I Do Not Take It For Granted

Removed

In April of 2022 the area around Durban, South Africa, received torrential rains.

Highways were flooded and homes were destroyed from landslides and water. At least 430 were reported to have passed away, with many more still missing. Such devastation and ruin. Food parcels were assembled and distributed. Collections for help to rebuild homes were taken up.

In our little complex of flats, we only lost water and power for several days. Otherwise, were just fine. It was interesting to see how frail we are in our great and powerful Western civilization; just take away our water and electricity, and we are in an absolute crisis. We had to carry water to flush the toilets and boil for drinking. It gave us a clearer picture of what it is like in our nearby rural communities to carry water for your daily needs.

Day after day we got the opportunity to learn that having access to water and power is something to be very thankful for indeed. We took it for granted, and when it wasn’t granted, we learned to value it.

The rural African lives far more like Jesus than we do. When Jesus walked on earth, He did not have running water, electricity, air conditioning, automobiles, or wifi. What was normal for him would now be a crisis for us.

All Of A Sudden

Then one morning I awoke to David saying that the power was back on. Hallelujah!! Later, water trickled from the faucet for several hours, but eventually came back in full.

I was so hit with the fact that I must NEVER take these things for granted. I am now so thankful for the absolute magic of looking intently, turning a faucet handle slowly … and there comes clean water!!

I am more thankful after going through the removal of the object. Like the old adage, “love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”

I know that my fleshly tendency will be to gravitate towards taking it for granted after a while, but I am fighting that with my whole being. I want to etch deeply in my mind that I must continue to be thankful for the conveniences technology has brought us, while being reminded not to let them make me too soft.

Thank You, Lord, for Reminders

Physical reminders can be quite effective. Going without water and electricity for many days sharply embedded in me a reminder to be thankful for those daily gifts. But I was meditating on a spiritual analogy to this loss of water as well.

Water in the Scripture is a picture of spiritual life itself. The nonbeliever goes about searching for meaning in the myriad dry wells of our cultures. The mirage of the new draws them foolishly to yet another dry well. They are like a desert shrub, like the chaff that the wind drives away (Psalm 1, Jeremiah 17:6).

But when God opens a lost person’s heart to the gospel and he or she receives the Word, they experience the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:26). Their reborn spirit, indwelled by the Holy Spirit and fed by the Word of God, is referred to as “living water” which will never run dry and will bubble over for the benefit of others (John 4:14, 7:38).

Despite these lovely truths, there are times when I realize that I am spiritually thirsty and dried up. Sometimes it is because I have given out emotionally and spiritually for days without much of a rest. Sometimes it is because I have poured months of counsel into a soul only to experience their betrayal or to see them make woefully bad decisions. Sometimes it is because I have an idol or sin that I am not parting with (Psalm 32:4). Most often it is because I am not washing my mind with the Word to regain God’s perspective. I turn on the faucet and nothing comes out.

But I go down on my knees with tears, and I go to the Word, and I go to the Throne and pour out my heart … and that brokenness dislodges whatever stone was covering the well. The water begins to flow again. “It’s going to be ok. Self, speak truth! Self, give me God-soaked counsel!”

“Well,” I whisper to myself, “through Jesus’ sacrifice in my place, I was forgiven of all my sins (from the cradle to the grave) all at once, I was reconciled with the Creator God and was placed in right standing in His family and Kingdom. I am set to inherit from Him one day. One day soon, Jesus will return for me and my brothers and sisters. This earth is my only hell, and I will live out His mission for my life …” and I end up shouting out with my finger in the air, “because I want to make Him happy, and that’s all that matters!” Guess what? The water is on. He has washed me with His word.

Meditating and saturating my thoughts on all that I have in Christ is fodder for thinking thanks. Recently my husband handed out a paper during a message with the title “Who I Am In Christ.” I have it tucked in my Bible to remind me daily. He has given me so very much in Jesus.

Changed

This temporal removal of having something I needed every day, changed me. It prompted thinking thanks. I want to remain changed. May I not take gifts from the Father for granted.

Water and power are wonderful commodities, but even more importantly, spiritual cleansing and power are essential. I must have that living water and not let the well get blocked. Worse yet, I must never go after the empty wells of my culture.

God offers water full and free flowing to me and to you. It will always be there for us. Torrential rains and flooding will not obstruct it. Receive it with gratitude and cherish it.

I do not take it for granted!

Schedule It In

Do You Plan?

Do you use a planner? I tend to write things up on my monthly chalkboard in the kitchen and then keep paper slips as reminders. I do love to draw a big fat line through something that I have accomplished. 🙂

Well, we are way into 2022. The days are marching consistently on whether we give them permission or not. Seconds slip into minutes, minutes conspire to slide passed hours, hours suddenly become yesterdays, days blur into weeks, and weeks disappear into months. How are you doing? Staying on top of things or dragging underneath?

Check this out:

Nicolas Brown has designed his own daily planner, which prioritizes tasks, lists issues to deal with, and includes a section on th(i)nkfulness to begin the day with the right frame of mind.

The caveat, of course, to any effort at planning is that we yield everything to the Divine Editor of our moments and days. Proverbs 16:9 states: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

We do our part in planning our day and seeking to discover the will of the Father, but ultimately the Father may have added some twists and turns that were not at all part of our plan. Then, like a good GPS, we must recalculate and embrace His will. That is at least what we should be doing. Living it out could be another story.

Schedule It In

One thing we know for sure that whatever the Father’s will is for us today, it will include thinking thanks. He commands us to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you. (I Thessalonians 5:18). The Lord wants us to be th(i)nkful in whatever situation we find ourselves in. But beyond the incidental, we can schedule that into our day.

Carving those brain neural pathways of th(i)nkfulness is a matter of obedience, but it is so much more. It helps us process things. It promotes mental health. It edifies us. It wipes the lenses and clarifies our biblical worldview. It encourages us to see God’s fingerprints even in the darkest of human challenges. We can rehearse God’s promises to us even when we are overwhelmed and feeling low. Especially then.

  • We need to keep a “big-God theology.” Our God is BIG!
  • He is sovereign in all the details of my life.
  • He is not surprised at my hardship.
  • He knows that, with His enabling, I can trust Him in this season.
  • He gives me His Word as a ‘How To Process.”
  • This life is a vapor and will soon be over.
  • He is coming back for His Beloved Bride.
  • He is using the present situation to conform me a little closer to the image of Jesus as I yield to Him.
  • My peace does not have to be dependent on my circumstances (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Living Out The Plan

So how do I hit the “Play” button?

Nick uses a paper that he prints off and places it into a disc binder for easy assimilation. You may have a different daily planner. I use a th(i)nkful journal in which I record things at night before I go to bed. I have been doing a th(i)nkful journal for many years now, and it has developed a way of thinking in my brain such that, throughout the day, I am on the hunt for things that will make it into the journal that evening. It pushes me to look for things for which I can give thanks to God. That mental action has become part of my daily plan.

Sometimes I just want to rehearse Scripture in my th(i)nkful journal – so thankful for the living Word of God that can change our perspective and help us get our eyes on things above and not on things on earth (Colossians 3:2).

Just a heads up that it might be helpful to have an accountability partner as you develop this brain neural pathway. Having someone touch base with you and ask how you are doing in that department can be the nudge to keep you carving. 🙂

Here’s my accountability partner.

“The way we spend our time defines who we are.”

Jonathan Estrin

Thinkful in Sorrow

All So Fast

My family has had a lot of sorrow these past two months. In September my sister Sonja and her husband JP both died of Covid within two days of each other. It was such a surprise. Sonja had been caring for my aging dad, now almost 88-years-old. When he picked up Covid, she had him rushed to the hospital. But then she got sick, and then her husband. We had only a few days before JP and then Sonja had passed into eternity.

My aged father made it through Covid double-pneumonia strangely enough, but has since deteriorated significantly and is now on hospice and hoping to see His Savior soon.

Wow! So much… so fast. Death is so normal, so common – millions die every day. But death is not good, and death is not right, and death was not in God’s original design. It takes your loved ones out of view and out of reach, made worse when it does so suddenly, or does so years or decades before their expected departure. It is a witness that this whole earth is broken and in need of fixing.

Thinkful for Future Fixes

Death is no stranger in the Bible – the word is mentioned more than 500 times. Fortunately, Death lost its keys, its teeth, its power and its sting at the cross (Rev. 1:18, Heb. 2:14-15, 2 Tim. 1:10). Those who live and believe in Jesus will never die; their earthsuits will shut down and go to sleep, but the core of who they really are, their soul-spirit, will rise undiminished in freedom and elation to the side of the One who chose them and called them into His Kingdom and family.

For those who walk with Jesus, the fear of death is gone. But one day, Death, as the last enemy, will be vanquished forever (1 Cor. 15:26, Rev. 20:14, 21:4). Amazing. Death will be gone.

Thinkful For Current Joys

We were thankful that the Lord sustained dad so that some of us traveling in for Sonja and JP’s funerals were able to visit with him; he was not snatched away from us. We were also thankful that the Lord chose to heal dad of Covid.

When dad moved into hospice, he was assigned a chaplain. We were so thankful that, in God’s providential kindness, the chaplain had been a missionary, just like my dad. They connected right away about getting the gospel to the lost who have never heard. Now on a regular basis this dear man visits, reads scripture to him, and they pray together. My brothers were able to organize a CD player with a hymns CD that is playing in dad’s room. The old hymns of grace are ministering to his spirit as he rests.

Thinkful for Past Memories

As our hearts ache and we struggle to accept the fact that these dear ones are suddenly gone, we also recount a lot of sweet memories. Just this past July, the Lord allowed me to visit with dad and Sonja three times. One of those times, Sonja shared with me that she had acquired some scripture cards online and was giving them out to people at the bank or the shop, especially if they looked sad. I loved seeing her desire to share the Lord and give hope to people through His Word. Little did we know that she had only a few weeks left.

I think of childhood memories growing up in Norway and how we loved to sled down the hill to where we lived in Brumunddal. Sonja was so daring. She didn’t seem to fear anything. I admired her courage. In the frigid winter months, we would cozy up, and our mom would read library books to us in the evening as we sat with our knitting. When she would come to the end of a chapter, we would always say, “Just one more chapter.” 🙂

A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.

C. S Lewis

Processing Sorrow

We live beside the Indian Ocean where the beach is broken up by rock outcroppings against which the waves crash. Grief is like a wave of the sea. It billows so strongly and then subsides, then billows again.

What has been an anchor for my soul in times of deep sorrow over the years is latching onto a special verse from God’s Word. This time I chose Psalm 71:3a “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come.” When the waves come, I hold onto the rock, but amazingly the Rock holds onto me as well. With the rock, the waves are not so frightening, and I will not be swept away.

Thinkful List:

  • JP and Sonja went to heaven so closely. They would have struggled so to be left alone without the other. God was merciful and took them together.
  • Dad has had a wonderful life serving the Lord, and now when he is finishing up, he can look forward to his reward and not be afraid to meet his Creator.
  • Chaplain Todd Johnson is being like a balm in Gilead and ministering to my dad. This is such a special kindness to me being so far away here in Africa. Very thankful to God for this.
  • My brothers provided the CD player and dad’s favorite hymn CD to be played in his room.
  • My brothers have visited with my dad, told him they loved him, and he replied that he loved them too.
  • Psalm 71:3a is a comfort to my soul.
  • So many people are praying for us, and it pours grace over us.
  • When you come face to face with death, it helps you to live differently, more purposefully. It is a good thing to clarify your focus, priorities, and goals in life.

May you also find grace to think thanks in your own sorrow!

The Encouragement Board

Shifting Your Focus

“Not again!” she said as her daughter spilled milk all over the kitchen floor. She had barely finished cleaning up the first mess. It seemed like lately all she was seeing were the negative things in her children. She knew that this was not the best way to go through a day, but she was tired, and she was missing her husband since he had to be away working long hours as a Covid nurse. Something had to change!

Let me introduce you to a creative momma who came up with a marvelous idea. Instead of focusing on all the negative things that the kids were doing throughout the day, she chose to look for things that were an encouragement, and she wrote them down on an “encouragement board.”

If she came across something that was nice, she would jot it down ~ maybe the children played quietly for half an hour mid-morning, or perhaps one child said ‘thank you’ without being prompted, or she observed a kind gesture. These were the things that Lori would record.

Then after dinner, she would gather the kids around and read the compilation from the Encouragement Board out loud for all to hear. The kids smiled, giggled and added comments. What a nice way to end the day before bed! The children would head to bed thinking of the blessings that had made their way to mom’s Encouragement Board. And of course, a seed thought was planted in their minds of what they would do the next day that might make it to the board.

We could say that “adversity is the mother of invention.” Below is this precious family.

“When you’re thankful for what you have….the list of things to be thankful for seems to grow.”

Melanie Beckler

Focus is a Choice

When you are going through particularly difficult days, what do you meditate on? It is the slack, lazy and simple mind that goes with the flow; it chooses not to choose; it selects the “slave to external stimuli” mode.

A wise mind embraces the conscious discipline of choosing what to think on. With introspection, it considers options; it rejects lies and worthless, dead-end, dry-well ideas and, guided toward a God-perspective by the Word and the Spirit, selects things more positive and edifying. Thankfulness is at the core of this mindset.

I love how Paul in Romans 12:1-2 challenges us to be transformed in our thinking. The Greek word means metamorphosis, like when Jesus went from His normal appearance into a transformed, radiant appearance. This is no small thing in our lives. It takes mental choice to change thought paths and embrace God’s admonition to give thanks in all situations.

It is easy to be physically lazy; it is easy to be mentally lazy. But in the long run, it can kill you. Following impulses, emotions and the values of the world is just so natural, but God has called us to lives of supernatural thinking, speaking and behaving. How about starting your own “Encouragement Board?”

Practice What You Preach

Crisis

It was late Friday afternoon outside Detroit, Michigan. We were in stop-n-go traffic on I-275 around the city.

David’s peripheral vision saw something in the rear-view mirror approaching fast, and he yelled “Hold on!” All of a sudden we felt a hard hit from behind. Our little Honda CRV was slammed from behind. They launched us up into the truck in front of us and made that truck run into the truck ahead of it.

Confused, but safe in tight seatbelts, we were ok. We did all the things that needed to be done, and in the end, our little brown companion, nicknamed “Coffee,” was deemed totaled.

Opportunity

So here was a great opportunity for us to practice what we preach. We loved that little Honda. She was paid off. David had diligently serviced and repaired her to last for 350,000 miles. She served us well for eight years and was waiting for us whenever we returned to the States. But she belonged to the Lord though, and when He saw fit that her job was over, that had to be ok.

Why Is It So Hard?

When something happens that is not what we had expected, there comes an opportunity to readjust our expectations. We profess that we have left everything in His hands, and that we belong to Him. But when loss actually happens, it still is hard. Why?

It feels like it was not right. It feels like He must have not noticed or protected. We know from scripture that is a lie. He controls and is aware of all things. He even knows the number of hairs on my head (Matt. 10:30).

Adjusting my expectations to what is evidently His different sovereign design is part of “renewing” my mind, and doing so enables me to discern His good and acceptable and perfect will for me (Rom. 12:2).

Plugging In Th(i)nkful

As the moments passed there on I-275, and we got a clearer picture of what God had for us on that Friday afternoon, we had the chance to put th(i)nkfulness into practice. Right emotions would follow right thinking.

We made phone calls to friends nearby and were overwhelmed with how God provided for us. We could see His fingerprints, and so David and I began to list what was good and what would have been much worse but didn’t happen:

  • I was able to communicate with Ann Magee and she and her husband (a pastor near Detroit) were so kind to drive a good distance to pick us up
  • The accident happened near someone we knew and not six hours away from any contacts, like where we had been the evening before
  • We walked away from an accident that could have demanded our lives or have left us handicapped in various ways
  • We weren’t at fault and didn’t have to feel badly
  • Though it made some funny noises, we were able to drive our car out of the way and up to the next exit to a safe place
  • People all over began praying for us; we felt God’s supernatural peace as we rested all things with Him and were thankful (Phil.4:6-7)
  • We did not have grandchildren in the back where they could have been hurt
  • Stephen Magee, a Physical Therapist Doctor, gave us good advice on how to work through whiplash
  • We were able to see how quickly life can change unexpectedly; the reality of every day being a gift was etched more deeply into our mind.
  • Don and Ann were so gracious to let us borrow one of their cars to complete our long trip reporting to churches and supporters
  • God allowed this accident to happen at the end of our State-side time so we were able to finish our trip up with no further need for a car before heading back to SA

Have The Renew Plan Ready

When opportunities arise that were not expected, we have to have our ‘renewing our mind’ plan ready to put into action. God’s Word is the agent of renewing correctly. We are allowed to pour out our hearts to the Lord (Psalm 62:8) and yet He asks that we are thankful in every circumstance (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Having a plan ready with truth-anchors could prove very helpful indeed.

  • I Corinthians 10:13 promises that God has checked my test. He is faithful, and with me, and will give me a way of escape as I call out to Him. My circumstances may not change, but the way I see them can.
  • Romans 8:28 promises that God is using all things to conform me to His Son. The happenings of my day are not random. He is using them to make me like Jesus as I respond like Christ would.
  • Hebrew 13:5b-6 promises that the Lord is with me and will not forsake. He is my Helper.
  • Philippians 4:13 promises that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • I am loved by my Creator even if He allows pain in my life (Psalm 119:71).
Don and Ann Magee ~ blessings flowed through them upon us

God is God and I am not.

He is completely trustworthy and does things well. I may not agree with or understand His ways, but I can trust His character and wait on Him to give me direction for each step forward.

May you be able to discern that good and acceptable and perfect (GAP) will of God in whatever twists and turns He has for you!

Picture That

Wait One Second!

“Can you just hold this for one minute?” She was getting her phone ready to snap a quick picture. “There, that’s good,” she called out.

My friend had started this habit of discovering one blessing she was thankful for each day and snapping a quick picture of it with her phone. What a fabulous idea! She would have to back up all these photos eventually, but there was still room for a lot of photos.

This is my beautiful friend. I met her at a university where we were part of a conference. She has been on my daily prayer list for a few years now. God allowed her to go through some very deep waters of sorrow.

God is trustworthy, but He certainly does not promise that our paths will be free of sorrow and pain. In fact, His Son had plenty of sorrow and pain during His earthly journey, and He instructed each of us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-24). Expect the difficulties.

She and I were able to meet for just a few precious moments and catch up. Her eyes were glittering with new life. She was drawing deeply on grace from our precious Lord Jesus who promises to give that life-giving water.

She shared a new habit that she was developing in her life. I was impressed, so I asked for permission to share it and she gladly gave it. Here it is: Every day she seeks out one thing to take a picture of that is her blessing for that day. I LOVE it!

Picture The Blessing

Now, think about what you would take a picture of today if you were to do that. Would it be the water that you have available? Would it be the air conditioning if it is super hot … or a heater if you are cold? Would it be a picture of a book you are reading … or an instrument you love to play or listen to? Food? So many options.

My friend had found hope and joy in life by concentrating on being th(i)nkful. She was intentionally looking for things that were blessings in her life. Hearing her describe her newfound habit was so inspiring to me.

In this blog, I have recommended speaking out or writing down what you are thinkful for. This adds a third practice – take a picture of it. So, now I want to look for things and capture my thanks to the Lord digitally.

Recall Mercies

Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3:21 that when we call to mind the steadfast love of the LORD and His mercies, we have hope.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:21-23

My friend had lost both a husband and a mother in the not too distant past. One was to an excruciating long road of cancer. I know that many of you have also gone through, or are going through, similar difficult roads. The Lord knows in great detail what you are experiencing. He feels with us more that we can imagine. Our human perspective is to want immediate relief. If He loves me, why did He let this happen? Why does He let it continue? I know that is what it feels like, but God is God and I am not. He sees things bigger and farther than I do. He wants me to trust Him even when it hurts like crazy.

Because of these truths I can thank Him for my circumstances:

  • God does not lie.
  • He promises that He knows what He is doing.
  • I can trust Him.
  • This life is a vapor, but the Lord and His Word will last forever
  • He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me
  • He has counted all the hairs on my head
  • He has loved me with an everlasting love
  • His Son is coming back pretty soon

When we begin to recount all of what the Lord has done, hope seeps in and begins to fill our empty, achy souls. It will eventually come right. He has promised. Keep your eyes on Him and cry out to Him to help you start to see all the gifts, the sweet things, the blessings, and the encouragements around you.

What will you take a picture of today?

Asked ~ Answered

Two Jars

David and I had dinner at a friend’s house recently and I noticed something on the counter. There were simply two glass jars labeled with ‘Asked’ and ‘Answered.’ Some small pieces of paper and a pen were conveniently placed on the jars ready to be used.

Psalm 17:6 was written out in front of the jars.

“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.”

When I asked a little more about it, I saw what an incredible tool this was to help us think thanks. A visual reminder of how God has answered our prayers stimulates th(i)nkfulness.

Our friend would write out on a piece of paper the request and drop it in the ‘Asked’ jar. Later a review would take place, perhaps over a meal, of how God was answering those requests. The answered requests would move to the ‘Answered’ jar.

Every glance at the jar would be a reminder that God indeed had heard the petitions. He had answered. Great faith builder!!

Thankful for Answers

Every day we have needs. The car doesn’t start again. That niggling pain becomes more prominent and we need medical attention. Relational challenges present themselves giving us opportunities for wisdom. Finances are dwindling. We sin and need cleansing. We sorrow and need to be renewed in our minds to remember that we are pilgrims and headed for a celestial city. We pray and ask God to please hear our cry.

He does and He answers as He sees fit and in His timing. But I wonder if we take time to really thank Him for those answers?

He answers over and over. He guides us to His Word and encourages us to grow in trust. He is faithful and true. Thank You, Lord.

But what about when He chooses to answer ‘no’ or ‘wait?’ We struggle with letting God be God, but knowing His character, we can be confident that if He explained all of His reasons for the “no” or the “wait,” or let us see the alternate reality of what would happen if He said “yes,” we would be convinced that His answer was best.

I CAN TRUST GOD’S CHOICES

I CAN TRUST GOD’S TIMING

Knowing His character, we must trust that He is doing what is best. He can be leaned upon to have the right answers, positive, negative, or pending. 🙂

Teaching Tools

Incorporating teaching tools is such a helpful way of getting a message across. Having these two jars on the kitchen counter will beg a conversation when visitors come. They can be used to teach children about learning to recognize when God has answered something that we asked Him for. Often, they will be more diligent than we are at checking and changing the slips of paper. You might find their little prayers in there as well.

Children learn more from your ‘walk’ than your ‘talk.’ Let them observe you actively looking for how we can give thanks for how God answers our requests.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

I Can Walk

Learning From Absence

“Going through a recent health challenge that left me flat on my back, unable to barely move, did a remarkable thing in my heart,” she said. “Now I rejoice just to walk through the grocery store. I give thanks I can bend and get out of bed.”

We learn best by experience. When something is taken away from us, we become acutely aware of how much we miss it. And we are more thankful if it returns.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

Thomas Haynes Bayly

From small things to big things, we grow in thankfulness when we experience its absence.

  • We bang our big toe and it hurts so badly. Just to be able to put on a shoe again becomes a cherished thing.
  • We finish a difficult project that took up all our free time … but we start to realize that we actually loved working on it.
  • We see a loved one move overseas, and we realize how much we miss them. To touch them again is so meaningful.

What are some things that have grown in value to you? Does something have to become absent for you to really be thankful for its presence?

Appreciating Presence

Focusing on things that God has given me right now and expressing thanks is cultivating contentment. It fosters observation and th(i)nkfulness. It is a mindset that promotes mental health and a peaceful life. “What I want and what I have already are the same thing.”

My friend in the opening story above had walked through the grocery store hundreds of times. Often it was rushed. When her intense back problems began and she had to be confined to bed and allow her back to heal slowly, there came a new appreciation to just be able to walk again. Perhaps the great gratitude she now feels for being able to walk would not have come unless she lost it.

But godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Lord describes a person who has great gain in 1 Timothy 6:6. That person has learned to be godly and content.

Capture Gratitude

Sometimes the capture happens automatically, like when you loose your ability to walk and it is restored, you automatically capture gratitude.

But we can capture gratitude on purpose. Over a cup of coffee, while commuting, or during free time, you can imagine one of the joys in your life, or one of your senses, is eliminated. What would you do? How would your life be different? If God chose that for you, He would give you grace to handle it and to overcome.

But now, come back to reality and praise the Lord that it is not gone! By eliminating something we count on, and then bringing it back, we can capture thankfulness. We are more motivated to not take that thing for granted, but instead appreciate it and express our thankfulness for it to the Lord.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:17

Thank You, God:

  • That my eyes work
  • That my hope is not based on me, but instead in YOU!
  • That one day You will return for us.
  • That I have access to the Word.
  • That I can walk
  • That my inner ear isn’t infected, causing me dizziness
  • That my headache lifted
  • That I have a bed to sleep in

Today focus on something to be really thankful about. Capture that thought and feed it!! 🙂

“Contentment is the only real wealth.”

Alfred Nobel

20,000 Thankfuls

How It Started

“Get it on your thankful list,” he yelled as he left the rehab. She had just finished explaining to her counselor something that she really worked hard to complete. Part of the program at this drug recovery center was that every day each person had to make a list of five things they were thankful for. It was an assignment. It felt irritating at first. Actually felt impossible.

Trying to write down anything that she was thankful for felt like walking up a steep hill.

But since she would have to report on what she wrote down at the end of the day, she acquiesced. After a few weeks, the hill didn’t seem quite so steep. The practice of writing down what she was thankful for came easier. It had become a habit … a good habit.

Other people coming through the program soon got into the same required habit. She had started recording the required five things just on the paper she had available, but it wasn’t long before she ran out of paper.

The thankful lists made their way into inexpensive journals. The required list of five things at the end of the day often grew to eight, ten, or even twelve things. She had a nice collection of those journals now. Encouraging to behold.

In fact, Sarah was getting close to finishing three years at the rehab and her thankful list had a running tally of 20,034 to date.

Counselor’s Toolbox

As a counselor I have found that the practice of learning to think thanks and expressing that thanks to God and to others has a place in my “Counselor’s Toolbox.”

In whatever counseling situation that I find myself in, gratitude is a necessary part of finding solutions and remedies.

In Ephesians 5:1-4 there is a interesting contrast presented:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints.  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."

Choosing to think and express thanksgiving is the opposite of the sin that Paul is warning the Ephesian believers about in this passage. It is the correct behavior of a person walking worthy of the Lord, walking in love, pleasing the Lord.

How Long Is Your List?

Knowing that practicing gratitude is so helpful, does it alter your own behavior? Do you have a list of things that you are thankful for? I do not have an updated tally for mine. I have so many journals and papers filled up that I am sure it is in the thousands. I do know I kept track of the first 1000.

I encourage you to invest in a th(i)nkful or gratitude journal if you find yourself in a difficult season in your life. It is a well-documented tool of hope and solution. Our Creator God knows our frame and our challenges … and He ordered us to do it.

Virtually every sin that we commit is a result of a lack of thankfulness

In the Mundane

Thinking Thanks in the Mundane

“Today I didn’t ‘waste’ the mundane. It was a temptation to view folding laundry as a nuisance. But today it turned into something with eternal value. The Holy Spirit urged me to pray as I folded Josiah’s shirt: I thought about his heart. I thought about King Josiah of the Bible (his namesake) and prayed, ‘Lord, give Josiah the desire to be a man after your heart, like King Josiah.’ Josiah’s socks: ‘Oh Lord, let Josiah be a man that runs hard after You.’

Sarahlyn’s little tea towels: ‘Lord, thank you for a little girl that wants to spend time with me drinking tea. Thank you for her heart to serve.’ Emily’s shirt: ‘Lord, use her mightily and her heart for writing music to glorify Your name. Use her Lord.’ And on and on I prayed until every piece was folded, matched, and grouped together.

The job became a joy and my thankfulness for each person and God’s goodness to me nearly spilled out of my eyes. 🥲 It’s incredible how many thoughts we can have in the mundane that have very little value. That can even be in a spirit of complaining or self-pity, or about something that isn’t good and pure. No benefit whatsoever. They can even be working against God’s best for us. But turn that time into a moment to thank Him and pray, then you’ve done kingdom work. Those are thoughts worth dwelling on. That is worth my time. We have a choice what we do with our minds in the ‘mundane.’ (At any time really.)

What if we choose to meditate on what’s good? What if even in those menial tasks that we can easily resent or see as a less desirable way to spend our time, we chose to use it as an investment… into the heart and soul of another, a deposit for eternity? What if we chose to pray? What if we chose to give thanks along the way? What a difference that would make today AND in eternity.”

This was written by my dear friend, Dawn. She has been a great inspiration to me throughout the years. I love how she takes the everyday mundane and makes it into a teaching tool.

Everyday 1 Thessalonians 5:18

When the Lord says to give thanks in all circumstances, he means giving thanks not just for the hard times, but even in the everyday mundane. I begin by being th(i)nkful, disciplining my thoughts to search for the good, the meaningful behind the mundane, asking His Spirit to guide my thoughts as a radar to spot the undetected.

Formulating that thanks into a prayer thanking the Lord for the gems in the mundane is like making an eternal deposit, turning cardboard into emeralds. In addition to that, when you weave into your prayer specific requests for the people connected to that mundaneness, your intercession not only encourages your own heart, but also brings a blessing for people outside yourself.

How could you be th(i)nkful in the mundane today?