Changing Our Posture by Practicing Gratitude

Changing Our Posture by Practicing Gratitude

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My kids are fifteen months apart. All they’ve known is being with each other, occupying the same space, having a constant companion. My daughter’s like my husband — logical, introverted, often craving space to herself so she can read or play unbothered. My son, on the other hand, is like me — affectionate, empathetic, always craving company and someone to play with. When they’re apart, they miss each other, wondering what the other is up to, what things they might be missing out on that the other is doing. They play well and fight well; it’s a “can’t live with or without each other” situation.

After separate playdates yesterday, I picked them up, and less than five minutes into the car ride home, they start arguing, their tones twisting into whines and their voices rising in volume and sass. I have no patience for this; they’ve been whining since they woke up that morning. So I yell,

“YOU’RE ALREADY FIGHTING?! YOU’VE ONLY BEEN TOGETHER FOR FIVE MINUTES! I’VE HAD ENOUGH TODAY! NO ONE CAN TALK UNTIL WE GET HOME!”

They scrunch their faces at me in frustration, but I don’t relent. We all need a timeout to take a breather, to let our emotions simmer down. Their last whines fade out, and as we drive the rest of the way home in silence, my anger subsides. I recognize my overreaction, and I remember the conversation my husband and I had about how it seems that every podcast or sermon or health tip we listen to these days talks about practicing gratitude.

Am I grateful or do I whine just like the kids do? Am I grateful for them? If they’re gifts from God, how do I practice gratitude when I’ve lost my patience and am beyond annoyed, when I’ve just yelled at them, when they don’t behave as I wish they would?

I check my heart and see the rigidity of my posture. When provoked, I often stand on a soapbox of my own righteousness and lord it over my kids, my finger wagging, my tone condescending. I feel entitled to them conforming to my ways, for them to obey me the first time every single time, for them to play well with each other and be happy and grateful.

Though I do want them to learn to listen, to respect me and each other, my expectations for their behavior is unrealistic. I’m asking for robots instead of children who need grace and reminders. And am I not also a child who needs the same things from the Father?

I’m not that much different than my kids: I also need to try again, to use my words nicely, to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. So I get off my soapbox and relax my stance. I look into the rearview mirror and see their faces, obediently quiet. I can tell they’re ready to be silly again, and I’m grateful their spirits haven’t been broken.Our postures determine our attitudes, and I’m understanding more why so many people across the spectrum are talking about practicing gratitude.

Gratitude changes our posture, and practicing gratitude means we must slow down our minds and our hearts to remember, recount, and recognize what we have to be grateful for. It helps us to make mental and emotional shifts throughout the day when it’s not going well, and it grounds us and gives us a better perspective.

Today has been much like yesterday, with the same arguments and whining, but my posture is softer, my heart more open. I’m running through the things I’m grateful for, and this is what I know:

I’m thankful for my kids, whom I get to raise and love and who make me proud and make me laugh. I’m thankful for second chances throughout the day, so we don’t have to be stuck in bad attitudes and crabby moods. I’m thankful for my husband, who has started asking us what we’re grateful for at the end of each day, a way to recalibrate and center us back to what’s most important. I’m thankful for the quiet hours of the night when I get to work, for the work I get to do, and for the rest I get to relish at the end of the day.

I’m thankful for the depth yet simplicity of living out our faith and for Jesus who walked the way ahead of us. I’m thankful that we are being constantly broken and reshaped into the mold of Christ. All is grace in Him, and all thanks be to Him.

How to Leave a Family Legacy of Gratitude

How to Leave a Family Legacy of Gratitude

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There’s just something special about celebrating the holidays as a child. Everything is new and exciting, the cousins are all in one place, playing and making memories, and you look forward to every special tradition and new activity. But as we grow up, schedules get busy, we forget about our traditions and maybe miss a year or two. The “kids” get engaged and married and then have their own families that they have to consider when planning Thanksgiving dinner, and you realize that the holidays don’t stay exactly the same forever. I didn’t realize until I was much older how profoundly the holiday traditions that my parents and grandparents intentionally created for us would affect me as an adult and affect how I will approach the holidays someday when I have a family of my own.

Thanksgiving in my family has always been centered on gratitude for our abundant blessings. That legacy of gratitude has been built over time by the practice of praying together, thanking God for our blessings, and my very favorite family tradition – the Thanksgiving Journal. This tradition, more than any other that I can remember, has instilled a true spirit of gratitude in my family and the intention of documenting that gratitude so that we can leave that legacy for generations to come. Like any tradition, you can start this in your family today, and all you need is a notebook or journal. It’s that simple!

In 1991, my grandpa (we call him Pop) picked up an emtpy journal and asked everyone at Thanksgiving to write what they were thankful for. I can imagine it may have been a little awkward and out of their comfort zones to be so honest in a book that everyone could read, but they did it for him. It was the year my parents had gotten married, so there was much for them to be thankful for! Every year, he continued the tradition. He would write an introduction at the beginning with a prayer and some Scriptures that were on his heart, a little recap of what happened over the last year, and what he was thankful for before handing it off to someone else to share. In 1992, my mom wrote, “I am thankful for a sentimental dad who cares about making new traditions.” Year after year, the blessings and heartaches and abundant thankfulness for how the Lord provided for my family was written onto the pages of this unsuspecting little book.

In the almost thirty years that we have honored this tradition, our little notebook has documented hundreds and hundreds of blessings from God, the marriage of my parents, the passing of both of my great-grandparents, the birth of four grandchildren (myself included), big moves, new jobs, pets, kids growing up, graduations, engagements, and more marriages. And to think what thirty more years will bring.

There are years we’ve forgotten the special tradition, but we always pick right back up where we left off. We actually have two different notebooks because the original got misplaced and we had to start a new journal to keep the tradition alive. But the physical journal itself is not where the tradition lies, although it is a nice time-capsule of sorts to hold on to. The legacy isn’t because of the cover design or the size of the margins. It doesn’t disappear just because the pages are yellowing or beginning to fall out. If we lose the journals and never find them again, all those years of thankfulness will be just as real and special and important. But this practice of gratitude far exceeds the bounds of Thanksgiving.

The legacy of gratitude was instilled in our family because of my grandparents and parents living out their faith and expressing their gratitude day in and day out. Thirty years from now, I hope to be honoring this tradition with my own children and grandchildren, and I hope in thirty years, they share this same love and thankfulness as I do now.

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! (Psalm 107:1-8, noted in the first entry of the Perkins Family Thanksgiving Journal)

A Prayer For Your Week

A Prayer For Your Week

This week, we will look at how God created us to be loved, appreciated and one of a kind. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He also knows that trusting Him is a brave thing for us to do. Sometimes He uses challenges and brokenness to grow courage in us. And sometimes He seems to fall silent no matter how many hours we spend in prayer. It is during these difficult seasons that we learn what trusting God truly means. And it is only through these experiences that we become more and more prepared to shine His light to others.

Let’s pray for the week ahead:

Dear Father, thank you for loving us. We ask, Lord, that you stay close to us this week as we study Your Word. Open our hearts to hear exactly what you have for us. Teach us, as only You can, to place our trust, confidence and hope in You alone. Amen.

Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.  PSALM 139:1-2

Article Credit: Dayspring.com

Post Holiday Fatigue? 4 Scriptures to Help Restore & Renew

Post Holiday Fatigue? 4 Scriptures to Help Restore & Renew

After weeks of whirlwind shopping, family gathering and party planning, the holiday season has come to an end. Anyone else feeling less-than-energized? If so, you’re in good company! When post-holiday exhaustion hits, it can be difficult to find motivation. Care to join us for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation?

Here are 4 Scriptures on rest and restoration to help guide us in the coming days:

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

Whatever holiday transition looks like for you—boxes of half-put-away ornaments, counters full of dishes, or maybe just a neglected to-do list—there’s likely something crying for your attention. Try giving yourself a little mannequin challenge every once in a while: stop right in the midst of whatever you’re doing—stand, sit, or lie still—and just breathe in God’s peace. Recall His Word in Psalm 46:10. Remind yourself that whatever’s making life feel hectic today, it will get done—eventually. It’ll work out. It’ll be ok. And best of all, it’s not in your hands (even if you’d like to think so!). Let go, and let God work through the rhythm of your life to accomplish what’s needed in His time.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV

The post-holiday season can be a challenging time to keep the “heavenly peace” going in our homes (and hearts!). It’s likely the kids have had way more sugar than they’re used to, we’re all running on little sleep after some late nights, and we’re thrust back into our weekly school and work routines. We may be more likely to snap at one another or say things we don’t mean in moments of frustration. Why not introduce a new post-holiday theme this year called Space & Grace? Hang a sign, tack it up on the fridge, or remind one another during daily prayer. We all need some healthy personal space and extra grace for one another as the season winds down. Sure, it doesn’t thwart every post-holiday argument, but it does bring us a little more peace as we settle back into daily life.

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV

We often wrap up the season with a New Year’s resolution or two focused on trying harder, doing more, or being better at something. What about a different kind of commitment this year? Once a day (or week, or whatever feels realistic) commit to setting aside a few moments for some holy imagination. Find a little time—maybe after the morning rush or as you’re drifting off to sleep at night—to close your eyes and envision a real connection with Jesus. What does it look like for you to receive the love and peace He longs to give you? Envision this beautiful place, laying your head on His shoulder, just being held without words or expectations. Maybe create a sketch or capture a photo that communicates Matthew 11:28 to your heart. Place it somewhere and remind yourself often to respond to His invitation of rest.

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 ESV

For some of us, the after-Christmas blues can be hard to shake. We may be exhausted or disappointed that the holiday “break” is over. We may be dealing with the aftermath of far-from-perfect family gatherings; difficult relationships can often take their toll.

Whatever it is, we can rest assured that God always has a Word for our hearts. As Christmas decorations come down, why not consider a few new ways to surround yourself with His words of encouragement? There may not be an “official” season to celebrate for a while, but there’s always a reason to rejoice. Check out our Scripture-filled home decor and desktop/office supplies; they can be simple reminders throughout the day of God’s presence with you. Whether it’s a holiday or any day, we can celebrate the beautiful truth of John 1:14 NIV: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

At DaySpring, it is our goal to give you all the tools and resources you need to Live Your Faith year round (not just during the holiday season). We are looking forward to walking alongside you in the new year in your post-holiday fatigue, through the winter blues, into spring, summer, and beyond. Whatever life might bring with it this year, be sure to lean into God’s Word and join us as we continue to come up with new, fresh, inspiring ways to experience and express the life-changing message of God’s love.

Article credit: Paige from Dayspring.com

 

 

How to Have Joy in Any Circumstance

How to Have Joy in Any Circumstance

Guest Post by Gina of GinaMPoirier.com

It isn't always easy to choose joy. Here is how to have joy in any circumstance.“I just feel like I’ve lost my joy,” she told me one day over coffee and a few tears. “And as a Christian, I feel horrible about that.”

My friend was in the situation many of us find ourselves in: taking care of kids (or something else) and trying to keep our acts together while we’re exhausted, overwhelmed and downright cranky about all. And to top it all off, we feel guilty for not being more joyful.

I wish I could have told her the magic formula, something like prayer + Bible study = joy. And there have certainly been times when I have naively thought it should be that simple.

But in response I simply gave her a hug and maybe cried a little myself. Because in truth, life is hard. Joy isn’t always an automatic response just because you’re a Christian.

Yet on the other hand, the Bible does instruct us to rejoice always, in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I mean really, God? (He says yes, really.)

So how, exactly, do we have more joy, even when life is really, really tough?

I’ll try to handle this carefully, since I truly don’t think there’s a formula. But here are a few things I like to remember that help my own heart feel more joy when the circumstances bring anything but.

Related: How to Trust God’s Plan for Your Life

 

1. Look to Jesus

 

I don’t know about you, but a lot of times when I’m dealing with my not-so-joyful emotions I fall into a thought pattern that goes something like this: this is too hard, and nobody understands what I’m going through.

That’s one of the hardest things about pain and suffering: sometimes it does make you feel isolated. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” But the good news is that there is actually one person who does “get it.”

Hebrews 4:14–16 say that Jesus empathizes with our weaknesses and was tempted in every way we are. And as our friend he gets us and is there for us, and wants to show us the way through our pain (John 15:15).

So in other words, take your pain to Jesus. Pray to him; confess your weaknesses and ask for help. Study his life and his words, that it may increase your faith (Romans 10:17). Sing to him. Meditate on his promises.

Having said that, God is not a genie and doesn’t magically turn your emotions off and on whenever you ask. But I believe he’s the way I must turn when I’m hurting, if I want to heal.

 

2. Fill Your Mind with Truth

 

I’m fascinated with the human brain, and I’m even more fascinated by the fact that the Bible supports a lot of what modern psychology has discovered. In particular, we have the power to change the structure of our brains by redirecting our thoughts.

If you’re in the habit of negativity and toxic thinking, your thought patterns will continue down those well-trodden paths (you literally can get into “ruts.”) But if you are more conscious about what you’re putting your mind to, you will change the way you think.

Scripture supports this (Philippians 4:8, for starters), and Brittany has some great suggestions here: Want to Take Every Thought Captive? It’s Easier Than You Think!

I’ve found that copying Bible verses and memorizing them is a way to keep my mind focused on what is true. (Want some suggestions? Check out the printables I offer.)

Another way to fill your mind with truth is through habitual gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal is a scientifically supported, biblical way to rewire your brain for joy.

 

3. Reach Out for Help

 

When I think of some of the toughest times in my life, I don’t know how I would have gotten through without the support of the body of Christ. And few things make me smile more than thinking about those who have been there for me when I’ve needed them.

When a part of your physical body gets hurt, other parts of it provide healing by delivering the oxygen and immune support it needs. It’s the same way in the church (1 Corinthians 12:21–26). We need each other through good times and bad, to help us heal and grow through our trials and weaknesses.

I’m guilty of being extremely independent through my pain and struggles, as I think a lot of us are. We come to the church putting our best foot forward, when it should be the other way around.

I’m not saying you should go to worship service a weeping mess all the time, but I challenge you to be bold in your vulnerability. Meet with mentors and peers who can cry with you over coffee, watch your kids so you can rest, celebrate your victories and pray with you through your trials. And if you don’t have these people in your life, go find them. Pray for God to lead you to them.

Related: 3 Truths to Remember When Battling Mom Loneliness

 

4. Let the Holy Spirit Do His Work

 

It occurred to me recently as I was thinking about this that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Here’s the thing about fruit: it doesn’t appear magically. It takes time and cultivation.

Jesus is the vine, the Father is the Gardener and we are the branches that bear fruit through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 15:1–8). There have been times when I’ve been impatient and even felt guilty because the joy simply wasn’t there when I thought it should be.

But if joy is like fruit, then that means that it will take time to grow into maturity. It will be more plentiful in some seasons than others. And at times we need to be pruned in order to produce more.

We may not fully understand this process, but we don’t have to. All we have to do is stay in the vine (the steps listed above are some practical ways that help with this), and God will grow the fruit.

 

I don’t know what your circumstances are, but I do know what the Bible says about working through them. And I believe that given time, you’ll find the joy that God calls us all to.

Article Credit: equippinggodlywomen.com

 

They Call Themselves Christians

They Call Themselves Christians

If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

II Timothy 2:12 NKJV

Soldiers in the Roman army identified themselves with their generals by adding the suffix -ian at the end of the general’s name. Therefore, a Caesarian soldier would be a solider serving under Caesar. In Latin, the word ian means “the party of.” In the early church in Antioch, people began to call followers of Christ Christians, though the use of the name was likely said at first in the spirit of mockery. However, the name stuck and soon believers also began to call themselves Christians, happily adding the suffix to the end of Christ’s name to indicate that they were with Jesus. Early Christians joyfully sent a message to the world that they were followers of Christ, though the message cost many of them their lives. A believer’s life begins at the altar where we surrender our nothing for everything, and sometimes ends on another altar, where believers are forced to decide whether to sacrifice everything for nothing. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV).

FAITH CHECK

If you knew that openly announcing to the world that you are a Christian would cost you your job, your standing in the community, or your very life, would you call yourself a Christian?

Article Credit: Linda Kozar by way of Dayspring.com

Hello Dear Friends,

Such great encouragement this day!!

Prayers,

k

Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
For Christians, God’s temple is one of two related things: either the Christian’s body (1 Cor. 6:19-20) or the group of people who make up his Church (1 Cor. 3:16). Because of the flaws of the people in our churches, many are hypercritical of them. But God’s Church is precious to him and should be to us. Anyone who destroys his church through division will be utterly destroyed. God’s faithfulness to his people is seen in his preservation of the Church through all the ravages and persecutions of history. But God is still the center of the Church and he alone is to be exalted and the Church is still to be governed by his word and not just their own will.
MY PRAYER…
Holy and matchless God, I praise you for your steadfast love and faithfulness revealed in the preseveration of your Church through all of history. I promise to cherish your Church and do all I can to help it grow and mature to be more like Jesus, but I recognize that you and you alone are to be exalted above all other things and that my church must never be more important than your will revealed in your word. Give me the courage to be true to you even if my church may not be. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Tuesday
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Of all the names for God in the Bible, this is my favorite: Him who is able to do immeasurably more. Our God is the same God who parted the Red Sea and fed 5,000 on a green hillside with only a couple of sardine sandwiches. He longs to do more than we ask and imagine, but most of us haven’t really given him much of a challenge. Dream big dreams for God. Then hang on!
MY PRAYER…
Almighty and awesome God, do in our day what you did in past days. Give us faith to believe and then amaze us at the smallness of our faith. Give us vision to see your plan and do greater things. We ask this, not for ourselves or our experience, but for your glory and the salvation of our world. In Jesus name. Amen.
Wednesday
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
God made the world in 6 days. Now he sustains it with his powerful word. But in each of us, he is still at work and will continue to work to his glory (seePhilippians 2:12-13) until Christ comes to take us home!
MY PRAYER…
Thank you Father, for being at work in my life. I confess that at times you seem distant, but looking back over the crucial moments where things were held in the balance, I can see your fingerprints and your grace leading me to where I am today. Please make your presence more powerfully known in my life as I seek your will and live to your glory. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Thursday
Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
In the immense expanse of our universe, with its billions upon billions of stars, where our own tiny blue planet is only a small speck of sand on an inestimable seashore, God knows us each personally. Such knowledge it too wonderful to be true, and yet it is. God has shown us his love in Jesus to remind us that he not only knows us, but he cares for us.
MY PRAYER…
O Great God of the heavens, thank you for caring for me even though I am such a small part of your great work in the universe. Your love is beyond my comprehension, and yet it thrills me to know that in your grace one day I will see you face-to-face. Through Jesus I praise you. Amen.
Friday
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Like Esau, we get so diverted by the mundane things of life, the growling of our bellies, we forget the longer-range view of things. God’s word, his written word the Bible, his demonstrated Word in Jesus, and his proclaimed word in the Gospel, are what can sustain us eternally.
MY PRAYER…
True and Faithful God, through your Holy Spirit create in me a hunger for your word that is much more demanding of life than my hunger for food. I confess that at times I have been distracted by the mundane things of life and have not sought your word and have not nourished my soul. Please forgive me as I pledge myself to be more attentive to your leading and your truth through your word. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Saturday
God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
When Jesus is exalted, when his name is praised and his glory confessed, rather than being insulted or blasphemed, God is honored. Praise be the glorious name of Jesus and the grace of our God!
MY PRAYER…
Precious Savior, Jesus Christ my Lord, your name is wonderful! Your sacrifice for my sin was so loving and generous. I am so thankful that our Father raised you from the dead and that through you I will be able to be with God and worship you all of eternity! You are glorious, Jesus my Lord!
Sunday
(Jesus said) “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Love is not just a feeling, but it is action. For us as believers, the action that most shows our love for Jesus is for us to be obedient to his words and his example.
MY PRAYER…
Father, thank you for showing your love in Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for showing us how to love our Father by being obedient to his will and word. Today I pledge to conciously try to live in obedience to your will. Please receive my actions, words, and thoughts today as an offering of praise to you. In Jesus name. Amen.