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?

Tempted to Compare My Holidays

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

This time of year always brings to my mind fun memories of childhood Christmases. The pattern in our house rarely changed from year to year, and I loved it. I would anticipate every second, from munching on Chex party mix while visiting my dad on Christmas Eve to playing in the backyard at my aunt and uncle’s house Christmas afternoon.

I always knew what to expect, and I thrived on the predictability of it all.

I don’t know how my parents managed to pull it off, with the challenges divorce can bring. But somehow, they did. I felt safe in knowing and anticipating what our holiday had in store.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, and step-Mimi, holidays can be a bit more unexpected now.

For years I longed to create a Christmas season our family could not only count on, but look forward to each year. But outside factors and challenges always seemed to interrupt my best laid plans.

Frustration has a way of knocking at our heart’s door at times like that, when expectations lost cause us to feel like what we do for our holiday isn’t good enough. With a simple scroll through social media, I can easily become overwhelmed with post after post of recipes, decorations, and family outings that put my spur-of-the-moment schedule to shame.

When we compare our holidays to others’, we risk losing the mountain of blessings that God has given to us. Our expectations become disappointment, and what we long for becomes the enemy of what we already have. But God offers a better way.

Expectations can push contentment into the shadows, but God renews our contentment with the light of each new day.

So I’ve learned to be content with my circumstances. Even when they take an abrupt turn, like they have recently. In fact, our current circumstances have already affected my ability to plan, go, and do as much as I’d like through this year’s holiday season. But when disappointment tries to creep in, I will remind myself of God’s promise to me. His presence is always here, filling me with joy and peace through the holidays.

My holidays may not be perfect, but they are wonderful because God is in it.

You may be thinking, “But my holidays can’t be wonderful. Not this year. Too much has happened.”

I am right there with you, friend. We can let a diagnosis, grief, or hurt cast a pall over this season, or we can allow them to draw us into the throne room of grace, where mercy, hope, and healing reside.

So this year, join me in deciding to celebrate our wonderful, imperfect, unexpected, sometimes painful but always grace-filled, holidays.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

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Tempted to Compare My Holidays – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with comparing your holiday experiences with others’?

 

God’s Sense of Humor

by Kathy Collard Miller

As I talked with a women’s ministry director at a church training conference, I was hoping she would invite me to speak at her women’s retreat. We munched on the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in front of us in the lounge of the convention center as we talked. I was thrilled to see her staring at my mouth, obviously eager to hear my every word. Surely, I was impressing her. All I have to do is say the right things, I assured myself.

After we concluded, I headed for the ladies’ room feeling good about the meeting. I walked through the restroom door and stopped short at the mirror. What’s that dark thing on my lip? Leaning in, I saw a smear of chocolate decorating my lip and chin. Oh, no, how long has that been there?

I had just conducted a professional interview with a dirty face.

Oh, Lord, what have you done to me? So much for my pithy statements and wise admonitions! How foolish I must have looked. How humiliating!

Suddenly, in a flash of truth, I recognized my dissatisfaction with God’s plan. And I started laughing. Oh, Lord, you do have a sense of humor. Please forgive me for my pride and self-importance. I fell into that trap again. Over the next five days, every time I thought about my dirty face, I felt immediate joy. And I laughed again. I rejoiced to know that God had changed my heart in that moment at the mirror, leading me to acknowledge His power and wisdom over my ambition and plans.

It’s a challenge to trust God and seek His glory in our culture of striving, competition, people pleasing, entitlement, and other self-centered perspectives. Contentment is replaced by a need to go higher. Climb the ladder of success and you’ll feel satisfied. Discover your inner muse and be emotionally healthy. Wear the latest designer clothes and stand out from the crowd. Find the diet which will finally make you content with your body. The list is endless and each promise creates a yearning that will lead us to buy the latest product or join the latest group. But they will never satisfy. Even after jumping on their bandwagon, true contentment remains frustratingly out of reach.

We can be strengthened by the Apostle Paul in knowing even he had to learn contentment. He wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12 NIV).

What was his secret? Paul gives it just a few verses earlier when he tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to leave our situation in God’s care. Paul had learned to put His trust in God for all things. And He had discovered that his God was “the God of peace.”

In this world of striving and longing, God is faithful to teach that truth to me over and over again. He does it in gentle and unexpected ways. Spiritual growth can come even from chocolate dripping down my chin.

“And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller has spoken in over 30 US states and 8 foreign countries. She is an author with over 50 published books including her two latest: Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory and Never Ever Be the Same (co-authored with husband Larry). She lives in Southern California and is a wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51ORMj3+bSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Kathy’s book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: How has God helped you learn to trust Him?