Gratitude

“Give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 HCSB)

I’ve been working through Max Lucado’s book Before Amen, a book about the power of simple prayer.  I LOVE this book and I love his pocket prayer.  I have adopted this and use it daily.  Today, I worked through his chapter “Thank You” and couldn’t wait to share this with you.  One of the things that intimidated me about prayer in general, and then the different aspects of prayer in particular (confession, gratitude, intercessory prayer, etc.) is that I always thought I had to pray about the big, important things.  And with that, I often struggled to find the “right” words.  I want to sound smart when I’m talking to God, apparently.  I want to be able to convey my message without sounding too simplistic.

Ha.  Since I have adopted this new simple way of praying, my prayer life has truly transformed.  No longer do I view prayer as this formal plea for God’s help.  Now, I see it as a conversation with God.  Today, I did my exercise (which consists of literally walking laps downstairs for 10 minutes at a time while Caitlin naps) and I talked to God.  My 10-minute walk turned into a 20-minute walk since I couldn’t finish everything I had to say in 10-minutes.  Not all my prayers are like this, though.  Often, they are short and very much to the point about what I may need or what someone else needs.  I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who struggles with their prayer life.  As a comparison, I have started Beth Moore’s Whispers of Hope devotional.  I also like the PRAISE style for prayer, but I have to admit each day I had to look back to see what the acronym stood for and felt I repeated myself often.

Back to gratitude.  Max Lucado points out in this chapter that the Bible commands us over 100 times to thank God.  It’s such an important aspect of prayer, yet it’s probably a part that gets skimmed over on a day-to-day basis.  Sure, we remember to thank God for the big, awesome things that happen in our life.  But what about the mundane, everyday, perhaps silly things that we are grateful for?  I love that we can share everything with God.  Even the small, silly things we are thankful for!  In this chapter, he did an exercise where he listed what he was grateful for, from A-Z.  I immediately did this and felt so happy afterwards.  Here’s my list:

Ants.  They are a sign of warmer weather!
Bible.  I adore reading and marking up my beloved book that teaches me so much!
Colin and Caitlin.  Two of the three miracles God blessed me.
Dogs.  Even though I refuse to give in to a dog right now, they are such loyal and loving animals!
Elephants.  I don’t know why.  They are big and beautiful.  And stinky.  They decorate Caitlin’s room.
Forgiveness.  Without it, I’d be lost.  So thankful that God sacrificed his only son to forgive all of our sins.
God.  He is so good!
Health. So grateful for my health and that of my family.  Thank you God for protecting me last summer!
Igloos.  What a beautiful creation made out of ice!
Jokes.  Admittedly, I’m a pretty serious person for the most part.  I don’t often let loose and laugh, but I am so thankful for the jokes that get me to loosen up!  Troy literally had me in tears on Sunday.  It was such a great feeling.
Kangaroos.  So thankful for our experience feeding them in Australia!  Lauren still talks about it, nearly four years later.  My favorite picture is of her sitting with a kangaroo that we believe was pregnant.  The kangaroo was too tired to get up and eat, so Lauren sat and fed her.
Lauren.  My first miracle.
Mom.  She’s been through a lot and I’m thankful for her example of strength.
Novels.  I love to read!
Olive Garden.  Not for the food, but for the memories created there.  It’s one of Colin’s favorite places to go, and I love the dates we have had there.
Popcorn.  Air-popped, soaked in butter yumminess!  Movie theater!  The kind Sheri makes!
Quilts.  I have quilts from my grandma, my aunt, and even my great-great grandmother!  I’m excited to be able to hand these beautiful quilts down to my children some day.
Rainbows.  God’s promise to us that He will never again destroy the earth. “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the convenant between me and the earth.” (Gen 9:13)
Sun.  The warmth in the sunlight makes me smile.
Troy.  My partner on this crazy life journey.  I love him.  I am so blessed and grateful God chose him for me.
Unicorns.  An animal not found on any continent, but only in the imaginations of children.
Velveeta cheese.  A main ingredient in my favorite kind of macaroni and cheese, and now my daughter’s favorite too!
Watermelon.  I don’t like to eat them, but Troy and Colin eat them up all summer long!  They sit on our deck with a half watermelon and spoons.  They are fun to try and grow.
Xrays.  They help doctors.  And also I cannot think of many “x” words.
Yellow.  The first word to come to my mind.  A cheerful color, associated with the sun and warmth!
Zebras.  Even though she may soon outgrow it, I will always associate zebras and zebra prints with Lauren.

I challenge everyone who reads this blog to do this exercise!  Give thanks to God for EVERYTHING.  Nothing is too small or silly.  We did this exercise as a family during dinner and I loved hearing what my kids and husband came up with for each letter!  Feel free to share your list, I’d love to see it!  It will warm your heart to focus on your gratitude, I promise.

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