Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blessed Thanks

Every year, my husband has to work the Sunday before the big holidays in order to stay caught up on production and have the actual holidays off. Today was one of those Sundays. Therefore, the kids and I just stayed home this Sunday and missed church today (and no "tsk"ing! I go every Sunday otherwise!). Today was baptism Sunday, though I don't think I probably missed a sermon (so all you peeps that love Chad's sermons shouldn't have to fret). Though, if you really want to, I'm sure they'll have the audio of today uploaded on the church website (www.missionoflife.com) by the end of the week.

So, since I don't have any notes from church to blog on, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to share an article I wrote for the Mom Life Newsletter that I produce for our Mom's group at church. It's entitled "Blessed Thanks" because it's focused on the concept (as well as the holiday) of Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy it!! God bless you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week and a blessed time of gathering with your families!

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“Thank you, Mommy!” Those are three precious words that I should never get tired of hearing, or take for granted. The importance of showing thankfulness is something that my own parents taught me; just as I have strived to teach my own children. It’s important that you acknowledge and show your appreciation to someone who has shown kindness to you.

However, I think the “politeness” of saying “thank-you” has caused its meaning to be lost in the vast sea of social courtesies. “Thank you” is often a formality and an obligation and we say it almost nonchalantly and without much thought. Of course, I am thankful that my kids have learned to automatically say “please” and “thank you” when they should, but my greater hope is that they will know that true thankfulness goes beyond just mere words. It’s all about the heart!

Having a thankful heart has been on my mind; considering that the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up. We all know the history, the traditions, and the meanings behind this holiday, but do we really truly grasp the joy? How often do we really allow thankful thoughts to invade our minds and seize our hearts with gladness? How often do we get so filled with gratefulness that we just burst with praise because of our gratitude? For me, the politeness in our house is so prevalent that I often miss the greater blessings of thankfulness. As a wife, mom, woman, etc. I sometimes feel under appreciated; despite the regular “thank yous.” They get dismissed too often when they become casual and expected, but nevertheless, they ARE acknowledgements and affirmations are they not? Maybe it’s my perspective that needs the change. Maybe if I spent more time offering God more high quality and non-casual “thank yous”, I would be able to appreciate any grade of “thank you” from my family and friends with a greater sense of joy and without so many judgments towards the authenticity of their every-day “thank yous“.

God craves that same genuine display of appreciation and thankfulness as well. Yet, how often do we take the time to thank Him - REALLY thank Him? How often do we just give Him polite every-day “thank yous” but neglect to really tell Him from our heart just how much we appreciate His goodness and blessings to us? Just like we go the extra mile to thank someone for an extra special gift by writing a thank-you note (or reciprocating with a gift of our own at some point) we should be even MORE eager to give back to God by sharing our heart with Him; and with others. God never tires of hearing our praises and offers of thanksgiving. The Psalms are full of exclamations of thanks. Psalm 69:30 says: “I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” And, Psalm 95:2 “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” And that’s just a start!

Why are the Psalms so full of praises? Why such a grateful heart? Well, my friends, it’s because the Lord is worthy of any and all praise we can offer! Not because He needs to be reminded of how glorious He is (He already knows!) but because WE need to remember how glorious He is! WE need to remember how sovereign, wonderful, loving, and amazing our heavenly Father is! We need to meditate on His goodness and share with Him how humbled and blessed we are that He has shown such favor to us! Thanksgiving blesses us just as much (if not more) than it blesses Him because it forces us to remember just how much we have and how little we have to complain about! Our God is GOOD and He shares that goodness with us!!

Beyond just the holiday, thanksgiving is truly year round. We should be cherishing it in the every day moments; whether giving or receiving it. In fact, it’s the very foundation of prayer! In Philippians 4:4-7, Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Did you notice that declaring praise to the Lord is so noteworthy that Paul emphasizes rejoicing TWICE! And, he says “always.” He also says “with thanksgiving” we are to present our requests to God. Those exhortations then turn into the peace we receive as we rest in the joy of knowing that we are blessed, protected, and so much more! And, it’s just like a saying I saw on a poster once: “Always thank God for what you have before you ask Him for more.” It’s a good thing to remember; especially when we are feeling stressed, busy, greedy, etc. at this time of year!!

May your hearts be blessed as you savor the joy of each blessing God has given you! May every “thank you” you give and receive have value, and fill your hearts with joy! May we ALWAYS rejoice!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

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