thankful

Why Be Grateful?

I can appreciate that you might think it’s a stupid question to ask, “Why be grateful?”. Obviously, we’re in Thanksgiving week, so it’s season to be thankful and it’s our annual tradition. So Thanksgiving is when we’re supposed to be thankful and it’s easy to go through the customary gratitudes and “check the box” moving along into the Christmas frenzy. But I think we would be wise to pause and do some thinking about being grateful, not just because it’s Thanksgiving.

Why do we need to be thankful?

In one of my all-time favorite books, Man’s Search for Meaning, the author tells about one of his experiences in the Holocaust, in a Concentration Camp. Clearly, life in a Concentration Camp was nothing short of an hellacious existence that was inhumane and depraved beyond even animal existence. But in the midst of such depravity, death, deprivation and sheer degeneracy, the author describes an experience where a fellow inmate beckoned his bunkmates to come outside at the end of a torturous day to see the beautiful sky from a glorious sunset. There was gratitude in the author’s mind in this observation, no matter his daily hell. Every time I read this experience, it causes me to pause and reflect. It’s possible to be grateful even in the most barbaric existence.

Furthermore, I’m reminded about the ten lepers Jesus cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. In these verses, we see that this small and tragic community yelled to Jesus from a distance, asking that He’d heal them. These men weren’t allowed to mingle with regular society because leprosy was contagious and incurable at that time, hence the distance. Jesus yelled back to them, that they should go and show themselves to the priests and as they went they were cleansed, according to verse 14. This is a really cool story, even if we stop there. But we see the real gold when one of the ten lepers returns to Jesus and expresses his gratitude. It’s noteworthy that the only healed leper to express thanks was a Samaritan, the group who was looked down on by proper Jews. And Jesus’ reply shows us that He’s disappointed that the other nine lepers didn’t return be express gratitude. Based on Jesus’ response, I understand that God expects me to be grateful, full stop.

So what would hinder us from being grateful? Here are some gratitude obstacles that could be hindrances for you:

  • What I deserve: if you think you’re entitled, then gratitude is often overlooked
  • Negative outlook: if your glass is half full, then you’ll struggle to find things for which to be grateful
  • Too much: when we’re overwhelmed with pressure, demands, abundance, leisure, . . . it’s easy to forget to be grateful
  • Life season: we can grow through really tough seasons when it’s easy and natural to forget to be thankful

So how can we avoid these pitfalls and cultivate gratitude as a lifestyle and not just a season? Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful:

  • Make a “Thankful List” everyday with at least 3-5 different things from the preceding day
  • Real-time gratitude: say thank you when people do something nice (even if they can’t hear you) and thank you to God for the daily helps (avoiding a traffic accident, scheduling help, wisdom for a problem, unexpected money or a decrease in a bill, transportation to work, encouragement from a friend, an energy boost when you’re tired, grace in a tense situation, . . . .)
  • Seeing and hearing beauty around you in people, birds, trees, worship songs, Bible verse, clouds, snow, sunset, tasty food, . . . .
  • Thank people for who they are and not just what they do ☺

To that end, I have a great friend who frequently reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The “Enough” Factor

I want more!!!  All of us want more of various things. We want more time, more money, more health, more discipline, more achievements, more peace, . . . We want MORE!

Here’s an important secret for more: being thankful can help us see that what we have is enough for this day.  To this end, I have a friend who frequently reminds me to be thankful as the activity to facilitate enough.

May we also never forget that the way we enter Gods presence is through gratitude based on Ps 100:4.

Rather than seeing deficiency, let’s choose to be grateful for what is present. This could go something like, “Thanks God for a beautiful day!  Thank You for giving me strength.”  These are just a few examples to help us cultivate the habit of gratitude as the  “enough factor”!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Let’s Practice

Since we are really close to Halloween, that means that Thanksgiving is fast approaching. So let’s get an early jump on being thankful. By starting to practice gratitude now, we’ll be certain to have maximum proficiency by the time Thanksgiving lands. Another benefit to practicing gratitude now is that we increase our chances of creating a lifestyle of thanksgiving rather than the seasonal experience. Finally, the Bible tells us to be thankful, not only for the obvious & good stuff, but also for things that are difficult. Let’s be sure to practice Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Miraculous Provision

What areas in your life are needy? It seems that often the quick answer is “money.” But if we pause for a second, our answer might be more along the line of more time, wisdom, discipline, strength, better relationships, genuine love, courage, patience, etc.
This morning I read how Jesus multiplied the fish & bread to meet the hunger needs of thousands of people. His disciples came to Him with the need – too many people & a paltry amount of provision. To this problem, Jesus asked them what they had. After identifying what was there, Jesus blessed the provision rather than cursed the need or lack.
Let’s be sure that we’re grateful for what we have, even if it seems like it’s not enough. Then let’s utilize what we have with thanksgiving & our eyes on Jesus to keep providing & multiplying!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fasting, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, hot topic, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

What Do You Like?

We are well into April & I was thinking this morning about things I like & stuff for which I’m grateful. It’s important to be grateful because this is how we enter God’s presence, according to Ps 100:4. So let’s practice being thankful together 🙂
Here are some things for which I’m thankful:

active children, clean water, phenomenal friends, a supportive husband, a drivable car and more than anything, God’s love for me. 

Your turn:

  • What is something good that has happened today?
  • Think of something nice someone has said to you in the last week
  • What is something better this year in comparison to last year?
  • What is something wonderfully unique about you – a talent or ability?

Let’s be grateful in April & not just at Thanksgiving 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, Haiti, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, values, watch, 1 comment

Today is a Gift

I recently had a birthday & it was AWESOME!! I loved all the kind thoughts, quality time & fun gifts – all very wonderful!
But today is a different day & could have some interesting challenges. You & I have days of joy, stressful days & days with surprises, good & bad. 

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen on any given day, let’s keep the mindset that today is the day that the Lord has made, a divine gift with abundant opportunities to see / experience God’s presence in a myriad of ways. May your day be overflowing with awareness that God deeply loves & cares for you 24/7 🙂

Today is the day that God has made so let’s decide to rejoice & be grateful!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, values, watch, 0 comments

No Cavities!

YAHOOO!!!! I took my kids for their dental checkups today & I’m happy to celebrate that NONE of them have cavities. This is a miracle – approximately 90 teeth & not one cavity!  
So this is a really helpful reminder to me keep a few things front & center with my attention:

  • keep watching: God’s miracles come in lots of different sizes & ways, often unexpected 
  • stay grateful: no matter how big or little a miracle is & no matter the method of the miracle (sometimes God chooses to do things in ways we didn’t want), let’s keep gratitude as one of core values throughout each day

No cavities! 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, values, watch, 2 comments

Do You Need More Time??

  
It’s 4am here in Cambodia & why I’ve been wide awake for the last hour escapes me. It’s all the more unsettling to me because I’m flying home today, so for me this day will have 37hours because of the time zone changes. Which brings me to the topic about asking God for more time. There have been countless occasions when I’ve asked God for a little extra time – to complete a task, to enjoy a conversation with a friend, to slow down how quickly my kids are growing, a few extra minutes to finish cooking before some company arrives, etc. But I’ve stopped asking God for more time, precisely because of how today will role out with 37 hours. I’ve come to deeply appreciate this idea of a 24hour discrete day. More time isn’t always the answer we need. So here are some thoughts about maximizing our time:

  • put down the phone & be present – time is often wasted with distractions
  • keep healthy priorities
  • live in the truth that God knows our seasons & days – what needs to happen at various times in our lives
  • There’s much to be said about being grateful for the time that we have 🙂
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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, Cambodia, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, travel, values, watch, 1 comment