the importance of gratitude

the importance of gratitude

My oldest daughter is a logophile – someone who loves words. Every day, before I begin work, she opens a tab on my computer for Dictionary.com for the “word  of the day.”

Today’s word? Thanksgiver. The definition, according to Dictionary.com is a person who gives thanks.

An appropriate word for all times of the year, but perhaps more easily remembered during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Why should we express our gratitude to God?

Below are a few of the many reasons.

  • He is deserving of our praise.

Psalm 9 1

  • He tells us to “…give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18a). Not always easy in those times of trial that we all experience. But His grace and mercy sees us through even the worst of times.

 

  • He gave us eternal life. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) 

 

  • When we have a grateful heart, we are less apt to complain or look dismally at our circumstances, no matter how bleak they may seem.

Charles Dickens

  • It reminds us how dependent we are on Him.

 

  • His love endures forever (Psalm 136:1).

Psalm 136_1

  • It is a way to express worship to our Creator.

 

  • A grateful heart comes humbly before the  Lord and realizes all that He has done.

 

  • Gratitude reminds us of how much we have, not how much we lack.

Melody Beattie

One of the ways I have found to be especially important in showing thankfulness is by staring a gratitude journal.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Any notebook will do. At the end of each day, list the things you are grateful for. It’s amazing the things we forget.

How often do I thank the Lord for His many blessings? The gift of His Son? Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross? That He chose me to be His? For food on the table? Good health for my family and me? His protection? My husband’s job?

Speaking of His protection, how many times does God protect us and we don’t even realize it? The car accident that could have happened. The illness we avoided. The lurking, unseen dangers that He has saved us from. By His grace, we emerged unscathed from potential dangers we never even gave thought to.

Not only today, but everyday, be a thanksgiver. Come before the Throne with humility, thanksgiving, and praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

How do you express your gratitude to the Lord?


 

For another post about gratitude, see Thankful for the Small Things.

For more posts in The Importance Series, check out the following:

The Importance of Relying on God

The Importance of Friendship

The Importance of Compassion

The Importance of Honesty

The Importance of Avoiding the Gossip Trap

The Importance of Influence

The Importance of Kindness

The Importance of Voting

 

 

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the importance of relying on God

Relying on God

Everyday I rely on God for the big things: every breath, health and safety for my family, food, clothing, shelter, my husband’s job, help and healing for my mom, nephew, and niece for their chronic illnesses and pain; and the list goes on.

But what about the seemingly “small” things? The things that some people don’t even give a second thought to? What about relying on God for those things?

Take, for instance, my fear of needles. I have to prepare myself a week in advance for my annual wellness blood draw, and I have to lie down to avoid fainting during the procedure. It doesn’t help they can never find a vein, and that when they do, my little teeny selfish veins refuse to give up blood no matter how hydrated I am. Or the recent crown the dentist put on a cracked tooth. The several needles she used to numb me was traumatic.

But to others, needles are not a big deal. But for those of us with what I call “glitches in our systems” who have strange, but common fears like needles, relying on God to get us through the needle moments is huge.

Relying on God is an essential part of our faith. We need Him. Everyday. He tells us to trust Him, to rely on Him, that He will supply our needs and strengthen us.

Psalm 18 2.png

I’m thankful in a way that I do have needle phobia. When my recent crown was completed (my daughters called this my “coronation,” so I have officially been crowned, lol!) the gratitude and humility that washed over me was immense. Tears filled my eyes, as I praised God for yet again getting me through another “needle moment in life.”

Had I not struggled with the crown or the annual blood draw, or the times throughout my life when I’ve had IVs (pregnancy, appendicitis, and a dental surgery), then I would not have been overwhelmed with the gratitude of God’s provision for the small things as well as the big things.

So how do we show our gratitude to our Creator for all that we rely upon Him for?

  • Praise Him often. For everything we know about and everything that He has protected us from that we may not even have realized.
  • Praise Him with sincerity.  True devout humility to the One who gives us our every breath.
  • Praise Him with worship. Praise Him with a song and exalt His holy name. I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Psalm 69 30

  • Praise His name when talking to others. Tell them of His wondrous works and how you relied on Him – and He came through for you.
  • Praise Him through a gratitude journal. Keeping track of answered prayers and the times you relied on Him is a good way to help remember all He has done.

What seemingly “small” things have you relied on God for lately?

5 ways to be your “sweet self”

5 ways

From as far back as I can remember, my mom has always used the saying, “just be your sweet self.”

Whether in day-to-day life or dealing with a difficult situation, my mom reminded my siblings and me that being our sweet selves was, in essence, treating others as we would like to be treated and loving our neighbor. Even when someone was unkind, our response was not to be one of retaliation or revenge, but of kindness.

1 Corinthians 13 4a

Easier said than done, to be sure. It’s not always easy to be our “sweet self” to the difficult people we encounter in our daily lives. It’s a continual growing process made possible only with constant prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Here  are five ways to practice being your “sweet self”:

  • Seek to bless others. Pray each morning for a chance to bless someone else – and watch God provide the opportunity!
  • Give the benefit of the doubt. We’ve all jumped to conclusions about another’s thought life or motives. But no one knows for sure what someone else is thinking, or what their true heart motive is. So…when in doubt, give the benefit of the doubt. Think the best of people.
  • Be polite. “Please,” and “thank you” are no longer used as often as they should be. Seek to use good manners, no matter what your age. (And teach your children to do the same!)
  • Live in the moment. Time passes quickly, and we can never recapture those lost moments again. Live in the moment – take the time for that hug from your husband. Spend time with your children. Visit that elderly neighbor who struggles with loneliness. Spend time in the Word and in worship of our Savior.

dad and daughter.jpg

  • Strive to be worthy of your calling. One of my favorite verses and one of the prayers of my heart is Ephesians 4:1. Paul is admonishing us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” If you are seeking to honor God in all that you say and do, you will have an easier time being your “sweet self”.

Ephesians 4 1

What are some ways you practice being your “sweet self”?

 

 

the importance of friendship

friendshipSome of us have had friends since we were toddlers. Long, abiding friendships that started while we were still in diapers and continued throughout school, through marriages, and starting our own families. But just as precious are those friendships that we found later in life where it feels as though we have known each other our entire lives because we “just clicked.”

So, why is friendship important?

Life is hard. In today’s world, we face a myriad of difficulties from illness to job loss. One of the many blessings the Lord gives us is the blessing of friends. Someone to come alongside us when times are tough. Someone to be there for us, and to pray for and with us.

But it’s not only friendship, but quality friendship that matters. Proverbs 18:24 has much to say about that very topic.

Proverbs 18 24

What exactly is an unreliable friend? Here are some qualifications of being unreliable:

undependable, deceptive, untrustworthy, capricious, false, unstable, and fickle.

Not good qualities for a friend. Proverbs 18:24 tells us that if we have friends that exhibit those traits, we are in danger of coming to ruin. However, on the flipside is a friend who is loyal, steadfast, devoted, faith, constant, abiding, and true. We should also strive to be this type of friend to our friends.

In addition, Proverbs 27:9 tells us that a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs 27 9In these days of busyness, chaos, difficult times, and so many unknowns, refreshment of the soul is more than welcome.

So, what are some qualities of a good friend?

  • They are avid prayer warriors and aren’t afraid to pray for and with you wherever and whenever necessary.
  • They are an ardent cheerleader and support you, even if your dreams are a bit crazy at times.
  • They gently tell you in the kindness and humility if necessary if there’s something amiss that you need to address.
  • They promote an evenly-matched (or close-to-evenly-matched) friendship (as we all have times when we are the more “needy” one). Meaning they are there for you and you are there for them and it’s not one-sided.
  • They are a good listener. We’ve all been around those folks that only talk about themselves or their problems. All. The. Time. Good friends talk as well as listen.
  • They have integrity. Nothing is worse than discovering a close friend has betrayed you.
  • They stand up for you in times of battle. When the bully is knocking down your door, your close friend is there to take on the enemy with you.
  • They help you strive to be your best self. In Proverbs 27:17, we are reminded that iron sharpens iron. A quality friend rejoices with you when you rejoice, and weeps with you when you weep (Romans 12:15). They spur you on and offer encouragement.Proverbs 27 17

Most of us have several friends and acquaintances, but who do we call in those times of need – those times of struggle – those times when no one else quite “gets us”? Those are the friends that God placed in our lives as gifts.

The ones we are blessed to have.

 

 

 

the importance of compassion

Compassion

I recently saw a quote that discussed how we are at times frustrated with someone for the things they cannot do (as in someone struggling with dementia, chronic pain, paralysis, or other debilitating struggle)…if we are that frustrated with them, how must it be for them knowing they can’t do the things they could once do, or would love to do?

It’s message was clear. We need to have compassion.

Our world is full of pain. Broken bodies, broken relationships, broken lives. How can we come alongside someone who is struggling?

In the past couple of weeks, I have heard from people struggling with the following:

Severe debilitating pain;

A son addicted to meth;

An uncle with Parkinson’s and dementia;

A cancer diagnosis;

A caregiver whose days are filled with exhaustion and concern for the loved ones in her care;

An older couple with marriage problems;

Someone suffering the loss of a loved one;

A missionary dealing with the aftermaths of a tsunami;

And the list goes on…

God calls us to be compassionate toward those who are struggling, no matter what those struggles may be. While we may not exactly understand the hardships others face, we can be a listening ear, a gentle voice, and a prayer warrior for those who need us most.

Zechariah 7 9

So, how can you show compassion?

  1. Offer prayer support. Don’t only offer to pray for someone, but actual pray at that time with that person. It wasn’t long ago that my daughters and I stood in our local Walmart and prayed with a woman and her husband after they’d received the news that he had cancer.
  2. Have a listening ear. When someone is going through a hard time, just having someone listen is crucial.
  3. Be engaged. How many times do we catch ourselves saying, “if you need anything, please let me know.” That’s a nice gesture, but how about saying instead, “what is it I can do to help you?” And then be sure to do it.
  4. Don’t offer a million “fixes.” A woman I know who has severe chronic pain says the most difficult thing is when well-meaning people tell her if she’d just take “this” supplement or “do this or that exercise”, she’d be healed. Those who are going through a tough time don’t need suggestions. They need us to be there.
  5. Be patient. If someone you know is struggling with something that is big to them, but you can’t understand the severity of it, be patient. We never know how things affect others.
  6. Put yourself in their shoes.

 

The God we serve is a God of compassion and mercy.  As we strive to be more like Jesus everyday, let’s strive to be more compassionate toward those in need of our tender care.

Romans 12 15

 

8 things I want my daughters to know

mom and daughter

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God endures forever.~Isaiah 40:8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies~ Psalm 36:5

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Your husband. Your parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we  garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Proverbs 31 30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us.

James 5 16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

Jeremiah 29 11

 

Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.

 

 

 

the one prayer policy

As I do each morning, I spend quiet time with the Lord praying and reading the Bible before embarking on my day. Sometimes the prayer lists are extensive, especially when the Lord brings to mind those people I need to pray for due to health issues, financial struggles, relationship issues, natural disasters, comfort due to a loss in their lives, or for the salvation of an unsaved loved one.

praying girl

“Oh, and Lord, could you please help…”

“Oh, and please come alongside…”

“Oh, and also, can you give peace and comfort to…”

“Oh, and…”

The list goes on and on. As an avid prayer warrior, I have found that there is no shortage of prayers needed for those around us. Whether it be those we know and love or those we have never met.

I am so grateful that the Lord doesn’t say, “Now, Penny. You’re prayer limit has been reached. Please reserve the remaining prayers for another day.”

Or…

“Sorry, Penny. Your one prayer is all you are allotted for the day. Pick which prayer that will be, pray it, then return tomorrow with another prayer.”

No, instead, God tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to be “faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Psalm 17 6In Ephesians 6:18, He tells us, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Psalm 145 18aJeremiah 29:12 says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” It doesn’t say, pray only once or twice and reach the prayer quota, then be done.

No, the Lord welcomes our prayers. Prayers throughout the day. Prayers on any topic or for anyone.

No limits.

No maximum.

No one-prayer policy.

On that note, I think it’s time for a prayer of gratitude!