Giving Thanks

Sure, it’s what we’re supposed to do this time of year – give thanks.  The reality is probably that a lot of us don’t think very much about what we’re thankful for until it’s time to gather around the heavily laden table with our loved ones.  Some families have a tradition in which each person at the table shares something for which they are thankful.  Some simply let the person saying grace state the many things or which they are all thankful – good health, bountiful table, friends and family, etc.  Then everyone digs in, and the thoughts of thanksgiving give way to conversation, eating, game playing, football, and naps.

I want to change things.  I want to really, truly, give thanks every day – not just on Thanksgiving, not just on the days before Thanksgiving, but every day.  I want to get up each morning and thank the Lord for the day, before it even starts.  I want to thank Him for the day before, no matter how it went.  I want to have an attitude of thanksgiving every single day.  It’s how I believe the Lord hopes we approach life.  It is the way Paul approached his post-salvation life.  It is the way I want to live my life.  I know it is going to be difficult to get into the habit of giving thanks every single day for every single thing.  It’s so much easier to complain, or to have a pity party about how horrible our day was or how badly we were treated.  It’s human nature to do grumble and complain, and Christ’s nature to give thanks in all things.  I’d really like to have Christ’s nature, not human nature.  So, I’m going to work on that.

I had a nice long chat last night with my good friend, JoAnn.  She’s the mom of YS’s freshman roommate.  She’s an awesome Christian woman.  There is something about her that I just love so much.  I think of her, and I am inspired.  We’ve only spent the equivalent of a few days together over the past 5 years, but there was an immediate connection when we met, and I knew right away we’d be friends for life.  I think about her far more than she probably imagines.  I miss her an awful lot when we don’t talk for long periods of time.  We both lead very busy lives, which means connecting is not always easy, but when we do, it’s as if we just had coffee yesterday.  There is never an awkward lull in the conversation, or a feeling of disconnect.  We “get” each other.  Our boys are strikingly similar in many ways, and have struggled with many of the same issues throughout college, even though they didn’t really hang out after that first year.  As a result she and I have shared many of the same struggles and concerns about our boys as they’ve taken the journey from young boys on their first day of college to young men on the threshold of their adult lives.  It has helped knowing I was not alone, that JoAnn understood and would not judge, and vice versa.  I knew I could always count on her to pray extra hard about a difficult situation, which she has done on many occasions.  I knew I could share my shame at my lack of spirituality with her, and she’d understand, not judge.  I know that she will always be there for me, and that she keeps us in prayer every day, as I do her and her family.  I thank the Lord every day for bringing her into my life.  She has encouraged me in so many ways – and she probably has no clue.  Last night we talked about not only our boys, who will both be finishing their college educations this spring, but about our faith.  It was such an uplifting talk.  I wish she lived across the street so we could hang out and talk like this every day.  She is really awesome.  Thank you, JoAnn, for being my friend.  You mean the world to me!

I think my “favorite” person in the Bible is Paul.  Paul inspires me.  Why?  Because Paul struggled every single day in his “normal” life – he was imprisoned, he had a “thorn in the flesh”, which could have been a physical affliction or some sort of family issue (some think he had a really contentious wife), he clearly had it rough, yet he kept his eyes on Christ and sought to serve Him every single day. He spent his life encouraging Christians throughout the world, despite his persecution. Whenever I start to think I have it rough and start a little pity party, I remember Paul.  I figure is this man, who served the Lord so unwaveringly, had to endure the horrible things he endured, who am I to complain about anything?  Even moreso, who am I to expect life to be easy?  And then there’s Jesus.  He was without sin, yet he was persecuted, ridiculed, physically and verbally abused, and finally, of course, killed.  And he never struck out at his persecutors, he never sat around complaining about his lot in life.   And I think I have it rough?  Right.  Now, it’s easy to say, “but hey, He was the Son of God.  He IS God. It’s not really the same.”  Okay… but Paul was just a man, a regular guy like you and me.  That’s why he is such an inspiration to me.  Anytime I start to feel sorry for myself, I think of Paul.  If a guy who was sold out for the Lord struggled and suffered, why on earth do I think I deserve an easier life?  Another thing I keep reminding myself of is this – the Lord did not promise us HAPPINESS, He promised us JOY.  There is a huge difference.  We can be joyful in all circumstances.  Happiness is strictly circumstantial, and fleeting.  Paul was joyful, though I doubt he was happy.  I want to be truly joyful every single day.  That means I need to make that time daily to spend praying and reading my bible.  Being close to the Lord is the only path to joy, and it’s tough to be close to Him if you don’t spend some time with Him frequently.

On a completely different note – Riley is sick. He was up all night, making multiple trips outside.  I don’t know if he has diarrhea or is constipated, but he’s definitely in distress.  Naturally, when he’s up, I’m up, so I got little sleep last night.  That wouldn’t be a big deal except I have a hair appointment at 8AM (going back to blonde), and then a day full of pre-holiday chores.  Oh well, maybe I’ll get a nap before YS, OS and his family, and my brother arrive later today.  If I don’t, I still plan to be very joyful!  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.