grateful

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, 2 comments

Lemonade Comes From Lemons :)

We can go through seasons in our lives when there’s an abundance of lemons.  By this, I mean that sometimes life serves up lots of bitter stuff, such as:  a bad medical diagnosis, poor results on a test in school, an unexpected bill when the money isn’t there, emotional struggles, extra responsibilities in an overcrowded life, relationship catastrophes, etc.

So how do we make lemonade from the bitter experiences that can happen in life?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Prayer:  take whatever is bitter & bring it to Jesus for divine input
  • Choose to trust:  after prayer, make the consistent decisions to trust Jesus to bring good from bad, order from chaos, blessing from curse
  • Gratitude:  even though we don’t like hardships, struggles & lemons, James 1:2-4 says that such difficulties can work into a blessing & become lemonade.  So maybe gratitude is some sugar to sweeten the lemons

Here’s to letting God turn lemons into lemonade in our lives!

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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, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Skin Doctor

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body?  This morning I had an appointment with the skin doctor to look at a spot that was suspicious. My dad had super fair skin, which I inherited, so I’m trying to pay attention to my skin & avoid bad stuff. 

The whole skin thing is yet another example of God’s grandeur & intricacy. Not only does God make our bodies with massive complexity, filled with elaborate parts & pieces all working together with symphonic elegance, but then all that sophistication gets squeezed into skin.  And skin is easily overlooked. 

Feel free to sit in the reality that you are fearfully & wonderfully made by your attentive & loving Heavenly Father! 

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

Appetite Driven Consumption

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, there’s a good chance that you & I will be eating some tasty food, along with second’s & possibly third’s. It’s also likely that you’ll skip some food that’s not in your favorite list. For me, I’ll take a pass on the cranberry relish but maybe double up on my mom’s chorizo stuffing 🙂
With the quantity of food that’s available tomorrow, let’s consider that our flesh appetites, left unchecked, can be highly destructive.  As we are being thankful in this season, let’s also remember to cultivate or appetite for spiritual food, like daily Bible & prayer time!

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Posted by Sarah 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

Too Much Gratitude

I don’t like cinnamon & this is only a recent development. Maybe I  don’t like cinnamon because at this time year, everything seems to have cinnamon: coffee, ice cream, apple cider, pies, smoothies, etc.
So it’s possible to overdose cinnamon, but I  don’t think it’s possible to overdo gratitude. Maybe we should think in terms of spreading thanksgiving throughout the year & not only a seasonal overdose. Feel free to leave a comment to express something or someone for which you’re grateful!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, cooking, enemies to intimacy, family, fasting, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, 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

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

Black Friday

Black Friday seems to be kind of like the starting gun for the Christmas season – ready, set GO!!!!  So here’s my weird question for today:  why do we call Black Friday “black” and Good Friday “good”?  Good Friday is the day when we acknowledge that Jesus was cruicified and the Friday before Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead.  Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving & supposed to be a day when loads of people “start” shopping for Christmas – the launch of holiday festivities.  Both Fridays have their pluses and minuses – solemn and celebratory.  But on this Black Friday, let’s consider a few things:

  • being thankful didn’t stop yesterday when the dishwasher turned off or the last football seconds ran off the clock
  • Good Friday is good because Jesus took our place on the cross & that news is very good indeed!
  • Black Friday doesn’t mean Debt Friday
  • let’s remind ourselves in this holiday season to keep room in our thoughts, time, actions & priorities for Jesus and His presence 🙂
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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, family, Genuine love, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, seeing Jesus, values, watch, 1 comment