Tag Archives: praise

90 days of thanks and giving, part 2

In the big picture, 90 days is just a tiny blip on the timeline of my life. A small fraction of the days I have spent here on earth, and hope to spend in the future. But when you’re in the midst of something really challenging, or when you’re waiting for something, 90 days can feel like an eternity.

Ninety days ago I began an experiment, set-out on a small journey, to see what it would be like to practice intentional gratitude every day for three months. I wish I could tell you that this challenge got easier the longer I did it. That, like working out or going to bed early, once I made the commitment and stuck to it for a month or two it became routine. But the truth is, finding something to be grateful for has often been difficult. Once I got through the obvious ones (my kids, my husband, my job, etc.) I had to really examine my world to find something new each day, made more challenging on the really hard days.

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Unfortunately, the last 90 days have not been a season where things just seem to fall into place, and life flows along at a normal pace. It’s been a really, really hard three months in so many ways — emotionally, spiritually, relationally, financially, physically, etc. In fact, as I was writing this post my husband informed me that the dealer called…our SVU needs over $6,000 in repairs. *sigh* The hard continues.

But here’s what I’ve learned in this season, while doing this experiment:
God wants our gratitude and praise, even when we seem in short-supply of praise-worthy things.

Of course it’s easy to be thankful for all we have once per year, when looking around at the sum total. And of course it’s easy to be grateful when sickness is healed, and bills are paid, and the house is clean, and marriages are strong, and children are happy. But if we are only able to express gratitude when we feel blessed, then we have misunderstood the complexity and abundance of God’s love and provision.

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In Philippians, Paul tell us to: “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 every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:4-6)

What really gets me about this scripture is how much Paul repeats himself in just three verses. Twice he tells us to rejoice. Then he emphasizes the frequency in which we should rejoice and be thankful, saying “always” and “in every situation.” His main point is pretty clear. Paul doesn’t say to rejoice only when things are good. He doesn’t say to speak with thanksgiving only in the month of November. He says to do these things all of the time because “the Lord is near.”

And that’s it! That’s the only reason we need. The only catalyst to feel gratitude or to live a life of thanks and praise is God’s presence in our lives.

This is what the last 90 days have taught me. That when I stop and look, I can see God’s presence in my life every day.

When I am exhausted and worn down from the events of the day, I can see His presence in the quiet minutes after I crawl into bed.
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When I’m stressed about financial burdens, I can see His presence in my daughter opening her first savings account and earning her own money.
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When I’m filled with worry and anxiety over my son, I can see God’s presence in my son’s smile while tossing the football with his dad.
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When life feels messy, and hard, and overwhelming, I can see God’s presence in a group of friends gathered in our living room, praying together.
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So for 90 days this has been my objective, to find these moments, this evidence of God’s presence. As I already admitted, it hasn’t been easy. Many times I’ve been distracted by my own wants and worries and fears, and I’ve had to really work to see past this, to see God.

But He is steadfast. He is always near.

So I’m gonna keep on looking. I’m going to keep praising Him. I’m going to keep on coming to Him with thanksgiving, “in every situation.”

Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

 

#90daysof Thanksand Giving

 

This is the conclusion of my 90 day challenge. To read about how it all began, click here.

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#100HappyDays

If you are on any sort of social media platform then you know that this time of year there are lots of “thankfulness challenges” happening. One of the things I love most about having a public holiday that is all about thanks and giving in the U.S. is that it makes most of us stop and count our blessings. While giving thanks and praising the One who made us is something we should do every day, sometimes we need a reminder to stop and really appreciate all that we have.

Back in August I decided to start a little experiment called #100HappyDays after watching a colleague complete the challenge a few months prior. This is actually a global movement that started in the middle of 2013 and to date has seen over 1,000,000 participants. The concept is simple: Try to find something to be happy about for 100 days in a row, snap a picture, and post it to social media with the hashtag #100HappyDays. When you’re finished you can even have a little book printed with all of your photos.

The foundation behind the social challenge claims that over 70% of people who start the challenge don’t finish. But those that do finish walk away feeling more content, grateful for what they have, and optimistic for the future — pretty much what you wold expect, right?

For me it wasn’t finding something to be happy about that was challenging — I try to thank God for at least one thing every night as my head hits the pillow anyway — it was the slowing down to acknowledge and delight in the happy moments that I struggled with. Many times I went through the whole day only to realize in the final minutes before sleep that I forgot to capture a happy moment. Upon reflection there were often many little moments of joy I could recount, but I had rushed from one thing to the next without stopping to savor or enjoy them  — whether with a my mobile phone’s camera or my mental camera.

In the end I only managed to post pics for 62 out of 100 days. But that’s OK because I am savoring this record of 62 moments of joy and happiness from the last three and a half months. Sure, some of it was big stuff I would have remembered or captured pics of anyway, like my twins turning 9, or my trip to New York with my youngest daughter and step-mom. But those other moments — the photo I took while reading on the porch one afternoon, the rainbow that appeared over our house after a storm, the night my kids, my mom and I giggled silly while playing a game of “Beat the Parents” — these are the moments I likely would not remember a week, let alone 100 days later. But because I stopped to savor these moments, to record them on my phone and in my brain, I can go back and remember with a nostalgic smile what was good about that ordinary Tuesday back in September.

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Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,  rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8: 30-31).

This is my greatest desire, to be constantly at His side. To find delight in something each and every day. To rejoice and praise Him for every little thing. To find good and happiness in all that surrounds me. Even on an ordinary Tuesday in September….especially on an ordinary Tuesday in September.

Tomorrow we will pass the turkey and eat too much pie and list the things we’re thankful for. And that carb and thankfulness-induced bliss may carry us through a few days. But come Monday when the kids won’t get out of bed, the inbox is overflowing, and traffic is at a stand-still, I want to stop and seek out something to delight in. Something to be my happy for that day. And I hope I will remember to take a mental picture and turn to the One who is by my side to offer thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

For more information or to sign-up for the #100HappyDays challenge, visit their website at www.100happydays.com.