be.

I began my month with a list.  I added to it daily.  It turns out, when you are deliberate in naming what you are thankful for you are naturally more aware of those things, which in turn makes you more thankful for them.  It’s a beautiful circle, really.

And so, I began posting.  My family, my pets, the beauty of the earth, even my washer and dryer made the list.   What I discovered was that each thing I was thankful for could not be adequately described in a few short sentences on Instagram, but I posted anyway and began thinking about writing a gratitude diary where I could expand on each item and get into the meat of why its existence was so important.

30Days.sunset                 30days.water

You know how they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit?  Try something for 30 days and it could even become a way of life.  What began as a fun way to post a new photo and clever phrase every day has become a daily exercise in gratitude awareness that I hope I can continue throughout the coming years.

I learned something about myself last month: it’s not that I am not thankful for these things all year long, it’s that I am just not deliberate in acknowledging them.  And so, I take them for granted.  I ignore their beauty and significance.  Worst of all, I was forgetting to thank God for those things, and I think maybe that makes Him a little sad.  I am surrounded by beauty and love and convenience.  Every. Single. Day.  It’s much too easy to take it all for granted.

I encourage you to try it.  Being thankful doesn’t end when the turkey leftovers are consumed and the Christmas decorations emerge from the attic.  It’s a daily exercise that will create in you a new outlook on the mundane.

If you are thankful for the technology that allows you to have clean clothes at home every day, you won’t think about the task of doing laundry in quite the same way again.  If you look at your family with eyes of gratitude for all the good they bring to your life instead of the annoying habits they possess, your love for them will grow.  Even the opportunity to have a fire in the fireplace on a cold night takes on new meaning.

So, what are you thankful for today?

 

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