Intentional Thankfulness

Each November, just in time for Thanksgiving, there are those who turn to social media and post one thing they are thankful for each day of the month. It is amazing how the atmosphere of Facebook changes overnight. Instead of endless political diatribes, or hurtful, negative commentaries about people's lives, my Facebook newsfeed is filled to overflowing with things my friends are thankful for. And I love it. And relish each post.

In chapel this morning, we were reminded about the intentionality of thankfulness. A thankful heart is not something innate, not something we were born with. On the contrary, our tendency is to be negative. Selfish. Demanding. And so it takes great effort...intentionality...to refocus our attention outwards again. Joel talked to us about the importance of keeping a thankful heart before God---in every circumstance. It's a hard concept, yes, and must be something we achieve through constant, continual practice. But what I love about this idea is that instead of being defined by my problems or trials, God gets the glory and we're reminded of not only how He's worked in our lives in the past, but how He's using even the tough times to help us grow and mature in Christ.

So, I want to bring back a little bit of that November Thanksgiving attitude. Here are a few things I am thankful for this afternoon. And of course, I am so grateful for my family, friends, and my Savior. Those should be on everyone's list! But how about some other things we might not think about? May my list inspire you to create one of your own!

This afternoon, I am thankful for...

1. ...time alone. Especially after my mommy meltdown from a couple nights ago (read the blog entry. It wasn't pretty). Troy and the boys are at soccer practice, and the girls are at the neighbors' house playing for awhile.

2. ...the sound of the rain. It is a gentle rain, not the rip-through-metal rain we had the other day. And it is so peaceful.

3. ...my growing Yankee Candle collection here in Costa Rica. Over the last couple years, I had amassed quite a collection of candles and accessories, but I chose to leave them all behind in storage rather than run the risk of anything being broken or lost. Boy, was that a mistake! I had no idea how important candles had become to me, or how much I identified those delicious smells with home. I will never forget the joy I felt when we found a few small candles at a Hallmark store in a nearby mall. Cinnamon! Black cherry! Heaven. Some people might call my collection selfish or unnecessary. But it isn't unnecessary to me. These familiar scents connect this house to my feeling of home. And when you're living in a foreign country, surrounded by a new language, that is a very huge deal.

4. ...my teapot. Who knew a kitchen device could be so important to a person? Especially when I'm always letting my tea steep so long it grows cold and has to be microwaved anyway?

5. ...a warm cup of tea. Made with a dash of milk and a couple teaspoons of sugar.

6. ...chocolate.

7. ...my "Pride & Prejudice" movie soundtrack. If you've never listened to it before, you have no idea what you're missing out on. I'm not usually a big classical music fan. Instead, I tend to prefer 80s and early 90s music (or contemporary Christian). But this is the one CD I turn to again and again when I am stressed and need to relax. I played it Tuesday during my mommy meltdown, as a matter of fact.

May God help me to remember to continually turn to Him in thankfulness. For all the good times. And for all the bad. What if you and I each wrote down one thing we were thankful for every day for a year? What would that look like? How might our lives--and the lives of others around us--be changed? Something to think--and pray--about.

 Edit: It occurred to me that it's easy to thank God for the lovely things, like my candles. But it's a lot harder to thank Him for the hard things. And so I want to add one more thing I'm thankful for.

8. ...for my kids' fights and times they frustrate me. Why? Because it shows me I need to work on my patience. I am not a patient person. I'm fully aware of that, but never more so than when I'm screaming at my child because she's chewing gum in my ear, of all things. Really? Is that worth screaming about? No. My kids are normal kids who need Jesus every moment of every day. Just like me. Their fights---and my reaction to them---are an instant reminder of my weakness and should inspire me to cry out to Him for help.

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