A Hard Look at Thankfulness

In the past at this time of year, I do a Thankfulness Challenge of some sort. #30daysofthankful
A blessing a day. I even took a Psalm a few years ago and everyday listed an attribute of God that I was thankful for. I felt like I was taking part in a Thanksgiving Revolution. And maybe I was, I don’t know.

But I came across this meme about a year ago and it challenged me:

Funny, yes! True… yes. I knew I was guilty of complaining on FB or venting and then feeling warm and fuzzy and holy listing my gratitudes for the month of November. There is nothing wrong with doing that, of course, but let’s be thoughtful.

I think that many of us just follow each trend that shows up on social media because it is fun and different and makes us look good. We don’t really put much thought into what we are doing other than to join in the fad.

The question that I am raising is this: are we just showing our gratitude on one day or one month only? Shouldn’t it be everyday of every week of every month of every year?

Here’s an idea: How about simply living gratitude? In everything give thanks…. not just the month of Thanksgiving. That’s why I still love Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. She focused on God’s gifts and it changed her life. Her life became living out gratefulness. That gratefulness turned into charity toward others. And the focus no longer was on simply her blessings, but God’s dealing in her life in all things.

One last thought on thankfulness: Let’s be careful when being thankful about “I”. It is very easy to turn a testimony into a bragging session. “I’m thankful that I don’t do __________.” Or even “I’m thankful that God spared me from being __________.” It’s okay to be thankful for God’s protection, but it can be construed by others as a prayer of the Pharisees. Listen to this:

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:11-14

What it all really comes down to is this: is our thankfulness a list of our accomplishments, qualities or situation? Is it just an inventory of the good stuff? Does it make us look really great and holy? Is it all about us?

Thankfulness is an outpouring of reality; Of the fact that we really deserve nothing, but God gives us all things. When that is truly our attitude, we don’t need to worry about a snarky meme. We really aren’t worried about how we look at all.

A Month of Thanksgiving – Days 5 & 6

Well, it happened. I didn’t get posted on Sunday. I am sorry. But you know, I think that I may keep Sunday that way. It is actually the thing I am thankful for yesterday on Day 5 – a day of rest and worship. God was absolutely brilliant, as He is in everything He does, when He chose to make a Sabbath. You can debate me on when the Sabbath is, but I believe that for Christians it is Sunday. I still have to cook. Watch my children and all that. But there is a restful attitude on that day, and it gives me and my family time to actually re-cooperate from the always hectic week. Stephen actually does no work on Sundays. We go to church. We eat our afternoon meal together at the dining room table. Sometimes we get a nap. Sometimes we don’t. We end our day in church as well, which I do like because it wraps the day in the Reason there is a Sabbath… for refreshment, rest and worship.

And then there is Day 6 – I am thankful for my home. It is messy many times, to be sure. When you have 2 toddlers, a  preschooler, and a second grader who are with you all day long, that is going to happen. Actually, it never ends. We have a lot of fun in this home. Make things. Break things. Eat things. Laugh. Cry. Teach. Clean. This house is my sanctuary. I do look forward to the day when I can have people into our home more often, but I am not in that season of life quite yet. I am getting there, but it is a slow process. God provided this home for us, and He is so good to give us exactly what we need.

Whoa.

I totally changed it up on you, didn’t I? Thanksgivings first and now, NOW I will present you with something for today.

In everything give thanks: 
for this is the will of God 
in Christ Jesus concerning you.
~I Thessalonians 5:18

I know, I know I have mentioned this verse before. But notice this, giving thanks is doing the will of God. Do you ever wonder what His will is for you? I know there are times when I am not sure which way He wants me to go. Then, I must wait. I do not like to wait, but there it is. I do know, though, one thing He wants me to do in the meantime. Give thanks always for all things. Need a mood changer? Give thanks. Kids made a huge mess? Give thanks. (That’s a hard one for me.) In good times? Give thanks. In bad times? Give thanks. You can never go wrong when you offer up your gratitude to your Creator. Never.  
Here’s another printable that you can frame or hang up in your office to remind you of this truth. I have it in my living room shadow box. The words that are emphasized are perfect, aren’t they?  Once again, I did not make this and I acknowledge that by linking to their site.
And here’s the best part, if you don’t like it in pumpkin, you can print it in these colors too!
So, what are you thankful for today? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below!

A Month of Thanksgiving – Day 3

Making known His deeds among the people… it’s pretty easy to quick type something into the old Facebook status, or even post it on a blog, like me. Living it out in real life situations, that’s more difficult. I know it is a challenge for me at least. What about the people around you in real life? Have you been making known God’s goodness to them as well?

Well, I have something here that is part of a bigger project, which will be revealed in a future thanksgiving post. Let’s call this part A. I have been working on part A since September. Not consistently, but doing it nonetheless.

Tool: Free Printable Thankful.notes
Are these not neat? The download is free, of course. (I LOVE FREE DOWNLOADS!) So you can print to your hearts content. I have the whole family write things down (we were trying to everyday), and then I write names on the back, so we can keep them and look back, if we want to. Or throw them, but do you really want to do that? I didn’t think so… 
My Thanks Today: 


Salvation. I know that is what every believer says. As well we should, we should never get over being born again. More specifically, I am thankful that even though I am still very flawed, God is changing me, and someday I will be exactly what He wants me to be. In Heaven. Do you ever get weary of sinning and messing up all the time? I know I do. I am so glad that Christ saved me from all I have done and ever will do. I am thankful that I have the hope of being completely free from sin when I get to Heaven.

A Month of Thanksgiving – Day 1

I know I am a day late starting this. But I gotta! This month, I am going to TRY to post one or more things that I am thankful for each and everyday. So yes, you will have a reason to check up more often on this blog. Or not. What’s more, I would love, Love, LOVE it if you would participate with me! Just write what YOU are thankful for in the comments section of my blog.

Here’s a verse to meditate on about thankfulness: 
O give thanks to the Lord; 
call upon His name; 
make known His deeds among the people.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:8

And today I want to give thanks to the Lord for changing seasons. It is a blessing to live where seasons change drastically. Spring is beautiful here – a renewal of life, very appropriate since we celebrate the new birth we have in Christ at this time of year. Summer is perfect (at least for me) – not too hot, usually. Not too cold (usually) either. Things can grow and flourish in our climate. Fall is gorgeous – the colors on the trees changing into vibrant hues, showing the miracle of God’s creation in an innovative way only He could concoct. Winter, oh winter! As much as we may complain (I try not to…), this season is a wonderful reminder of God’s pardon – he washes our sins away whiter than snow… imagine! The quietness of a snowfall is a perfect reminder of Christ’s birth, a meek beginning for a powerful Savior!
So what are YOU thankful for today?

In Everything…

God does not always allow us to walk in a rose garden. Sometimes, we must walk on a dark, rocky path. Sometimes, the light He shines gets very dim. Sometimes, He doesn’t seem as near as He has been. And frankly, it stinks. I am tempted at those times to fall into a pity party, and just shut myself up in my room for however long it takes for the storm to pass. Okay, I do shut myself up. It isn’t right.

I was reading a blog this morning, and she talks entirely about living a life of Thanksgiving to God. Every day. And today, she was talking about thanking God for the hard gifts. The ones we really are not thankful for. That takes work, doesn’t it? To say, “Lord, thank You for the conflict going on right now. I know that You are going to use this for Your glory.” That is difficult. Yet, it is what we are to do.

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~I Thessalonians 5:18

The verse doesn’t just say, “In the good things give thanks…” It says in EVERYTHING give thanks. That must include things that we don’t see as good. Job knew this when he said:

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? ~Job 2:8


That word evil means “disaster” in this context. We like to think that God brings good into our lives, but there are indeed times when He allows disaster in as well. Why? For His purposes. 


Have you ever been doing something for a child, and with each step they ask “Why are you doing that?” I have. And I cannot always answer them, because the step is part of a process that they don’t understand. I am a person who likes to know why things are happening the way they are. God is often trying to tell me, “I can’t tell you all the ins and outs of what I am doing, but just trust Me. Trust that I am doing what is right for you.” 


So sometimes, God brings disaster into our lives. Do we thank Him for it? 

We Christians like to quote Romans 8:28 all the live-long day, but I don’t think that most of us let it fully sink in. 


And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.


That does not mean that all good things are going to work together for good. It doesn’t mean the end result will meet our human definition of good. Remember, God’s good is far better than any good we can come up with. We often call things bad that God calls good.

Our tire goes flat – bad. Our hair goes flat – bad. Our hair goes – bad. People go – bad. That’s how we see it.

God sees it differently. He sees all things completely and fully. He sees that flat tire, or flat hair, or loved one gone, and He says, “Good.” He can, because He knows it is part of His process.

Are we willing to trust His ways completely, so that we can thank Him for all things?

Another thing: this isn’t just a rote idea of “I gotta do it”, but rather “I want to do it.” As we give thanks for all things, God will use it to cultivate thankfulness in us. We may not mean it fully at first, and we should be honest before Him about that. But as we give that thanks to God for all things, He works with what little sincerity there is. He knows that we want to be thankful, even if we are not. He will work in our hearts to the end that we will eventually mean it with utmost sincerity when we thank Him for the hard things in life. You have to start somewhere.

And so do I.

*Rocky Path picture used with permission from traveladventures.org. All rights reserved.

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