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?

The Mysterious Gift of Being Grateful

by Afton Rorvik @AftonRorvik

The package on my doorstep surprised me. I hadn’t ordered anything. No one in my household had a birthday. No national holiday loomed on the near horizon. And I hadn’t heard the doorbell ring. My dog hadn’t even barked.

I ripped opened the squishy package and discovered a pillow with a large word written on it: GRATEFUL.

Who could have sent this? I hunted and hunted for a card, but clearly someone had ordered this from a company and had it shipped to me. Was it the friend I helped out last week? Or the guests we housed last month?

Although I wanted to send a thank you note, I sort of loved not knowing who sent the pillow because it caused me to evaluate my life over the past few weeks. Had I interacted with people in such a way as to make them grateful? Had I lived in a grateful state within my own heart—looking daily for God’s good gifts?

I love this word: Grateful.  I want it to stick to me like Velcro and follow me around like a love-me-please puppy.

BUT gratitude takes effort. I naturally tend toward more of a glass-half-empty view of life—an Eeyore mentality. I can wallow in worry about what-ifs, isolate myself, criticize people in process who don’t respond to me the way I think they should, keep a list of all that seems upside-down in my life. . .

I’ve working to retrain my brain and heart by starting my days with worship. I sit in a cozy chair, turn on my playlist of worship songs, and open my hands to God. I let go of what weighs on me (often naming them specifically) and celebrate God’s good gift to me of Father-love as I let the music wash over me.

And I find myself returning again and again to this verse in James 1:17 (NIV): “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

How could I NOT live in gratitude when I live in the truth of these words and in the presence of the Father who does NOT change?

After posting a photo of my mysterious gift on Facebook, I learned that it had come from a friend I first met when I was 13. We now live states away but have managed to stay connected all these years. What a delightful no-good-reason, just-for-the-fun-of-it gift! J  But even more fabulous—what a gift of enduring friendship!

This November my new pillow sits in our dining room window reminding me (and hopefully all who enter there) to remember the transforming power of this word: Grateful!

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.                                                                                                                                    1 Chronicles 16:34 NASB

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The Mysterious Gift of Being Grateful – @AftonRorvik on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

afton rorvik2About the author: Afton Rorvik savors words, flavored coffee, time outside, and living connected. Although an introvert, she has come to realize that what really matters in life is people and faith in Jesus, which gives her the strength and courage to live connected. Afton wrote Storm Sisters (Worthy), a story-filled book about learning to stick around when storms hit a friend’s life. She blogs monthly at  aftonrorvik.com and thoroughly enjoys Pinterest (Afton Rorvik).

Join the conversation: For what are you grateful this week of Thanksgiving?

 

Praying to be Like Turkeys On The Loose

by Sheri Schofield

“Mubble-mubble-puuuurrrrr-mubble-mubble.” The unusual sound drew my attention away from the book in my hands. What could it be? I walked toward the window and looked outside. Crossing the lawn below me was a flock of nine wild turkeys! They didn’t say “gobble-gobble”. That’s the male turkey’s call when he wants to advertise himself. When turkeys make that mubble and purr noise, it means they are content.

These huge birds wandered along, often leaning their heads close to mubble into each other’s ears. It reminded me of a group of happy women wandering through the farmer’s market together. They seemed like such a pleasant group!

And they are organic! No hormones, no antibiotics, no human-concocted feed. They are an altogether different bird than those scrumptious Butterballs. Wild turkeys can run at speeds of up to twenty-five miles per hour. They fly. They are hardy. They roost in the forest, eat snakes – yes, they love rattlesnakes for breakfast – and they are alert for danger.

The domestic turkeys that become Butterballs are weak, very plump, and cannot run or fly. They all look alike. They live in overcrowded conditions crammed up next to other turkeys and not encouraged to exercise. For human consumption, they are delicious. But survivors they are not.

As I watched the turkeys peruse my lawn, I found myself thinking that the two different kinds of turkeys are a lot like two different kinds of Christians. There are those who go all out for Christ, regardless of danger, ready to do whatever it takes to spread the gospel and defeat the devil – the serpent. They don’t allow the world to tell them what is right or wrong and pay little attention to political correctness. Their eyes are on Christ. They see danger approaching and take action. They are spiritually alert and swift. They soar on wings like wild turkeys. (Okay – you can think “eagles” if you prefer!) They endure.

Then there are Christians who prefer to be just like everyone else, crowded together, safe and politically correct to a fault. They follow the world’s philosophy and fit in nicely. But they never soar or run. They don’t recognize danger approaching. When it comes, they quickly fall away, for they have not developed the will to resist, to fight the danger.

So my Thanksgiving prayer will likely include something like this: “Lord, help me to be like the wild turkey! I want to be swift and strong in my spirit. Do not let me fall into the danger of feeding my soul on the world’s philosophy. Don’t let my soul end up like that juicy Butterball! Keep me feeding on your Word alone for wisdom. Please keep me organic through and through!”

Yes, I am known to have really strange prayers! My family is always on the alert. But I do think I will catch them by surprise this time!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates in his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3, NIV

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Praying to be like turkeys on the loose – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the Conversation: For what are you most thankful today?

Don’t Forget to Remember

by Julie Zine Coleman @juliezcoleman

Most Americans are well-versed in the events which led to the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1620. But the suffering did not end there. Soon after the celebration, the Pilgrims found they had overestimated their harvest and would once again be forced to endure a long winter of meager rations. To further exacerbate the food shortage, a ship arrived in late November with thirty-five new settlers and absolutely no provisions. The little group barely survived the winter.

The growing season the following year did not go well. The lack of food left the settlers too weak to properly tend the fields, and the harvest was a dismal failure. With meager food stores and many mouths to feed, the rations during the following winter came down to a daily portion of five kernels of corn per person. This lasted three or four months until the next harvest finally supplied an ample amount of food.

Those two years of suffering were not far from the Pilgrims’ minds as they gathered with their Native American neighbors in the fall of 1623 for a second Thanksgiving celebration. The first course, served on an otherwise empty plate, was five kernels of corn. The celebration of a plentiful harvest was that much more meaningful when compared to past times of desperate want. The Pilgrims determined to remember.

I have a friend who places a dried kernel of corn on each dinner plate for her Thanksgiving guests. Before the meal begins, each person names one thing for which they are thankful then drops their kernel into a basket being passed around the table. It’s one way that family remembers.

We have been called to do the same. Remember. Paul wrote the Ephesians: “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world… But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13 NASB).

The Ephesian church was experiencing difficulty in melding two groups, Jews and Gentiles, into one unified church. Their heritage, culture, and backgrounds were so very diverse. To help them resolve their differences, Paul took them back to who they were before Jesus. They had shared a bleak future with no hope of ever being right with God. They needed to remind themselves where each of them would be if Jesus had not shed His blood on their behalf.

Remembering they all started in the same boat and that each one was saved by grace (not because of their race or accomplishments) would help them worship side by side as brothers and sisters.  Paul concluded: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace” (Ephesians 2:14-15 NASB).

Remembering is something God encourages all believers to do. It’s why we celebrate Communion on a regular basis. As we share the elements, we remember Christ’s sacrificial death and suffering, as well as His victory over sin and death. We also remember what we were before our salvation: spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), slaves of sin (Rom 6:17), enemies of God (Rom 5:10), without hope (Eph 2:12), and condemned to an eternity of suffering and spiritual death (Rom 5:18).

Remembering this swells our hearts with thanksgiving and praise. Thinking about our before is helpful in cultivating a grateful heart and a love for Christ in the here and now. Looking back on what we have been saved from helps us to more fully appreciate the lengths to which God went to bring us into a relationship with Him.

So this Thanksgiving, take some time to look back. And remember.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:13-14 NASB

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Remembering what God has done swells our hearts with thanksgiving and praise – @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to
understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What remembrance gives you gratitude?

I Shouldn’t Have Been Speeding

by Kathy Collard Miller

I was driving down a California freeway on a superbly beautiful day of fluffy clouds on a background of clear blue sky and I just felt very happy. My happiness urged my foot against the accelerator as the wind from the open window blew through my hair. I didn’t see the Highway Patrolman until he flashed his red lights behind me. With dread, I pulled over to the side of the road.

He came up to my side of the car and we went through what I assumed were the regular questions (since I’d never had a moving violation before). Then I said, “I don’t expect you to not write a ticket, but my husband will ask me if I told you that he’s a police officer.” I gave him the city and my husband’s name.

He didn’t smile as he took my license and walked back to his cruiser. I knew I was getting a ticket and I knew I deserved it. As I waited, it seemed like he was taking a long time, but I didn’t know if that was unusual.

He finally emerged from his car and walked up to mine. He handed me my license and said, “Next time drive the speed limit.”

I melted in gratitude and said, “Thank you.” I didn’t know if he had checked to see if Larry was an officer but I didn’t care. In his generosity, I had avoided a fine and a black mark on my squeaky-clean record.

After I drove off, I slowly worked my way back into traffic and was surprised at myself. I was actually driving below the speed limit!  I wished I could find him again on the road and shout, “Look! You’ve inspired me with your grace! I’m so grateful, I’m determined to obey the law. Thank you so much for your mercy!”

I’ve never forgotten that experience, because it shouts to me of how gratitude to God should affect my obedience all the time. God’s amazing grace, giving what I could never deserve, is all done not because of me, but in spite of me. That fact should motivate me to respond with gratitude, which in turn would lead to unselfish and humble actions.

Just as I “knew” someone who could qualify me to avoid that ticket, our identity with Christ (because we know Jesus as our Savior) qualifies us to avoid the wrath and punishment for our sin that we deserve.

And then out of the strong gratitude that we have not received what we deserve, we say, “Look, Lord! I’m so grateful I want to show it by obeying you.”

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  Colossians 2:6-7 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller has only been pulled over by an officer once but she has been “pulled over” by God many times. As a result, her speaking and writing offer real life growth examples and biblical insights. Her most recent book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom tells the story of how God delivered her from being a child abuser and healing her fractured marriage. Contact her: http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: How has God’s grace and mercy motivated you to respond in the fruit of the Spirit?

Photo by A l e x a on Unsplash

When We Can’t (or Won’t)

by Jennifer Slattery

Have you ever poured out your heart, time, and resources to someone only to have them respond with ambivalence, perhaps even contempt? How long would your kindness last? At what point would you grow frustrated, or perhaps deeply wounded, throw your hands up, and walk away?

A few years ago, our family opened our home to a troubled teen. Initially, we knew very little about him. We soon learned our original perceptions were false. His issues were far more extensive than we anticipated, including deep-seated anger and contempt that caused him to lie and manipulate. Our efforts and sacrificial acts of kindness were deemed manipulative.

Nothing we did or said penetrated his bitter, cynical heart. Instead of responding to our care, he rebelled against us, unfortunately, to his own harm. He chose self-destruction over life and hope.

For centuries, Judah responded to God in the same way. He’d nurtured and reared them, provided for all their needs, yet they refused to see His hand. Oh, they enjoyed the blessings, much like the resentful teen had, but their hardened hearts remained untouched. They drifted farther from their loving Father.

God pleaded with them to return, to consider their ways and His care, but they refused: “I reared children and brought them up,” God said, “but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand” (Isaiah 1:3 NIV).

The NLT puts it this way: “My people don’t recognize my care for them.”

Were they too focused on the gifts God had given them or too entrenched in their sinful ways? Either way, they spurned the One who’d faithfully cared for them and slipped into ever-worsening rebellion. God’s kindness, which is intended to draw mankind to Him, had no effect. Before long, and after repeated warnings, tough love followed.

I may never have turned to idols or perverted justice, but I can easily fail to see God’s hand. I can become so focused on the blessings, so expectant and entitled, that what was meant to draw me closer has the opposite effect and fuels my self-reliance.

Can you relate? It’s easy to get so caught up in life, so accustomed to all our blessings, that we fail to see our Daddy’s heart behind them. And when we fail to understand or recognize the extent of His care for us, it’s not long before greed and entitlement seep in, pulling us further and further from God. This breaks our Father’s heart.

God issues the same pleas to us as He did to the Israelites so long ago: Lift up your eyes. Return to Me. Leave your rebellious, self-reliant and apathetic ways and let My faithful care for you nourish, strengthen, and protect your heart.

God’s blessings abound, and His love radiates throughout the world. If we can’t see God’s hand, it’s because we’re not looking, or maybe even refusing to acknowledge the truth. If we but stop and turn our eyes and heart to our loving Father, we’ll find ourselves deeply rooted in His embrace.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8 NASB

Jennifer Slattery Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to stay up to date with her future appearances, projects, and releases. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Join the conversation: How readily do you see God’s care? When blessings come, do you focus more on the gift or your provider? How might your relationship with God change if you consistently looked for His hand?

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Marvelous Mundane

by Debora M. Coty

“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out …” Proverbs 26:20, NKJV

I recently read about a woman in India who was bored with her life. After fifty-five years of marriage, she was tired of the same ole same old, so she began hormone revitalization, had invitro fertilization and gave birth to a baby girl at the age of seventy.

You can bet trading in prune juice smoothies for apple juice sippy cups jacked her excitement level up a notch or two.

Our daily grind can sure seem dull. You get up in the morning, throw back a cup of caffeine, and launch into the same routine day after boring day: work, cook, clean up, repeat. Seriously, isn’t life made up of 90 percent routine? All of it so easy to overlook as Papa God’s intentional blessing.

Yes, I said blessing. As in no catastrophe is currently occurring, your health allows you to get up at all, and Papa God has generously allowed you to live to see another sunrise. These are blessings we often take for granted.

Gratitude for the mundane keeps our Creator-creation perspective intact. It’s the acute awareness that the Source of our everyday blessings – such as a warm breeze, lungs to draw it in, senses to feel its pleasure – is here with us every second, enjoying our enjoyment.

When we look at it this way, the mundane becomes downright thrilling! We see annoyingly noisy kids as happy, carefree children; work duties become a privilege many are without; household chores wouldn’t take so long if we lived in a grass hut swarmed by flies.

Sure, routine can be boring at times, but we really don’t want to resort to extreme measures like the Vermont mother who thought hanging onto the cargo rack of her car with her five-year-old son while traveling fifty miles per hour would add a little zip to her day. Now she’s zippy in jail.

There are ways to morph the mundane into everyday adventures that don’t require bail:

  • Look for the laugh: Peel away a few layers to see humor in everyday situations.
  • Plan getaway-cations: Save your pennies for a special trip to a special place. But in the meantime, plan monthly, restorative, low-cost mini-vacays for long weekends. Anticipation is half the fun.
  • Get your bad self down: Add more music to your life’s soundtrack. Whether you’re listening to it or making it, music lightens, brightens, and heightens your spirit.
  • Get dirty: Yahweh created dirt. He likes the stuff. He designed plants to live there and human skin so that it washes right off after we work the soil. So create a sweet-scented garden, even if it’s only a few pots circling a concrete light pole. It will calm you, beautify your living space, and connect you with the Master Gardener.

Sister, we can’t let thankfulness be a casualty of boredom. Let’s choose to feel blessed, rather than entitled, in our marvelous everyday mundane. Maybe an injection of gratitude is just what the Great Physician ordered.

“This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24, NLT   

(Excerpt was taken from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.)

debora-coty-250x250About the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms, hits booksellers September 1. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: How do you fight the boredom of the mundane?

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