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)

Make This the Best Thanksgiving Ever

Make This the Best Thanksgiving Ever

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Didn’t you just love Thanksgiving as a kid? For me, this holiday meant the excitement of time with my cousins – running and jumping in huge mounds of leaves, hanging from trees until we were red-faced, playing in the garden, and eating my grandmother’s amazing (and I mean amazing), cooked-from-scratch Thanksgiving dinner.

At the time, it was just plain fun, but as an adult, I now know it was more. There was a warmth there – an indescribable feeling of love, joy, peace and belonging. I can just picture God smiling down on us as we sat around that dark wood table, holding hands and bowing our heads.  You see, He designed families to hold onto one another – encouraging one another, building each other up.

Nowadays, I make the 8-hour round trip to my parents’ house with my two little girls, who can’t wait to see their cousins, to roll around in the leaves, and to eat my sort-of amazing (and I mean sort-of amazing) chocolate pecan pie. Because if I can pass that indescribable warmth on to my children, nieces and nephews, then this might just be the best Thanksgiving ever.

Here are four simple ways I plan to accomplish this hefty task…

1. I’m going to start talking to my children now about what it truly means to give thanks. I’ll surround them with thankful, thought-provoking messages, using décor such as the Give Thanks Wood & Metal Wall Art and the Give Thanks to the Lord Throw Pillow to remind them of God’s unfailing love. These are conversation starters that help guide these conversations. Maybe we’ll pass the pillow as we sit in the living room, each of us naming the top three things for which we are thankful.

2. By allowing my kids to help me write Thanksgiving cards to my friends and family, I will teach them the value of gratitude, while also reminding those long-lost cousins of God’s goodness in our lives.

3. I will reserve time to connect with my kids and the whole family. Instead of spending the whole holiday in the kitchen, I will cook what I can ahead of time, put it in inspirational paper bakeware, then heat it up when the big day comes. And I’ll spend the time I save jumping in the leaves with the kids.

4. I’ll manage my expectations. Thanksgiving can be overwhelming, such as when you’re pulling hot rolls out of the oven while little ones are running underfoot, everyone is talking at the same time, and your niece has been banging on the piano for the last half hour – you catch my drift. This year, I’m going to rest in the Lord, and when things get a little out of control, I plan to sit down with a hot cup of tea, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery.

Whatever you do, be sure to take time to breathe in God’s blessings this holiday season. Take some time to enjoy the family, share some joy and encouragement and gratitude with others, be good to yourself, and invite your family and friends to do the same!

 

When It’s Hard To Be Grateful On Thanksgiving

When It’s Hard To Be Grateful On Thanksgiving

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When It’s Hard to be Grateful on Thanksgiving

It’s a story of sacrifice and survival; partnership and progress.

It was our country’s very first Thanksgiving.

Imagine the challenges the first settlers endured in 1620. They left everyone they knew and everything that was familiar. The Mayflower carried 102 voyagers across the Atlantic on a 66-day journey full of sickness and storms. That winter, nearly half of the voyagers died from disease and lack of shelter.

Yet, when the harvest season arrived, they set aside three full days to give thanks. In spite of the hardships, there was still much to be grateful for. They were alive. They were welcomed as strangers into a new land. The natives taught them how to grow their own crops. They had food to eat and friends to share it with. And…they had religious freedom, which is the very reason they came.

The settlers’ simple decision to be intentionally grateful led to centuries of Americans doing the same every November.

Let’s be real though. In some seasons of life, being grateful is just plain hard. We find ourselves overwhelmed with circumstances and underwhelmed with relationships. With preoccupied minds and aching hearts, it goes against our nature to give thanks anyway. But that’s exactly what the Lord asks of us.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

But…

How can we give thanks if we lost our job?

How can we give thanks if we’ve been diagnosed with a disease?

How can we give thanks if we can’t conceive?

How can we give thanks if our friend refuses to talk to us?

How can we give thanks if we are spending the holidays alone…again?

How can we give thanks if our marriage is falling apart?

How can we give thanks if our child is suffering?

How can we give thanks if we lost a loved one?

How can we give thanks if we don’t know what the future holds?

Because even though we are struggling, our God is still sacred.

In each difficult situation, our Creator gives us glimpses of hope in a sacred silver lining. It’s the place where God is working all things together for good. It’s where the hidden blessings are stored. They aren’t always easy to find, but they’re always there.

The secret to giving thanks in all circumstances is to find His sacred lining.

We will find His sacred lining when we give thanks for what we do have, instead of complaining about what we don’t have.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 NLT

We will find His sacred lining when we give thanks for what is right instead of worrying about what is wrong.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

We will find His sacred lining when we give thanks for the process instead of grumbling about the problem.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 NLT

We will find His sacred lining when we give thanks to God first.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 NIV

Before we gather around the table this year, gobbling up turkey and a slice of pumpkin pie, let’s be intentional about giving thanks no matter what. We can be personal about it by starting a gratitude journal, or we can share it with others in a prayer before dinner. Yes, circumstances can be challenging. Yes, relationships can be broken. But we serve a God who is for us, not against us. There is a holy gift waiting for us amidst the hardship. Let’s look hard for His sacred lining and give thanks to God when we find it, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.


Know someone who is having a difficult holiday? Send them 
a handwritten greeting cardencouraging Ecard or check out our Difficult Times section to find just the right gift to lift their spirits this season.  

Be Thankful People

Be Thankful People

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Be Thankful for People
This devotional was written by Robin Dugall

I thank my God every time I remember you. 
—Philippians 1:3 

Thanksgiving Sunday is here, and across our country, pastors are preaching sermons pointing out the need for Christ-followers to be thankful people. As a pastor, I’ve made impassioned pleas for Christ-followers to rise above our culture… to resist the temptation for the holiday season to be simply another opportunity for us to be self-focused and self-indulgent. Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating to the brink of explosion; shopping to the brink of bankruptcy; watching television to the brink of insanity. I’ve tried to make the point that Thanksgiving for a person who loves God can be so much more.

Even so, I discovered in my own life that despite what I’ve preached, I have missed a crucial element in the process of being a thankful follower of Jesus in my own life. I found that over the years I have been mostly thankful for the THINGS in my life; for food, finances, the house I have lived in, the clothes I have worn, and so on. While there’s nothing wrong with being thankful for these things, I have missed the boat on giving thanks for the biggest blessings of God in my life… PEOPLE.

Consider how empty, purposeless, and meaningless our lives would be without relationships. Relationships have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. Without exception, everyone I know has been positively influenced by other people. While it is easy to thank God for the THINGS in our lives, we should remember to be equally thankful for the PEOPLE God has placed in our lives as well!

Let me give you just one example. I am thankful for my Aunt Patty. She had suffered a brain injury when she was a small child severe enough that by the time I was born, she had become mentally disabled. But, when I was a child, she would play games and entertain me for hours. She loved me unconditionally. We would play The Beatles records and pretend to be Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It was her love for music that infected my soul for the rest of my life. I thank God for her!

How about you? Who do you thank God for? Today, take a few moments and thank God for the relationships in your life. Truthfully, it can revolutionize your life. Happy Thanksgiving!

GOING DEEPER:

1. Make a list of the people who have shaped your life. Share the list with your friends and family.

2. How easy is it to just thank God for things in your life? How can you live a lifestyle of thankfulness more consistently?

FURTHER READING:

[Psalms 150Philemon 1]

For more information and resources please visit HomeWord.com.

Remember To Give Thanks…

Remember To Give Thanks…

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Remember to Give Thanks

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15–16 NKJV)

The Bible tells the story of ten men who had a lot to give thanks for. They were miraculously touched by Jesus. Prior to this touch, they were complete outcasts, the very scourge of society. These men had leprosy, and you couldn’t get any lower in that particular time in history with this incurable disease.

If a man was found to have leprosy, he could have no contact with others. He had to leave his house and his friends and live apart from them. So here were these men living an isolated, miserable, lonely life. But they heard about Jesus. They heard how He had touched others and healed them.

So they called out to the Lord and asked for His healing touch. Now these men were standing before Jesus in various stages of decay. Their clothing would have been ripped from perpetual mourning. Their skeletal heads would have been uncovered. They would have been required, according to the Law of Moses, to cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever they went.

But Jesus did not respond to them with special effects or even a dramatic touch. He simply said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (Luke 17:14 NKJV). So that is what they did. And guess what? They were healed.

We are so quick to ask for God’s help, but let’s remember to be just as quick in giving Him praise when He comes through.

Copyright © 2019 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Weekly Verses…

Weekly Verses…

Monday
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
At many Christian funerals, the preacher emphasizes how Jesus has left to make a place ready for us to join him in heaven. Then he is going to come back for us. But just a few verses later, Jesus adds this promise. He’s telling us that until we can come be with him at his place, he will come live with us here in our hearts. It all hinges on one thing, our willingness to obey him. Not a bad deal, is it. So let’s not let obedience be a forgotten word in our lifestyle!
MY PRAYER…
Holy God, I know Jesus came to earth and obeyed your will. Give me discernment that my obedience will not simply be the obedience of your words, but will also be the obedience of your will. I long to honor you because you have done so much to save me. Thank you. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Tuesday
We proclaim him [Jesus], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we present everyone perfect in Christ.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Our goal as Christians is not to obey some law, to adhere to some set of rules, or even be followers of some discipline. Our goal as Christians is to be conformed to the character and ministry of Jesus. This is the Spirit’s work in us (2 Cor. 3:18) and as Paul makes clear here and in other places (Galatians 4:19) that this is his goal in working with others.
MY PRAYER…
Holy Lord, conform my heart, my words, my life, my ministry, and my actions to those of Jesus. I want him to be my Lord, not just in my words but also in my life. Through him I pray. Amen.
Wednesday
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
We want the Spirit to be at work in us to make us like Jesus. For this to happen, we must open our heart to the will of God. There are no greater words God wants to hear than “teach me to do your will.” That is what it means for him to be God, to have control over our life and our will.
MY PRAYER…
Almighty God, I want you to truly be God in my life. I renounce any attempt on my part to try to manipulate or use your grace and kindness for my benefit. I submit my will to yours. But Holy Father, I confess that I struggle at times with my own selfish and evil desires that lead me astray. Please forgive me when my heart is cold and my ears are deaf to your will. Please, take control of my life today. Through Jesus my Lord, I ask you to assert your will as God in my life. Amen.
Thursday
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Worthy of respect! What a goal for our lives whether we are men or women! Don’t you want your life to reflect the character of God because our faith expresses itself in a life of self-control. This work of the Spirit in our lives happens only as we dedicate ourselves to being what he is at work trying to accomplish in us.
MY PRAYER…
Father, please strengthen me through your Spirit so that I may gain better control of my passions, my speech, my example, and my habits. Help me put to death the things that would rob me of my spiritual passion and my influence for good to those who do not know Jesus. Through whom I pray. Amen.
Friday
[The Lord says,] “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
God will not forget us when we’re in trouble or when we are old. We may outlive our friends and be forgotten by those who know us, but God will never leave us or forsake us. He will sustain, carry, protect, and rescue us.
MY PRAYER…
Thank you my Father, for promising to never forget me. Because of your faithfulness to your children of old, I know you will never forsake me. I trust that no matter where I am or where I go, you will go with me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Saturday
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Children don’t need to be taught, they need to be trained. Life is not about intellectual lessons, but about integrating truth into the fabric of our daily lives. God calls us to move our children and their training up on the list of our priorities.
MY PRAYER…
Great and Holy Counselor, help me as I seek to know the best thing to do with my children to share my love and your truth with them. I want them to know and love you even better than I do. Give me wisdom and courage to make wise decisions and tenderness to implement them in my family’s life. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.
Sunday
The earth is filled with your love, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S VERSE…
Sometimes we get so caught up in the wonders of God’s creation and the marvelous blessings of his grace we forget to ask him to teach us his truth.
MY PRAYER…
Holy and Precious Father, teach me your truth, lead me to your will, and guide me in your wisdom that my life may be a reflection of your plan for me when you made me new in my mother’s womb. In Jesus I ask these things. Amen.
Article Credit: Oneplace.com