How Current is Your Thankfulness?

current thankfulness

Thankfulness is good for the soul. And it’s especially fashionable to be thankful during the month of November.

But how far back do you have to go to find something to thank God for?

Do you find yourself casting back on old memories? Searching experiences from your childhood? From years ago? Or months or even weeks ago?

I love the practice some families have of filling a thanksgiving jar throughout the year. Family members add slips to the jar and then take turns reading the slips on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a wonderful way to rehearse God’s faithfulness and nurture thankfulness in both children and adults.

Although family members read slips written up to a year earlier, each recollection was current when it was written.

But what if we go days, weeks, or even months without recognizing something to be thankful for? What does this say about us?

It proclaims that we can’t see beyond our immediate physical circumstances. Negative events limit and shape our perspective. For example, a flat tire can be a disaster…or it can be the impetus for thankfulness I wasn’t injured, I had a spare tire in the trunk, or even thankfulness I have a car at all!

Additionally, in the absence of a current spirit of gratitude, I will become a bitter, resentful person who cultivates an overarching sense of entitlement. I’ll focus on my rights, my benefits, my priorities. I’ll fall into the trap of thinking anything good that happens to me is dependent solely on my own efforts. And if my rights, benefits, and priorities are shortchanged in any way, I’ll make sure the world hears about it.

Finally, the absence of a current spirit of thankfulness proclaims I am unaware of God’s active presence in my life moment by moment and day by day. Nurturing an awareness of God’s presence helps me be alert to the ways He is working in each day, providing me multiple reasons to be grateful.

If I have to think back weeks or months for something to thank God for, then something is terribly wrong. I want to be diligent to practice His presence now for a heightened awareness of His hand at work every day!

As the pages of our calendars and planners turn, the thankful themes of November will give way to the excitement and animation of December Christmas celebrations. Will you and I purpose to bring a current spirit of thanksgiving with us into the new month, the new year, and each new day of our life?

Do you have to cast back on old memories for reminders of how God has worked in your life?

How will you develop a current spirit of thanksgiving that will last far beyond the month of November?


One Word Update – Wrong Word for 2018?

Gratitude

By most people’s standards, I picked the wrong word for 2018.

For several years now, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I’ve practiced selecting one word to focus on each year. Actually, it’s not so much that I select the word, it’s more that it’s the word I believe God gives me.

As I posted this past January, my word for 2018 is gratitude.

My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the beginning of 2017, and after chemotherapy, radiation, and more chemo, was declared to be in remission by October. When I selected gratitude as my word, we had not yet learned of the remission. Still, as we waited for my husband’s PET scan results, I knew the choice I had to make. To choose gratitude regardless of whether the cancer was still present. To hold on to thankfulness, no matter what.

Sadly, the cancer returned with a vengeance early this year. It metastasized, yielding a terminal prognosis. We are walking that journey today.

If gratitude is based solely on pleasant experiences, then I did, indeed, select the wrong word for 2018.

But despite the hurricane-force winds ripping through my circumstances, one thing will never change. Because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, I will always belong to my heavenly Father. And I have the comfort of knowing my husband has the same assurance.

We’ve been given the gift of eternal life. The incomparable gift of eternal life. A gift that will always eclipse our physical circumstances. It overshadows the worst diagnosis and outlasts the saddest prognosis. And it speaks hope into our brokenness.

So yes, gratitude is still my word for 2018. It’s still the right word for 2018. I’m grateful for the forty years of life my husband and I have shared together. Despite the terminal prognosis, I’m grateful for the remaining time—however limited—we do have, whether months, weeks or days. And I’m grateful for the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is upholding and strengthening us during circumstances that would otherwise be unbearable.

Surely that is reason enough to always be grateful. Grateful for what I have, regardless of how long it will last. Grateful for who I have, regardless of the soon-to-be fulfilled prognosis. And grateful for who I—and we—belong to, because He is holding us close and wrapping us in His love.

Did you choose “one word” for 2018?
Share your update…


My One Word: Hope Leads to Gratitude

Gratitude

A new word for a new year. A word I knew—last September—would be my focus for 2018.

Last year, my One Word was hope. Holding on to hope carried me through a difficult period. Hope held fear at bay when hubby was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Hope carried me—and us—through months of chemotherapy and radiation and more chemotherapy. And hope strengthened us as we sat with the doctor to hear his prognosis at the completion of the treatment protocol.

My One Word for 2018 is gratitude. I became convinced of it after Hurricane Irma and before we learned the results of my husband’s last PET scan. Regardless of the test results, I knew my One Word for the new year had to be gratitude.

Here’s why…

I’m learning a thankful perspective has nothing to do with whether I get what I want. What I’m wishing for. What I’m hoping and praying for. A thankful perspective has everything to do with what I already have.

Someone once asked me, “If God never answered another prayer with ‘yes,’ would you still be grateful?” Still love Him? Still serve Him?

If He never again provided physical healing.

Or financial provision.

Or restored another broken relationship.

What if He never again answered yes?

Would that be my cue to say no to Him? To tell Him I won’t follow Him if He doesn’t give me what I want? That I won’t live for Him if He doesn’t provide what I think I need?

Or will I say yes, regardless of the number of times He says no?

Will I say thank You, even when my heart is aching…or breaking?

As we waited for my husband’s PET scan results this past October, I knew I had to make a decision. To choose gratitude regardless of whether the cancer was still present. To hold on to thankfulness, no matter what.

Because whatever happens, this life is temporary. It’s a stopover—a glorified bus station—on the way to my eternal destination.

That’s the real reason I choose to be grateful. Because the most important thing God ever did for me—the one thing that outshines all else—is that I’ve been given the gift of eternal life. Nothing else I could ask for could ever compare. And added to my joy is that I know my husband has that same assurance.

The PET scan results would test my resolve. What if the cancer still hid in hubby’s body?

The news was good—the cancer appeared to be gone. And we are grateful.

Still, there will be more hurricanes. And more PET scans. And the results won’t always be what I want. But for this new year, gratitude follows hope. I choose to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. To focus on what I’ve been given, even temporarily, rather than what I don’t have.

I choose to focus on gratitude in difficult circumstances, knowing the Lord will work in me and through me by His Holy Spirit, regardless of my situation. Because one thing will never change…I belong to the God of the universe, the One who calls me His child because of His Son, Jesus.

And that alone is reason enough to always be grateful.

Have you selected your One Word for 2018? Leave a comment to share it!


A Month of Thanksgiving!

How many different things can you think of for which you are thankful? How easily do they occur to you?

For a second year, I’ve posted things I’m thankful for in daily Facebook posts throughout November. Today, I offer the complete list to you, in the hope of causing you to remember the things for which you are thankful, too.

Thanksgiving2

Here is my month of thanksgiving:

  • Day 1 – Thankful for God’s sovereignty in the world…and in my life.
  • Day 2 – Thankful that God is faithful even when I am not ( not proud of that last part!).
  • Day 3 – Thankful for Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice that redeemed my life. He did what I could not do for myself!
  • Day 4 – Thankful that the Lord is my shepherd, because this sheep definitely needs her shepherd!
  • Day 5 – Thankful for this great nation and for the privilege of voting. We may not be perfect, but whatever her problems, it’s still a blessing to live in the USA!
  • Day 6 – Thankful for the privilege of teaching God’s Word.
  • Day 7 – Thankful for encouraging words, smiles, and hugs!
  • Day 8 – Thankful that our salvation is not found in any political party. Regardless of who is in the White House, God is on His throne!
  • Day 9 – Thankful for food in the pantry, clothes in the closet, and a roof over my head. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily needs, but I have more than what I need just for today!
  • Day 10 – Thankful for God’s promise of the rainbow. Now we see it in part – someday we’ll see the whole glorious circle around the throne!
  • Day 11 – Thankful for those who fought and died to protect my liberty. Freedom is never free.
  • Day 12 – Thankful for the privilege of serving with women who love the Lord. Hearts with a shared purpose are hearts that bring joy!
  • Day 13 – Thankful for the gift of health. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
  • Day 14 – Thankful for the gift of friendship – a gift to give and to cherish.
  • Day 15 – Thankful for the convenience of technology…even though it doesn’t always work and I don’t always understand it.
  • Day 16 – Thankful for the peace that passes all understanding in a world filled with anxiety and strife.
  • Day 17 – Thankful to be part of a church that preaches the gospel, encourages God’s people, and reaches out to the hurting. Also thankful for past pastors and churches who have blessed me with discipleship!
  • Day 18 – Thankful for the joy that comes from knowing I belong to the Lord. I can call God my heavenly Father because Jesus is my Savior.
  • Day 19 – Thankful my heavenly Father has more patience with me than I have with others. (Not proud of that one!)
  • Day 20 – Thankful that Christmas is only five weeks away…and for the anticipation of celebrating the birth of the Savior!
  • Day 21 – Thankful for the freedom we have to worship the One from whom all blessings flow!
  • Day 22 – Thankful for the gift of forgiveness – a gift to give and receive.
  • Day 23 – Thankful for a heavenly Father who knows my needs before I do and meets them in His abundant provision!
  • Day 24 – Thankful for the gift of fellowship. Hearts knit together, minds of one accord, spirits united. Truly a gift!
  • Day 25 – Thankful for the power of a smile – no matter what language we speak, it’s something we all understand.
  • Day 26 – Thankful for my wonderful husband – whose birthday just happens to be today! God has used him in my life to demonstrate the reality of unconditional love.
  • Day 27 – Thankful that Christmas is only four weeks away. Four weeks to enjoy the music and decorations that commemorate the incredible Gift sent to us by the Father.
  • Day 28 – Thankful for the gift of sight…physical AND spiritual!
  • Day 29 – Thankful for the written Word…and the Living Word!
  • Day 30 – Thankful for grace – oceans of undeserved blessings!

So much to be thankful for – so little time!

What are you thankful for?


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