Saturday, February 16, 2013

Re: gratitude

Having an attitude of gratitude is something I strive for daily.  It is something I believe is absolutely necessary to find joy and peace in life.  And it's not like there isn't a TON to be thankful for!  I can easily spend the month of November writing a Facebook status each day about something I'm thankful for.  Being thankful in adversity though, is harder and sometimes feels impossible.  Something I was reminded of the other day, is that being thankful is a learned behavior.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, 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 4:11-12 NASB

Paul said it twice; he had to learn to be thankful and grateful during times of adversity.  He also wrote this while he was in prison.  And how do we learn something? By practicing it.  

I've always loved the idea of a gratitude journal, but journaling can be hard for me.  And even if I spend the time to sit down and journal, most of the time my mommy brain can't even remember what we did an hour ago let alone the things I am thankful for throughout the day.  Practice isn't a once in a while thing, but something you do over and over and over consistently.  

So about a year ago I came up with this idea.  What about a gratitude email?  That is something I'm in all day long.  I can pretty much access it from anywhere, and it takes two seconds to do.  So I started:

To: my email address
Subject: gratitude
Body: 2/29/12 - unemployment cleared before mortgage payment, 
awesome lunch meeting for Keith

It had been a great day.  And there were specifics I was thankful for!  Immediately, this email popped up in my inbox.  On March 1st, all I had to do, was hit Reply:

3/1/12 - $1 night at sweet ceces, 
awesome surprise phone interview with keith, 
banner order, $100 from a friend

Thus, began a practice of constant gratitude. All the little blessings happening each and every moment.  We were right in the middle of a VERY rough time, and God was written all over it.  This little email stayed highlighted, and 'unread' at the top of my inbox.  Got a front parking spot? I'd hit reply. Got an extra 3 cents off gas? Reply.  Our bank account bounced from here to kingdom come, but was only charged one $25 fee. Reply.  I started to be SO thankful, even during the tough times, the messups, the let downs.  Started really recognizing the joy in everything.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I started to notice the clouds, the sunsets, when the rain would come after a long wait and when it would stop just in time to make it inside.  I practiced, and I learned.  

At some point I started to making excuses again, and started becoming "too busy" to stop and be thankful. That email got farther and farther down the list, and eventually off the page.  There are numerous times that I can see God written all over my circumstances.  Those times when He shows up SO big! But I fail to write them down, or email them. And then I forget, and the moments quickly pass.  Just in the time it took me to write this blog, I've revisited some of the things in my long email of thanks. Thankful for conversations, errands run, meeting a work deadline, the small stuff.  And the gratefulness that I found in the hard days; the bits of joy sprinkled throughout.  This was a wonderful practice and I truly miss it.  I'm really thankful for the reminder.  I'm thankful for this blog that made me go back and pull up that email. I'm thankful that I was able to read through it and see the change that was happening in me over the months that I practiced.  And I'm thankful that I can jump right back in and pickup where I left off.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

And He will give you the desires of your heart

Psalm 37:4 says, Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  I've known this verse for many years, and I'm sure I used to think that it meant God gives us what we want if we delight in Him.  It's funny how things can change when you put the emphasis in a different place.  

Is it:

He will give you the desires of your heart.  


He will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So we are warned about our desires. A lot of the time, the desires of my heart, are earthly desires. At least they seem to start that way.  So then, how can I assume that if I delight in Him, He will give me my earthly desires?  There is a greater picture here.  Delighting in Christ is desiring Christ.  It's setting your heart towards heaven; it's turning, repenting, changing.  When I made the decision to delight in Christ, and set my heart and my treasures in heaven, He gave my heart new desires.  And I know they are not from me, because the desires I have now are to do things that I spent most of my life honestly trying to avoid.  But once again, God's will is revealed in hindsight.  And the more I delight in Him, the more my heart and my desires change.