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Staff Features: Choosing Gratitude

Meet one of our staff members, Jenn! Today she’s sharing some practical ways she and her family practice gratitude during the often-chaotic holiday season. 

We’ve turned the corner to November and the holidays are upon us. Ready or not, here we go! Like many of you, I’ve started marking the calendar with all the family gatherings, digging out our favorite recipes, and even grabbing a Christmas gift or two from the Costco aisles. This is all on top of my normal responsibilities with work, school, church, and home. I don’t know about you, but joyLESSness can begin to creep in. Tasks and check lists take precedence. Joy can become no more than a cute word stitched on a pretty Christmas pillow and set neatly in Grandma’s heirloom chair…you know, the one that the kids aren’t allowed to sit in!

When I feel the holiday stress creeping up my neck, gratitude is not often my first response. And yet, the living Word of God tells us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Really? In ALL circumstances? Even when my kids are whining, I’m lacking sleep, and the bank account is running low?

So, how exactly do we “give thanks in all circumstances”? We’ve got to choose it. If you’re anything like me, my flesh will naturally gravitate toward complaining, so I must choose each day to cultivate thankfulness. Here are a couple of ideas to help us give thanks this season:

  • Prioritize daily time with Jesus from now until Christmas. We’ve got to have it! Let’s commit to do this together. It can be as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier. Consider reading a Psalm each day in a different Bible translation. Then, grab a journal and record a few things that spur gratitude from the passage you read. Lifting our eyes to God’s unchanging character will bring thankfulness.
  • When you feel stressed, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. I’m so thankful He is the Helper (John 14:26). He wants to help us but we need to ASK Him for it. I often start by repenting of my complaining heart. It’s difficult for thankfulness to overflow if I’m grumbling about my circumstances.
  • Begin to cultivate gratitude in your heart through worship (Psalm 28:7). Find a new worship album and sing it from the top of your lungs, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s actually the best time to worship because we declare with our lips the truth of who God is, and before you know it, our hearts begin to join in worship. If you have kids, sing with them in the midst of the crazy. I love to put on worship in the morning when we are getting ready for school/work. This helps set the tone of thanksgiving to our God.
  • Find a place to serve this season. If you don’t know where to serve, pray and ask God to open a door and then LOOK around…maybe you could adopt a family in need through your church or invite a widow over to dinner. There are so many opportunities to take our eyes off of our hard situations and serve someone else. For me, this simple step can grow thankfulness in my heart unlike anything else.  Recently, our family has been helping serve some teen refugees who are living in shelters. It’s been a great way to cultivate thankfulness in my own heart as we head into a season that emphasizes getting instead of giving.

Let’s commit to finish 2019 by choosing to be grateful in all circumstances. And know that I’m thankful for you, a community of friends who seek to do the same. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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