Th(i)nkful Repels Grumpy

Natural Forces

Don’t you love how fast little round wheels can make you go on a skateboard?

There is another natural force that also interests me.  When you put two magnets together, one side attracts and one repels.  That is just the way it is.  I love being able to take advantage of something that just is because God put it into nature.

One of the advantages of being th(i)nkful is that it naturally repels complaining.  When grumpy meets th(i)nkful, they repel each other.  repelling 3In other words they are not good bedfellows. One has to leave.

When you choose to think thanks about every circumstance in your life, whether those circumstances are positive, neutral, or negative, you are creating a natural repellent to ingratitude and complaining.

When our kids were little, I would teach them the ABC’s of Scripture memory.  We had a verse for every letter of the alphabet.  I can still quote those verses as we drilled them often into our minds.  RepellingThe ‘D’ verse was “Do all things without murmuring and disputings.” (Phil. 2:14).

Complaining and murmuring seemed to come very easily to young children, and well, for that matter, to not so young children. In fact, even as adults, most of our problems seem to be rich people problems. “I lost my iPad, or our dryer just died, or we muddied our really good track shoes, or I didn’t get to the sale on time.” We are blessed to even having such problems.

Choosing to think thanks about whatever it was that initiated the complaining had a way of expelling the ingratitude.

Choose to be Thankful

Really, it is not that hard.  Just choose to be thankful! Repelling 1You refuse to think the grumpy thoughts of complaining and instead exercise your will to think thanks about whatever is in front of you.

The beautiful natural thing that happens is that you begin to repel the negative force of murmuring and you experience grace to embrace prickly things that God has ordained in your life to make you more like His Son.

My Own Choice

I am writing this to stimulate you to think thanks, but I’ll let you in on a secret.  I need to be reminded of these principles myself.  David and I have had the unique privilege of doing extensive traveling this past year and it is not over yet.  Our journeys have taken us from New Zealand to China; Seattle to Philadelphia; Kansas to Wisconsin.  Later this year we are moving to Amanzimtoti, South Africa.  Yes, it is amazing.  I really do love it.  BUT…it is exhausting and I struggle to choose gratitude at times.

So, let me make a th(i)nkful list in regards to travel:

  1. We get to experience and learn so many new things
  2. Our own view of life is challenged when we observe how others live
  3. Seeing how big the world is makes us realize how big our God is
  4. We get to taste different foods
  5. Connection with the Body of Christ all over the world is extremely encouraging
  6. We get a vast amount of exposure to illustrate lessons of life
  7. We may be a connection point for other people
  8. God gives us enough strength to do His will

So here’s to future trips coming up! I choose to think thanks and get on my roller blade.  David, I am right behind you! 🙂

Repelling 2

Simple Travel Tips

There are tricks you can put into use that ease the difficulties.

  • Plan out a clothes package that mix and matches
  • Drink lots of water to help with air travel
  • Perhaps take an aspirin the day before air-travel to thin your blood
  • When flying, get up and move from time to time to avoid bloodclots
  • Have a checklist to go over so you don’t forget important things like charging cords, brush or comb, makeup, toothbrush and toothpaste, inflatable neck pillow, headphones, reading material
  • Have a toiletry bag with things just for travel if possible
  • Keep thank you cards in your suitcase

 

Th(i)nkful Exercises

Happy Thanksgiving from the US!

Although for me the idea of cultivating thinking thanks is not just limited to a “Thanksgiving” holiday, I am still so grateful that there is a focus on gratitude this week!  In order to celebrate that, I have compiled some cool examples of how to implement being th(i)nkful.

Examples of Being Th(i)nkful

th(i)nkful exercisesTHE DAILY EXCHANGE. Every day Elisa and Nicole text back and forth things they are #thinkful for.  They have developed a pattern to spur each other on to look for things that they are thinking thanks about that day.  Both of these ladies live in a climate where a long winter is approaching and it becomes harder to feel thankful and more necessary to think thanks.  I welled up with tears to read that they were doing this. How cool! Having an accountability partner to keep you on track helps incredibly.

THE ICEBREAKER. Last Tuesday evening I was speaking to a ladies’ group about being th(i)nkful and at the end of our time together, the leader suggested that we play an icebreaker game.

Everyone got a 3×5 piece of paper and we wrote down one thing that we were thankful for.  It could be anything: a breeze in the air, beauty of nature, clean white sheets, laughter. We then folded the papers in half and placed them in a basket. When all the papers were completed, Allyson, the leader, opened and read each paper.  She did this two times.  The game consisted of trying to figure out who wrote each one of the papers. The first person made a guess. If she was wrong, the next person got to guess, moving clockwise around the room. When a person guessed correctly, the person, whose thankful item had been discovered, moved to sit by the one who guessed correctly. They now formed a team and were given a bonus turn. The game continued in this manner until all the peoples’ thankful items were revealed. If a person guessed someone’s item correctly, and that person was part of a team, the whole team moved by the one who guessed correctly.

 

IMG_3576TH(I)NKFUL JOURNAL. My friend Marni sent me this picture. She had been given a small journal.  It was to inspire one to write down one thing every day that your were th(i)nkful for. Our brains develop neural pathways by doing something over and over again.  At first it feels like you are carving a difficult path through the woods, but as you do it over and over, it starts to happen automatically.

 

TH(I)NKFUL JAR. Another idea is to have a big jar with little papers and pens nearby. As you or your family go through the week, each person writes down something or someone that they are th(i)nkful for. At a time where all are present, somebody opens the jar and reads all the papers. On a bigger scale this could even be a year long project.

 

AT THANKSGIVING. If you are having a Thanksgiving dinner this week, maybe around the table each person could give one thing they are thinking thanks about this year.

 

TH(I)NKFUL VOLLEY. “th(i)nkful volley” is passing an imaginary “ball” back and forth where the person receiving the ball gives one thing they are thinking thanks about. David and I often will engage in th(i)nkful volley while driving on a trip. It has helped us get a better perspective on how we should view life!th(i)nkful volley 1

 

TH(I)NKFUL EDIFICATION. Warning! Powerful!  The “th(i)nkful list.” In a group of people, give each person several strips of paper correlating with the number of other people in the group. Write one person’s name on each of the papers.  Then write down one thing you are thankful for about that person. Collect the papers and then have a narrator group each person’s strips of papers.  Then, have the narrator read all the things people were thankful for about each person.  This has the potential to be life-changingly powerful. 🙂

 

Remarkable Tool

The Tool of th(i)nkful

The concept of th(i)nkful is not designed to be just more written material on thankfulness that logs in the corridors of your mind. There are loads of books out there on gratitude and the benefits of being thankful. Rather, th(i)nkful is a tool that shows you how you can think thanks and express that thanks orally or in a written form, thereby obeying the Lord when He says that you are to give thanks in every circumstance.

The job that needs to be done is to carve a thought pattern that is quick to analyze things for which we can be thankful.

Tools2There are ways to build thought patterns within our minds to always be on the lookout for what we can think thanks about in every situation – I’ll call them “carving tools.”  Carving a groove – creating a mental preoccupation with thankfulness – is a safeguard that can keep our hearts and souls from destruction. There are times when it is easy to identify what to be thankful for, and there are times when being thankful is the last thing you want to be. A cool side benefit of this groove is that as you carve out the brain pattern, it becomes easier and easier to “get in the groove” – to spontaneously recognize the things to be thankful for.

Decide, Carve, and Express

The active parts of the definition of th(i)nkful are: choose, think, and express.

th(i)nkful is a determined choice to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance that comes my way and express that thanks orally or in a written form.

My trust in the Lord enables me to choose to think thanks, but it is not enough to just think it, but I must express it either orally or in a written form.  The expressing part is the observable part that God and others appreciate. That expression of thanks is to someone and not just for something.

God has issued a command: “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  We have to figure out how we can implement that command.  As with most good things in life, it begins with a choice in the heart. This initial commitment then is followed with a hundred small decisions reminding me to search for the good elements in the circumstance, or the greater good that will come from it. Each time I do this, I carve the rut of holiness deeper, and the more I get in the habit of doing this, the easier it will come for me.  But as a necessary next step, these gems of truth can’t just stay in my thoughts, but must radiate their way out of me by either something I speak or write.

Get in the Habit

Although there is some speculation as to how long it takes to formulate a new habit, most research says that 30 days is a good start for setting a new pattern.  I tend to be like a turtle and set little goals at a time.  How about choosing to begin forming a pattern in your mind that you will be th(i)nkful to God for one thing every day and express that to someone or write it down?

I had a reader recently write that in their family they have started a habit that before they pray with their children at bedtime, everyone says one thing they are thankful for from that day. That is a great start!

Changing Perspective without Changing Circumstances

I have to utool5se the tool of choosing to think thanks and then express that thanks orally or in a written form. I put on the “glasses of gratitude” and look at everything around me and in me through those lenses.  God has promised that He is sovereign and is going to give me all I need to do His will if I will appropriate that grace (I Cor.10:13).

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

I Thess. 5:18

Write it down

 

Th(i)nkful Laundry List

IMG_9059

Laundry list: a long or exhaustive list of people or things.

Have you ever crafted a laundry list of things you are th(i)nkful for? Don’t just brainstorm; write them down.

Here is a sampling of mine:

  • hearing rain falling
  • the smell of mown grass
  • the laundry of Hobbits drying in the sun (pic above)
  • the sound of eating a crisp chip
  • a child’s face of anticipation
  • the feeling I get when I do something I really didn’t want to do, but knew I should
  • smelling coffee brewing
  • seeing someone’s face after telling them how much you appreciate him/her
  • the threshold when I overcome a fear
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • chai tea prepared perfectly with sprinkled cinnamon on top
  • hope created in a difficult challenge
  • when someone is kind to a check-out teller
  • peace that permeates a space that was previously occupied by stress
  • deep joy that comes from my Creator
  • clean paper and sharp pencils
  • a good story with deep characters that inspire
  • answers to seemingly unsurmountable complications
  • a hot bath with bath oil
  • trusting in something trustworthy
  • truth
  • when thinking about truth causes fear to subside
  • David’s hands and forearms
  • sleep coming over me
  • clean fresh water
  • colors…especially green
  • love that sacrifices
  • touch of leather
  • a car that works well
  • sin confessed
  • cello music
  • Ephesians
  • Jesus
  • My Momma’s sweet face
  • birches
  • dyna mi (my feather comforter)
  • Grapetizer
  • Yankee Candles burning
  • giraffes
  • relief after pain
  • a clean conscience
  • a word of encouragement
  • singing a memorized spiritual song to myself
  • the smell and feel of fresh European bread
  • paying off a debt
  • a pleasant surprise
  • graduation
  • victory over plaguing sin
  • a commendation
  • kind thoughtfulness and thoughtful kindness
  • Joshua’s steadfastness
  • Stephanie’s thoughtful cards and gifts
  • Nicolas’ encouragement
  • Elly’s selfless kindness
  • an older woman in the Lord (not necessarily older age-wise) sharing wisdom and encouragement with me, especially how her life was changed because of scriptural truth
  • playing chess
  • my grandchildren’s faces
  • getting Zulu words down
  • when a friend finishes their life well for the Lord

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.”

Lyrics from Sound of Music

How about composing your own list and sending the 10 best to me?

above picture taken in Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

Th(i)nkful for Jeff Buckman

Our Deepest Drive

What would you do with a million dollars? What would you do with a multi-million dollar company? The answer to those types of questions tells a lot about us. What do we value? What do we prioritize? Do we think of spending or saving or investing? Jesus said that your heart and your money occupy the same place (Matthew 6:21).

“My” Money – From God and Back to Him

Jeff Buckman is the owner of Buckman’s Inc., a smaller family business that God has privileged him to develop over three decades into a major provider of pool and ski products in the greater Philadelphia area. We first got to know Jeff and Nancy in our young marrieds’ group at Limerick Chapel.  My husband actually worked for Jeff a couple of summers while we were teaching.Buckmans

Jeff is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and a promoter of His mission around the world.  Through his close friendship with missionaries, his leading teams on multiple short-term mission trips each year, and his service on the board of the mission agency we serve with, Jeff has experienced cultures, engaged in gospel outreach, and assisted in church plants on every habitable continent on earth. He knows business. He knows missions.

Ingenuity

Our General Director, Paul Seger (right in pic below), loves coffee and in a chat with Jeff one day said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could figure out a way to finance missions by drinking coffee.” There was a chuckle, but Jeff’s gears started turning. Working with Christian importers and a Christian roaster (Twin Valley Coffee), he cleverly created CoffeeHelpingMissions, a coffee company that gives 100% of its profits to support mission activity around the world.

Imagine! Capitalizing on something as simple as coffee, that people drink worldwide, to benefit missions. Although Starbucks’ claim that coffee is the second-most traded commodity after oil is not true, coffee is still a very hot item on the market and it would be difficult to find a country where it is not available in some form.

Jeff

Check out this YouTube video: Buckman explaining how CoffeeHelpingMissions.com worksJeff 3

Th(i)nkful Lessons

There are two lessons about being th(i)nkful here:

  1. We need to be th(i)nkful for blessings, but even more importantly, we need to be th(i)nkful to those who are the sources of those blessings, the immediate source being the people around us, and the ultimate source being the God who is the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
  2. We need to express our thankfulness to that person, and to others about that person. Hence, this post!

I am th(i)nkful for Jeff and his desire to promote the gospel and encourage missions and missionaries. Here is a man that exemplifies I Timothy 6:17-19. Through his  generous, cautious, and resourceful ingenuity, he seeks to use the gifts God has given him to invest back into God’s causes.

It is amazing how inspiring it can be to observe a real-life person that lives out what he believes. I am eager to see his reward one day at the Bema Seat.

IMG_3804_100_1Eternity Glasses

Being a MK (missionary kid) myself, and now an adult missionary, it strengthens my heart when a person eagerly and intelligently sacrifices to push forward such a cause. He is living out his regular ordinary life with eternity glasses on.

David and I have been greatly edified by this man.  In our family, Jeff Buckman is a man that is admired for his gift of giving and his clever handling of resources.

th(i)nkful ~ thinking thanks

 

Th(i)nkful in Anxiety

1 Lofoten D

This is a real place. I know it looks magical, but this place exists. It is located in Reine, Norway. The rock pinnacle rises out of the sea and extends high into the sky.  The quaint village nestles around the bottom of the peak. What an idyllic scene among the Lofoten islands on Norway’s west coast.

Joy from a rock

When David, and the kids and I first left for South Africa in 1995, I had composed a little chorus from Ps. 62:2. “He alone is my Rock and my salvation. He is my defense; I shall not greatly be moved.” I sang that over and over again and it comforted my heart in those days of transition and ambiguity. When we got settled into our first home there, a precious gift from the Lord was that, from my kitchen window in the house that our co-workers had selected for us, I could see a huge lone rock on top of a little hill.

IMG_2536The Lord IS our Rock, and He wants us to meditate and give thanks for that.

Beating anxiety

When we feel the lure of anxiety and worry, the Lord has told us how we should process that temptation. In Philippians 4:6-8 He gives us a guideline to follow when those anxious thoughts spin relentlessly in our minds.

  1. Firstly, without any question of confusion, we are NOT to be anxious.
  2. Secondly, we are to pray and pour out our heart to Him in supplication (the action of asking or begging for something earnestly, humbly, and specifically).
  3. Thirdly, that plea is to be surrounded and immersed with thanksgiving. We are to be th(i)nkful in our anxiety test. We are to trust God to be our Rock, and Provider, and Deliverer.

Worry is self-oriented and inward focused.  Love and trust in God is outward focused.  When I dare, through the power of the Spirit, to trust fully that God is in control and rest in His sovereignty, even in the smallest detail, the peace of God will flow within me in a supernatural manner. He promises to keep (guard) my emotions and my mind through Christ Jesus. He continues to urge me to meditate on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

Write it down

Why not write down 5 things right now that you can be th(i)nkful for when tempted with worry!

  1. God takes care of the birds of the field and He promises to take care of me (Matt. 6:26).
  2. God will give me enough strength to reach out to others to do His will for my life and for the advancing of His kingdom.
  3. God IS my Rock (Ps. 18:2). I can trust Him to show me the next step.
  4. God is ultimately going to take me home to Himself, which is really the best thing that could happen to me.
  5. God cares so much for me that He has even counted all the hairs on my head (Matt. 10:30-31).

The Rock stays firm and as my eyes are fixed on Him, His peace, like water fills up my being.

img_1590.jpg

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just

Deuteronomy 32:4

Th(i)nkful – Producing Grace

A Gratitude Journal

Nick and Julia 1This is a picture of our son, Nicolas, and his beautiful Julia.   They gave me a special present this year for my birthday –  a Daily Gratitude Journal! In this journal there are only blank pages divided by a line in the middle and a space on which to put the date. You could use really any kind of notebook to do the same thing. The idea behind it is to get into a pattern of writing down your th(i)nkful list. At the end of the day you take a moment to reflect on what you were thankful   for that day.

IMG_2253I started doing that after getting this book from Nick and Julia. Some entries are not so full. Some entries can barely fit all that I want to record. But the beautiful thing that I find happening to me is that, as I go through my days, I make mental notes of the things I need to remember to record that evening. This goes for easy days, as well has hard days.

In the Valley of Shadows

Recently, I have been hit with a lot of opportunities for wisdom. So many people I know personally have been ushered into a valley of shadows – getting better acquainted with cancer. I see in my own behavior that, although I know what the truth is and know my responsibility to act in accordance with it, I still can be overwhelmed with sadness and heaviness in my heart. I chide myself for not being stronger. The truth is, when I cannot understand God’s ways, I must hold on to His character. I must simply “hold on to Jesus.” Let me illustrate.

Song of the Orphans

A few years back, David and I had the privilege of interacting with some precious people in Shongwe Mission, South Africa.  This neighborhood was filled with orphan-led households.  In other words, both parents were gone and there were children caring for each other.  One home with 6 children was led by a 12-year-old named Lalif. I remember being struck with such admiration and yet sadness and hopelessness.

IHold on to Jesus learned a gem that afternoon. Our group sang songs for them and in return they wanted to sing for us. They did a much better job. 🙂 One of the songs they sang was “Hold on to Jesus, Hold on, Hold on, Hold on.” I thought to myself that wow, that doctrine was so shallow.  They should have been taught deeper truths.  However, the gem I discovered was that the most important thing to do when going through horrendous difficulties and challenges is to “Hold on to Jesus.”

“Trust in Him at all times, you people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8).

I just can’t give way to the temptation to begin to doubt the Lord’s goodness and purposes.  Trust.  He is writing a bigger story that I could even imagine.  He asks me to be filled with the Spirit in Eph. 5:18. A description of what that filling looks like comes in verses 19-20.  I am to speak to myself in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  I am to sing and make melody in my heart to the Lord.  I am to give thanks always for all things to God in the name of Jesus Christ.

“I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord” Isaiah 63:7

When faced with difficulties, these are the things I can recount:

  1. God is God and I am not
  2. This life is a vapor and we are headed to a much better place if we have trusted in Jesus alone for our salvation
  3. God’s promises hold fast
  4. The Lord will never leave, nor forsake
  5. Somehow good will come out of pain and suffering
  6. My job is to respond to hardship with thinking thanks; like for example,  just yesterday a music therapist came into the hospital room of my loved one and played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”
  7. God is trustworthy; He can deftly handle all my trust
  8. God will not test me above what I am able and will answer my cry to be Spirit-filled right in the trial
  9. God hears our cries for healing and will do what is best; teaching a myriad of lessons along the way
  10. I can be edified by singing; some good selections are Chris Anderson’s song, “I Run to Christ,” or Getty’s, “Still, My Soul Be Still, or Matthew Decker’s “Fullness of Joy” (Psalm 16)
  11. I can look for God’s fingerprints of grace and kindness along the way; they are there

When I choose to be th(i)nkful – a determined choice to download grace/strength from the Lord to think thanks about every circumstance that comes my way and express that thanks orally or in a written form – grace starts to spring up in my heart. It may just be a little trickle at first, but as my thoughts begin to meditate on all the Lord has done and is doing, it bubbles more and more.  Being thinkful produces grace.

 

Simply Lavender

simply lavender

One reason I am doing this blog is to get people speaking about and writing down the things for which they are thankful. Most people wait for feelings of thankfulness, but we should live more purposefully. We can obviously be thankful for big things, but much of the joy in life is found in expressing thanks for little things. Lavender for example.

th(i)nkful list about lavender:

  1. the scent makes me feel expensive and classy
  2. lavender has a natural ability to sooth and relax
  3. lavender grows well on the hill around 7 Rivers Farm
  4. lavender is growing presently around our home in Atlanta, GA
  5. I love how God has created herbs to aid the well-being of humans
  6. lavender is the herb “spikenard” referred to in Song of Solomon 4:14
  7. Mary anointed Jesus’ feet in John 12:3 with costly spikenard (lavender oil)
  8. lavender can deter moths in stored clothing
  9. lavender grows usually in neat compact mounds
  10. lavender seems to have insect repellent properties, and maybe even repels snakes
  11. sprinkling lavender flower heads in bath water is such a treat to refresh