Th(i)nkful in the Gauntlet

What is a Gauntlet?

A gauntlet is an intimidating, frightening, and sometimes dangerous set of tests that must be endured or gone through in order to reach a desired place or an end goal.  

Remember in the movie, “First Knight,” IMG-7223how Lancelot willingly volunteered to run the gauntlet? There were blades, spikes, swords, bludgeons, paddles, and heavy balls whirling about him at different speeds, and from different directions.

He had to have excellent timing to avoid the sharp blades and dexterity to slip between the huge obstacles.  Those watching were holding their breath because the odds were not good that he would make it to the end unharmed.  But he did. 🙂

Perhaps you are in a gauntlet of sorts right now.  Life is full of challenging storms, warped pavement, intimidating obstacles, repetitious hurdles, and bends in the road through which God is trying to move us toward a closer relationship of trust with Him.

Our Gauntlet

David and I have our own gauntlet that we are running.  We are headed back to the mission field this evening.  Our plane leaves Atlanta 41968135_10160844145675273_4747634137211338752_naround 10 pm and we arrive in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, on Thursday morning, Lord willing.  These past few months we have been so busy preparing and packing … and today we go.

As we head out on this third missionary journey, I have been eager to embrace staying th(i)nkful right in the process.

Yes, there are times when I have cried so hard because we will be further away from our kids and grandchildren.  And the upcoming test of learning Zulu is daunting to me.  But putting feet to the th(i)nkful idea has brought such joy and peace.

Keeping Steady

There’s something that I do when I go through hard times that the Lord has encouraged me with.  I seek for a Bible verse to be an anchor for my soul that I can memorize and feed on.  Often I am able to come up with a little tune for the verse, and I sing it as I hurry about to accomplish the tasks and challenges before me. That little tune runs with me and inspires me to keep my thoughts where they ought to be…on Him.

Psalm 73:28 is my Zululand anchor.

“But it is good for me to draw near to God, I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all your works.”

Last evening, we had a final visit with our precious son and his family.  After enjoying pizza together we went up to the children’s bedroom and sat around singing songs and praying together.  We sang my little Psalm 73:28 chorus with Nicolas easily picking up the guitar chords.  What an indelible memory and gift that was for me as we leave.  I am so incredibly blessed!

My th(i)nkful list:

  • God never leaves me nor forsakes me; He is equally present on the other side of the earth
  • This life is a vapor; heaven is not now, but it’s coming (gauntlets don’t last forever)
  • My husband loves to serve the Lord and is eager to push himself out of his comfort zone to learn a new language and serve new people
  • We have an incredible prayer support team.  They are “holding the ropes” for us
  • Going through this packing process has simplified my life; it feels so good to not have so much stuff
  • Josh and Celeste and their children Face-timed us this morning to say goodbye and tell us that they are praying for us
  • My Dad is so proud of us and promises to pray often
  • Dan and Deb Willoughby are receiving us into their own home a few days on the field to let us get our feet
  • Justin and Stephanie and precious boys came down the weekend before to just be together
  • Pastor Chris, Joe, Greg, Mac, Doug, Dr. Miles, and Steve laid hands on us and prayed over us on Sunday, with an entire congregation surrounding us as they sent us out
  • Psalm 73:28
  • I am not coughing
  • I don’t have a headache
  • Jonny and Elly in China are following our journey
  • We get to bring our pillows and our soft duvet
  • Julia wanted me to teach her hand-quilting last night before I left
  • The Indian Ocean is beautiful and magnificent and we will be very close
  • We have an incredible hope in Jesus and His work on the cross

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

 

 

Can’t Stop It!

Abounding Water

overflowing 4Whether you imagine Iguazu Falls in South America, Victoria Falls in Zambia, Niagara Falls in New York, or the Laguna hot springs in the Philippines, each gives us a strong image of abounding water that can’t be stopped.  Strong, smooth, steady, and striking in their beauty, the abounding flow cannot be held back and rushes over the edge.

Some synonyms for abounding: very plentiful, abundant, considerable, copious, ample, lavish, profuse, boundless, prolific, inexhaustible, generous, galore.

Abounding Thanksgiving

The Apostle Paul once wrote to new believers in a town called Colossae. He had never met them, but as with so many of his letters, he wanted to straighten out their understanding of Christ and then help them see how that would straighten out the way that they lived life. He told them to focus on the foundation:

“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  Colossians 2:6-7

Inexhaustible thankfulness, he said, is an integral part of the very foundation of the Christian life. In one sentence, Paul used four metaphors! The rooting of a tree, the construction of a building, the settlement of a colony, and the overflow of a waterfall.

sodaburstThe word translated “abounding” from the Greek unfortunately has no English equivalent.  It means “to super-abound, to be excessive, to go way beyond.”

We’re not talking about something mild, occasional, or comfortable here. Because of the gospel of Christ, we’ve been rescued, ransomed, redeemed, restored, adopted, declared righteous, vested with an inheritance, given a different road, a different Guide, a different purpose, and a different destination.

We need to literally bubble up and burst with thanksgiving, like the bottle of soda you dropped just before the party. The same word is used in 1 Corinthians 15:58 where we are told to always abound in the work of the Lord.

Abounding and You?

A person growing in Christ should be abounding in thanksgiving.  This is a basic Christian-life skill.  It’s fundamental.  So what does that look like for me?  Is this something that just happens naturally or do I need to consciously work on thinking thanks in order to abound in thanksgiving?  Duty begins with discipline but can end up as a delight.

There can be no doubt that God desires us to be thankful. How about trying to just think of one thing today that you could express thankfulness for to someone?

Drop.  Trickle.  Flow.  Gush!

The Pyramids of Egypt

Intrigue from the Pyramids

The Great Pyramid at Giza outside Cairo, Egypt, is the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to still exist. We visited there a couple weeks ago on our way to a teaching assignment in Alexandria. Riding the camels at the pyramids was a lifelong dream.

CONSTRUCTION:Pyramids of Egypt No one knows how Pharaoh Khufu built his Great Pyramid back in 2560 BC, 500 years before Abraham. It included 2.3 million blocks weighing 20+ tons each. If they finished it in 20 years, that would mean laying a block every 4 minutes, day and night so tightly that you can’t fit a piece of paper between them! It was 480 feet tall, the tallest building in the world for 3800 years.

We walked the base – 760 feet long – and it is perfectly horizontal to within a half inch. The perimeter was 2x pi of the height, what is known as phi or the Golden Ratio. The orientation of the pyramid to true north was better than almost any modern building. In fact, with today’s technology, we could not reconstruct this pyramid.

ASTRONOMY: Triangular casing stones used to line the pyramids creating a smooth shining surface. At the spring equinox on March 21st of each year, light came down the north side for the first time that year.Pyramids of Egypt 3

The Egyptians believed the dark area of the night sky around which the stars appear to revolve was the physical gateway into heaven. One of the narrow shafts that extend from the main burial chamber through the entire body of the Great Pyramid points directly towards the center of this part of the sky. This suggests the pyramid may have been designed to serve as a means to magically launch the deceased pharaoh’s soul directly into the abode of the gods.

Our Connection with the Pyramids

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Although there is great mystery as to how this ancient people could build such a huge, precise, and complex structure, one thing is certain. They wanted to leave a lasting memory of their Pharaoh Khufu. There was intrigue with the afterlife and possible ways of resurrection. Even the wealthy, strong, powerful and mighty are eventually conquered by death.

My thoughts go to Hebrews 9:27. “And as it is appointed unto men to die, but after this the judgment.”  All of us, whether Pharaoh or lowly worker, will face our Creator one day. In my own family we have become more acquainted with death this past week with the passing of a family member into eternity.

In light of that, how should we approach each new day? What investment will you make today in the souls of humans and God’s Word (the two things that will last forever)? A wise woman told me once that ‘eternity’ should be stamped on the back of my eyelids.

I am th(i)nkful, meditating on things I want to give thanks for,  in regards to eternity:

  1. I do not not need to build a huge pyramid to ensure that God will raise me from the dead (I Corinthians 15:52).
  2. God has numbered all my days (Psalm 139:16).
  3. Man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
  4. Keeping eternity in focus helps me keep the goal clear in my vision (Hebrews 12:2).
  5. God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7).
  6. God has provided enough wherewithal for me to do His will. I will not run out of grace (Ephesians 2:10; I Corinthians 10:13).
  7. Hebrews 13: 20-21. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

What are You Th(i)nkful for in Regards to Eternity?

God is God. God is good. God is good at being God.

Thank you, God, for the gift of another breath, help me live my remaining days filled with trust in Your character and purposes. May I overflow with thankfulness, expressing it liberally to You and others.

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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

 

Pathway through the Woods

Brain Neural Pathwaywooded debris 1

Cultivating  th(i)nkfulness can be compared to carving a path through the woods.  It  seems overwhelming at first with debris and obstructions.  It takes great effort to remove fallen logs and roots.  You may need some tools like a spade and a chainsaw, or good sharp clippers.

Our brains are similar in that forging a new brain pattern or neural pathway in order to create a new life habit is daunting at first but gets easier with time. God has created our brains to be able to do this.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.

How Do I Do It?

The first practical step you do when beginning to carve a brain path, is to deliberately lay out a plan. Your goal is to have your thoughts automatically head towards what to think thanks about in any given situation. You begin to search in your thoughts for things that you can be thankful for.

If you are in an unusually happy situation, it’s not very hard to find things to be thankful for. Even in normal, day-to-day times it’s not hard to begin to discover th(i)nkful items.

However, when hard times come, the difficulty  level rises to delineate thankful items. Let me illustrate with this example from my friend Dawn:

“My heart was tempted to complain about the mounds of laundry today. The Holy Spirit reminded me, “Be thankful. Think thanks.”

So as I’m folding I start saying in my mind…
Thank You, God for these clothes.
Thank You for your provision of new and used hand-me-downs.
Thank You that they are clothes we got to choose and that we like them. 😊
Thank You for the little (and big) legs that move to make these pants dirty.
Thank You for the soap to wash them.
Thank You for the washing machine that washes and I don’t have to do it by hand.
Thank You for the tumble dryer that works in my basement, and that I don’t have to air dry them in the cold.
Thank You for the dryer that gets the wrinkles out so I don’t have to iron.
Thank You that I am able to be at home and squeeze this chore in between schooling.
Thank You for the energy and wellness to do this. I’m not sick in bed.
The list could go on…
Be th(i)nkful. Think thanks when you’re tempted to complain in your heart.

She chose to download grace and begin carving the neural brain pathway of thinking thanks about the situation.  She then expressed it.  Engaging in the discipline of being th(i)nkful ended up not only helping her mindset, but encouraging others to do likewise.

Patiently Conquer Step by Step

The habit of cultivatipath through woodsng thinking thanks takes time.  You have to see progress in little steps at a time.  Think about that path through the woods. As you step by step conquer the mess, soon the path becomes apparent.

In time you will be able to run that path.  How cool!!

This exercise is much more that just creating a better mindset for us.  Practicing th(i)nkfulness is an act of worship to our Redeemer who has given us a command.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  He knows that being grateful is a key to our sanctification and maturity in Him.

So… I just wanted to get you started this year on developing that brain pathway through the ‘woods.’

Who doesn’t enjoy a walk in the woods anyway?? 🙂

wooded-path-e1513099191945.jpg

Revealer of our Heart

Season of Opening Boxes

opening box 2

Not sure how things are at your house, but I know for many, these weeks are so busy with boxes.  There are small boxes, and large boxes, fat boxes, and thin boxes.  Secrets and presents are busily being purchased, baked, built or developed to be revealed at the perfect time.

opening box 1The outside appearance of a box can hide a multitude of things.  It is often quite difficult to imagine what is inside.  The actual item may be a lot smaller than the box, but the box is filled with tissue paper as a playful deception. That’s part of the giddiness of Christmas giving – concealing the contents, avoiding the predictable. At the appropriate time, however, the lid comes off and what is inside becomes visible.

Pulling the Lid Off My Heart

The same is true with the human heart – you don’t know what’s inside until the lid comes off. Some of us put more stock, investment, and armor in our façade than others. But with the right amount of pressure or intoxication, the box opens up and … wow!

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.”  Psalm 140:13

opening box 4The Psalmist makes a revealing statement about the righteous person in Ps. 140:13.  Someone who loves God and is cleansed by the Lamb, will surely give thanks. They will have a bent towards wanting to be th(i)nkful.  It will fit for them and not feel out of place.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says that even when the box is suddenly ripped open, one of the first things people should see inside is the giving of thanks.  Yes, there may be hurt, pain, sorrow, expectations in ashes, and a thousand tears, but they will be intertwined with this unbelievable ribbon of thanks. That is God’s will.  It may not be easy all the time.  It is hard work to develop the mindset of thinking thanks about every situation, but it is profitable and fitting because God has designed it that way.

So How Is Your Box?

Opening the box of a righteous person’s heart should expose gratitude and a desire to express thanks.  I don’t know about you, but this was convicting for me.  My heart should be full of giving thanks.

When my thoughts are conflicted with frustrations and disappointments, I should take a reality check.  What is really important here?  Am I getting all bent out of shape because of a trivial thing?  May the peace of God rule in my heart and filter my thoughts so that I can quickly give thanks for His name, His character, and the plan He is working out.

Merry Christmas!

May you and yours have a lovely season of concealing and revealing boxes. However, let it be a reminder of your own heart box and what is in it.  Let the Lord pour His grace and strength into you so that you, in turn, can choose to think thanks about every circumstance in your life and express that thanks, first to God, and then to others.

opening box 3

 

Cutting Produces Thirst

Cutting the Christmas Tree

David and I just picked out our Christmas tree.  The fresh scent of Fraser fir filled our senses as we browsed through the trees available.  We finally settled on a lovely tree that looked full and balanced.

After we paid, the attendant cut off the lower branches to make it manageable to put into the Christmas tree stand, and he cut a fresh piece off the trunk.  The purpose of cutting the main trunk was to open up the pores and allow the tree to drink in a lot of water, thereby allowing it to stay fresher longer.cutting a fir tree 1

The pores had begun to close after the initial cut a while back when it was brought from the farm in North Carolina. Without water, those exposed fibers were dead now. The trunk needed a fresh cut to open those pores again and satiate the thirst of the poor thing. This cut was for the good of the tree, to enable it to fulfill its purpose well. Now the tree could stay hydrated longer to keep its needles, and grace a family’s living room.

A Fresh Cut Will Make Me Thirsty

I thought about how this compares with our lives.  Our spiritual “pores” will often close or grow calloused over time; I don’t feel the need for God, and I don’t talk with Him, like ever.  It is when I receive a fresh “cut” – the pang of a trial – that the pores are wide open and thirsty again. My life is a Psalm again – crying out to the Lord and taking hope and courage in my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer.

Familiarity and sameness is lovely and predictable, but they can make me grow apathetic.  I especially am a person that loves to cling to schedule and expectations.  I have found over time though, that what I need to cling to is the Lord and rest in His values and expectations, His schedule.  He often will allow a fresh cut to make me more thirsty for Him and not get too comfortable in my routine in this world.

When I have developed the habit of being th(i)nkful, there is a coping mechanism that is engaged when the cut happens. I know what to do. I begin to draw up the character and purposes of the Water of Life, and brainstorm things that I can think thanks about in the difficult situation.  Stress, anger, fear, or sadness may try to get me off track, but if I download the grace the Lord offers, and engage my thoughts to think thanks and express that thanks, there is a peace that begins to flow.

Cutting a fir tree 4

Let the fresh cuts of the Lord in your life open you wide to drink deeply from the One who offers living water that satisfies your soul.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes”
Psalm 119:71

 

Playing Chess Against “King Self”

Chess

How could playing chess help cultivate thinking thanks?

A lot actually. Chess is a thinking game. You have to try to protect your king against assaults and instead seek to pin down the opposing king.  Most inexperienced players only look to respond after each move (I may or may not fall into this category), but experienced players realize that victory comes from a planned approach, thinking many moves in advance.

History of Chess

Chess started in India back in the 1500’s.  It spread to Persia and later on with the Moors into Spain and southern Europe.  In the mid-1800’s chess tournaments began.  In 1886, the first World Chess Championship was held.  Online chess games became popular in the 1990’s. Magnus Carlsen

A 2012 survey found that chess players now make up one of the largest communities in the world: 605 million adults play chess regularly.  Chess is played at least once a year by 12% of British people, 15% of Americans, 23% of Germans, 43% of Russians, and 70% of Indian people. Magnus Carlsen (at right) is the reigning world chess champion presently, and I might add that he is a Norwegian.

How do you play chess with ungratefulness?

Playing chess defensively is planning to lose; you must play offensively.  You must evaluate threats, look for clever ways to dodge those threats, and keep on the offensive.  “King Self” is the enemy when it comes to cultivating gratitude. The Self is self-ruling, self-serving, self-exalting, and wants to totally rule our bodies, our minds, our circumstances, and other people around us for its own benefit.

Our selfish desires are powerful and demanding, wanting heaven and utopia for ourselves right now. The standard is absolute perfection – “I want a perfect day, a perfect job, perfect children, a perfect car, a perfect phone, a perfect spouse,” and so on.  King Self does not want to look for things to think thanks about. It spots the imperfections and short-comings right away and responds with grumpy murmuring, complaining, anger, arguments, and even despair. We have to change the way we think in order to defeat King Self.

Let’s imagine that the opposing chess pieces represent key enemies of thankfulness: doubt, laziness, lust, envy, anxiety, and selfishness. We move our pawn to block an obvious fallacy – this isn’t heaven, there is no perfection in this life, and things could be much worse. We move our rook into position by meditating on the fact that our God is a strong tower – the sovereign, wise, trustworthy, and good controller of all things. We slide up the bishop of contentment to threaten the queen of jealousy and envy. The knight jumps into position by choosing to think thanks even when we don’t feel like it.  The queen of power and peace moves across the entire board to take down anxiety.  Finally, the egocentric King Self is held in checkmate.

This chess battle is between your ears.  The battle is won in your thoughts.

chess 2

In Europe and in South Africa we often saw large chess sets in parks.  It is cool to try to play one of those games.  It may be a little difficult to get a good perspective because it is so large, nevertheless, it is inspiring.

As a young girl I learned to play chess.  My Swedish uncle Arne Håkansson was a very good chess player.  My older brother, Jan, is still an excellent chess player and I feel I have really accomplished something if I can beat him. I have played chess online with both my sons-in-law … and right now Justin has me in a precarious situation. Online playing has great flexibility.

“Gratitude is a decision of the will, and if a decision of the will, the choice resides squarely with us. Deciding to be thankful is no easy task. It takes work.” –Chuck Swindoll

I challenge you to a game of th(i)nkful chess.  Plan out your moves in order to win and checkmate the king of Self. It is sweet to win that game, not only for your personal benefit, but most of all, to obey our Maker who said it is His will for us to give thanks in all circumstances (I Thess. 5:18).

Queen of Katwe (2016) is a movie about a true story of a young African girl who learned to play chess at a mission outreach and became an international chess champion.Queen of Katwe

Here’s a link to basic skills in playing chess How to Win a Chess Game

 

 

 

 

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 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.

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

Deuteronomy 32:4