The Whistle Stop

by Kathy Howard

A train whistle always stops Lloyd in his tracks. No matter where he is or what he’s doing, when he hears the whistle blow, Lloyd pauses to thank God. Sometimes, his prayer is a simple “Thank You, Lord.” Other times, he pauses longer to praise God and thank Him for specific acts of mercy and grace in his life.

The seed for Lloyd’s “gratitude prompt” was planted long ago during happy childhood days spent on his grandfather’s Arkansas farm. One of Lloyd’s strongest memories of that time was the sound of the logging train that regularly chugged across the property. Thankfulness filled those days. Thankfulness for his strong, gentle grandfather and his example of love and family. Lloyd naturally connected those feelings of gratitude with the sound of the train.

Now, decades later, there’s another train that cuts a path across Lloyd’s Wyoming ranch in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Everyone that visits the ranch hears the story of the train, its whistle, and the reminder it provides to stop and thank God. From family and friends to neighbors and the Wounded Warriors Lloyd often hosts, everyone pauses to thank God when the whistle blows.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 1 Chronicles 16:8-9 ESV

After King David rescued the ark of the covenant from the Philistines, he brought it back to Jerusalem. As he entered the city, David encouraged the people of God to express their gratitude. He urged Israel to remember everything God had done and to thank Him for all His wondrous works. Like David, Lloyd knows that purposeful gratitude fosters a deeper awareness of God and greater joy in the heart of the worshipper.

God still deserves our praise and gratitude. We can follow David’s and Lloyd’s examples by not only stopping to thank God for His marvelous works and good blessings, but by also encouraging our loved ones to express gratitude to God. We could develop a “gratitude prompt” for our own family by identifying an everyday sight or sound as a reminder to thank God for His many gifts. We could also set a regular time for our family – perhaps around the dinner table – to share these “wondrous works” with each other.

Although thanking God is not hard, Lloyd knows how easy it is to forget. “People don’t take time to stop and thank God for all He’s done. We all need a little reminder.” Lloyd’s reminder is as faithful as the train.

This post is adapted from “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith,” Kathy Howard’s new, unique devotional that combines stories of faith with practical tips for spiritual legacy and helps for genealogy research.

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

About the author: Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate and richest coffee. She searches for cherished stories of faith that still impact hearts. And, she digs deep into God’s Word, mining His eternal truths for herself and to share with others. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters of Christian Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary.

Kathy is the author of 10 books, including the “Deep Rooted” devotional series and “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” (October 2021).  Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org.

Psalm 103 is Reminding Me

by Dawn Scott Damon

Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.  He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 NLT

Sometimes we need to give ourselves a good talking-to. That’s what Psalm 103 is all about. It’s a praise-prayer in which David, the shepherd turned king, counsels his own soul and reminds himself to “bless and thank the Lord” and “forget not all his benefits.”

These words encourage me! David’s purposeful habit to stir his own heart and commune with the depths of his soul reminds me to do the same, and teaches me two important principles: I must develop godly self-talk, and I must choose gratitude.

King David tells himself to be grateful.

“Praise the Lord I tell myself!” vs.1, 3

Gratitude and thankfulness don’t come naturally to most of us. It’s been that way since the fall of man. What does come naturally, at least for me, is to complain, grumble, and recite all the negative aspects of my life. Just like the thorns God warned would automatically spring up from the earth after the first sin, so ingratitude and selfishness arises from every heart that is not intentionally cultivated with thanksgiving. There’s no need for a self-help book entitled, “How to Tap the Power of Negativity: A Guide to Complaining your way to the Top!” No, griping and moaning are automatic and all too easy. We’ve got that one nailed!

David said, “I tell myself to be thoughtful and intentional, and I determine to choose gratitude.” He speaks to his own soul and regulates his attitude. As a result, David nurtures an appreciative spirit and renews his mind. Instead of allowing his human default setting to operate, he interrupts it and tells himself a true biblical story—God has been good to me!

King David tells himself to be grateful.

David’s life-giving self-talk stirs his heart to become grateful and deeply thankful for all of God’s blessings and benefits in his life. He reflects on God’s goodness and declares;

  • I’m thankful you forgive my sins.
  • I’m thankful you heal all my diseases.
  • I’m thankful you redeem my life from the pits.
  • I’m thankful you surround me with love and tender mercies.
  • I’m thankful you fill my life with good and beautiful things.

After reminding himself of God’s wondrous gifts and relentless faithfulness, David’s soul is energized. He ends his prayer of gratitude with an exuberant crescendo when he basically says, “Praise God! I am a renewed man. My spirit is refreshed and soaring like an eagle. I’m like a young man again.”

I love this.

David’s “before and after” condition shows me there is a way to uplift my own soul and renew my heart, my energy, my attitude, and my perspective. What is it? Gratitude. It’s superior to jazzercize, cheaper than health food, swifter than weight watchers, and altogether less arduous than jogging. We simply can’t have bitterness and gratitude at the same time.  

So, like David, let us remind ourselves to draw on this principle daily. At the dawn of every new day, make gratitude a purposeful moment of focus. Tell yourself to be thankful and then practice gratitude throughout your day. Recite your blessings and refuse your complaining; reframe your perspective and renew your soul.  Sit up and smile and then declare, “Hey me, don’t forget, God’s been so so good to you.”

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

About the author: International Author, Speaker, and Pastor, Dawn Scott (Jones) Damon began her ministry and writing career after finding freedom and healing from the childhood trauma of sexual abuse. Dawn’s first book, When A Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband’s Guide to Helping Her Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation, won the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award in 2013.

The Freedom Challenge: 60 Days to Untie The Cords That Bind You by [Dawn Scott Damon]

Dawn is a favorite keynote speaker at Women’s Conferences, bringing in-depth teaching along with heartfelt honesty, laced with side-splitting laughter. In her latest book, The Freedom Challenge: Sixty Days to Untie the Cords that Bind You, Dawn shares compelling truths in a sixty-day interactive Bible study that identifies and confronts eight cords that keep many believers bound. These practical and powerful biblical tools will give you a new mindset, a fresh beginning, and a clear direction for a positive future. Take the Freedom Challenge and become an active participant in your own emotional and spiritual transformation. 

Join the conversation: What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you tell yourself to be grateful?

The Good List

by Crystal Bowman

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 117:1-2 NIV

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on the northwestern shore of the United States, we did not know what to expect because this was out of our realm of experience. Some people were fearful and anxious, while others boldly proclaimed that we would get through this. And here we are—ten months later, still living with the pandemic threatening our daily lives.  

As days and weeks have come and gone and calendar pages have flipped, I am beginning to get weary of all I have lost. If I made a list of all the negative things over these past several months, it would be long. But here are a few items at the top of my list:

  • I am separated from my out-of-state grandkids.
  • The conferences and book events I planned on attending have been canceled or postponed.
  • I miss having lunch with my friends.
  • I miss hugging people.
  • The beautiful new coat that I bought in February still has the price tag on it!

When I am tempted to grumble and complain, I think of the Israelites in the wilderness. When God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians and miraculously brought them through the Red Sea by parting the waters, they danced and praised God for delivering them. In Exodus 15:11 they sang, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” But can you believe that only three days later they were grumbling because they were thirsty? Their leader, Moses, went to God on their behalf and God quickly answered by giving them fresh water to drink.

On the 15th day of the second month after they coming out of Egypt, the whole community grumbled and complained because they were hungry. Moses again intervened for the people and God sent manna and quail. The manna rained down from heaven every morning, and the people were instructed to gather enough for one day with the exception of the sixth day when they could gather enough for two. God met their needs day-by-day, as Moses led them and prayed to God on their behalf.  

One of the lessons I have learned during 2020 is to depend on God one day at a time. I don’t know when bookstore events will return. I don’t know when I can travel to visit my kids and grandkids. I don’t know when it will be safe to hug my friends or meet them for lunch. But I know that I can trust God to meet my needs each day.

Another thing I have learned is to stop added items to my negative list and start making a “good” list. Here are some things I have on that list:

  • My husband and I are spending more time together, since neither of us are traveling.
  • I am enjoying time with my three local grandkids and helping them with virtual school.
  • I have more time to study and write.
  • I can call or email friends whom I miss.
  • I can attend Zoom conferences.
  • I am able to be a virtual guest at bookstores in other states.
  • I am reading books to my long-distance grandkids over FaceTime.  
  • I’ve gotten really good at ordering things online.

I don’t know how much longer the pandemic will be affecting our lives, but I do know that I can depend on God to provide what I need. I hope to keep adding items to my “good” list so that I will recognize and appreciate the blessings that surround me—because there are many! 

Lord, help me to trust you each day, knowing that you will lead me and provide all that I need. Thank you for life, health, and daily bread. Amen.  

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What is on your good list?

The Healing Power of Gratitude

by Ginny Brant @GinnytBrant

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

The story of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving is one to ponder. After the most difficult year of their lives, these Christians gave thanks to God first and then to their Native American friends. They were able to remain grateful even after terrible trials and losses. The celebration is a wonderful example of the healing power of gratitude.

Imagine being close to starvation, losing half your family members, needing warmth and shelter, fearing strangers in a new land, and at times wondering if your journey was worth the losses. Yet, these Godly people practiced daily gratitude. And so should we—even in the deepest trials of our lives.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the young church in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything. This church was growing quickly and miraculously, but the consequences of their newfound faith resulted in much persecution and significant losses. In the previous chapter, he comforts their despair by explaining what will happen to those who’ve died in Christ. Then after a series of exhortations, he closes chapter 5 with the blessed hope that gives comfort to all our hearts—the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2020 is a year most people would like to erase from their memories. I couldn’t have imagined a worldwide pandemic, raging forest fires, and hurricanes, all bringing so much destruction and loss of life. Then destructive riots and political unrest turned American cities into war zones. There seemed to be bad news at every turn. Does Paul’s admonition ”in everything give thanks” also apply to 2020?

The Bible gives us no wiggle room—in everything give thanks—for this is the will of God in Christ for you. Paul prescribes a life of gratitude for all believers. We can be grateful because we can count on God using all circumstances in our lives for His glory and our good. Best of all, no matter what lies ahead, our eternal destination is secure.

According to the research of Dr. Robert Emmons, having an attitude of gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University Medical School, proclaims, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” No wonder so many doctors are prescribing the practice of gratitude as a way to improve psychological, social and physical health.

Research clearly indicates that people who practice a lifestyle of gratitude are healthier and heal better. An attitude of gratitude promotes peace in the middle of life’s storms by calming the emotional brain. (Yet Paul prescribed having an attitude of gratitude over 1900 years ago before these outcomes were known!)

The art of practicing daily gratitude does not stop when bad news like cancer comes knocking at your door. Surviving chemotherapy was a blessing for me, even when I saw my bald reflection in a mirror. My husband was a wonderful gift to me, loving me unconditionally even though my appearance was less than appealing. The more I thanked God, the more I found contentment. I now appreciate that every day I’m alive is a gift.

Gratitude gives us a new story—a new beginning. Any trial, no matter how grim, will not have the final word. God has decreed eternal life for those who are truly His. This eternal perspective provides hope and healing for the weary, enabling us to bathe in gratitude, rather than grumbling. Paul’s prescription for a life of gratitude promotes healing and costs us nothing.

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The Healing Power of Gratitude – Insight on #Gratitude from @GinnyBrant on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, was written with an oncologist after her cancer journey. Cancer prevention blog and more info at http://www.ginnybrant.com.

Join the conversation: What brings gratitude to your heart in 2020?

The Spirit is Willing . . .

by Terri Gillespie @TerriGMavens

“Then [Jesus] comes to the disciples and finds them sleeping; and He tells Peter, “So couldn’t you keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 TLV

I saw a post on Facebook months ago that still comes to mind and prickles my soul. The post posed the question, “Could you wash the feet of someone who hurt you?” As I thought about it, I tried to picture myself actually doing it — you know, getting on my creaky knees, staring up at them, trying not to remember the harm they did . . .

If the opportunity presented itself, I want to be able to do it as an act of service in Jesus’ name. I hope I would be able to do it without gritting my teeth—that I have truly forgiven them, and nothing tethers me to the past. Sigh.

Perhaps even though my spirit is willing, my flesh cringes at my weakness. Apparently, I am in good company. The disciples wanted to support Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, but they had just eaten a huge feast—with several cups of wine—and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Jesus had, only a few hours earlier, washed their feet (John 13:4-16). What is significant about this act was that it happened during the Passover meal (John 13:4), which means prior to reclining for the celebration, everyone would have already washed their feet. It was customary to do so, especially since they were guests. So, Jesus performed this task for another reason.

I wonder on that night, with everything that Jesus knew would happen, how difficult it was to wash those feet. Betrayal—not only from Judas, but the other disciples. Was this humble act also a work of forgiveness?

Jesus looked up at those men who would soon fall asleep as He wept in sorrow and prayer. His friends would run in fear and hide. Peter would deny Him three times.

Jesus did it for them because He knew at some point, they would remember this act of humility, and it would both convict and comfort them. They would be grateful that during the culmination of the Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption, He thought of their wellbeing. And in their gratitude, they would emulate His humility.

So, maybe humility is about gratitude. Gratitude for all He has done for us, because we didn’t earn one tiny deed. Gratitude that even before we sin, He was already there to wash our feet.

As we approach the day marked for us to give thanks, prepare our favorite dishes, and coordinate all the details, gratitude can get lost. Our busyness can cause us to overlook those subtle opportunities to “wash the feet” of others.

Perhaps we can make time to deliver a plate of cookies to someone who lives alone, or bring in our neighbor’s trashcans, or offer to drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment.

What about those folks who have hurt us, and we have forgiven? Let’s pray today that should the occasion arise we will “wash the feet” of that person—that we would have the courage and gratitude to emulate our Savior in spite of what they may have done.

“And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40, TLV

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

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The Spirit is Willing . . . – insight on #FollowingGod from TerriGMaven on AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker, Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus.

Making Eye Contact with God is a women’s devotional that will enable you to really see God in a new and fresh way. Using real life anecdotes, combined with Scripture, author Terri Gillespie reveals God’s heart for women everywhere, as she softly speaks of the ways in which women see Him.

Join the conversation: Can you think of a way to “wash someone’s feet” during this holiday season?

Unexpected Applause

by Nancy Kay Grace @NancyKayGrace

I thank my God every time I remember you.  Philippians 1:3 NIV

The noise in the crowded airport prevented much conversation as I waited by my gate. People dragging suitcases rushed past. Parents entertained antsy toddlers. Teenagers remained oblivious to those around as they listened to music or played electronic games. Business travelers worked on laptops.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that noise, the atmosphere changed.

One person started clapping slowly. Applause began with one person, and then spread to another and another. Startled, I looked around for the reason for this. Someone pointed in an upward direction. Through a walkway above the terminal, men and women entered in army fatigues and carrying duffel bags.

Soon everyone in the crowded gate area joined the applause. More and more soldiers entered the walkway. I was witnessing the return of heroes. The applause continued, growing louder and louder with cheers and whistles.

Hundreds of soldiers—heroes—had returned from deployment. My heart was stirred with a mix of gratitude, unity, and patriotism.

Now in line to give the ticket agent my boarding pass, the spontaneous applause continued. Soldiers streamed into the airport. Some waved to the crowd below. Outside, more deplaned. I wish I could have stayed to applaud for every last one, but I needed to board my plane. As I stepped into the jet bridge, I glanced over my shoulder for one last look at the returning defenders of freedom with gratitude in my heart.

The scene in the airport reminded me that we are the benefactors of the courage of many who defend our country. They deserve a heroes’ applause everyday.

The apostle Paul wrote “I thank God every time I remember you” in his letter to the Philippians (1:3 NIV). He’d opened his letter expressing gratitude for their participation in the spread of the gospel. They had welcomed him with open arms and financially assisted him throughout his ministry. Even though they’d never left their city, in light of their continual support, Paul considered them his partners.

This gratitude reminder came to my mind that day in the airport.

Not everyone may be able to serve as a soldier, but everyone can strengthen the spiritual fiber of our nation through grateful prayer. In this important way we can partner with those who serve on the frontlines.

For those who have served or are now serving the country, I thank God every time I remember you.

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Unexpected Applause – encouragement from @NancyKayGrace on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Nancy Kay Grace is a speaker and award-winning author of The Grace Impact, a devotional about the touch of God’s grace in our lives. She has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Upper Room devotional, as well as online and print magazine articles. She loves sharing stories of God’s faithfulness and grace. To learn more about her ministry, please visit her website at http://www.nancykaygrace.com to sign up for her monthly GraceNotes devotional.

Join the conversation: For what causes have you dedicated yourself to prayer?

Grateful for Little Things

by Crystal Bowman

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1 NIV

My late cousin Marion spent most of her life in adult foster care or nursing homes. We lived in the same town, but since she was much older than I was, I rarely went to see her. She was closer to the age of my parents, who lived 40 miles away but regularly visited her. The week before Easter, my parents would always bring her an Easter lily. One year, my mom and dad were both sick, so my mom asked me to bring Marion an Easter lily. I thought it was a lot to ask, but I honored my mother’s wishes with a not-so-great attitude.

Since those were the days before online ordering, I went to our local supermarket, bought the lily, and delivered it to her with my three young kids in tow. “We’ll only stay a few minutes,” I whispered as I knocked on the door. Marion was thrilled to see me. She knew every cousin by name (dozens of them!) and greeted me with a bright smile. “Hello, Crystal! It’s so good to see you. And who are these children?”

I introduced Marion to my two little boys and my baby girl. Spending time with her was so delightful that we ended up staying for more than an hour. What impressed me the most was the joy that flowed from her because she was grateful for “little” things. “I’m so thankful for my window!” she said.  “It allows me to enjoy God’s creation. I love watching the birds find their food and shapely clouds sweep across the sky.” She was also thankful for her radio, which allowed her to enjoy hearing Christian music, messages from pastors, and current events.

After that initial Easter lily delivery, my kids and I went to visit her regularly. I usually went with the intent of cheering her up, but I was the one who was always blessed. Through the years, we brought her pictures my kids had colored, cards they made, and home-made holiday decorations.

But one visit will stand out in my mind forever.

As we entered her room, she greeted us with her usual smile. When I asked how she was doing, she replied with child-like enthusiasm, “I have a new job! I get to fold the towels when they come out of the dryer. They smell so fresh and clean, and I fold each one the best I can. It makes me feel useful, and when I do my best, it brings glory to God.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged the early Christians in Colossae to set their minds on things above, and to live with a God-focus and a grateful heart. In Colossians 3:17 (NIV) he says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This message is timeless and applies to us as well. In everything we do, we have an opportunity to do our best, to the glory of God, with thanksgiving.

I admit that I am not always thankful for daily chores, inconvenient requests, or business demands. Maintaining a positive focus and an attitude of thankfulness is a daily challenge. But every now and then, when I have a load of fresh towels to fold, I think of Marion and fold each one the best that I can to the glory of God.

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Grateful for Little Things – encouragement from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: Is there someone in your life that has lived out an important truth in front of you?

 

 

Mind Your Manners

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

When Jesus encountered the ten lepers on his way to Jerusalem, all ten asked to be healed. All ten obeyed Jesus’ command to go show themselves to the priests. As the lepers went to the priests, they were healed. However, only one returned to thank Jesus.

That surprised Jesus. “Were not all ten cleansed?” he asked. “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17).

Jesus did not heal the lepers for the thanks. But He really appreciated it when one remembered his manners.

In Scripture the mother of the leper who gave thanks was not mentioned. But we see the fruit of her teaching in her son’s behavior. Chances are she had to remind him many times to say “thank you” to those who did things for him or gave him something. And in his younger days she probably wondered if he would ever catch on to the importance of giving thanks. Can’t you hear her saying, “Son, tell the man thank you.”

And his reply, “Aw, mom, he knows.”

“That’s okay,” she replied, “he needs to hear it from you.” Probably this statement was punctuated by this mom giving her son “the eye!”

It probably wasn’t many days before a similar situation came up again and the mother faithfully repeated the scene. “Son, remember to say thanks.”

As her son grew into adulthood, this mother was diligent with her instruction. She realized, like all mothers do, that her time of influence was limited. She prayed daily for all her children to learn their lessons well.

This sweet mother never dreamed one of her children would contract leprosy and become an outcast. What heartache! But neither did she dare to dream Jesus Christ would heal him.

When Jesus met ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem, he didn’t require anything of them. He didn’t stop to think of the training their mothers had given them. He merely responded with love and compassion to their request for pity and healing.

We can almost hear the frustration in His voice as he asks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” But His pleasure is also evident at the one who took the time to return and express his gratitude.

Can you imagine how this leper’s mother would have felt if she had been watching this scene unfold? Her heart would have swelled with pride as she watched the fruit of her teaching as her son bowed in thanks to the One who had healed him of the terrible disease.

Giving thanks is not spontaneous. Expressing our thanks to another person is a deliberate act. We learn to be thankful people by watching those around us.

Can you remember learning to say thank you? Perhaps an older sibling had something you really wanted and he or she teased you by holding it out in front of you. “I’ll give it to you when you say ‘thank you.’”

As you got older, your mother or father probably said, “Mind your manners,” if you forgot to thank someone for a kind word or act. Then, as you became the adult, you heard yourself saying the same thing to a child, a niece, or nephew.

Gratitude and appreciation are important. People who are thankful are happy people. People who are thankful have lots of friends. People who are thankful have learned to say with Paul, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11 NIV). Thankful people know real thanksgiving springs from a heart that is focused on God.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

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Mind Your Manners – insight from @LindaGilden on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda gilden 2About the author: Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to make a difference with their words. Linda’s favorite activity is Called to Speak: Practical Tips for Women's Ministry Speakers and Teachers by [Ellison, Edna, Gilden, Linda J.]floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material! http://www.lindagilden.com

Linda’s book, Called to Speak, uniquely addresses the practical call of a communicator to speak for the kingdom of God. Based on years of experience by two veteran women’s ministry speakers, Called to Speak is peppered with personal stories and encouraging Scripture. It is a valuable collection of essential principles to help you grow into the effective, life-changing orator God wants to empower.

Join the conversation: What are you thankful for today?

Hating it with the Right Attitude

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV

God has been working on my attitude for the past six years. Okay, let me be completely honest. God has been working on my attitude my whole life. One of my most vivid memories is being called out in fifth grade by my music teacher for rolling my eyes after he gave a direction. I didn’t even realize I had done it, but I did and still feel guilty about it some 35 years later.

Even though I don’t mean to, I have a tendency to grumble and complain, and at times, my memory can be so short that even if God came through in a miraculous way last week, I’m only focused on how He is not resolving my current issue right now.

But, while I am a slow learner, I’m starting to see progress. I’m continually reminded from Bible story after Bible story that miracles or breakthroughs happen after the thanksgiving. For example, Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison after staying up all night praying and singing hymns. Even though God had loosed their chains, they chose to stay. As a result, the jailer and his household all became part of God’s family that night (Acts 16:22-33).

There has been a certain situation in my life, one of my own doing, that I have asked God to release me from for the past three years. Three long years. I’ve begged, pleaded, thanked Him ahead of time (hoping to cause His answer to come a little faster), all while nurturing and feeding my miserable attitude and spirit.

I’m not sure the exact moment it happened, but sometime this past fall, all that God has been teaching me for the past three years about this situation clicked into place. I realized, “This is where I am in life right now. My situation may change in the future, but for now, this is where God has placed me. I have a choice. I can be miserable and choose to wake up every morning dreading the day … or I can choose joy despite my circumstances and find the blessings in living life for Him.” No one else can choose for me … it’s my choice.

The next day I made a decision to praise God for every circumstance. If He closed a door of opportunity, I would thank Him for the closed door. I would look for the blessings in my life and choose to praise Him for those, even when I continued to struggle with that exasperating situation.

A few days after that decision, I was exercising with a friend and telling her what God had been teaching me. I shared that when I chose the right attitude, it truly did change my inward spirit, and I was feeling more joy despite my situation.

Wanting to encourage me, she replied, “So you’re enjoying your situation now?”

“Oh no,” was my quick response, “I’m still hating it, but now I’m hating it with the right attitude!”

For me, head knowledge about my need to be thankful had finally reached my heart. I would choose to trust God even when my circumstances are downright miserable. Submitting myself to the Holy Spirit resulted in His fruit of joy. It makes all the difference in the world in how I feel while He is asking me to wait.

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Hating it with the right attitude – thoughts from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver are available through Amazon. She would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: What have you learned to hate with the right attitude?

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

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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?