Psalm 129

Psalm 129

As I’ve been reading through the Psalms in the 150 Days in the Psalms plan, I had hoped to share more of my simple thoughts and truths as I’ve read through the Psalms. Alas, I’ve only gotten to blog about a few of the Psalms!

(You can find nearly every morning’s Psalm and prayer on Instagram if you want to search for the hashtag #150DaysInThePsalms) 

Psalm 129

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
    let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
    but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
    and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

May all who hate Zion
    be turned back in shame.
May they be like grass on the roof,
    which withers before it can grow;
a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
    nor one who gathers fill his arms.
May those who pass by not say to them,
    “The blessing of the Lord be on you;
    we bless you in the name of the Lord.”

Crushed But Not Destroyed

Verse 2 from Psalm 129 says that we may have been greatly afflicted, but the enemy has not prevailed! I love this reminder of the victory we have in Christ!

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

This passage in 2 Corinthians goes on to say, “therefore we do not lose heart…” so let us remember that while we may be crushed, we are not destroyed. The enemy will not prevail. We have victory in Jesus. We know our eternity is secure because of His blood. We can live as victorious and grateful people.

We are His.  

More Psalms

The Power of Scripture Memory & Gratitude

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“I will hide Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You…” Psalm 119

Our minds are powerful tools. We can let the negative thoughts destroy our days or we can replace those negative thoughts with the power of God’s Word.

“You cannot eliminate a thought directly; only exchanges are permitted.” Tommy Newberry

How exactly do we go about EXCHANGING thoughts?

In his book, 40 Days to a Joy Filled Life, Tommy Newberry talks about the solution to negative thinking. “The solution is to transfer your attention to something else completely.”

And this is what we do when we practice the 4:8 principle. We are learning how to take every thought captive to Christ. We are replacing the lies with truth.

Where do we find the truth? In God’s Word!

“When you preoccupy your mind with God’s Word, you go a long way toward shutting out temptation. By committing Scripture verses to memory, you begin the process of forcing out negative, limiting thoughts and replacing them with the marvelous power of God’s promises. Remember, the Word of God does not lie dormant once internalized.” Tommy Newberry

“The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12, NLT

Friends, we must put on the armor of God! Every single day. Every hour. We must fill our hearts and minds with the TRUTH of God’s Word to replace all the lies of the enemy and the negativity that our flesh is prone to.

{Armor of God Bible Study. Praying the Armor of God.} 

Replacing the Lies

We must fill our minds with truth. Here are some suggestions for memorization and various topics:

If you struggle with FEAR: 31 Verses to Battle our Fears with the Power of God’s Word

If you’re brokenhearted: Psalm 34

If you’re in a season of waiting: 40 Days of Waiting on God

If you’re feeling hopeless: 30 verses for finding hope 

More Verses of Encouragement to Memorize

  • Psalm 27:1
  • Psalm 46:1
  • Psalm 73:24
  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Matthew 11:28
  • John 8:32
  • John 10:10
  • John 14:27
  • Philippians 3:13-14
  • Philippians 4:13
  • 2 Timothy 1:7

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

A Proclamation

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I came across this proclamation which was put into effect during the Civil War, 1863. I found myself in awe of these words and was prompted to share them and pray these same words and sentiments over our country at this time.

A Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

Finding Gratitude in the Midst of Healing & Forgiveness

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{Please help me welcome Christa of ChristaSterken.com to the blog today. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing your story, Christa.}

Blame comes easily.

I know all about it. I blamed someone for decades and now he is dying. Far away across the world.  Separated by continents and catastrophic damage inflicted by words and neglect.

My biological father was my hero when I was young; I couldn’t wait for visits and would run down the stairs with joy into his arms. Sometimes he showed up, or he didn’t. Things came up and a little girl sat dejected on the step. I hadn’t heard yet about a God who loved me and would never forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8).

The adoration didn’t last forever. He made some mistakes and I never forgave him. 

Each mistake built a wall between us, he put the bricks and I filled the gaps with anger so strong that wall was impenetrable. Other times I stacked the bricks as high as I could, while he tried to poke through and whisper to me. I quickly plugged those holes to protect my heart.

You see, I was never good enough. Love was not unconditional. I wasn’t as pretty as my sister. My attitude stank. Because I didn’t know the Lord yet, it was easy to believe his lies my entire life.

Through his mistakes, I learned to hate him.

So many days which turned into years, into decades, carefully reminding myself of the offenses, so as not to forget. And why? Because I loved him and I feared him.

In spite of wonderful times, mere seconds of harmful words or actions separated us with a chasm so deep it was never crossed again.

He walked out of my life over 20 years ago: I slammed the door.

Locked it. Barricaded myself in where he would never again enter without my permission.

For five years before that, I’d already built the foundation of this barrier. Deep posts buried to protect my heart. I dug a moat and filled it with my tears of acid. What I didn’t know yet, is that our loving God was collecting all those tears into a bottle (Psalm 56:8)

That week he left, a few days before my wedding, he had business to attend to. Business. In my heart I believe he couldn’t face me, didn’t have the courage to come up against his rebellious and angry daughter.

I can’t blame him. I shouldn’t. But of course, I did. Because he never came home. Ever.

He created a new life on the other side of the world and I wasn’t able to forgive him for it. He replaced his life here; traded in the old beater model for a shiny new dream. And in a way, I was

glad. At least that is what I convinced myself each year, as I feared he would show up at my door. Yet, I begrudged him for not trying.

In my early 20’s God wooed me into his arms. I began a very long, difficult road toward healing. Toward trusting. Toward forgiving him, and even more? Learned to forgive myself for harboring this deep anger. I began to learn about concepts completely opposite to everything I’d ever been taught. It had never even occurred to me that this consuming anger hurt me, my husband, my family who loved me and felt bad they couldn’t save me from the pain.

Forgiveness, in general, wasn’t taught in my family. Grace was a foreign custom completely unfamiliar to me. The amazing thing, truly, about Grace is that as I learned to accept it from God? I was able to start giving it away.

Even, and especially, to my father.

Over the years and decades, I kept a small door open. Casual communication at best, but it was something. A step toward healing.

Then came the call; news that he was dying. I would never see him again. I couldn’t go to the funeral continents away, nor comfort his loved ones I’ve never held. And I felt angry. Furious. Heartbroken. Relieved. Self-righteous. Empty and full, sorrow and rage.

He stole our life together; I was convinced.

I was convinced; He hadn’t changed at all.

Then God gently whispered to me, “How do you know that?”

I don’t, of course. I am making assumptions based on limited facts. Truth seeps in that perhaps his current choices, are to protect the innocent in his “new” role as Father. Husband.

Not to hurt me; but to protect themOh Jesus, be near me now I prayed. My heart softens. I don’t want to forgive him. He doesn’t deserve it. I recognize that is the easy way, the comfortable way to feel.

It is familiar and feels safe.  But I remember things, important things.

He sometimes tried to apologize when he made mistakes, I refused them. He tried to call those years before he left, to regain a position in my good graces. I dug my heels in harder and refused them. He remained jovial and tried to be positive, it felt like a slap. A denial of my feelings.

I had no understanding that he perhaps felt helpless to know what to do.

From across oceans we had heated discussions. Letters and words that could not be reversed. All angry from my side, accusing. All denial from his side, flippant.  A shallow truce was called and years went by.

Then the message came. His time was here. I broke down and called, to hear his voice for the first time in two full decades. I was terrified. What would I say? Who would answer the phone? How do you call someone that is dying, to say goodbye, when there is nothing settled. None of the things you waited a lifetime for.

The penetrating sorrow at not being able to understand his words as cancer had destroyed his mouth, his illness stealing from me any comfort I might have gained. It was as if he was talking underwater, so unintelligible were his words. But, I knew that my words were bringing him great joy; that tone was clear.

I cried, “Dad…I love you. Please, tell me you know Jesus so I can hope to see you again one day.”  Unintelligible words tumbled from his mouth. No promises, no guarantee. An impossibly, that had to be it. I had to hang up the phone.

Here I am with a void only he could have filled. A unique puzzle piece designed for him. And he had one for me. The puzzle was not put together on earth; I pray it will be beautiful in Heaven.

For I see now, it was easy to blame him. He was the adult, yes- but I did not soften.  I would not let him in because he would not apologize.

What did that gain me? Self-righteousness is little comfort to a hurting heart. I hold part of the responsibility for this break, not for the fissures that began, not even for the cracks that splintered in every direction. I was a child, after all. But as I grew into an adult, a woman of God, I could have built a stronger bridge perhaps.

Today, I choose compassion. For a man out of time, for those he left behind. For the family that is by his side, suffering deeply. Each family grieving for different reasons, and ultimately, for a different man. I will not blame him any longer. I can’t know what is in his heart, and I won’t waste another minute of my life believing lies. That I am right, he is wrong.

Nothing is that simple. It’s a tragic love story gone wrong. No fairytale ending, but hopefully a peace in his heart. I am humbled with gratitude for a God that would help me continue to learn, to understand more about the human condition. For grace, not only for him- whom He loves as His own son- but for me, his lost child. We both lost in this fight. There are no winners between us.

My story does have a happy ending, in a different sense. My life is rich and blessed with love. Each year my heart heals, the cracks covered with softness. One day, God will complete my puzzle. I pray we will see each other again. With no pain between us.

I’ve learned so much through this journey. These days I choose not to allow any negative memory of my father invade my thoughts. God is teaching me to replace them immediately with the happier memories. That is where healing comes. Letting go of the pain we have held on to for so long. That isn’t the plan for us as His children. Harboring a non-forgiving heart leaks out and destroys so many other areas. We can’t know true peace until we give it up, and let it go.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 

I share the story on my blog of how this tragedy ended. A mysterious letter came one day from that far away land. From my father’s wife of 20 years, whom I’d never had contact with. She told me he loved me. That he cried when he’d hear from me. That he went to the airport once to come back and visit, but was too scared of what he’d find. That he read his Bible.

Nothing could have prepared me for this; a healing that surely God orchestrated to provide something good from something beautiful. A few months after he passed, I was in an antique mall, flipping through old postcards. There were 2 random, dusty ones from a state far away. The places I had the best memories with my father.

I purchased them, and determined to make a scrapbook page with them. Celebrating what I liked about being with my dad. Recording some of our happy times. And for the rest of my life? I will choose those. That is where God wants me to live.

In the rest of His arms as my true father.

Finally, finally, I am ready to climb in with an understanding of Abba, Father. To live in deep gratitude for his healing gift of forgiveness.

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Christa Sterken is passionate encouraging woman to pursue a life well lived. You can join her in the journey at christasterken.com, a fluff free place to talk about real issues.

 

 

 

 

Join our Facebook Group of Encouragement

If you’d like to discuss this series, encourage others and receive encouragement along the journey, come to our closed group of encouragement and join us! You will need to request to join, I will click on your profile and as long as you look like a real person {grin} I will accept your request to join us!

I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

7 Habits of Ungrateful People

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Gratitude is a choice.

We can choose to be grateful or we can choose to live our lives full of complaints, entitlement and ingratitude.

In looking at how grateful people live their lives and how ungrateful people live their lives, we begin to see certain habits and attitudes that each category of people hold.

I’m taking these ideas for the 7 habits of ungrateful people from the book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry.

7 Habits of Ungrateful People

“Gratitude is a conviction, a practice, and a discipline.” Tommy Newberry

1. Ungrateful people are disconnected from God. 

If we are disconnected with God, if we aren’t communing with Him daily…through His Word, through prayer, through fixing our eyes upon Him, we aren’t experiencing that intimacy with the Father. When we spend time with Him, He gives us peace. He gives us more of Himself. We can’t help but be grateful.

2. Ungrateful people are surrounded by excessive noise.

Is your life to busy and bombarded with modern culture and all that entails? Constant connection, over-commitedness, too many obligations, looming deadlines…all at the touch of our fingers on our smart phones that we carry everywhere we go.

3. Ungrateful people overindulge in media.

This point goes along with number 2 as well, but the author goes on to mention watching the news. Over-reading the newspaper, watching excessive television. These things aren’t good for our souls. They aren’t filling us up. They aren’t helping us to think about whatever is true, noble, right and lovely. The author isn’t suggesting we must all get rid of our TV’s to be grateful, however, what if we started with a little LESS. What if we will our minds with what is true, noble, lovely and admirable…those things help us to be more grateful.

4. Ungrateful people feel entitled. 

I read a whole book on how our culture is raising a generation of entitled children. This book was excellent for giving practical tips. We should also realize that as adults, we are just as prone to be entitled as well. Do you feel that someone owes you? That you deserve something? “Gratitude expands joy, entitlement shrinks it.”

5. Ungrateful people predict the worst.

Some of us tend to be drawn toward the negative. When my husband is 10 minutes later than usual coming home, I think the worst, he’s had a wreck…he’s on the side of the road…you know the story line. However, we can RE-TRAIN our brains and minds! We can LEARN to take every thought captive! I’m a work in progress, this is a journey! I’m so thankful that God is taking me on this journey of learning to see Him in it all and be grateful. “You cannot worry and be grateful at the same moment.”

6. Ungrateful people suffer from Continuous Deficiency Syndrome.

We seem to be always be aware that we could have more. We need more of this. We want more of that. Life would be better if we had more of this. We could have more money. We could be skinnier. Our kids could be better. And on and on and on. We must consciously counteract these thoughts with gratitude. “Ingratitude leaves us in a state of deprivation…” but gratitude helps us to feel like we have enough.

7. Ungrateful people rush to get the first piece of the pie.

Do you often think that if you don’t get to something first it will be gone? This scarcity mentality leads to ingratitude and complaining. God’s creation isn’t limited. He has a good plan for your life. Someone else isn’t going to fulfill YOUR destiny that God formed in you before you were ever born.

So, my challenge for us is to take these habits of ungrateful people and turn them around. Let’s be intentional about GRATITUDE. Let’s stay connected to God. Let’s turn off our phones and the news now and then. Let’s remind ourselves of our blessings and that we are living a life better than we deserve. Let’s hope for the best. Let’s trust God more than our feelings and more than our worries. Let’s remind ourselves that we aren’t deficient bu that we are more than conquerors through Christ. Let’s tell our hearts that Jeremiah 29:11 is TRUTH and that God has a good plan and purpose for our life. No one else can fulfill that purpose because they have gotten there first. There is enough of God’s goodness and faithfulness to go around.

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

To Inspire Gratitude

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We are learning how gratitude can change a heart. We are seeing evidence in our own lives. We are counting our blessings and finding joy.

This all makes me what to spread the joy and gratitude…who has God placed on your heart to inspire toward gratitude. Maybe it’s your children…a friend…a spouse…let’s spread the joy!

Here are some things I’ve found that would make awesome gratitude gifts for yourself or a friend!

Let’s Inspire Gratitude

Gratitude Journal + Coloring Book

I love this. There are spaces to write in what you’re thankful for…amid all the lovely coloring pages!

Quieting Your Heart Gratitude Journal

Here is another lovely option! 

Devotional + Gratitude Journal

This devotional + gratitude journal by Ann Voskamp is wonderful.

Plain Lined Journals

Moleskin are my favorite. Just lined notebooks. Count your blessings…name them one by one!

Free Printable Gratitude Journal

A few years ago I created a FREE printable gratitude journal! This would be awesome to print off and place in a pretty binder for a friend! Frugal gift idea too. 🙂

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Books to Inspire Gratitude

Go back to this post to see 5 books that will inspire gratitude!

Share the 31 Day Series

What if you printed the quotes, decorated a journal and gave it to a friend as a gift? Cultivate gratitude with a friend. Love.

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

Who Can Be Counted On

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“Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on…” Ann Voskamp from One Thousand Gifts

There is something amazing that happens when we begin counting our blessings. 

We discover who God is.

We discover the faithfulness of our Loving Father.

We discover Who we can always count on. 

We discover that in all our trials, in every storm, He is there. He is near. He is faithful. And He is working all things for our good.

Do you see the hand of God even in the struggle? Do you see how He loves you even when it’s hard? Do you see His fingerprints in the details even when it seems all else is falling apart? Can you look back over dark seasons of your life and realize that even then, even in the pain, God was near.

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Are you brave enough to thank God for something hard today?

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Join our Facebook Group of Encouragement

If you’d like to discuss this series, encourage others and receive encouragement along the journey, come to our closed group of encouragement and join us! You will need to request to join, I will click on your profile and as long as you look like a real person {grin} I will accept your request to join us!

I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

Abundant Grace

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Have you ever heard the comment that Christians should be the most joyful people on earth? I have heard it and at times, have admittedly, felt condemnation in that comment.

However, in the book Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth goes on to say that as believers, we have so much more to be thankful for. She doesn’t say that life will always be easy. She is just pointing out that we have a Savior who gave His life for us. We have been given the gift of eternity. We have unconditional love from a Heavenly Father.

We are truly blessed.

Sometimes we just need a heart check and to re-focus. When worries bring us down, let’s focus on the promises we’ve been given in Christ. Let’s turn our eyes upon Jesus and let the things of this world fade away. And when we get discouraged again? Start the focusing and fixing our eyes all over again.

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Print this quote and use it around your home or in your gratitude journal.

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Join our Facebook Group of Encouragement

If you’d like to discuss this series, encourage others and receive encouragement along the journey, come to our closed group of encouragement and join us! You will need to request to join, I will click on your profile and as long as you look like a real person {grin} I will accept your request to join us!

I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

10 Ways to Find Gratitude Today

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Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Sometimes we are genuinely grieving a horrendous situation or loss. Sometimes we just can’t quit worrying about a certain situation. Sometimes the negative just outweighs the positive in our minds.

I’ve been in all these places before, I’m sure you have, too. But, I’m learning to be more intentional and I’m trying to train my brain to choose joy; dare I even say to fight for joy.  Sometimes it doesn’t take any miraculous healing to bring a smile to our face. Sometimes we just need to make one small, good choice to change the direction of our thoughts and mindset.

These are not earth shattering tips for you. These are simple ways to go about our day and find joy in the everyday. I hope you’ll join me…

10 ways to find gratitude

10 Ways to Be Grateful Today

Remember that you are loved just the way you are. Jesus is enough. Jesus in you is enough. You don’t have to do more, be more or be different.

Put down your phone and go outside for 5 minutes. Sit on the front porch. Walk down the street. Thank God for the colors of your very own backyard. God has a way of healing us through nature.

Turn on happy music.  This one really works. You may enjoy your own playlist, but if you need a place to start, this playlist was created to go along with The Happiness Dare book that I recently read. {Search for The Ultimate Happy Playlist on Spotify if that link doesn’t bring it up.}

Read 1 chapter in a good book. Sometimes we think we are too busy to read. We are not. We must be intentional about making time for the things that feed our soul. An encouraging devotional or another book on your nightstand will fit the bill.

Read 1 Psalm or other chapter of God’s Word. Reflect on the promises of God. God’s Word has a way of healing our hearts, too.

Text, call or email a friend and tell them you are thankful for them. Reaching out and reminding our hearts of our friends and loved ones makes us grateful.

Light a candle. Say a prayer. Something about light and God go together. He is light, so when I light a candle it reminds me to thank Him, talk to Him, listen for His still small voice.

Name your blessings. Start a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things each morning that you are thankful for. If you can’t think of anything, start with the basics — thank God for a new day, breath to live and a Savior who loves you.

Preach the gospel to yourself. Remind yourself that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. For you. He died and rose again and is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him. He knows our weakness and loves us still. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter. Jesus is a friend of sinners.

Serve someone else. Serving others is a sure way to get our minds off of ourselves. If you can’t think of anything to do, bake something yummy and take it to a neighbor. Go visit a nursing home. Open the door for someone at the grocery store. Pay for the person’s order behind you.

{If you’re learning that joy is a battle for you…I highly recommend The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee. You can read more of my thoughts here.}

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I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources

Finding Gratitude in a Culture of Excess

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{Please help me welcome my friend, Alyssa, to the blog today!} 

There is nothing like moving to cause you to evaluate your relationship to your “stuff.” We just relocated from South Carolina to East Tennessee.  For the past 3 months, we have been living in an apartment with approximately 60% of our belongings.  The other 40% has been in storage.  I have been surprised at how LITTLE I missed the stuff that was in storage. The other day, I stood in our new home surrounded by our stuff that has been packed away for 3 months.  As box after box was brought in, I thought,

“What am I doing with all this stuff?!”

More importantly:

“Why do I continue to have the urge to buy more?”

In a culture where we are surrounded by ads that try to convince us that we need more, bigger, prettier, faster, and newer, contentment can seem to elude us.

I just started the book Raising Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch.  I have been so convicted!  If I am going to raise grateful kids, I have a lot of work to do on myself first.  Entitlement is an attitude that I usually attach to royalty and socialites.  I didn’t think that I suffered from this disease, but I was wrong.  The attitude of entitlement has sneaked into my heart.

I don’t know about you, but there is this constant feeling of wanting more that seems to follow me everywhere.  I walk past a store window and go nuts over the adorable little girl dressed in a fur vest and tiny boots.  I scroll through Instagram and wish that my bedroom looked like Joanna Gaines had designed it.  I see an ad for Disney and start panicking because my son is 6 and hasn’t been to Disney World yet.

It never ends.  

The Bible is so rich in beautiful Scriptures on thankfulness as well as people who cultivated gratitude.

The book of Philippians is one of my favorites.  Paul’s testimony is so powerful because he actually pens these words while in prison.  His freedom is gone, he is separated from his loved ones, and he likely isn’t treated very well. Under these bleak circumstances he writes, ”Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Philippians 4:13)  He encourages us to focus our minds and hearts on things that are “true” and “lovely” and “admirable.”  ( Philippians 4:8)

Living in a state of discontentment is so miserable.  When I allow my thoughts to remain ugly—I wish I had those shoes or I wish I could fly off to a tropical island or I wish the baby would stop throwing a fit when I am trying to change this poopy diaper, my peace disappears and I am sad and just generally unpleasant to be around.  Paul says that praying to God with Thanksgiving in our hearts will lead to peace. (Philippians 4:6-8) When the ugly thoughts rush in and I am tempted to let them “set up house” in my brain, I instead try to remember to thank God for my beautiful children, for providing all my needs and then some, and for giving me strength and grace to do the thing that he has set before me.

I think that part of the reason that Paul was able to find the “recipe” for contentment is that he had a deep understanding of God’s grace.  In his former life as Saul, brutally beat and killed Christians.  He was an enemy of people who were spreading the love of Christ.  God could have killed Saul on that road to Damascus; but instead, He chose to show Him abundant grace and mercy and save his soul from hell.

While I am guessing that none of us led a life like Paul before we were saved, our hearts were just as black.  We were born into this world as selfish little beings who were separated from God.

I wonder if I had a deeper grasp of God’s grace–if I understood what He has rescued me from and all He offers me now–would I be more grateful on a regular basis?  As someone who has been a Christian for a long time, it is easy for me to take my salvation for granted.  But when I think of what it means to be apart from God, I cringe.   I cannot imagine walking through this life without Him by my side.

So my sisters in Christ, I encourage you to fix your thoughts on Jesus.  Meditate on His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:23

 

Alyssa Burnette profile picAlyssa lives in East Tennessee with her husband and 2 children.  She was raised in NY but has lived as a Yankee transplant for 20 years.  She and her husband have navigated the waters of infertility and adoption for 11 years.  Her loves are the piano, the outdoors, fashion, and reading. She has recently started a blog: Living Beyond the Dust

 

 

 

 

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Join our Facebook Group of Encouragement

If you’d like to discuss this series, encourage others and receive encouragement along the journey, come to our closed group of encouragement and join us! You will need to request to join, I will click on your profile and as long as you look like a real person {grin} I will accept your request to join us!

I would love for you to post PICTURES of your gratitude journals or quotes or thoughts as we go along…use the hashtag #CultivateGratitude on Instagram and we can find each other!

Gratitude Resources