I am Grateful

Gratitude Challenge Day 4

I will offer a You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and will worship the Lord. Psalm 116:17

Sometimes, thanksgiving is truly a sacrifice.

I’m so thankful that at this point in my life, with blessings abounding, that’s not the case for me. But it has been in the past.  And it may be for you at the moment.

Sometimes, life is so bleak and the pain so sharp that nothing but moaning wants to escape from our lips. And in those times, wresting our thoughts off our suffering and placing them on the hope to come takes a supernatural effort – an effort born of self-control that is empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Every time one of God’s children, writhing in pain, chooses thankfulness, God recognizes it as a sacrifice. True sacrifices please Him.  It is a “fragrant aroma” to Him.

When the cancer strikes, when tragedy slams you from behind, when a child rebels or dreams are crushed, offer God a sacrifice. Find something to thank Him for.   There have been times in my life where I looked at my circumstances and could find nothing there to be grateful for.  But when I look at my God – well, then, thankfulness abounds.

Shifting focus is excruciating sometimes, but always pleasing.  And it will lift you up, too.

Choose thankfulness today.

http://blessedart1111.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/21-day-gratitude-challenge/

I am Grateful

Thanks Everday: Gratitude Challenge Day 3

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever. –Psalm 107:1

I had four babies in about seven year’s time. Needless to say, I spent a lot of years with Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki’s Veggie Tales. (Love those guys, BTW. They’re still on my “wish I could meet someday” list).

Madame Blueberry was and remains one of my favorites. She reminds me of someone I know quite well.

I have a distinct memory of sitting up late one night a few years after we’d purchased our first house. My little darlings all slept—a minor miracle—and I sat alone at my kitchen table. Three (at that time) healthy kids, the love of a good and kind man, a nice, comfortable home, and a moment of peace. You’d think that I was sitting there numbering my blessings, right? Nope. I could literally hear Madame Blueberry’s song as I stewed…

I’m so blue-hew-hew, blue-hew-hew, blue-hew-hew-hew. I’m so blue I don’t know what to do…

Pathetic. You know what I was blue about? I’d been to a friend’s lovely and well-decorated home, and the stark white walls of my own home painted my disposition…blue. So very pathetic.

Here’s the turning point, though—and thank you, Phil and Mike, for including the Thankful Song in the video. Mommies like me needed that redirection—maybe more than our sweet kids. The antidote goes something like this:

I thank God for this day, for the sun in the sky, for my mom and my dad, for my piece of apple pie. For our home on the ground, for His love that’s all around. That’s why I say thanks everyday. Because a thankful heart is a happy heart, I thank God for what I have, that’s an easy way to start…

Love that. My kids are all too old to be thrilled with Veggie Tales anymore, but I still love that, and I still sing it.

We hope you’re participating with us in Simply Life’s gratitude challenge. What are you thankful for today?

I am Grateful

I am Grateful: Challenge Day 2

Rejoice always! Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank you, LaTrice, for giving us the challenge to be grateful. (Pop over to Simply Life Blog 21- Gratitude Challenge if you’d like to take LaTrice’s challenge yourself.) The sad thing is, it is truly a challenge.  Gratefulness is not my natural state.  Whininess, complaining-ness, glass-half-emptiness – now those things aren’t challenges at all.  They flow naturally from my inward being.

But, pessimism is the polar opposite of God’s will for me. God’s will is that I take your challenge and make it my own.  And I know He’s in this, because this week in particular, I’ve been rather ungrateful.

God has given me a job. A job I really like.  When I first got it, I was brimming with thankfulness.  But now, almost a month into it, the euphoria has waned.  I’m tired of getting up early.  I’m tired of not having as much time to do the things I enjoy … like write.  I’m tried of the scheduling conflicts that working full-time has brought to my family.  Wah.

I’ve turned into Jen’s sour sponge, without even realizing it. It was such a gradual thing, this build-up of goo in my pores.  It is time for a good wringing of my soul.

Thank you, God, for the blessing of this job and the financial relief it has brought my family. Thank you that I enjoy it, that I’m making a difference, that the people I work with affirm me and don’t tear me down.  Thank you that my work schedule allows me to be home in the afternoons with my children after school, and that it’s pushed me to teach them skills they will need their whole life – like how to do a load of laundry and clean a toilet, chores which must be done even if mom isn’t home all day to do them.  Thank you that I have a husband who has willingly stepped in to fill the gaps – from carpooling to washing dishes.  Thank you that he supports me and cheers me on.

You know, LaTrice, you are right. I feel better already.

And that is certainly God’s will for me.

I am Grateful

I Am Grateful, Challenge Day 1

Come, let us shout joyfully to The Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song. Psalms 95:1-2, HCSB

I remember a sermon several years ago in which our pastor challenged us not to be like a stinky sponge or a slimy pond. Both needed wrung out, turned over, or drained completely. I hate to own how often I am that rotten sponge. But to my joy, I have discovered that being wrung out need not always be done through pain. Thanksgiving accomplishes the same end. Why did I not know this before?

I’m all in on this Gratitude Challenge, and I’m double-dog-daring you to be as well. Stop over at Simply Life and check it out, participate, and experience the refreshing joy of a heart squeezed by thanksgiving. Here are my thoughts for yesterday’s challenge.

Gratitude: a heart focused on the amazing grace of God rather than on the unsatisfied longings of the flesh. Good news! I can choose where to put my focus.

Thank you Jesus, for saving such a selfish heart as mine.
Thank you, Father, for loving me when I did not know love.
Thank you Spirit for contending with the flesh that still wars within me.

When life squeezes me, God I pray, let the sweet fragrance of gratitude pour out. Amen.

What does gratitude mean to you?

How will your life be different by adopting gratitude?

Need Inspiration? Try this: TruthForLife

Let us know what God does in your life as you jump into this challenge with us.