A grateful mind is both a great and happy mind. – William Secker

10 Ideas to Inspire Gratitude

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This month as we set aside a day to gather together and offer our thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives, let’s renew the habit of making thankfulness an everyday part our lives.  When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There is something to be glad about in every situation, but we need to be looking for it. 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 family. 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 or flowers to brighten the day of someone who has been a blessing to you..
  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 their list of blessings.
  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

Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 

A Life Well Lived

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This past Saturday we celebrated my sister’s home-going after her valiant battle with colon cancer. She was a true warrior and a godly woman. One of the many amazing things about Karen is that she never felt sorry for herself or bemoaned the fact that she had cancer. She simply trusted God’s plan and did her best to live each day with joy, thankfulness and adventure. I’d like to pay tribute to her by sharing a few positive principles we can all learn from her life.

  • Glorify God in everything you do.
  • Live each day to the fullest.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Look for the good in every situation.
  • Focus on faith, not fear.
  • Keep hope alive in your heart.
  • No news before the Good News (Read God’s word before you read anything else each day).
  • Be generous with your time and talents.
  • Never waste time complaining.
  • Trust God’s plan and provision.
  • Savor gourmet popsicles.
  • Be diligent and intentional in Scripture memory.
  • Invest your time in the next generation.
  • Be consistent, dependable and disciplined.
  • Greet everyone joyfully.

Thank you for your love, care and prayers. We have all felt the blessing of your support and encouragement as well as the comfort of God’s love during this time.

For those who weren’t able to make it on Saturday, here’s what was printed in the program for the service.

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Karen Kinder Smith was ushered into the arms of her Savior on the morning of October 25, 2018. While here on earth, she lived every day to the fullest continually bringing joy to others. Born in Bloomington, Illinois on June 20, 1959 to Garry and Barbara Kinder, she and her sister Karol lived their early years in Illinois and Ohio. After moving to Dallas, Karen became involved at First Baptist Church Dallas, where she sang in the chapel choir. She graduated from Richardson High School and went on to Baylor University where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and achieved a degree in accounting.

Upon graduation from Baylor she worked for Fox Accounting and later for Kinder Brothers International. She married David Smith of Wichita Falls on December 30, 1989, and they have three beautiful daughters, Lauren, Emily and Andrea. The Smiths have lived in Allen, Texas for over 25 years and have been actively involved at First Baptist Allen. Karen joyfully served in her church through MOPS, VBS and Sunday morning Bible studies. She also served on the board of Engage Positive Parenting Initiative.

The hallmark of Karen’s life is faithfulness. She was faithful as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.  She was faithful in her service at church and in her work at Kinder Brothers. Most importantly, she was faithful to the Lord and was a beautiful example of Christ’s love in action.

Karen joins her mother Barbara Kinder in Heaven and is survived by her husband David Smith and three daughters: Lauren Smith, Emily Smith and Andrea Smith Larimore along with Garry and Janet Kinder, Karol and Curt Ladd and many other loving family members.

Hope Actualized

My daughter Grace is our guest blogger this week. As you read her words, reflect on the hope that Christ brings into our lives. Check out the link to Grace’s blog at the end of this article.

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Every wedding is like a Burning Man for florists. You spend days of hard work and energy making something beautiful, all to tear it down a few hours later. It’s a reminder of what a breath this life is. One moment we are here, the next we are gone.

Tearing down the chuppah flowers with my husband at the most recent wedding I did, was both a joy and sorrow. He spent the first part of the day building it and I spent the second half making it beautiful with Garden Roses, Dahlias and Smilax. I laughed as we hacked at the wood, ripping it apart, tearing down the greenery to have it all out of the venue by midnight. I can fully appreciate why this process is maddening to most people and in many ways it should be. Humans are not wired to destroy the things they create.

 

The destruction of things will always be reason to grieve whether it’s a mutilated artwork, broken relationship or death itself. If eternity did not exist somewhere deep within us than perhaps we would just accept death as nature’s course. But that is not the human way. When a loved one dies, we mourn that death as the harsh reality that it is. Death feels like it should never happen despite the inevitable fate of us all.

 

As I write this I think of my aunt Karen who is slowly departing from us. Unlike me, she is not afraid of her finite time coming to an end. She knows more than any feeling of certainty, that the bliss of eternity awaits her. The hope she has in heaven and in the God who has shown great kindness to her during her life, makes cancer a lesser enemy.

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Even amidst the beauty of a heaven to come, the image of my elderly grandfather leaning over his frail daughter confound me as I try to sleep. Why does death have to end in pain? I remember the pain I felt as I was laboring with my first child, convinced that such pain had to end in my end. Giving birth might be the closest experience I’ve had to death. I was convinced as the baby moved through my body that these were my final moments. Then I pushed, transcending time and space, finding new life in my arms. The parallels between birth and death go beyond the mere pains of it. Both are expressed in the last few moments of Hector Berlioz’ Requiem, Grande Messe Des Morts, Op. 5 Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe, where a choir ascends to a culminating sound of joy, peace and elation after an anxious six minutes of somber orchestration. If you are familiar with this song then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I can only imagine death as rebirth into a life that feels even more like home than the one I try to make for my child. I like to imagine for my aunt like I did at the birth of my son, that all which follows our finite lives is just hope actualized.

 

No amount of hope can ever diminish the great weight of death, however when hope is satisfied than death is absolutely redeemed. Heaven seems so mythical but at least part of me feels like if I could do something as magical as having a baby or growing a plant out of the ground, couldn’t something like heaven be real? If I can re-purpose materials to make something new, can I be re-made?

 

When we were done taking down the greenery, my husband and I took it back to my brother and sister-in-law’s row house in Philadelphia. Rather than throwing it in the garbage or compost, I decided to re-install it as a hanging archway on their porch. It became a new creation and though these greens will one day fade back into dirt, the mystery of re-birth manifested itself in an eternal way.

 

 

*Link to Grace’s Blog: Click Here

What’s Your Life Mission?

 

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How would you describe your purpose in life? Have you ever taken the time to consider your life mission? As you look at your life –  your values, your passions and your abilities – it is wise to consider where you are going and what you want to accomplish.

It’s easy to allow distractions and opportunities to pull us away from what’s truly important to us in life.

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my dad about goals and priorities in life. As I visited with him, he got up from his chair, walked over to his desk drawer and pulled out a stack of old 11” by 14” cardboard pages. These cards were originally shirt boards that the cleaners placed in between his folded and pressed shirts. Dad used the cards to write out his mission statements and goals, but the incredible thing to me was to see that he wrote these out every single month. Handwritten!

Yes, he revisited his life mission and goals every single month. And he didn’t just read them and review them every month, he wrote them and updated them when necessary. This was incredibly inspirational to me. I must admit, I simply glanced my goals occasionally throughout the year and had never written out my mission statement.

I began to realize the power and impact of not only revisiting my life mission and goals, but writing them out and reviewing them on a regular basis.

When we utilize the lost art of hand-writing (not simply reading or typing) to reflect on our mission, we increase our capacity to remember and internalize what is important to us. It helps to keep us on track for where we want to go, what we want to be and how we are going to get there.

So what does a broad life mission statement look like? How do you determine what your overall purpose in life is, and how do you put it into a concise statement? First, consider your unique gifts and talents and how you hope to use them in this world. I like to ask questions such as:

“What were you created to do on this earth?”

“What is unique about you that can be a blessing in this world?”

Think big, think bold and think confidently.

Choose one verb that would describe how you use your gifts. For my dad, it is “to help.”

Here’s what my dad wrote as his life mission statement:

To help literally hundreds of millions of people to better lives: more secure financially, more satisfying spiritually and more fulfilling emotionally!!!

Just so you know, at 85 years old we can confidently say that he has fulfilled his life mission statement and continues to do so every day. Recently, when he sent out his retirement announcement (yes, at 85), he received hundreds of emails and notes in gratitude for all he had done to invest in the lives of business associates and sales people. It was clearly evident that he has fulfilled his life mission statement. Here’s a few quotes from the many notes he received:

It is hard to estimate how may people you have impacted over the years, but I know the ripple effects have reached and impacted countless individuals and families…You have impacted my sales and now management career in this great industry.

You had a huge impact in my professional and personal life.

I salute Gary Kinder as an awesome example of how sales people and sales executives should operate. Thank you Garry…thank you sir. You changed my life and made it fulfilling.

The impact you’ve have had not only nationally, but internationally is quite a legacy that will live on!

Take some time this week to create your own Life Mission Statement.

 And just in case you are interested, here’s mine:

To encourage men and women around the world to live out their God-given responsibilities in a positive and productive way.