Cease Striving

the nails

“Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 {NASB}

 

I didn’t sleep well last night.

I crashed out on the early side, not sure why I was so tired after two days away.  Then I woke up in the middle of the night with all kinds of anxious thoughts consuming my mind.

Things to do.

Bills to pay.

Deadlines to meet.

Expectations of others to be met.

It was hard to get back to sleep and once I did, a little love woke me up with a need to be close.  To be held and comforted with the assurance of knowing he is not alone.

Then I came across this today.  Cease striving and know that I am God.

Today is Good Friday and this verse came at me with a weight of glory, reminding me my striving, my worry, my anxiousness bears no fruit and dims in the shadows of the cross.  As he hung there and the hyssop branch reached his lips, the Son of God breathed is last breath and said, “It is finished.”

It. Is. Finished.

My unproductive striving that leads no where but to sleepless nights has no place in life that lives with these words in place.

It is finished means, cease striving because the finished work of Jesus means all my little worries and fears have no place in a life led by a God who can bring a whole world into existence with a few words.

It is finished means, I hang on to Him, the One who hung on the cross because if He is exalted among nations, in the earth, why shouldn’t He be exalted in my heart and in my life.

Cease striving.

Know He is God.

 

 

Photo Credit: Creationswap

 

Yahweh: The All Encompassing God of the Universe

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Yahweh: The personal name of God.

The only name He gives Himself. It means the self-existing One.

“The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change.  I am here with you and for you.” ~ Warren W. Wiersbe

The One who was, Who is and Who is to come.  Your circumstances may change, you may be on the highest mountain or in the deepest, darkest valley. Regardles… He. Does. Not. Change. And neither does his commitment or promise to you.

He is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.

The Alpha and the Omega…The Beginning and the End.

Yahweh – Jireh: The LORD will provide and see to it. {Genesis 22:14}

Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals. {Exodus 15:26}

 Yahweh-NIssi: The LORD our banner. {Exodus 17:15}

Yahweh- M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies {Leviticus 20:8}

Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace {Judges 6:24}

Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd {Psalm 23:1}

Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts {Psalm 46:7}

Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness {Jeremiah 23:6}

Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there {Ezekiel 48:35}

The same yesterday, today and forever. He is eternal, true, good and loving and in Him all things hold together.

When you sing, speak or shout “Hallelujah”, know that means “Praise Yahweh.”

In your hallelujahs of joy and your broken hallelujahs… He remains steadfast, secure and strong.

Sing it. Shout it. Cry it out.

Whatever you need today… because the all encompassing God of the universe is here.

Present among us.

He sees you and He knows YOUR name.

Hallelujah.

 

 

*Names of Yahweh resourced from Warren W. Wiersbe, Jesus in the Present Tense.

Spring Cleaning {Preparing for Lent}


We had one good dousing of rain over the weekend. A long awaited, much needed downpour for California to quench it’s dried up and thirsty landscape. Then today crept up to about 60 something and by this weekend it will be in the mid 70s. It feels like spring and yet winter hasn’t come.

I wonder a lot about seasons and their purpose and this counting it all joy business. Without the cold and wet of winter the soil isn’t adequately prepared for the growth of spring.  Eventually the lack of water will be enough to dry up roots and prevent buds from blooming to their fullest.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” {James 1:2-4)

James talks about trials of various kinds.  Anything from a bad cold to cancer to a broken marriage to an addiction you can’t seem to stop on your own to the unbearable pain of grieving a death to the uncertainty of the future.  Joy in all of it because any kind of trial has the potential to test your faith or the faith of someone near you.

The trials don’t build our faith or increase our faith. There is no measure of faith that will get us out of our trials either. You aren’t experiencing a trial because you lack faith and you certainly are not still sitting there stuck in it because you don’t have enough.  Faith is simply being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.  What trials do is produce steadfastness which is defined as fixed in direction, unwavering and firmly established.

The more we live, the more opportunity we have for our faith to be fixed in this direction of hope and firmly established in that which we do not see.  The thing about steadfastness according to James is that once you have it, you need to let it have it’s full effect which is apparently a life long process.  This steadfastness the Spirit is cultivating in us sustains us towards the perfection and completion God is working out in us. It’s not us or anything we do that makes us perfect and complete, it’s Jesus and the work He is doing in us.

Spring is a time of cleaning out closets, wiping down old contact paper and getting rid of the things we no longer need. It’s a time to weed and till up the soil to get it ready for planting.

Much like the ground in California, there are parts of my heart that have become hard and cracked.  There is no space to break in and plant something worth growing.

I think God knew what he was doing when he planned the calendar and put Lent exactly where it is.  Three months after the newness of a new year and I’m about ready for a do over.  Thankfully God is the God of new mercies. Every Morning.

Lent is often associated with “giving up” but this year I want to focus on filling up.  I’ve got a little Lent journal ready with some readings prepared and I’m going to focus these next 40 days on Jesus.  The author and perfecter of my faith. The One who is working in me through this steadfastness he is building in me. The One who makes me lack in nothing. The One who completes me.

This church in New Jersey posted something wonderful for those who are looking to give something up for Lent and this little piece by Mark D. Roberts from a few years ago gives a good overview of Lent and how it can make a difference in your relationship with God.

Do you practice Lent?  How so?

Photo Credit: GalleryHeart.com

 

What I’m Into {February 2014 Edition}

It’s been a long time since I’ve tended to this blog so today I am jumping back in and joining Leigh Kramer with her “What I’m Into” link up.

Okay so not going to lie… this year has been a little rough so far.  I was not kidding when I thought the reason behind choosing the word “fun” for the year was going to be out of necessity.  We’ve been to more funerals in 2014 than we’ve attended in most single years.  Many of our friends are suffering loss, illness and broken relationships. It’s been hard.

Also, I think I’ve come to terms with the fact my new year doesn’t feel like it starts until after our annual women’s retreat, because it pretty much just consumes me the first month of January and most of February. Now that March is upon us, I’m coming up for air and hopeful in a springy sort of way.  So cheers to February and all that came with it:

Books:

Sticky Faith  got me thinking a lot about the way we do youth ministry and community in general. It is spurring me on to better and more honest conversations with my boys about faith and being open to new ways in which we can bring their community into ours. I’m reading it slowly and thoughtfully.

Real Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples is what I used to prepare for a leadership training session at the retreat. It’s written well and helps you learn how to walk with people the way Jesus did.

Blogs:

I’ve missed so many of my favorite blogs lately but one that I keep up on is the KHC Women’s Blog. We’ve got a growing group of contributors and it excites me that more women are lending their voices to strengthening our community in this way.

Music:

My sons are really into Lecrae and I’m just thankful there is actually really good and legit rap made by Christians that my kids can listen to. {Let’s not talk about the 80s and 90s} I also got the opportunity last week at the Justice Conference to hear The Brilliance and Josh Garrels.  This is a point of contention in our marriage because it makes this my third time to Steve’s zero on Josh Garrels live.

Things I Love:

  • Women. Eight years ago when the idea was stirring about for me to lead women’s ministries at my church, I was so reluctant.  I was worried about being with women all the time and having all my work be about women.  Now I can honestly say, my heart has been changed because I just adore them.  I love sitting and talking, listening and walking alongside them.  Our recent retreat confirmed so much about how much God loves and uses women to advance His Kingdom and bring about restoration.  There is something stirring in the waters here on earth and I love being part of it.  Remembrance Community, a nearby church that planted from us had their retreat the weekend before ours. The IF Gathering happened the same weekend as ours and it was good to hear much of what we were all talking about and praying were similar.  This is so much bigger than any of us or our imaginations.
  • Young Women.  We made a more purposeful effort to include young women 13 and up at our retreat this year and it is amazing to see the response and include these women in our community. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see young women raised up knowing who they are in Jesus, with a community that shows them loving Him is way more fulfilling than what the world will lure them to love?
  • Brides.  Several special people to me are getting married this year so #Bridalbootcamp2014 was a day spent on a local road trip visiting wise women who collectively have at least 100 years of marriage between them, teaching us about wifing.  I thought it was for them… to prepare them for marriage and how to be the best wife they can be.  I came home more encouraged about my own marriage and proof that what you pour out will be refilled to you thousands of times over.

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  • Baseball. ‘Tis the season and the boys seem to enjoy the game more and more as they grow up. Steve is coaching the Junior Varsity Pirates at San Pedro High School and caught this sweet moment from one Pirate to another on opening day.

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  • Voxer. Sarah got me using this app and it’s so fun. 
  • Rain.  We’ve got threeish days of here in SoCal and though it’s raining out our baseball games, I feel for the farmers, so I’m praying for more.

Favorite Instagram:

This one taken on Valentine’s Day with my boys. It says a lot about life right now.

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What about you? What have you been into lately?

 

One Word {2014 Edition}

For the fourth year I am abandoning New Year’s resolutions and choosing one word to focus on.

One word that will be the thing I look for, the thing I learn from and a word God will hopefully use to shape my character.

In the past, I’ve chosen the words Be, Faithful, and Peace.  They were all formative and I learned so much about who God is and who I am to be.

As I look forward to 2014, I have great hope and the blank canvas of a new year excites me. This year more than before, there is caution running through my spirit giving me a feeling things could potentially get hard.  So as I’ve prayed and considered, what comes to, mind is the word FUN.

Let me tell you straight up… there are a lot of definitions of fun I’m not particularly leaning towards. It’s a frivolous word. The definitions I do like are:  enjoyment, playfulness and the source of enjoyment.

It’s not a deep spiritual word by any means, but it can be the result of deep spiritual meaning.

Several weeks ago, I was visiting with my mom.  We were sitting at the table along with my dad, grandma and her caregiver who’s name by no coincidence is Grace.  We were discussing their struggles and some difficult things about what the future holds for my parents.  Suddenly, mom starts singing in her broken, never good singing voice:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Her voice is so bad, it’s funny and she cracked herself up as she sang.  Then she said this… “It may be a peculiar sound to you, but it is a joyful noise to the Lord, so I will keep singing.”

Another moment when I realized just how amazing my mom is.  Literally incapable of doing anything for herself, trapped a body atrophying from M.S., unable to do things her heart so desires, she is able to laugh at her vocals and sing, It. Is. Well.

This might be what it looks like to laugh at the days to come.

During a conversation with my favorite usher Bill on Sunday on the “Joy of the Lord,” Bill reminded me joy has nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with the person of Jesus.  It’s true.  Many a great theologians will remind us Jesus wants us to enjoy Him and the Psalmist tells us in his presence there is fullness of joy.

There is something lost in the joy of the Lord and that’s the actual manifestation of joy in us. That winsome quality that leads us to enjoy life, enjoy others and help others find joy as well.  I happen to think some of that joy should look like fun. Fun brings people together and keeps them coming back.  It lightens the load so what is serious can be carried with a more appropriate weight, it keeps us from taking ourselves more seriously than we ought.

Reading through the gospels and the stories of the disciples walking with Jesus, healing, casting out demons, turning water into wine… how would they have described those times?  Even post resurrection… running from persecution, singing so loud in prison that the chains fall off and people are set free.  I wonder, if we interviewed John on the island of Patmos at the end of his life and asked, “How would you describe those days with the disciples?”  I imagine among difficult, scary, dangerous, invigorating and others… “fun” might have been a word he would use.

Ministry, serving God, parenting, being a wife, being a friend certainly has it’s challenges. But there is nothing better than seeing someone set free. Seeing someone find freedom because of grace.  Knowing you are going against the tide of culture and being a part of transformation. Experiencing the joy of a child whose confidence has been built because of a lesson learned or a mountain climbed. Enjoying kids while they are young and playful.

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These things my friends, are fun.

So in 2014, I will look for the enjoyment that is to be enjoyed.  I will endeavor to be a fun mom in the ways I know how to be fun. I will enjoy my husband and I will be the source of enjoyment for my family. I will venture to cease complaining until I am one who is marked by praise instead of criticism.  I will take risks like painting the kitchen cabinets lime green because my kids chose the color.

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I will be fully present so I can point to the joy. I will try to encourage and be hopeful while not minimizing what is hurting.

Who knows, maybe the word fun won’t seem so frivolous after all.

Have you chosen a word for the year? Do you have New Year’s resolutions?

Share them with me and we will pray for one another.

The Christmas Card

Dear Friends & Family,

This year, we had to surrender what I love most about Christmas.  The Christmas Card.  In my refusal to get caught up in all things stressful, I had to let it go this time. It was hard because my absolute favorite thing about Christmas is receiving YOUR cards in the mail.

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Every day, we run to the mailbox and look through the photos, read your updates and cherish your words.  We hold on to your cards all year-long and on the nights we actually have dinner together as a family, we choose one and pray for yours.

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Maybe next year we will return to print cards.  For this year, from us to you… we wish you all the hope, peace, joy and love that IS Christmas.

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We’ve had a really fun year growing with these boys.

FunRS

 

Fun2rs

JasonRS

Jason is now 12 and will be 13 in April.  He is growing in faithfulness and is becoming a solid young man. He loves to surf, play baseball and though he will tell you he doesn’t enjoy 7th grade… he is doing really well. His favorite things to do are hang out at youth group, listening to music and keeping up with his friends.

SilasRS SeriousSilasRS

Silas entered into the double digits by turning 10 this year.  Our family tradition for turning 10 is having a “man dinner” where the 10-year-old invites a group of men of his choosing to come and speak blessings over his life. Each person who came is special to Silas {and us} in his own way. They spoke of his compassion, his ability to know how others are feeling, the way he cares for his family and of course his creativity.  Silas is doing well in 4th grade and becoming more and more independent. He loves to create with legos, paints, paper, markers or anything he gets his hands on.

JudahRS

Judah is 8 and continues to delight us with his wildcard ways. He is funny and charming and has a heart so big you can’t help but squeeze him. He loves being a big brother and plays so well with Nathan. He finds a best friend every where he goes and every night asks the question, “Is someone coming over for dinner?”  He loves being surrounded by people and helping in the kitchen.  Judah works hard and loves to learn in 3rd grade. He also plays hard at baseball and basketball and of course any video game he can get his hands on.

NathanRS

 

 

chillNateRS

 

Nathan “The Bonus” is now 2 1/2 and keeping us on our toes.  We love seeing him discover life and he brings so much joy to us. His vocabulary increases daily and he enjoys playing with friends, “eat time,” and his “choo choos.”  He loves his “bobos” the most and tries very hard to join in with whatever they are doing. This year, he is anticipating the arrival of “The Big Ho Ho Guy” while learning about the Baby Jesus who loves him and you. 

 

 

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We celebrated 15 years of marriage this year and are thankful to say it keeps getting better.  I had the gift of a sabbatical all summer long so we enjoyed a little time away courtesy of Papa and Gigi and our Nugents.  We also had a great time as a family in Carlsbad, Mammoth and long days at the beach.  Steve has been enjoying Stand Up Paddling and works in a few “board meetings” here and there while he works hard at Men’s Ministry and coaching San Pedro High School baseball.  After a nice break, I realized how much I love ministry and what a gift it is to be able to be with my family and do something I love at the same time.

This Christmas we celebrate Jesus who came as a baby and still promises:What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”  {Genesis 28:15}

As we hold on to this promise, we pray you and yours would know the fullness of his love and this hope that remains with you also.

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*All photos courtesy of Emily Cannon Photography*

Hope Remains

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This year’s advent wreath sits in the middle of the dirty table but reminds me, this is Jesus.

He sits with us in the middle of our mess bringing clarity and the hope for the renewal of all things simply with his presence.

He comes and collects the dirt we stand in with his hands, mixes it with his saliva and rubs it into our eyes so we can see. 

Just by being Immanuel, God with us, He remains and therefore we remain held in the tender arms of hope. 

We have friends who are cradling a baby as long as they can because his life will be very short and yet their hope remains in God’s plan for them and for the sweet little boy who looks into the eyes of an entire community to bring them together in love.  His preciousness presses us to believe the mysteries of life though unexplained can still give us hope in that there is something more than what’s just here.  The young mother, I imagine is trying to treasure it all in her heart while she can… but knowing much like another young mother from centuries ago, that a sword is piercing her heart, shattering it into a million pieces as she counts the breaths her little one has left.

My parents are aging and their health is fading and as I worry about their health and provision yet this morning when I read this:

“This is the gift that wraps up all stresses quiet:

I will bless you.

Who comes in the heaviness of the day, to the space where the weight hangs on the edges of you, so you just keep holding your breath, so you just keep forgetting to breathe.

But the weight of everything melts like thinning snow in the heat of his words: “I will bless you.” He will not burden you. He will not break you. He will bless you – the God of the invincible reality, the God who has infinite resources, the God who is insistent love.  You can always breathe when you know all is grace.” {Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the full love story of Christmas}

God was birthed in the midst of struggle and remains in the midst of our brokenness to remind us of hope that is now and hope that is coming.

The eagle was designed by God with wings unlike any other bird. When the strong winds come, most birds hide in the trees, but the eagle’s wings were made to soar higher above the gusty adversity of the world he flies in.  The higher he soars, the closer to God and the stronger his wings become.

So hope remains for us:

“but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.” {Isaiah 40:31}

May the grace and peace of God make your wings take you higher today.

Uncovering Gratitude With My Favorite Complainer

Uncovering Beauty

 

A few years ago I did an in-depth study in the book of Habakkuk.  Known as one of the “minor” prophets, what set him apart from the other prophets was that his message was from the people to God, rather than from God to the people.

Habakkuk was a complainer. If Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, Habakkuk should be known as the complaining prophet.  He was raw, emotional, authentic and didn’t hold back.

It starts off in chapter one under the heading “Habakkuk’s Complaint” when he cries out, wondering where God is and what He is doing. Full of doubt and questioning, he looks around and sees life is falling apart, the people are being pressed in from all sides and it seems as though God is at a stand still, not doing anything about it.

God’s response to him goes like this:

“Look among the nations, and see;

wonder and be astounded.

For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” 

This morning, I needed to do some complaining of my own.

When I went to God, I remembered Habakkuk and as I opened the pages, it felt like an old friend had shown up for coffee and encouraged me in only the ways an old friend can do.

I do this thing Habakkuk did all the time. I look around and am overwhelmed by all that is happening to me and around me and many times, I wonder… when will things be different?  When will God move and make things all better?

In my shallow view of the supernatural, I am content to leave my faith at the size of a mustard seed, limiting it to something so small I can spin it around in my fingers when in actuality there are roots going deeper than I can see and the potential for what will come is far beyond measure.

God reminds Habakkuk, the righteous shall live by faith, therefore what I can’t see, is more important than what I do see.

Complaining is so much more productive when we do what Habakkuk did and take it to the one who created and moves mountains.  God received his complaints and responded. Responded by reminding the prophet of his responsibility… “Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it…. wait…and live by faith.”  {Habakkuk 2:1-4}

Write.

Run.

Wait.

Live.

What Habakkuk receives and absorbs into his bones is a flood of remembrances of who God is, what he has done and what the promises are.

“I hear and my body trembles…” God doesn’t give Habakkuk very good news of what is to come. He learns what he is going through now is just the tip of the iceberg but even with that news he has hope.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no flood,

the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 

God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

He started his complaining struggling to find something to be thankful for and by the end, he realized gratitude and joy doesn’t always come from something found.

Sometimes beneath the murkiness of what we see, it’s already there waiting to be uncovered.

What have you uncovered lately?

Leaving One Way And Resting In Another {The Practice Of Not Complaining}

www.internetmonk.com via cc

www.internetmonk.com via cc

 

Yesterday morning I left my sweet boys sleeping to hop on a plane for a visit with my lovely Nashville friends.  I booked my flight with some frequent flyer miles through United but failed to see the airline I was actually going to be on was US Air.  I got dropped off at the wrong terminal and ended up at the right terminal 4 minutes past the check in deadline.

I missed my flight.

The ticket agent remained calm even though she could tell I was upset. I was so irritated at the airline and mad at myself for not reading the confirmation email carefully. If Steve were traveling with me, this would not have happened.   I am the most disorganized traveler there ever was.

Staying complaint-free was really hard because it’s situations like these where {let’s be honest} complaining is what supposedly gets you somewhere.  Anyone work in customer service before? Can I get an amen?  After a few minutes of collecting myself, I decided getting on the next flight two hours later and a stand by connection wouldn’t be too bad.  If I got stuck in airports all day, I at least had a day to read my many books without the interruptions of normal life. A gift for which to be thankful.

This complaining sabbatical has already been teaching me if you remove the junk out of the drawer, it leaves space for the good stuff. The grateful stuff. The things of blessing and encouragement.

You know what else I’ve noticed? Not complaining gets you calmer faster which keeps everyone around you calm as well.

When I invited people to join me on this complaint sabbatical, there were some people who said flat out… “I can’t do this.”  Here’s the thing though… we always say we want God to change us.  But, if we really want to see God move us, we have to be willing. 

The truth is, some of us have some legit reasons to complain. My people here are made up of those who are dealing with loss, failing marriages, failing health, joblessness, unmet expectations, stress and depression.  I know this.  There is value in verbally processing and sometimes venting just down right feels good.  However what feels good for a moment, isn’t always good for our souls.

For these reasons, we decided yesterday to change what we’re calling this break from from a “fast” to a “sabbatical.”  Rather than just abstaining from something that is part normal of life, our goal is to leave our way of living and rest in another.    The complaining is only to cease between you and another person… not between you and your God.  Talk to God about your feelings, your discontent, your unhappiness and your fear and see what He does with it.

Like with every other discipline we practice, there will be failure and there will be compromise, we will fall and rise up again and for all of it, there is grace upon grace. 

If you’ve been practicing with us, what have you learned so far?

 

Thank You… Seriously

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Creative Commons via Hey Paul Studios

It’s November and as such, people are getting into Thanksgiving mode.

I love how in recent years, people are able to make public declarations of all things for which they are thankful via social media. It’s encouraging to me and makes me pause and think about the things I’m thankful for.

This year, my family and I are creating a simple wall of thanks with post-it notes each day for all the things for which we can give thanks. The first few days we got through the obvious… God, Jesus, Family, Friends.  Not to make light of any of these, but I really believe when we can name the simple things…they can be the most profound.

Yesterday, as I was finishing up my preparation for teaching at Refuge, I realized Thankfulness and Gratitude are both nouns. I naturally think of them as verbs because action is required when we practice gratitude.  However, it struck me that the essence of gratitude is acknowledging what already is in existence.

Gratitude is birthed from grace and practicing it grows us up in grace. It is centered on what already has been given to us and done for us.  It’s not about us doing something, or trying harder, but leaning into grace and giving thanks for what we already have.

About a month ago, I was talking with a friend who was struggling with feeling joyful at home. She has her hands full with three kids, one who has special needs. She was struggling with her feelings of resentment over unmet expectations, perfectionism and the stress of every day life.  She was concerned the tone she was setting in her home was negative and her kids were going to grow up remember a mom who was unhappy most of the time.

I hated to give her a trite and cliche answer but when I prayed for wisdom to encourage her, what came to mind was the discipline of sitting down each day and making a list of what she can be thankful for and praise God for those things.

{Thank you Ann Voskamp for allowing God to use you to show us how seriously glorious gratitude can be.}

Gratitude is one of our best and fiercest weapons against the lies that fill our heads and drive us to action.  An effective drug against isolation and depression.  Thanksgiving is a deadly blow against unmet expectations.  It is a balm to the anxiety brought on by perfectionism.

But the bottom line is, gratitude is a choice.  We choose every day to be grateful for what is… or we can choose to be ungrateful and let the darkness consume us.

So for all my friends at Refuge last night, and those who couldn’t make it… join me in one or both gratitude challenges. Let’s go from being people who hear a great word on being thankful to people who actually are thankful because we practice gratitude in how we live.

Challenge 1:

Consider taking these scriptures and read one each day before Thanksgiving. Make a list of things you are thankful for. Try to go beyond the basics (God, Jesus, salvation, family) and get specific with God.  Sometimes, the simple things are the most profound.

And because the Proverb says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” consider joining us for:

Challenge 2:

Let’s go on a complaint fast.  See if we can live the rest of the 2013 in preparation for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season without complaining. When you need to complain, make your complaints, request, and supplications to God.  Surrender it all to Him.

Imagine… what would it be like to go into Christmas without complaining about how much you have to do, how much money you have to spend, how busy you are?!

If you’re in, leave a comment and leave some encouragement for the rest of us!

 

*I am not minimizing the necessity of medical intervention when it comes to depression and anxiety. I am simply stating gratitude can beneficial to the healing of and renewal of the mind.

 

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