Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude: Psalms 131

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

Psalm 130

I am grateful to have a God who redeems. I am grateful that I am not defined by my mistakes, even when I hold on to them longer than I should.

I’m a perfectionist in the worst sense of the word. I procrastinate on my projects, on everything really. I get very frustrated when it’s not perfect. I am my harshest critic. And this year has been filled with anxiety and depression and loneliness. My world got a lot smaller and my flaws got a lot bigger.

But this is where the beauty of redemption seeps in. Through the blood of Christ, his sacrifice, God doesn’t see that I am flawed. He sees that I am forgiven. And that freedom allows me to let go and love my neighbors. I’m not caught up in what I have or haven’t done, but what I can and will do.

Redemption isn’t just a second chance. It is a fully infusion of power and love that strengthens me to become what I was created to become. To do what I was created to do. To go where I was created to go. I am allowed to completely become the divine creature God created me to be.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the world, temptation, sin and brokenness are not still prevalent on my path going forward. If anything, they are almost guaranteed. And yet, God promises to walk the path with me, to never leave or forsake me, to press on toward the goal, to win the prize.

I am thankful for a God who walks with me, redeems the pain and hurt I have experienced and caused, whispering in my ear his love for his creation in me. And one day, redemption will be completed at the sound of trumpets and oh what a day that will be.

Gratitude: Psalms 111

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month.

Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.

Psalm 111:1-3

I am grateful to have a Creator God.

Mythology has always been a fascination of mine. The Greek Gods, the Norse Gods and all of the ways people explained the seemingly unexplainable. One of the fascinating threads that weaves through these stories is that the gods were awful. They would pillage and rape and seize. They were mercurial and wreaked havoc on the lives of humans.

But God, Yahweh, is god of love and creation and beauty. He wants a relationship with humankind, not to take advantage of them but to share in the perfect love that God is. And that’s beautiful.

I also love nature. My kid and I go to the park various throughout the week. It’s a time when I can just breathe, take in the trees changing with the seasons, watch animals go about their day. Recently, I watched as these ducks circled a pond two or three times before skimming the surface, waving their wings to slow themselves, and land on the water. Then just continue swimming around the pond. It was fascinating.

I’m so thankful for the ducks, the ponds, the trees. I’m thankful for the sunrises and sunsets, warm weather that seeps into the skin and cooler weather that evokes cozy cuddling. And I’m thankful for a God who gives us life and wonder and awe in the little and the big.

Gratitude: Psalms 34

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month. This is a longer psalm, and while there is a lot of gratitude in this one, I want to focus on the first seven verses.

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.

Psalms 34:1-7

I am thankful we have a God who will deliver us from our fears. Fear is not forever. And fear is not a signifier for a lack of faith.

There are so many instances in the Bible of people who were afraid, and yet stepped out in faith even in the midst of their fear. Moses was afraid to go back to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh. He was afraid to even go back to the Jews and tell them that God was going to deliver them. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was afraid when the angel came to tell her that she would be pregnant with the Savior. The angel says “Do not be afraid” because she was troubled. And yet, these two (and so many others) are held up as great models of faith.

This is why I get so upset when I hear someone tell a person who is anxious, who is afraid, of certain circumstances in their life that they should just have faith. Because having faith does not guarantee the outcome we hope for or deter the outcome we fear will come. Faith is not the opposite of fear, they go hand in hand. We can still be afraid of the fire as we walk into it, knowing that God is holding our hand through it. My faith is not dependent on my circumstances, on my comfort. It is dependent on an unchanging God who can take anything this world can throw at me and use it for good, which means anything in this world can be thrown at me.

Christ’s faith did not keep him off that cross. It held him to that cross. He had faith that God was going to overcome, that he was going to defeat death and rise up on that third day. Faith shines a glimmer of the hope of redemption when we are in the darkness of fear.

My faith allows me to sit in the discomfort of fear and sadness. It gives me the strength to sit with others in their own discomfort without trying to will it away with platitudes. And I am so thankful for a God who gives me that strength to keep going, even when I am afraid.

Gratitude: Psalms 100

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month. So, let’s start with one of probably the most popular Psalms of gratitude.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalms 100

I’m so grateful for a God who is good, loving and faithful. Most of the gods of the Old Testament, even the gods in Greek mythology and others, were cruel to humans. Humans were slaves in the narrative, at the mercy of the whims of the gods. So many of the mythological stories include rape, kidnapping, and torture.

We see this in 1 Kings 18 when the Baal priests and Elijah compete to get the attention of their respective gods. And when Baal doesn’t respond, the priests do some pretty extreme things.

So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

1 Kings 18:28

As was their custom. I am grateful to a God who doesn’t require us to spill our blood to get his attention. In fact, he spilled his own blood so that we may have a relationship with him.

I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness and love shown through the life and sacrifice of Jesus. I’m grateful for the resurrection. I am grateful for the hope we have in him. What better way to kick off this month of gratitude?

Generosity (2 Corinthians 9)

This year is hard. It’s affected pretty much every aspect of our lives. We have lost loved ones, our rhythms are completely interrupted, and social media feels like a powder keg on most days.

But one of the things that has kept me upright is acknowledging the blessings of God. I’m thankful for the health our family does have. I’m thankful for the roof over our heads and food on our table. I’m thankful for the many growth moments in my relationships. And I’m really grateful to get to be a mom to my kid, watching him adjust to a new normal and new experiences with excitement and curiosity.

In response to these blessings, we are called as Christians to express gratitude through generosity. I know that there are people who financially struggling in a lot of ways, but in the verse below, I feel like Paul is talking about more than just money.

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

2 Corinthains 9:11-12

“You will be enriched.” God is going to give you the things that you can share. Whether that is time, or skill, or even presence in someone’s life, God is providing the margins for you to give to others in different ways.

“Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Everything will point back to God, not to our own abilities or resources. This is paramount in our generosity. We give because it has been given to us.

“Not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” The really cool thing is that even if what we have to give is small, God can do amazing things with it. He will multiply our generosity over and over again. We may never know the complete effect of our giving.

These verses have encouraged me this week to look for ways to be generous. Maybe it’s being generous with my time with my toddler – turning off the screens and playing games with him. Maybe it’s being generous with my love for reading by helping others find books they might enjoy. Maybe it’s being generous with my writing, by encouraging others with handwritten notes or texts or comments on their posts.

I am so grateful to God for all that He has done for me. I want to be a person who is generous to others so that my actions and words point back to God. Because that is what I want my life to be about.

Giving Thanks

Today in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving.  For a lot of people, this holiday can be very controversial.  Historically, it is a reminder of land and lives that were taken.  It can also be a reminder here in the present of people who are missing from around the table, through loss or estrangement.  It can be a contentious holiday as people avoid certain topics, walking on eggshells to try to keep the peace.

But it’s also a day set aside to celebrate gratitude.  It’s a bittersweet concoction of seeking out the joy and gifts in your life that follow so closely the struggles and pain.  It’s searching for the presence of God in the stillness of sorrow.

Personally, Thanksgiving is a time of hard memories.  It is surrounded by lost dreams.  My first daughter was stillborn four years ago the day before Thanksgiving.  My second daughter was actually supposed to be born the day before Thanksgiving two years ago, but was stillborn a few months before her impending arrival.

And this Thanksgiving.  I’m holding a miracle of a son in my arms, overwhelmed with gratitude, but also with loss and wonder at what it might have been like if my daughters were alive.  How chaotic and loud would my home be?  Would my daughters play with my son as I cook dinner?  How different would our Christmas card look?

It’s okay to feel both gratitude and heartache this holiday.  If you need permission to feel so, then I’m giving it to you right now.  It doesn’t have to be either/or.  It can be both/and.  And if you are only feeling one or the other, that’s okay too.  Gratitude (much like love on Valentine’s day) doesn’t have to be forced into one day a year.

With all of that said, I hope you find some rest, eat good food, and have memorable and positive conversation around the table this holiday.  I am so grateful for all of you in this wonderful community!

Legacy

I’ve been getting a lot of wonderful feedback from my posts.  To say that it’s overwhelming, well, it would be an understatement.  I don’t know how to take all these compliments gracefully in the moment.  I never really know what to say.

It’s not the fact that I’m at a loss for words, but more so that I have too many words to say in that moment.  So, I thought I would take a minute to say those words (and perhaps take the easy way out the next time someone says something to me, and just refer them to this post).

The entire reason that I am able to say the things that I say, to react to my circumstances as gracefully as I can, to show the perspective of life that I have, is because of the legacy that has been given to me by God through the men and women in my life.

It starts, of course, with my parents.  I remember all throughout my childhood, around bedtime, I would see my dad pouring over his Bible with the black leather cover.  I remember the conversations I would have with my mom about life, and how God always seemed to be in the center of each of those conversations.  My dad taught me to stand up for what I believe in, and to build those beliefs on a foundation of knowledge and understanding in God.  My mom taught me to always look for the God connection in my relationships with other people, and know that I’m representing Christ in my words and actions.  My parents gave up their free time to support the church and do mission work in India, Panama, and for several years in Jamaica.  They taught me the importance of spreading the gospel.

There’s my extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents who have God as the center of their lives.  Their example has inspired me to always keep God in the forefront of my life and to believe in the power of prayer.

Then, there was the first church family that I can remember – Hickory Knoll Church of Christ.  I still to this day consider those people as part of my family.  I learned from them about love and acceptance, trust and obedience.  I fell in love with hymns in that church.  I learned about the Bible, memorizing the books and verses.  When I went back for a visit on our first anniversary, it felt like I had never left.  I am so proud of that church and everything it signifies in its community.  They truly taught me what it means to be part of a church family.

Of course, there were other churches that helped me along my spiritual path – Macland Road, Burnt Hickory, Downtown, Highway.  Of course, when Michael and I moved here and we became a part of Greenville Oaks.  That’s when I received a lot more clarity on my life as it relates to the Kingdom.  I learned that I was placing my value and security in things that are temporary, and started on a path to begin placing my value and security in the permanence of God.  It affects every part of my life – how I am as a wife, daughter, friend, woman, blogger, and Christian.

So, when you read the words on my blog, know that they are mere echoes of the legacy of people throughout my life that have brought me to this point.  It doesn’t feel right to take the credit for what all these others have done for me.  So, I just want to say thank you.  Without your love, acceptance and guidance, I would not be where I am.  I know that God has worked through each one of you to help me along this journey.  I praise and thank God every time I think of you.  You are all such incredible blessings to me.