Overflowing with Thankfulness

As we finish out this month this week, today I want to talk about the foundation of our faith: God.  We’ve been talking about being thankful this month, about finding things to be thankful for even when we’re feeling challenged, being thankful for each other, being thankful for blessings, finding things to be thankful for and having a daily thanksgiving practice. But where does being thankful really start, what can we do to make it easier to be thankful and how can we be more thankful on a more regular basis?

Colossians 2:7 says: “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Colossians 2 reminds us that not only do we build our relationship with God to grow our faith and live lives that honor Him, knowing more about God, living more in ways that honor Him, learning more about the person He has created us to be and having a deeper faith will help increase the amount of thankfulness in our hearts, minds and lives.  If we want to be more thankful we need more God in our lives.  This means being open to seeing Him work in more ways in our lives, from the little things like seeing cats chase squirrels and the miracle of life, to receiving healing and new purpose in life, to receiving checks in the mail and even getting those holiday gifts on sale.

The other thing this verse reminds us is that we can only be thankful in matters that are true.  We can’t be thankful for the lies, it’s not how we’re designed.  We can only be thankful for that which is true, real, honorable and honest; all things that are good.  It’s a good reminder for our lives as well that our lives only grow and become or stay strong when we’re rooted in that which is righteous, honorable and truthful.  So if you’ve been struggling with thankfulness in your life, maybe it’s time to take a good look at what’s in your life and what you’re building your life on and around.

What are you thankful for today?

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Thankful for God

We’re almost at the end of the month and I want to take time over the next few days to talk some more about our topic of being thankful.  One of the biggest challenges we face in life is in dealing with other people.  We’re constantly challenged, disagreed with, hear conflicting statements, see conflicting actions, and have our trust in others challenged because of things they say or do or things that others say about them and who they are or what they do.  While you can’t be too wrong about what they say or do in your presence, the same isn’t true for what others say about them.  That’s not to say that they didn’t do or say something, but it means that you can’t always take what others say as fact, especially when they’re talking about someone else.

It’s pretty much fact that at some point in time or another someone else will let you down.  Maybe they don’t mean to, maybe they were overtired and something stupid slipped out of their mouth, maybe they said or did something without thinking, maybe they thought about it and thought something different would happen as a result, maybe they thought it would be funny, or maybe they thought you were someone else, but one way or another the trust you had in them was broken or you got a glimpse of them in a totally different light than you were used to seeing them in.

The thoughts of thanksgiving that I’ve been reading over the past few days surrounding the holiday have been a reminder, even if they haven’t talked about it directly, of how awesome God is because He doesn’t do stuff like that. Even though He’s perfect and doesn’t have to earn our trust, He has in countless ways and continues to reinforce it each day.  Even on the days that we’re challenged by our faith and the things going on in our lives, we can still trust that He’ll be there, He’ll never give up on us, He’ll always have our best interests at heart, He’ll always remember us, He’ll never give up on us, and He’ll always be the God of Love.

As we head into this Christmas season I encourage you to take time this week to thank God for all He has done, is doing and will do in your life and in the lives of those around you, especially for sending His son on Christmas.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving is just a day away and I’m looking forward to it!  I love what it means, the gathering of family and friends and of course the opportunity to eat!  Today I wanted to share some verses of thanksgiving, verses that speak to what we have to be thankful for, and even verses to challenge us and keep us humble.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.”  Psalm 1:1-2

“”These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.””  John 16:33

“”For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”” Jeremiah 29:11

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all we have, for the very gift of life, and for the gift of God in our lives.  Things could have gone so much differently for us, we could not have a God who’s so involved in and invested in our lives.  We could have fewer blessings and promises that we can depend on.  We could not be able to see the workings of God in big and little ways in our lives and the world.  We could be less individual and more similar.  We could all face significant challenges and threats on our lives.  And most of all we could be without hope in the future and in a permanent home in Heaven some day with God.  And those are just a few of the things we can think about this Thanksgiving as we gather around the table.

The Pilgrims created Thanksgiving because they were thankful for the most simple of things: being alive.  They were thankful to have found friends in the Native Americans and in their own ability to survive and work on thriving in a new world.  They weren’t celebrating billion dollar successes, curing serious diseases or finally helping world peace happen.  No, the were just thankful to be alive.  This Thanksgiving I encourage you to take time to be thankful for the big and little things in your life.  Everyone has something to be thankful for, even if it’s as simple as being alive.

Reality Reflection: Stupid People

Today I’m thinking about something that’s not exactly holiday, as you may have guessed.  Yep, those people that just completely blow your mind with their ignorance, rudeness, and/or laziness.  They’re the people that make you shake your head and stare in disbelief that they’ve gotten this far in life at least somewhat successfully.  It’s the driver who cuts across 6 lanes to take an exit, it’s the person who speaks and reads a certain language perfectly well but has trouble with the big sign practically in front of their face that answers their question yet they insist on asking you, and even the people who do those incredibly dumb things that you can’t help but laugh or giggle at even though it’s not really the right thing to do.  But I don’t need to tell you about them, you’ve probably met a few in your time.

But let’s face it, we are heading into the holiday season.  For business owners that means dealing with people who don’t usually shop with them but are during this time because they need gifts and think that the things a business offers would be perfect.  For everyone who drives it means an increase of people driving to stores and drinking at parties and driving to said parties.  For those who have a particular holiday preference it can be annoying to see the abundance of other holiday gear at this time.  And some people just don’t like the holidays and it makes them grumpy and grouchy.  You really can’t escape the season even if you want to.

So if we’re stating as fact that the number of ‘stupid people’ that we will run into over the next month or so will be more than usual, what’s one to do?  Well, it’s something I think we can do all year long but is especially relevant for people in the US this week: work on your thankful list. No, I’m not suggesting that you start listing reasons why you’re not a stupid person (we all have our moments), but what I’m suggesting is that you instead think about things you’re thankful for, what made you thankful that day or holiday memories that you’re thankful for.  While there may not be anything you can do to help that person who is annoying you so, there is something you can do about your attitude and outlook on life at the moment. So what are you thankful for today?

Simple and Smart Organization

Today I’m thinking about some ways that we can be more organized.  I’m a big fan of being organized, I like things being in their special places so that I can always find them.  Even if I’m the only person who knows where something is I usually know where it is because I put it back in its spot.  Organization doesn’t have to be challenging and complicated and it’s something that the whole family can (and should) participate in.  Many people struggle with getting started which is the best time to hire an organizer to work with for a period of time until there’s a system in place and you can get into the habit of putting things back. Let’s take a look at a few things you can do to be better organized.

Have a structure: this is an important part of being organized, and really the first thing that has to happen if you want to get organized.  If you don’t have a structure for how you organize and homes for everything, there’s no way you can get organized, let alone find anything. Invest in a good cabinet or shelving system and boxes for any room in the house that will have books, toys, clothing, paper, or other products in it including the office, kids rooms, kitchen, storage room, attic, garage, bedroom, basement, and/or bathroom(s). That’s the physical organization, but don’t forget about the other types of organization like apps that help you with grocery lists, to do lists, and communications between family or teams, and folders and labels on your computer.

Get the family involved: just because it sounds like a grown-up thing to do, getting organized is something the kids can participate in too, especially if the organization plan is such that it’s easy for them to do so.  Having things stacked high on shelves is great for getting them out of the way and maximize use of available space, but putting them long and low gives your kids an opportunity to do more of the cleaning.  Also being able to sort the toys into boxes for easy play and cleanup is important.  If your kids aren’t reading yet you can cut and tape pictures of the type of toy on the box and matching lid so they know what to put in it.

Have a plan: some people do better if they organize as they go along, other people prefer to make a mess and clean up at the end of the day.  I do a mix of both, some things I clean or put away as I go along like dishes going into the sink, but other things I put away at the end of the day because I use them throughout the day like pens, schedules and important papers.  The important thing is that by the end of the day everything should be cleaned up and ready for the next day.

What do you do to get organized and keep your life and family on track?

Celebrating the Bible

Monday was International Day of the Bible.  It’s a day that we take to recognize the book that contains so many different things and means so much to those who believe in it.  It contains hope, encouragement, wisdom, healing, and history as well as warnings, consequences and failures.  And as some people would say it contains everything you need for a good story: action, adventure, heroes, love stories, mystery and bad guys.  There are even some happy endings.

What’s incredible about this book is that it has spoken to generation after generation in a way that not many books or stories do. It crosses tons of lines that have been erected over time from age to location to language, people around the world are reading it.  And while some of the stories and rules sound a little strange to us today, there are still plenty of things we can learn from it as we read it, and even from some of those strange stories.

Habakkuk 2:14 says “For the time will come when all the earth will be filled, as the waters fill the sea, with an awareness of the glory of the Lord.” International Day of the Bible is about raising awareness for the Bible as well as supporting the organizations who are helping bring the Bible to different parts of the world whether literally by passing out copies, by helping to smuggle in copies, or translating it into languages that it isn’t in yet (yes, there are still people who can’t read the Bible because it’s not in their language, and I’ll include a few links at the bottom if you want to support some of them).  But above all it’s a reminder to everyone who has access to a Bible to read it.  There are too many people around the world who struggle to read their Bible because they will be killed if they’re caught reading it and wish that they could have the freedom that many other people around the world do have.

I know it may seem like you’ve read it all before or heard it all before, and maybe you have.  But you weren’t the same person then that you are now.  So I encourage you this week to make extra time to dive in and check out what lies within the pages.  If nothing else check out some of the Christmas related passages and start thinking about Advent and Christmas which are rolling up very quickly.  Or maybe the best place to start is with one of your favorite passages that has always captured your attention.  What about the Bible do you celebrate or are most thankful for?

International Day of the Bible
Wycliffe Bible Translators
Pioneer Bible Translators
Bible League International

Reality Reflection: Winners and Losers

Tuesday this week in the US was election day.  When people woke up on Wednesday morning some were quite surprised with how it turned out and who won.  People were surprised for many reasons including the facts that winner has been someone who has said a lot of controversial things throughout the race and that the winner is not a traditional politician.  As with every race there has to be a winner and a loser, sometimes the underdog wins, sometimes the bad guy wins, and sometimes the winner is the one everyone thought was a shoe-in.  I’m not going to technically reflect on the result today. What I want to talk about is what we can learn from the result of the election, and there are tons of lessons regardless of which side of the very divisive fence you are on.

First and foremost I believe this is a wake-up call. If you listened to the news or lived in the US for the months and years leading up to the election you’re familiar with the unrest that is being experienced  most often as shown with shootings and between the police and minorities.  There have been countless calls for change and change has been slow moving, if it has really even happened. The reality is though that you can’t expect change to happen if you aren’t willing to do anything to change. Sometimes those changes are relatively easy like switching breads because your favorite company went out of business.  Others are much more difficult like learning how to walk again after spinal surgery or after you lost a leg.  The type of change that people have been calling for isn’t the bread type of change, it’s the learning to walk again type of change.  And as the well-known definition of insanity says: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  (While that may work for flipping coins it doesn’t work in the situation of human life and tragedy.)

So this very real wake-up call, that the divisive non-politician would be elected, means that people are really sick of how things have been run for a very long time and are finally willing and able to step up and say so.  Maybe what we had wasn’t so bad and we were getting along OK with it, but I believe that we can do better as a people and as a country. Maybe what we need most is someone with a big set of brass balls to step up and make some changes. No one makes all good changes, but the hope is always that the majority of changes that are considered are given careful thought given to how other people will be affected by the intended result before changes are made, and that decisions aren’t made based on superficial qualities like money, skin color or sex.

The second lesson here is that there’s always a chance you’ll lose or fail.  We don’t like losing or failing especially on such a grand scale or in front of so many people, but sometimes it happens.  When the loss or failure happens it is important to take a step back and see why the loss or failure happened.  Maybe you weren’t the right person for the job, maybe you don’t have all the qualities that are needed, maybe you didn’t bring enough confidence to the table, maybe you were trying so hard to make yourself look good and fit the mold that you missed that the mold was no longer a mold, maybe you didn’t throw enough money in the ring, maybe you didn’t give it enough hours, maybe you didn’t try something new, maybe you secretly needed to fail so you could finally have a day off, maybe you needed to lose because there’s something bigger and better for you to work on, and maybe the reason you lost or failed isn’t apparent today but will be revealed years from now.

I close with a thought that I heard as part of one of the reactions to the election result: whether you agreed with the election result or not there’s nothing we can do about it now, it has been decided.  What we can do though is decide how we will live each and every day.  You still have control over the attitude you live with, the career you pursue, the people you’re in relationship with, what you do when you lose or fail, and how hard you work to accomplish your goals, dreams and purpose in life.  One leader can do a lot of good or a lot of harm, but they are only one person, just like you are only one person and I am only one person. We may not have the platform that the president has, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to do our part to make the world a better place, regardless of whatever hate or violence others around the world choose to try to throw around.  Don’t let a single loss or failure determine the rest of your life. Don’t stop working after a single victory.  Each day is a new opportunity to resolve to do your very best and make the very best impact on the world you can.