What Do You Say?

by Nan Corbitt Allen

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. Psalm 9:1 NASB

I went out to eat this week. As the waiter handed me a menu, I thanked him. When he brought me my food, I thanked him. When he handed me the bill, I thanked him. And when I paid him, he thanked me.

This exchange brought back the words of my parents. When I was a child and someone gave me something (whether I liked it or not), my mother would ask me, “What do you say?” The answer was always “thank you.” Later in my teens, my mother had me write “thank you” notes for every gift. By this time, saying thank you was becoming not an option, not an obligation, but a habit.

At every meal, Daddy would say the blessing…or grace…or give thanks. “Lord, make us thankful for these and all the many blessings we have received,” was his usual prayer. Occasionally, an addendum was added for healing, or safety, or peace, before the “amen” was said. Then we ate. So the act of giving thanks was engrained in me as far back as I can remember.

When I became a mom, I followed that path and asked my boys, each time they received a compliment or a gift, “What do you say?” They, sometimes robotically, said “thank you.”

I believe that giving thanks became a habit, but as with any habit, it loses its power and effectiveness when it is done subconsciously (without thought). So, I’m trying to be intentional with my thankfulness. With each new day, I try to remember to tell God “thank you.” With each answered prayer, I tell Him “thank you.” However, when the day is dreary or the news is bad or the answers are elusive, I have to make myself give Him thanks. Is that a bad thing?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

This letter to the believers at Thessalonica was among the first of Paul’s epistles that became part of our present version of the Bible. At the time of his writing this letter, Paul had been through some trials and tribulations, but the worst of his persecution was yet to come. It would get worse, much worse.

A few years ago, we visited the Mamertine Prison in Rome, Italy. It is the place where Paul and Peter (not at the same time) were imprisoned before their deaths. Although it’s now a shrine that tourists can visit, the original was just a hole in the ground, a dungeon that was dark and damp and horrifying. This was not the first time Paul had been imprisoned, but it was the last time. This prison was a holding cell for people who were to be executed soon. So if you found yourself in Mamertine, you weren’t long for this world. However, Paul wrote this, his last letter, to Timothy from Mamertine, “I thank God, whom I serve…with a clear conscience…” (2 Timothy 1:3 NIV).

Remembering to be thankful, no matter the circumstances, is hard. But if I force myself to say thanks, I believe it is a good thing. I just ask myself that old question, “What do you say?”

I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. Philippians 4:12 NASB

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

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Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: When do you struggle to give thanks? What helps you the most to respond to the hard?

Resolve in 2019 to be Thankful

by Rhonda Stoppe @RhondaStoppe

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”                                                                                                                         1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

This was the Scripture that popped into my mind as I wept at the foot of my bed.

Our son, who had been diagnosed with epilepsy, had just endured a terrible seizure. While my husband and I had planted a church in Texas our son had to be heavily medicated for epilepsy.

On that day in particular our six-year-old-son had just suffered yet another seizure. Afterward I fled to my room to tell God I’d had enough. Enough of the seizures and enough of serving Him––if He couldn’t even heal our boy.

 I knew God loved my son. I was confident He was able to take all things and work them together for good (Romans 8:28), but after four years of waiting in desperation, I was ready to give up.

Psalm 119:11 says if we hide God’s word in our hearts, we won’t sin against Him. In that time of despair, God’s word did not return void––1 Thessalonians 5:18 accomplished that for which it had been hidden in my heart so many years ago.

God’s word was reminding me to resolve to be thankful––even when what God allowed didn’t make sense. Maybe you’ve been in my shoes? At the close of this year can you look back and see a propensity to be thankful––even when life doesn’t make sense?

While it’s tempting to give up on God when you cannot make sense of a trial He allows, He truly is the only One who can make good of the difficulty in your life.

For me, when I realized God was calling me to trust Him––and thank Him—for my son’s seizures, I had a choice to make. I could either harden my heart against His beckoning voice, or I could humble myself under His mighty hand, and choose to say thank you––even though my heart did not feel thankful.

And do you know what happened? When I made the decision to obey God’s Word I told Him, “I will say ‘thank you’ with my lips, but it’s up to you to change my heart.”

Once I let go of my ungrateful attitude and released my fears, what if’s and if only’s, God slowly began to show me how He would make good come from the trial.

As our church’s praise band practiced, we started to notice how our son was drawn to the music and the musicians. Over time we saw that any instrument our son picked up he could learn to play. Since our son was heavily medicated he wasn’t interested in playing sports or other activities, so he devoted most of his time to learning to play instruments.

We’d hoped to one day hear the crowd glory our son’s athletic accomplishments, but as our boy grew up we watched God prepare him to bring the crowd to glory in His Son’s accomplishment––through worship.

Our son grew up to study music, traveled with some well-known Christian bands, and now works as a worship pastor. Oh how God knew what He had planned for our boy so many years ago. And He knows the plans He has for you as well.

Whether or not your life made sense this past year, if you resolve to thank God and trust Him in the coming year He can give you glimpses of His purpose and plan for your trial and you’ll have no regrets.

How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep.  Psalm 92:5 NASB

Resolving in 2019 to be Thankful – @RhondaStoppe on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Rhonda Stoppe Head Shot (1)About the author: Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman with more than 30 years she’s helped women build no regrets lives by mentoring, speaking and writing books  grounded in Scripture and easy to read––like you’re visiting with a friend over coffee. She speaks and appears nationally on radio including Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk, Family Life Today and Focus on the Family. She and her husband speak at marriage conferences, MOPs and homeschool conventions. Evangelism is her sweet spot.

You can find Rhonda on Instagram, Twitter, FaceBook, and YouTube.

Join the conversation: Is there something in your life that doesn’t make sense to you?


Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (and Gratitude)

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

The past several months I’ve been working to cultivate gratitude in my life. There were too many negative thoughts swirling around from situations I couldn’t control. And certainly, I wasn’t the designated fixer! Life can be overwhelming, and sometimes my heart just hurts from all the sadness and brokenness in our planet. I realized that I could turn into a Negative Nelly if I wasn’t careful. Ouch! This is who I really don’t want to be AT ALL!

Months ago, cultivating gratitude turned into a nightly ritual.  Being a visual person, I like creative ways to be intentional especially when God has gently prodded me about something I need to change. As I slip under my feather comforter each night, I posture myself to touch each of my five fingers. Moving over each finger on my hand, I name what I am grateful for that day.

As days have turned into weeks and weeks into months a subtle, slow transformation has taken place in a crevice of my soul. Negative Nelly and her thoughts have been shoved out and replaced by a new resident, bringing thoughts of thankfulness rather than despair. I find myself looking at the world differently. Even on a hard day windows of opportunity to be thankful present themselves and gratitude seeps through.

My new ritual is so ingrained, I can’t go to sleep without naming at least one or two things for which to be grateful. It is like taking vitamins for the soul. It keeps us healthy and changes our perspective.

I’ve read about the effects of gratitude, both in physical and emotional health. A grateful perspective has the potential to transform how we approach life. I’ve personally seen it to be a sweet balm to my broken heart. Embracing gratitude to the fullest is the best pathway to wholeness. There was a time several years back that I believed my heart could never be whole again.  It was too bruised, too wounded, too betrayed, and too weary. As I slowly surrendered, Jesus changed my heart and I looked to Him to be my teaching healer on the journey. His ways are perfect and his timing is impeccable.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, my heart is bursting with gratitude. It is surprising how many times it trickles out into the moments of my day. My ritual of gratitude has transformed me. My heart is healing.

I don’t know what circumstances you might be facing right now. Maybe the thought of being thankful is the farthest from your mind. I’ve been there. I pray that there will be a moment this week in between family gatherings or chaotic Black Friday shopping where thankfulness catches and inspires you to want more gratitude in your life. I challenge you: give it a try for 30 days every night. I guarantee that your tired heart will be different at the end of 30 days. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 NIV

 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 NIV

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

How gratitude is like vitamins for the soul – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: How do you cultivate gratitude in your heart?

Praying to Disneyland Jesus

by Cindi McMenamin

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB

 My 3-year-old nephew, Escher, was praying for our breakfast just as we were about to go into Disneyland park. “Dear Disneyland Jesus, Thank you for our food and for family and for this day and for keeping us safe and healthy. Amen.”

Escher had been known to address God as “Dinosaur Jesus” after spending a day at the “Walking with Dinosaurs” exhibit after being enthralled with his new discovery. And on days when he learned his Cousin Dana and Auntie Cindi would be taking him to Disneyland again, his prayers were directed once again to “Disneyland Jesus.”

I couldn’t help but smile and think that little Escher was simply transferring the excitement of the blessing he was about to experience to the Blesser who was giving it. I commented to his mom shortly after, “Escher knows Jesus is Lord of the Dinosaurs and Lord over Disneyland, as well!!”

Little Escher’s prayer got me thinking. How easy it is for me, like a child, to pray to “Disneyland Jesus” – the giver of all good things. How wonderful, also, to pray to “Dinosaur Jesus” –who allows me the adventure of discovering new things. But could I just as easily – during the not-so-exciting times, and the downright painful times – pray “Dear Heartache Jesus” or “Dear Cancer Jesus” or “Dear Death-of-a-Loved One Jesus.” And yet, He is Lord over the disappointing days as well as the Disneyland days.

Scripture says ” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 CSB). That verse doesn’t mean that only the “good and perfect gifts” in our eyes (like Disneyland trips and grand adventures) are from God. But everything He allows into my life (including disappointment and pain) is a good and perfect gift, coming from my Father of insight and understanding who knows what is ultimately best for me.

How I want a simple, childlike faith that honors God as Lord over every good and exciting experience and yet trusts Him during the hurtful experiences, too. Can you thank your “Dear All-Knowing, All-Loving Jesus” for whatever He brings into your life today? Trust that as you walk into it, He is right there walking into it before you.

Thank you, Lord, for the Disneyland trips, the dinosaur discoveries, and the disappointments in life, as well. Thank You that just as You hear the prayer of a delighted boy about to make new discoveries, You see the tears of a disappointed heart about to learn to trust You more.

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, Drama Free and When God Sees Your Tears. Cindi and her husband of 30 years live in Southern California, where their grown daughter enjoys her career job at Disneyland. For more on Cindi’s books and ministry, or to learn about her coaching services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What have you thanked God for lately?

Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash