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And Be Thankful

It is a little difficult updating how I am doing in this particular case as it has only been a short time since I wrote these posts, but it has been a blessing to remind myself of these habits that I pray I have created.

So review, keep coming back and remembering, and habitually be thankful!

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Thankful, For Better Or For Worse

There have been season in my life that I would never ever want to relive. Nor would I want to wish them on my enemies. Difficult seasons of loss, trials of the heart, and times of overwhelming stress can sometimes crush our spirits. But what about the following Scriptures:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4

“In everything give thanks,” and “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” How do we handle these ideas in the times that are not simple and easy to give thanks?

The first is to recognize how these things are used in our lives. Above I said that I would never ever want to relive those times, but I have to say that I would not wish them away. While I am not saying that I am glad whatever triggered the difficult time happened, I count the times after, though hard, precious.

A while back I wrote a post about the death of my friend’s granddaughter. While I would never wish that this precious life had ended, it was such an honor to walk with the family through that time. I learned a lot about grief and how to comfort people who are walking through grief. I am grateful for the deepened friendship, the sweetness of Christ ministering to the family through it, as well as the experience that it will give me for future ministry.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that when you hear difficult news you should immediately shout “Halelujah!” But I am saying that the longer you walk through hard times the easier it is to recognize how God truly does,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

The biggest and best thing that I get out of difficult times is a deepened relationship with Jesus Christ. He ministers to the deepest parts of my soul. Let me quote the verses just before Romans 8:28:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us* with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

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This is one of my favorite activities to help me take my thoughts captive and get my perspective back where it should be. Step 1 is to read these verses:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8

The next step is to get a small portable notebook, I used 3×5 cards that are spiral bound. Portable is the key because this is a fun thing to take with you. Though, to be honest, one time I used sheets of paper. But I will explain that more in a moment.

Every few pages write one of the different words above as a header, or title.

Then starting thinking of things that come to mind when you read those words. Don’t worry about getting a lot, just try to get some. This is a working growing project. It is the practice of taking your thoughts captive. Its quite fun. Things don’t always have to be serious either, so long as you have some serious words, have fun with it.

The time I used papers was during a very stressful week at my church and so I typed up the words on sheets of paper and hung them in my office. Everyone who came in had to write something.

It is a fun activity that, though it isn’t specifically on thankfulness, it does help you take your thoughts captive and gets you in the mindset that is more thankful because you are focusing on the true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy things in life.

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Here are some creative Thanksgiving activities, some of these are to help you share what you are thankful for and some of them are just for fun. Let me challenge you all to pick one thing and try it. Perhaps you will find a new tradition this year!

Thanksgiving Menu Scavenger Hunt is a fun Scripture hunt to find all the items on the menu! Make sure you look up the Scriptures and verify that your version works with the hunt as well as it is an item you are actually serving on the menu! If you are really ornery you could make your family order their meal by using the Scripture reference menu.

A Thanksgiving Tree is one of my favorite activities to do at Thanksgiving! My church does this every year and we end up with a huge tree covered in beautiful leaves that have so many thankful things written on them. We have a couple of landscapers in our church so we get actual trees that have already died. We also found some really nice silk leaves at the dollar store last year and online at Oriental Trading. You can do something big like that or trim a tree from your yard and start with a mini tree. Or you could pull out your Christmas tree early and add leaves to that.

Another similar idea is the Chain of Thanks which is a paper chain with things that you and your family and/or guests are thankful for.

A couple of friends of mine who have had me over for thanksgiving when my own family was out of town have a wall in their dining room that was painted with chalkboard paint. The nice part about that, other than it is completely fabulous, is that we can all write what we are thankful for on their wall. I found this DIY tutorial for a smaller version of that.

Another set of friends of mine have the scrabble letter trays out at all times with words on them. It changes to different things depending on who was at it last, but that would be a fun little decoration to have out for people to write words they are thankful for. Or even have a whole board out and everyone helps add words of things to be thankful for.

There are lot of ideas to do. Granted the first one listed wasn’t about being thankful but it looked fun.

Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Be Thankful to Him

A Song of Praise for the Faithfulness to His People
A Psalm of Thanksgiving.
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;*
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 100:1-5

One of my most difficult struggles in my adult life was a time of insecurity I went through. It was a very dark time for me and I felt like my world was spinning out of control. I learned later that it was caused by food allergies and am now able to avoid sinking into that feeling of low desperation. However, while in the midst of this Jesus started working on my heart in this situation. There were a couple of big lessons I learned. The first was that whether you think too low of yourself or think too highly of yourself both are a form of pride. Humility is considering others first so therefore even my own constant worry of if I was good enough, if anyone cared about me, this was a form of pride. The second big lesson was the practical of how to combat this form of pride. And that was a thankful journal.

I stashed several small notebooks throughout my world. One in my office, one in my car, another in my purse another in my house. These notebooks were always within an arms reach. As soon as I felt those thoughts of insecurity creeping in on me I would grab the notebook and start writing. Now I had a couple of rules, the first was I was not allowed to write about the situation. Usually the insecurity stemmed from a specific situation where I felt left out or unloved or something along those lines, but I knew if I wrote out the situation it would just be dwelling on it more. The second rule was that I had to find something, anything at all, to be thankful for. So with those two rules in mind I would write a quick note of thanks to God.

Sometimes the note was for salvation, sometimes it was about the weather, other times it would be about something good that had happened earlier in the day. Regardless I wouldn’t stop writing until I had combated the insecure.

During my lowest point of that season I was writing in the journal quite frequently. And I am thankful I went through that time. I am thankful that God allowed me to work on the spiritual side of the issue before freeing me of the physiological side of it. Why? Because it taught me to be more thankful.

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And Be Thankful

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:12-17

We hear it said every year, I have said it and perhaps you have too, “we should be thankful all year long, not just on Thanksgiving!” So this week we are going to take a break from our normal Proverbs 31 practical applications and look at practical ways to create a habit of a thankful heart.

One year for Christmas someone gave me a calendar set. It came with a regular full sized wall calendar, a small purse sized calendar and a mini wall calendar. Now the mini wall calendar is what I used for this but you could use a regular sized wall calendar. I put the calendar by my bed and every night before I went to sleep I took a couple of minutes to think back on my day and consider what I was thankful for. I wrote a few notes in the calendar.

That year we experienced several tragedies. I found that even on those days I had a moment which I could be grateful. It was the hug from a grandfatherly figure, the call from a friend, or simply the fact that Jesus had carried me through the day.

Now you don’t have to wait until next year to start this, start it today. Use your calendar app, grab a journal and simply date it every night, or find that wall calendar that you stuck in the drawer and never hung up this year…

And be thankful!

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