Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in July.

   In today's day and age containing a generation who seems to be so well-versed in complaining and texting, the ancient art of gratitude appears to be a lost one.  I'm not saying I'm blaming it on parenting styles or the onset of the technology era that we've all embraced, but I'm not saying I'm not blaming it on that either.  Maybe I stand alone on this issue, but there's not a single cell in my body that doesn't believe our world would be so much better off if we could all just be a little more thankful. 
     I love the saying "The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything" because it's so true. Recession Shmeshmession. It's not about what we have, it's about who we are, the way we act, what we do, how we serve, and the relationships we foster.  God has promised us multiple times throughout the bible that He would provide. We've seen Him keep His promises through thick and thin.  Yet, somehow we're all so caught up in ourselves and our letters to Santa to that we forget that He's given us all we need to lead a happy and healthy life.  People mistake His promises of provision for promises of being wealthy or surrounded by the best of the best; however, 99% of the time those "deluxe packages" on Monopoly's Boardwalk space are not what He has placed on His roadmap for us.  Often, it's easier to lead a more fulfilling life with less than what your neighbors have.  Keeping up with the Joneses may be a popular lifestyle but not one that is easily maintainable.  Think of the happiness you can bring by focusing on anything else aside from money and your posessions!  Smile and say 'thank you' to the cashier when you get groceries (thank God for the $ to buy food at your leisure and the patience He's given someone to be a cashier); give a little of your excess money to a charitable cause (thank God for the person who did the footwork to create this charity); volunteer your time for a community or church event (thank God for the people who still have good intentions); donate some of the extra non-perishable food that's been sitting in your cupboard for months (maybe years) to the food bank (come on, we all know you have some long, lost sketchy boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese behind those cake mixes-thank God for the abundance of food you have to easily keep your cupboards full.); wave 'hello' to the friendly, retired couple on their morning walk (thank God for the sacred union of marriage the way He intended it to be and thank God for the couples who are still madly in love after all of these years- not because marriage is easy but because they choose to work at it and not give up!); give pedestrians the right of way (we appreciate it :)- thank God for the ability to walk and be active without pain); choose to let go of something that's been bothering you (thank God for His ability to change your heart); let someone cut in front of you in line (thank God for the time you've been given on this earth and the ability to stop and smell the roses or...tabloids and packs of gum?); forgive someone and let go of the tight grip on that grudge (thank God for His willingness to send His son to die for us in allowance for all of the forgiveness we also need); start each day with a new perspective (thank God for the transformational process of the clay on The Potter's wheel); pay for the coffee of the person behind you (thank God for coffee!); make a list of things for which you are thankful (pray about them); smile at the gorgeous sunrise because God painted it with each carefully chosen, vibrant shade of beauty (thank God for putting His thumbprint on every cell of His creation and giving you the eyes to recognize that); enjoy the giggles from the children behind you in church (thank God for other peoples' happiness and the promise of a new generation); cherish the memories of times spent with family (thank God for each and every one of them and what unique qualities they bring to the table); relish in the warm summer sun (thank God for our seasons); memorize a bible verse that brings a smile to your face (meditate on it); listen to your favorite song with the windows down, hair blowing in the breeze (thank God for the musical talents of that artist, the lovely warm breeze, and the fact that you have a car to drive); be thankful for the thunderstorm that brings water to maintain the earth; get caught up in your favorite hobby and forget where the time goes (thank God for the talents He has given you and ask Him to help you find more ways in which to serve); help a friend move (thank God for the ability to lift boxes. And keep a friend :) ); learn to say yes, but also learn to say no when its necessary (thank God for giving us the freedom of choice and ask Him to help us use it to bring glory to Him); savor the first piece of watermelon of the summer, the first caramel apple of the fall, the first hot chocolate of the winter, and the first fresh nectarine of the spring (thank God for the many tasty, nutritious foods that He has provided and for the fact that we don't have to sustain ourselves with quail and manna). 
         There are so many things with which God has blessed us that we really shouldn't even have the time to be ungrateful.  Life is not all about having money, becoming a stuffy CEO or the ever-popular model/athlete/housewife that we're so expected to be.  It's about serving others, being the hands and feet of Jesus, and finding ways to be thankful each and every day.  It's not about becoming a prom queen or ignoring your conscience.  It's about being real and connecting with the people around you.  It's not about climbing the corporate ladder, wearing the best suit, or walking the red carpet at Gala-like events.  It's about being the best dad or mom you can be, spending precious time with your kids, and seeing all of their firsts.  It's not about sucking it in and walking around looking like a skeleton's got your tongue.  It's about becoming healthy at any size and learning to be comfortable with the way God created you in your own skin. 
       And I get it. I get that these are hard values to hold tight to in this day and age. I get that.  But it's all about a choice. It's about making the choice to NOT conform to society's views. It's about making the choice to truly and freely FEEL blessed.  It's about making the choice to thank God for everything you do have instead of asking for all of the things you don't.  It's about making the choice to try a new perspective on for size.  It's about making the choice to enjoy everything and everyone with which you are surrounded.  It's about making the choice to savor every breath you are given because at any second those breaths could stop.  It's about making the choice to be happy. Because after all is said and done being thankful and being happy are choices.  So on this day, I'm making my choice.  I choose to be grateful because I'm so incredibly blessed, and I choose to be happy because well...why not?!

    "I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess...Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."- Phillipians 4:11-12 {The Message}

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