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The Joy of Thanksgiving

typorama (2)

It’s happening! Christmas is already in full gear, and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. Holiday decorations, music and advertisements have already bombarded every store.

Although tidings of great joy is a Christmas term, I think joy should also be associated with Thanksgiving. Have you ever noticed that joy and thankfulness go hand in hand? When you meet a thankful person, she is usually joyful, and when you meet a joyful person, she is typically a grateful person as well.

When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There are things to be glad about in every situation, but we have to be looking for them.  That’s what thankful people do – they count their blessings rather than wasting time grumbling and complaining. Let’s be intentional about gratitude every single day and usher in the holidays with a joy-filled heart.

Here are 10 ideas to spark and inspire a grateful heart for both you and your kids. These are simply suggestions, not another burdensome list. Keep it simple and just apply a couple of these in order to start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

  1. Write down 5 things you are thankful for every morning.
  2. Send a thank you note, text or email to a friend or family member, telling them what you appreciate about them.
  3. Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against and thank the Lord for His forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
  4. Give a thank you gift to a waiter or staff person you see on a regular basis.
  5. Thank a member of the armed forces with a card or gift.
  6. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for in a challenge you are currently facing.
  7. Call your spouse during the day, just to say thank you.
  8. Create a space somewhere in the kitchen for everyone to write what they are grateful for.
  9. Play and sing praise and worship music throughout your day.
  10. Pray together as a family at night, thanking the Lord for His blessings.

Finally, here are a few verses you may want to post around your house or memorize:

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

I hope you have a wonderful and joy-filled thanksgiving!

In Light of Paris

Alexander III bridge, Paris, France

This weekend, we watched in horror as the terrible news from Paris unfolded. It’s hard to understand how people could choose to cause such suffering and pain in the lives of others. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families, as we struggle to find ways to demonstrate our support for them.

There are certain Psalms I reflect on every Monday, and as I meditated on Psalm 34 I thought it was timely in light of the tragedies in Paris. God’s word is always a source of comfort, wisdom and strength, particularly in times of difficulties. Take a moment to reflect on these words written by David as he expounded on the hope of those who fear the Lord.

Psalm 34

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

The Bible leads us to find our hope in God. When life seems overwhelming or out of control, call out to Jesus. He is our source of salvation, comfort and strength. He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. May you find your refuge in Him today.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him.” Verse 18

Guest Blogger Julie Smith

Recently, while pushing my super-sized shopping cart down a CostCo aisle, I made eye contact with an older woman who was dressed in the traditional Arab, dark-colored, full body cloak. Struck by the sternness of her countenance and almost without thinking, I continued to look her in the eyes as my smile gently grew larger, while remaining sincere. It was as if I could follow her thought process in response to my smile. At first, sadly, her eyes declared that infrequently, she is the recipient of kindness from white women. And then, her smile went from no smile, to a tentative smile, to a smile mirroring my own. What a wonderful experience we both had and no words were exchanged. Our exchange contained expressions of the heart painted on the canvas of human faces.

Scripture tells us that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” To understand another’s heart, we gather information about what is important to that person. Since the face expresses the heart, in seeking God’s face, aren’t we really longing to understand His heart about many things? Not the least of which is how He feels about us and those we encounter. I find it unfathomably inviting that God wants us to seek His face. The One who created you and created me, who redeemed us on a rugged cross yearns to open His heart to us. As a result, His desire is that we care about who and what He cares about, and then with our faces pass along His glory to others.

At CostCo, the woman had a complete countenance transformation as she responded to His heart reflected in a human face. Viewing her facial transformation in time lapsed photography would provide a powerful reminder of God’s ability to impact our culture with the use of a tool we each possess, our faces. Like Moses, as we spend time on the mountain alone with God, our faces will be transformed and cannot help but reflect His glory to others. So, what do you say? Shall we schedule an appointment at The Heavenly Mountain Spa so that He can make us over with His love? This way, our faces can more often reflect His heart to a lost and hurting culture.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 

2 Corinthians 3:18

Check out Julie’s blog by clicking here.


The Wedding Rehearsal  

Grace and Jeremy's Rehearsal

Grace and Jeremy’s Rehearsal

Several weeks ago our daughter Grace got married in Pennsylvania. The wedding celebration was spectacular! The beautiful fall foliage and the relaxing ranch venue made for a perfectly memorable event and some great pictures too. Sadly, the day before the wedding wasn’t quite as glorious. Monsoon- style rains in Dallas prevented several of the girls in the bridal party (including our daughter Joy, who was maid-of-honor) from getting to the rehearsal the day before the wedding.

Grace felt both sad and disappointed. Her heart was set on having a special time with all her bridesmaids at the rehearsal dinner. Her perfect picture of what she always dreamed of for the rehearsal dinner had to be adjusted. We all needed to step back and look at the bigger picture, remembering that this weekend wasn’t about the rehearsal, it was about the wedding! Ultimately, it was the celebration of her marriage to Jeremy that really mattered.

Sometimes, we need that same perspective when it comes to the disappointments and difficulties in life. When our perfect picture of what we thought life should look like gets rearranged, it is important for us to view the bigger and broader picture, remembering that there is a better day coming. The apostle Paul put it best when he wrote:

We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

 Perspective is everything! May we step back and view our circumstances in light of eternity and remember that this life is simply the rehearsal for the next. What really matters is yet to come as we look forward to the great and glorious day described in Revelation – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Let’s choose to keep our eyes on that day as we face the challenges of this day.

Dwelling Place


Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place.  Psalm 90:1 (ASV)

When you work with homeless people you recognize the security and dignity that are associated with having a place to stay. Often we take for granted the blessing of having a roof over our heads. Our words today are actually a prayer of Moses, and considered one of the oldest Psalms. As Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert, they had nowhere to call their home. Yet God was all they needed, He was their dwelling place. Their tents in the Wilderness were temporary, their God was not.

We have a dwelling place, One whom we can go to for comfort, protection, dignity and hope.  He will not leave us. We are never alone.  Moses recognized that God was the one who could meet all their needs.  In the New Testament we read Jesus’ invitation for us to come and dwell (abide) with Him. We find a home for our restless soul in Him alone. Father thank you for being our dwelling place. We desire to abide with you.