Thoughtful Thanks

Today is the final Thankful post in our 5 Thanksgiving related Monday Bible posts.  While it’s sad to come to the end this November, I look forward to the Christmasy writings of next month. Today’s verse is 1 Timothy 2:1 “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”

There are a lot of people in the world.  It’s not easy to wrap our minds around there being over 6 billion other people in the world besides us.  But there are!  If you can’t wrap your mind around that big of a number, there are over 250 million people who are part of Facebook alone!!  Visit a big city like New York or Los Angeles, and you’ll be surrounded by countless cars and people.

We’ve all been told countless times in whatever religious circle we happen to be part of that we should pray for others.  Friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, partners, those of other religions and cultures should all be on our prayer lists.  However, if prayer isn’t something you remember to do, or don’t feel comfortable praying for someone you don’t know, there’s something super easy that anyone can do: say ‘thank you!’

Let me explain: If you pass someone on the street, whether driving or walking, think or say “thank you for them” (“you” being God/Spirit/Universe, whatever you think of as being who created that person).  If you’re driving or alone, you can say it out loud, but if you’re walking or with others, you can think it silently to yourself.  And making sure to thank people who do you favors, hold open doors or help you in stores are other ways that you should verbalize your appreciation, all year long.

Giving thanks for others isn’t something you do only once, or one month, out of the year, it is something we should do 365 days every year.

How will you give thanks for someone today?  I’ve shared two ways (saying thank you for them, and thanking them for their help), what are other ways you give thanks for people?

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Holiday Memories

Holiday memories are some of the best, and most challenging parts of the holidays.  I love remembering past holidays as I open up boxes of holiday ornaments, lights and other decorations.  But for many, not all memories are happy.  But rather than struggle with these memories, I want to encourage you spend some time with these memories this holiday season.

The holidays are the perfect time to remember the past.  It’s easy when you look at ornaments, sweaters, sing carols or talk with friends over food to remember the memories of holidays past.  Those memories are often fun to remember because you remember your childhood, the fun times with pets and crazy happenings when the extended family got together.  Other memories are happy and sad at the same time, if loved ones have passed away, if you’ve separated from some family or extended family members, or if you’re struggling financially or personally.  These memories are exactly that, just memories.  There is nothing you can do to go back in time and change how things went or who is in your life.

However, the holidays offer abundant opportunities to make new memories.  Of course these new memories never replace the memories of those who are no longer with you, nor should they, but they can help you begin to enjoy the times and people life has to offer you while you’re still alive.   This holiday season, instead of remembering that they aren’t with you any longer, or that things have changed, every time you do remember a tough memory, stop and remember a good one about the same person or experience.  Ask yourself what that person or experience can teach you about the amazing opportunities the future holds for you.

Who are some of the people you remember each holiday season who have impacted your past?  What will you do this holiday season to impact someone’s future? Share your thoughts below.

The Abundance of Now

“Whatever we are waiting for -peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance- it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

This time of year it seems like all we do is wait.  Wait for Halloween, wait for Thanksgiving, wait for Christmas music on the radio, wait in line, wait for family, wait for Christmas, wait for the New Year and the list goes on.  Many of us aren’t very good at waiting either, we are constantly wanting the next thing.

This quote from Sarah and the concept of waiting shows us two very important things: first, we aren’t present in the moment.  If we’re busy wanting the next thing, we clearly aren’t enjoying what we have.  When we’re in this perspective, we’re also not able to help others as well or live life to its fullest potential.

Second, we will only get what we want when we’re ready and open to it.  This means we must be grateful for what we have, not scared or worried, but calm, peaceful, taking actions and being thankful for the abundance of things we do have.

If you don’t think you have an abundance of things, take a look around.  If you don’t have money, maybe you have an abundance of food.  If you don’t have either of those, maybe you have an abundance of friends.  And if you still don’t have those things, you certainly have an abundance of time that you can put to good use sharing peace, contentment, grace and the abundance of your time with those in need.

This Thanksgiving, take a break from rushing around to make the food perfect, and take time to appreciate what you do have.  Take a deep breath, sit for a moment and meditate on all you have and are blessed with.  Express your thanks to God, the universe and creation for blessing you with all you have.  And then, do your best to stay in the mindset of peace, contentment and grace for the rest of the day.

What are you thankful for in this moment, not yesterday, not in the future, but right now? (share below)

Don’t Worry, Be Thankful!

Only two more Thankful Monday posts!  Today’s verse is Philippians 4:6 which shares: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

It’s not hard to come up with things to worry about.  There are health, wealth, business, family, traveling, political and relationship challenges that you could spend all day worrying about.  But stop for a moment before you come up with your list of things that worry you, and ask yourself if worrying about them will actually have any effect on those worries?  If you think about them all day and all night, will any progress be made on them, save for a few lightbulb moments that revealed some new perspective on a situation to you?  The truth is there is only two things that will have any impact things that you could worry about.

First is telling God about them.  When you stop and tell God what is going on in your life, how you’re feeling and ask Him for opportunities, people and ways to transform the situation from worry into a great result.   God will first and foremost give you peace.  Even though the situation isn’t usually resolved after a prayer or two, God can certainly give you the peace that passes all understanding to get through the situation no matter how long it takes and how trying it is.

Second, you can take action on your situations.  If you’re worried that you’re going to lose your job, go out and job hunt or start your own business based on your passions, talents or a need you see in society.  If you’re feeling depressed and worried about life or health, volunteer for a non-profit or help a neighbor.  The least you can do is research on the internet about your situation and some options (not some of the most drastic and scary potential results).

Finally, spend at least 10 minutes every day being thankful.  Maybe you take 5 minutes a day to go on Twitter and Facebook and comment kindly on what people have written and posted (ie: I really like this…Thank you for sharing!).  Make sure to thank people for holding or opening a door for you.  Thank your friends and family for calling you, thank your partner and kids for spending time with you, and most importantly, set aside at least 5 minutes every day to thank God for what you enjoyed in your day.  Maybe you’re thankful for your coffee, for waking up that morning, the really adorable kid you saw at Starbucks or for the beautiful bird/tree/flower you saw in nature that day.

What are you thankful for?  Share your thanks below.

Life’s Tests

This past weekend as I was listening to Marci Shimoff share about something, my brain attached to something she said and made a pretty exciting connection.  I think it’s pretty obvious that we all go through challenges, hard times and struggles throughout our lives.  As humans we’re almost predisposed to some struggle.  Think for a moment and I’m sure you can come up with at least 3 challenges you’ve faced in your life.  As I was listening to Marci and thinking about the challenges in our lives, she referred to them as a ‘test’, something clicked for me.  The absolute honest truth about each and every test is this: it has an ending!  The REAL truth is that the tests in our lives end! If that isn’t a point for celebration, I don’ t know what is!

You can look at any person in history and see a beginning and end to their story or struggle.  If you don’t like a president, you know there’s a maximum of 8 years you could have them in office here in the USA.  Think about running a marathon, no matter how much you train, if you’re running the race you’re going to finish one way or another.  Think about taking a test in school, you can only work at it so long before the teacher collects it, or grades you as a 0 for not handing it in.  If you’re tested by cancer, you will either one day not have cancer any more and continue living, or you will die.  If you’re at a job you don’t like, there are tons of ways the job could play itself out, but it will end!

When you’re experiencing a test, you have a choice.  You can either do your best or not.  While there are many ways to improve your test taking ability, one of the easiest things to do is to treat it like an open book test in school.  If you’re being tested by your job, don’t just accept that your job is terrible, educate yourself how you can improve your job, how you can get a better job, or how you can be your own boss.  Don’t accept that you have to fail the test, do your best to pass the test!  Use the abundant resources around you to help you take the test well.

I would love to hear your thoughts on taking life’s tests, so feel free to share them below.  Ask questions too!

*If you like what you read here, this is actually a small portion of this week’s weekly devotional, and you can learn more and subscribe to the devotional here.

Gratitude Inside-Out

Rabbi Harold Kushner “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”

I don’t think that there is anything easier or costs less and has the impact size that gratitude does.  You can buy a kid a toy and they will be appreciative and happy for a while, but after a time the novelty and excitement will wear off.  But the appreciation you share with someone has the potential to last forever in their memory, and impact their life forever.  This month I’ve been sharing a lot about gratitude so check out my other posts for more thoughts along these lines.

What Rabbi Kushner shares is really interesting.  He goes about the concept of gratitude in a different way.  He suggests that we try to find the good in every situation.  It isn’t always easy, and may take years to really discover, but always be on the lookout for the good in every situation.  Why does this idea work?

Well, when you’re focused on looking for the good things, you won’t be looking for or at the challenge in the same way.  You won’t see or address it as a problem, despise it, wish it away or get angry about it.  Instead, you’ll be looking for the good.  Gratitude always comes from goodness and happiness.  You won’t find gratitude in an unhappy person.  You won’t be showed appreciation in a situation where a lot of negative emotions are present.  (That doesn’t mean you can’t bring the gratitude to those people and situations though!)

So as you transform your attention and perspective towards life to find the good in every situation, you will almost automatically become more grateful!  And the bottom line is that when you’re in a state of gratitude, you feel great!

Spread some gratitude this week and share your feelings afterwards below!

Thankful Opportunities

Welcome to another Thankful Monday post in November.  Today’s verse comes from the Biblical book of Psalm: Psalm 139:14 shares “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

It’s not easy to be human is it?  We’ve got lots of flaws, imperfections and weaknesses.  Think about the beauty industry, the fitness industry or health care industry if you’re not sure you, or anyone else, has flaws.  But with each of those flaws, we’ve got an opportunity to let God turn it into an opportunity for transformation and spiritual victory.  So while I’m going to share a few brief thoughts on this verse, and the topic of flaws and spiritual victory, I invite you to think about what makes you you!

Having layers of likes and dislikes, layers of education and experience, and a host of friends and acquaintances, I think it’s fair to say we’re each very complex human beings.  Even the spiritual masters who live far away from people are complex, as are the individuals who live alone on farms or in the countryside, away from other people.

God made you and I complex for a reason.  We’re complex because if we weren’t we would be pretty boring people!  Our complexities keep life interesting for us, and also give us plenty of things to work on throughout our lives.  It also gives God an opportunity to shine through us, because while we can, and do, give Him credit for the great things we can do, we also can do amazing things in areas that are weaknesses for us, because God does the work instead of us!

Finally, make sure you are thankful for your talents, complexities and weaknesses.  All are parts of you.  We’ve heard it said that you’re only as strong as your weakest area.  And while it’s not always worth the time and effort to really build up and work on that weakness, it is important to be aware of that weakness so you know to find support for that area of your life.

The more thankful you are for the complexities, aka opportunities and abilities, that you have, the more complete and happy you will feel with yourself and your life no matter what obstacles you face.  Share your thoughts on the amazing abilities and complexities you have been given below.