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

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

Prescription for a Healthy Heart

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Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Hoping to be a little more heart-healthy? When the Bible mentions our heart, it is essentially referring to the spiritual part about us where our emotions and desires reside. “Heart” is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. Since our heart can easily be swayed, Scripture warns us to guard it because everything we do flows from it. In a practical sense, how do we do that? How do we keep our heart from being led down a dark path away from God?

Theologian Sinclair Ferguson offers this powerful prescription for guarding our heart.

First, I must guard my heart as if everything depended on it. This means that I should keep my heart like a sanctuary for the presence of the Lord Jesus.

Second, I must keep my heart healthy by proper diet, growing strong on a regular diet of God’s Word – reading it for myself and meditating on its truth, and being fed on it in the preaching of the Word.

Third, I must take regular spiritual exercise, since my heart will be strengthened by worship when my whole being is given over to God in expressions of love for and trust in Him.

Fourth, I must give myself to prayer in which my heart holds on to the promises of God, rests in His will, and asks for His sustaining grace – and do this not only on my own but with others so that we may encourage one another to maintain a heart for God.*

Finally, I would add that memorizing God’s Word helps us maintain a healthy heart. As the psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

I want to have a strong and healthy heart, don’t you? Let’s commit to this life-long prescription.

Click Here for my latest book, Becoming a Woman of the Word.

*Adapted by Providence Presbyterian from Sinclair Ferguson’s Catechism of the Heart