Day 14~ Gratitude on the Run!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 56

Psalm 56 is a hymn of praise and trust, of confidence and strength, of worship and gratitude. This particular one was written in far less than ideal circumstances, however. David was on the run from King Saul, and when spotted and seized by the Philistines in the city of Gath, he faked insanity to avoid being detained.

Yet in the midst of intense, frightening hardship, he submitted himself to the Lord’s protection, and found within this relationship the ability to say, “When I am afraid, I trust in you.... What can flesh do to me?” (vv. 3–4). He didn’t deny the reality of what was happening to him, but he found reason to be grateful even for his sorrows.

Perhaps it’s hard for you to find much to be thankful for today. Look above your circumstances, beyond your fears, and ask God to show you what He’s doing in the midst of them. Then look back through your list of blessings and benefits, adding any new ones that come to mind. Focus on the ones that give you the most comfort in crisis.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, will You open my eyes to see the joy that may be hidden under and behind the tough circumstances in life? You are always doing more than I can ever see or think or know— help me to trust You are working so I can see beyond my circumstances and find joy. Thank You! 

Life Application:

I've just recently been listening through the Bible in a dramatized format from Bible I've really enjoyed how the Bible comes to life through the different narrators, and sound effects. It's almost like watching a movie without the moving image. I just finished listening to the books of 1&2 Samuel, and I found it very interesting to hear how many times David ran from Saul and how he reacted when Saul tried desperately to kill him. In all the afflictions, and hardships that David went through, he refused to speak evil of Saul, or to judge Saul for his evil intent against him. He kept his loyalty to Saul, and even when he had the chance to kill him, he maintained his loyalty, and wouldn't lift up his hand against the Lord's anointed. As I listened to these passages, I couldn't help but think of how easily I have been ungrateful and lifted up my hand against the Lord's anointed in my life. As a result I've missed chances to be loyal to the authorities in my life, and I have promoted an ungrateful spirit instead of humility. I realized how important it is to view the challenges in my life as gifts from God, and to use ALL of my efforts to maintain loyalty to my authorities no matter what the cost! 

Day 13~ Gratitude from Ground Zero!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 43:1–5

The Psalms are a good place to camp out if your heart’s desire is to be grateful—though not because they’re filled with nothing but happy, upbeat sentiments. They vibrate with every emotion known to man. They speak of back-breaking pressures, deep valleys of depression, and times when life barely seems worth living. And yet the Psalms reveal that the only ultimate answer to trouble, grief, pain, and loss is a constant returning to God in worship and gratitude.

Even in the darkest night, you can still experience His peace and rest, knowing that the joy of morning is ahead. Resolve not to let your joy level be determined by the presence or absence of storms, but by the presence of God. Choose to be joyful in Him today.
Choose a few psalms to read throughout the day (aloud if possible). See if they don’t cause praise and thanks to well up in your heart.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, I thank you for Your ever-present help and fellowship, especially in the dark times. When darkness falls, would You help me, Lord Jesus, to be joyful in You and Your love? Capture my gaze and fill my heart with the joy of Your presence. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Yesterday, we spent a good deal of time talking about the events of September 11th. We remembered what we were doing that day, who called us and let us know about the horrible events of the day, and how we got out our 12 inch T.V. to tune in to the news. We were shocked as we recalled how young we were, (I was 7, and Evan was 5) and yet we could remember the events of the day in vivid detail, and as if it had just happened. I remembered how sad I felt when I saw the Twin Towers fall, and I cried as I thought about all the people who's lives were helplessly ended without a second thought or time to say goodbye. As we remembered the events of the day we realized how long it had been since the event, and how many people still vividly remember it so clearly. And as we looked back on that day, I was reminded of how that day changed our Nation's history forever. How so many people even in the turmoil of the day realized how God protects us every day from such disasters, and how much we have to be grateful for. Sometimes our days feel like were at ground zero trying to clean up from the disaster, all we can see is utter destruction all around, and yet there is still SO much to be grateful for!

Day 12~ Gratitude You Can Feel!

Scripture reading: 3 John 1–4

Numerous secular studies and research projects attest to the health benefits of the attitude of gratitude. From better sleep to fewer medical symptoms, gratitude just seems to satisfy.
The apostle John says to his beloved sons and brothers in Christ, “I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (v. 2). He’s right— there’s something physically strengthening and sustaining about being joyful in the Lord and grateful for His blessings.

While living a godly life does not guarantee physical health, a healthy (spiritual) heart can do much to enhance our physical and emotional well-being. What are some reasons you think that might be the case?

We’ve been on this gratitude journey for more than ten days now. What differences have you noticed in your overall wellness and outlook?

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly God, I ask you to develop an attitude of gratitude within me so that it may be well with my soul. Show me where I’m defaulting to negativity and pride, and help me to choose gratitude for the sake of my health. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Over the years I've noticed how there are seasons of sickness and health. There are times when people come to realize how frail they are, and there are times when we couldn't be healthier. But when you're health is gone, you can sure notice how important it is, and how easy it is to take for granted. I have been blessed to not have had any major health issues, or broken bones, (so far) but I have had numerous times when I've been very sick, and a couple times when we came close to having to go to the hospital. I can remember in those times, especially when I was young, how my Mother would stay by my bed and watch over me, bringing me whatever I needed to get well. Now, as I look back on those times, I realize how much God cared for me just like my Mother did, and He gave me strength and health, and helped my Mother to know how to care for me. And as I've watched some friends who have gone through severe illnesses, I've seen how grateful we need to be every day, for the gift of health. Every day when we wake up happy, and healthy, we should thank God for His mercy, and for giving us the gift of health for another day!

Day 11~ The Greatest Gift of All!

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1–11

If you’re a Christian, the best thing that’s ever happened to you is being saved from sure destruction for your sins and ushered into the family of God, beginning now and continuing for all eternity. Sadly, time tends to dull our appreciation of the magnificent, sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf. Life gets so busy and complicated; we can go for weeks—or longer— without being swept away by the magnitude of our salvation.

One of my friends paraphrases Romans 5:8 this way: “God demonstrated His love toward us in this: while we were in open, hostile rebellion toward Him, having no interest in Him—not only that but actively despising Him and all that He stands for—Christ died for us.” How can we not be inexpressibly thankful? But, praise God, gratitude can reopen the wonder to us, throwing back the dingy curtains of complacency until the full light of His grace and glory come streaming through.

The salvation we have in Christ is a “many-splendored thing,” a diamond with countless brilliant facets. What spiritual blessings in today’s Scripture reading need to be added to your list of “Gifts from God”?

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Father God, thank You once again for loving me when I was Your enemy. Awaken my heart to the heights and depths of Your mercy toward me, a sinner. Teach me to cultivate a grateful heart for all that You’ve done and all that You are. Thank You! 

Life Application:

This past weekend, my family and I attended the Shield of Faith Missions conference. The topic of the conference was the purpose of the church, and the realization of what Christ has done for us to save us from sin's curse. Each of the speakers focused on the need to put our relationship with Christ first, and not allow ourselves to take a second-hand view of God based upon other people's opinions, but to dig into the Bible for ourselves, and discover what it really says for us today. I was so blessed by the renewal of my mind through the Word of God, and was impressed with a fresh gratefulness for Him saving a wretch like me. Here's some of my favorite quotes from the conference. 

"Beware of when all men speak well of you, for so they did to the false prophets. If the world accepts you, it's a sign that you're not following God. Sometimes we think that Salvation is about us. Many of the great problems in the church stem from a self centered view of Salvation. And when we get into a self- centered view, salvation doesn't really mean much. Phil3:8-11 Paul was striving to know Christ more. Romans 8:11"

"We came into Christ not just to be Christians, but to be disciples of the crucified one. If we suffer we shall also reign with Him. The glory is beyond the suffering. We need the Right  perspective on who we are, what our relationship is to this world, and what our hope is in Christ Jesus. We need to stop looking to this earth to satisfy. We have nothing here."

"We need to impress upon each other where our real life is. That we might know Christ and the power of His resurrection. 2 Tim 3: 13- 15 much error springs from originally accurate doctrine. Truth can easily grow into a distortion, and doctrines soon replace the -Author of the doctrines. We must be students of doctrine in the light of He who authored them. We must drink truth for ourselves, and not take our doctrine second hand. We must drink of the fountain of Christ, and not expect other people to drink it for us. There is no room for a broad mind on a narrow road."

"1 Peter 1: 23-25 where you have doubts or are swayed by false truths, go to the word of God. Don't listen to everybody who seems to speak truth. Go to the word of God. Lock in on Jesus. And don't be swayed from Him. We really really need to know Him. We are coming into the most confusing deceptive time in history. And unless we know Jesus we will not know what's true and what's not!"

Day 10 ~ Invisible Blessings!

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:6–11

There are blessings in your life and mine that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard” (v. 9)— blessings that only show themselves by not showing up. Today, try listing as many of these things to be grateful for as you can think of. For example, think of the miles you’ve driven without getting a flat tire. Think of the big tree out front that’s never dropped a damaging limb on your house. Think of a destructive sin or habit the Lord has kept you from being tempted by. Perhaps you’re hobbled by a medical problem or two, but think of a dozen you’ve never experienced.

Look at all the benefits on your growing list of gratitude inducers, and by backing them into reverse like this, you’ll find your blessings multiplying at an amazing rate.
Gratitude can (and should) lead us to intercession. A good prayer starter is to ask God to remind you of those who do suffer from some of the things He’s spared you from. Lift these people up to Him today.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, I thank You for the many unseen and unheard ways You have spared me heartache and trouble and inconvenience. Remind me of Your care as I go throughout my day, and prompt me to intercede for my loved ones who are in need today. Thank You! 

Life Applications:

Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be!
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't!
So weep or sigh because I'm blind, I cannot - nor I won't.

Fanny Crosby, (one of the best known Hymn writers of all time) was blind. She had so many possible reasons to complain. She could have made herself the most miserable creature on earth, and received adequate sympathy, but she wouldn't be known today. She could have regretted her blindness, and despised God for making her that way, but instead she choose to be grateful for the blessings she enjoyed. She did what she could, with excellence. She used her life to write about her blessed Savior and to compose many of the hymns we know and love today. How is this possible? It's all because she choose to see the invisible blessings of life. We all have circumstances in our lives that are less than desirable. If we wanted to, we could find numerous reasons to complain, regret, and blame others throughout our lives. But that will not bring any benefit for us, nor any blessings to others who know us. We must look past our challenges, and view the invisible blessings and ways that God has protected us each and every moment. We must choose to be grateful, and be content with our life, so that we can move forward in faith, and allow God to be glorified through our success. For we know that whatever good comes from our lives is only a result of His invisible blessings each and every day!

Day 9 ~ Gratitude and Generosity!

Scripture Reading 2 Corinthians 9:6–15

Where gratitude grows, you’ll generally find generosity flourishing as well. Yet, generosity is a most unnatural quality. I mean, here we stand today, in an age as risky, volatile, and dangerous as any other in memory, where conventional wisdom declares this is no time to be loose with our money and other resources.

Yet Paul expressed a surprising lack of concern for economic indicators when he advised the Corinthian church to let generosity be among the most notable expressions of their gratitude. His trust in God’s supply was so strong, he treated as a “given” the fact that the church would “be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (v. 11). “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (v. 8).

In all things. At all times. Even these times. Grateful people are generous people.
What act(s) of generosity might gratitude be motivating you toward today? Ask God for wisdom and faith, and then follow through on the promptings of His Spirit in relation to your giving.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, show me today how to express my gratitude for You and You goodness through my acts of generosity today. Let me hold loosely to my time, my resources, and my possessions so that I might freely give them to bless others in need. I choose to trust you to supply my every need so that I might meet the needs of others, for Your name and Your glory. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Last year I had the privilege of going to Virgina with my Mother to attend my Niece Elizabeth's birth. Originally, my sister was supposed to go instead of me, but plans didn't work out for that, and so I was unexpectedly taking her place on the trip. At first I was very concerned about the possible problems I would have to face, and since I'd never attended a birth before, I was very nervous about the idea. And to be honset, I was ungrateful that I had to go, and wished that someone else could take my place. But I knew that if God put me into the situation, He had a reason for it, and I wanted to be able to experience everything I could as a result. Long story short, I learned SO many things through the experience of my niece's birth, and I was very grateful for the long term memories I created with my Mother in the process. I learned through this situation, that sometimes when we are stretched beyond what we think we're capable of that is when God is able to show us how much we have to learn and be grateful for. When we are generous with our time and resources for the sake of others, we have a new sense of gratefulness for the sacrifices of others!

Day 8 ~ Gratitude and Humility!

Scripture Reading: James 4:6–10

Gratitude is the overflow of a humble heart, just as surely as an ungrateful, complaining spirit flows out of a proud heart. Proud people are wrapped up in themselves. If people or circumstances don’t please or suit them, they are prone to whine or become resentful.
A humble person thinks much of God and others and little of himself. He recognizes that anything he has is better than he deserves. He doesn’t feel anyone owes him anything. He doesn’t feel entitled to have more, or for life to be easy, or for everyone to love him and treat him well. He’s grateful for the least little kindness that’s extended to him, knowing it’s more than he deserves.

Make a list of anything you can recall “whining” about recently. How does your complaining manifest a spirit of pride, entitlement, and expectations?

Then take time to sit quietly before the Lord. Confess any pride that has shown itself in complaining, irritability, anger, or resentment, rather than giving of thanks. Humbly tell Him that you don’t deserve any of His favor, and give Him thanks for any specific recent blessings He brings to mind.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, so often my default posture is one of pride. Forgive me for my self-focus and fix my heart upon You and others. Help me to think little about and of myself so that there is room for You and for loving people around me. Reset my posture to one of gratitude and teach me to be quick to give thanks for everything. Thank You! 

Life Application:

A couple years ago, God answered a very specific prayer I had for a pet. We had been without a pet for several years, and I really wanted to get a dog. So, I began praying that God would bring us a dog if it was His will. I knew He was capable of doing the impossible, and I trusted that is He wanted us to have a pet He could provide one for us. A few months after I began praying for a dog, we found a stray kitten under our shed. At first I was really wondering why God gave us a cat and not a dog, especially when I'm allergic to cats. But then as the months went by that we had that precious kitten, I began to see the need to be grateful through humility. If God had given me a dog, I would have been proud about it, and boasted of God's ability to answer prayers just like I wanted Him to. But since He gave us a kitten, we were all put into a new situation and we all learned a lot from being able to see the helplessness of a small animal. And when our little kitten got run over by our car, we learned not to take God's gifts for granted, and to experience joy through suffering. " Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out."Romans 11:33-34

Day 7 ~ Healing Gratitude....Say it Loud, Say it Clear!

Scripture Reading: Luke 17:11–15

As you read today’s passage, notice some things about the leper who returned to thank Jesus. First, he came loudly. He couldn’t contain his gratitude. This occasion called for an unrestrained, extreme, public display of thanks.

Second, he came close. The ten lepers “stood at a distance” (v. 12) from Jesus—lepers were ceremonially defiled and weren’t allowed to come close to those who were “clean.” The healed leper who “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (v. 16) was the only one of the ten who ever got close to Jesus. Gratitude places us in close proximity to Christ, where we experience the fullness of His redeeming power and enjoy the blessing of His presence.

Third, he came from a distance. “He was a Samaritan” (v. 16). This man had never known the true God until Jesus came into his world and transformed his life. After being separated from Jesus by a religious, cultural, and physical gulf, he loved what he saw in Jesus. Gratitude will draw you close to Jesus. Look for an opportunity today to thank the Lord for what He has done in your life—aloud, and in the presence of others.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, I want to be like the one healed leper who returned to give thanks for what You’ve done. You have worked in my life, healing my sin-stricken soul just as you healed the leper of his physical disease. I come back to You again, with loud praise for redeeming me and healing me. I draw close to You, fall at Your feet, and proclaim Your power and goodness over my life. Thank You! 

Life Application:

I have a tendency to get very upset and emotional about issues which I feel are not being handled properly by God or others. I had one such situation this past week, when I began to take a overly emotional response to a distressing issue. I began to feel angry and hurt and regret over a situation which I couldn't control, and which had no direct effect upon me. I became unable to be reasoned with, and was determined to see that justice be done int he way that I thought was necessary to remedy the situation. I began to take matters into my own hands and get bitter at the people who were hurting the situation. But then as I contemplated all manner of methods to solve the problem, I began to realize that I was basically putting myself in the place of God, and I was trying to cure problems for pople that He may have been using to work in their lives, and to protect them from future destruction. It was then through this scripture "Vengence is mine I will repay saith the Lord" Romans 12:19
that I realized the only way to solve the situation was for me to allow the healing waters of gratitude to flood my soul, and to pray for the people involved in the situation, and plead for God's great mercy on their lives. I was finally able to give the situation to God, and although I haven't seen the end of it yet, I am confident that He will answer my prayers, and use this situation for His glory. It's all about my heart and how willing I am to trust Him through it!

A Note of Encouragement!

Over the past few weeks, I was sorting through letters I've written and received. It was amazing to see how many people have impacted my life over the years. One letter I wrote to a friend who was experiencing some great difficulties a few years ago, was especially encouraging to me, and as I re-read it I thought it might be encouraging to share with you as well. May God continue to give you the  strength to press on in your life no matter what challenging obstacles you may face!

My Dear Friend, 

After talking with you yesterday, I felt God impressing upon my heart to write a note of encouragement to you. 

" For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" 1 Peter 2:20-23

From my perspective, the natural man is foreign to the idea of rejoicing in the midst of suffering. It is basically impossible for us in our own strength to give thanks in everything. So why does God call us to give Him praise when we feel like we're being destroyed? Because He wants us to ask Him for the strength. He wants us to come to the place where we say " I can't, but you can." "My strength is gone, but I will press on in your strength alone." I would venture to say that total surrender to Christ is the only way we can truly rejoice in the midst of our sufferings. 

I believe that every pain has a purpose. Your struggles, heartaches, and hassles, are all leading to one end- the ultimate glory of God. And because you know God, your pain is a process with a certain purpose. We are made through strength into the image of God. And in this perspective, the pain is worth the gain. Your suffering is just that short period before the final victory. 

Come boldly before the throne of grace. Even when you have failed. When you repent of your sin, and are broken before The Lord, He sees you through the consequences. His grace and mercy enables you to bear every trial with hope. We must admit our mistakes, and ask forgiveness of those we have wronged. We must suppress the desire to run and hide, and instead come humbly into God's presence, as we are, guiltily and without excuse. Time and anger are intertwined. The longer an offense goes unresolved, the more deep seated it becomes. Then the heart becomes a hotbed for a root of bitterness. 

Realizing we are broken guilty vessels is the beginning of healing. No one remains untouched by chaos. Sooner or later, we will all experience problems. The goal is not to have a problem free life, but to know how to deal with each problem that arises. Will we cast our cares upon The Lord, and trust that He cares for us, or will we press on in us own strength and eventually fail? The choice is ours. Every time we have a problem in our lives. 

Having found the strength we have been looking for in Christ, we can now have the joy of giving it away. We can forgive people instead of judging them, and we can see others as God sees them- bundles of hurt that need Christ's love. We never touch the oceans of God's love as much as when when we love our enemies. It is such a joy to accept forgiveness, but it's almost a greater joy to give it to others. Often we spend our time trying to avoid pain, but there's a better more enjoyable life available to us. One that does not avoid pain, but finds God faithful and powerful in the midst of it. We must truly believe that no matter what we are going through, God cares. 

In closing, I would like to encourage you that no matter what you have experienced, remember this. There are people who've had it better than you and done worse, and there are people who've had it worse than you and done better. The circumstances we face really have nothing to do with the our future. We must choose to get over our past history, and allow them to make us not bitter, but better. The choice is ours each and every day. We create the world we live in by each and every choice we make. And when all is said and done, our small choices determine our destiny. 

When Christ is the center of our lives, when His glory is our ultimate goal, and when we refuse to be intimidated by life's obstacles, and when we live totally in obedience to Him; we will find a lasting hope that will cary us through the darkest of valleys. I will continue to pray for you, and know that the circumstances in your life are being used by God to cause you to look to Him for every ounce of strength you need. 

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22

Keep praying! Keep forgiving! Keep trusting! 

With Love In Christ, 


Day 6 ~ Top Ten!

Scripture Reading: Romans 11:33–36

Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia International University, tells of a time when, following his wife’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s and the death of his eldest son, he retreated alone to a mountain hideaway, trying to reorient his heart and recapture a love for God that had slowly evaporated in the heat of personal, tragic loss.

After a day devoted to prayer and fasting, he began writing God a love letter, enumerating the gifts he had received from the Lord’s hand. He identified ten particular blessings from God that just absolutely exceeded his imagination, things he could hardly find words to express how invaluable they were, how impossible life would be without them.

I encourage you to flip back through the lists you’ve been making and choose a top ten— spiritual blessings that are so big, you could never generate enough gratitude to express what they mean to you and what they tell you about your Savior.

The next time your mind is troubled by sad or worrisome thoughts, pull out your top ten and consciously transfer your focus from whatever is weighing you down, and start giving thanks for the things on your list.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Lord Jesus, because of You, I have every spiritual blessing I need. Thank You for rescuing me from the domain of darkness, transferring me into Your Kingdom, redeeming me, and forgiving me. Even in the worst of times, what You have done for me is beyond comprehension! Thank You. 

Life Application:

The first time I started this challenge, (which was a couple months ago) I was really excited about this day 6 idea of making a list of top ten things God had done for me. As I thought about my list of top ten blessings, I began to write them down in a notebook, and before I knew it, I had filled a page worth of blessings from God. Since I had surpassed ten in a few minutes I was excited to see how many blessings from God I could think of before running out of ideas. I ended up spending about 30 minutes, and filled two pages of blessings from God and others. I still add things to the list when I think of them, and I'm so grateful for those lists that help me to see that everything in life is a gift from someone else!

Day 5 ~ Digging Deeper!

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:15–21

I hope you’re becoming more alert to the many reasons you have to be grateful. I remember hearing a friend tell how, while brushing his teeth and meditating on one of the verses in today’s reading (Ephesians 5:20), he was struck by the word “everything.” He was reminded of the importance of thanking God for even those “little things” that we often overlook. It made him pause and be thankful for, well ... his toothbrush. And his toothpaste. And, while he was at it, he thanked God for his teeth, for probably the first time in his life.

This may require another separate list from the ones you made yesterday, but it’s definitely a category worth considering. Since everything is a gift from God (James 1:17), “everything” is something to be thankful for. My friend told me he also asked himself: “If tomorrow’s supply depended on today’s thanksgiving, how much would I have tomorrow?”

What “little things” can you add to the gratitude lists you’ve started? Some of the items on your “everything” list will make you realize you’ve taken certain people in your life for granted. Say thank you today in some way.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Father God, You have blessed me with an abundance of little things. Open my eyes to what You’ve given me so that I might specifically thank You. Grow a grateful heart in me so that in all things—in everything—I might find how You are blessing me. Thank You!

Life Application:

How many times have we overlooked simple blessings from God and not given Him any credit for the thousands of possible catastrophes that have been avoided by His guiding hand? I often feel like I deserve some of the credit for things turing out good in my life. But the moment I take the praise, and become proud about my accomplishments, is the moment I loose sight of the magnificence of God. At one time I thought my life was great for not having to regret bad decisions, and then before I knew it, I had made terrible mistakes that same day, and the consequences were much more long lasting than I could have ever imagined. I've learned the hard way, that we must not take credit for out success, but we must recognize the giver of all success, and acknowledge His mercy in all of our lives!

Day 4~ Another.....and Another!

Scripture Reading: Psalm 103:1–5

As we recognize and identify the specific blessings we have received from God and from others, we discover countless reasons for expressing gratitude. The psalmist took time to bless the Lord for specific benefits—he didn’t want to forget even one of them! As you open your heart to Him in prayer today, ask God to reveal to you just how great your “benefits package” really is.

Make two lists under these headings: “Gifts from God” and “Gifts from Others.” Then put down everything that comes to mind. Don’t try forcing this into a one-time, ten-minute exercise—stop and start as it seems natural. Keep adding to these lists as additional gifts come to mind over the next thirty days (and beyond).

After you’ve written out a list of your blessings, take some time to walk through your list line by line, thanking God for each of these “benefits.” Then, read Psalm 103 aloud. Try memorizing and meditating on at least the first five verses over the next week or so.

Pray for a Grateful Heart
Heavenly Father, I thank You for the many gifts you have bestowed upon me. You have been a generous and loving Father, giving me more than I deserve or even know. For all that You’ve given, I now turn back to praise You and bless Your holy name. Thank You! 

Life Application:

Recently, I had an unexpected experience, where I was able to see the hand of God's mercy in my life. I was able to look back on the experience with gratefulness for all the things God protected me from. There were so many possible outcomes to the situation that I hadn't even contemplated, and even though the results of the mistakes were very challenging for me to comprehend, I knew there were still reasons to be grateful. Every day is a gift, every moment is precious. we don't know how our mistakes or someone else's in the near future will change our lives forever. We must not look at our present life as permanent and free of the consequences of our mistakes. In a matter of seconds your life's "good works" could be thrown out the window all because of a simple carless mistake for which you may not have even anticipated consequences. " Let not thy good be evil spoken of" Romans 14:16 We must diligently guard ourselves from all appearances of evil, and we must think through the consequences to each action we take. Not only for ourselves, but for all the people around us. But we must not fail to realize the Lord's gracious mercy on all of our lives. Oh for more gratfulness for His mercy today!

Day 3 ~ Let the Redeemed Say So

Scripture Reading: Psalm 107:1–32
The theme of Psalm 107 (stated in the first two verses) is followed by four “personal testimonies”—illustrations of those who have been redeemed by the Lord and have reason to give Him thanks. Each testimony includes a similar progression: distress—the straits people found themselves in; a desperate cry to the Lord for help; and Divine deliverance. The passage is punctuated by a response—a “thanksgiving chorus” that is repeated at the end of each testimony.
Today, write out your personal testimony of God’s saving grace, following the progression found in Psalm 107.
  • What was your life like before He redeemed you?
  • How did God bring you to the end of yourself, to the place where you cried out to Him
    for mercy?
  • What has changed since He delivered you from your slavery to sin?
    If you have additional time, write another brief testimony of a time subsequent to your initial salvation, when you were in distress, you cried out to the Lord, and He came to your rescue.
    Then share your story (His story) with someone else today. Tell them how grateful you are to the Lord for saving you—eternally, as well as daily.
    Pray for a Grateful Heart
    Father God, I am so very grateful that You see my distresses, hear my desperate cries, and willingly provide Divine deliverance. Thank You for Your goodness, for Your steadfast love that endures, for me, forever.

Day 2 ~ Abounding in Thanksgiving!

  1. Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17; 4:2

    The central theme of Colossians is Christ. He is exalted and worshiped for His divine nature, being the Creator and Sustainer of all things, His preeminence over all creation and over all cosmic rulers and powers, His redemptive, reconciling work on the cross, defeating the powers of darkness, being the Head of the church which is His body, being the fulfillment and substance of Old Testament types and figures, being the believer’s life and our hope of glory, and so much more!
    As those who have “died” with Christ, “been buried with him in baptism,” and “raised with him through faith,” our joy and hope do not emanate from any earthly source or from our religious practices, but from Him. Within the four chapters of this short epistle, Paul calls us to be: morally pure, compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, obedient, just, wise, gracious, and thankful!
    Read through one or more of the following passages from Colossians, meditating on them, praying them back to God, and using them as a basis for giving thanks to Him:
    Pray for a Grateful Heart
    Lord Jesus, You are the source of light and life and all joy—show me who You are and open my eyes to see You rightly. Overwhelm my heart with Your power, goodness, love, and glory, that my heart would default to praising You in every moment. Thank You! 
    Life Application: 
    This past week, I had been talking with my Mother about re-painting my room. I've recently redecorated it, and I've always wanted to paint the walls a light sage green color. So my Dad went to the store and picked up some paint swatches for me, and I began deciding on which color I liked best. My Mother and I agreed on a color, and decided to purchase the paint next week. Then this weekend we went to several garage and estate sales. At one of the sales there was a five gallon bucket of paint about 3/4 full, and guess what color it was in? I literally couldn't believe it. When we arrived home, I put a sample of the paint on my bedroom wall, and then I was shocked when I held the paint sample I had chosen up to it, and found it to be the exact same color. Not only was there plenty of paint in the perfect color, there was also three gallons in the bucket for less than the price of one gallon at the store. I immediately  began thanking God for his great mercy to me, to provide for me in such a unique way. Oh what a gracious God we serve. He is able to do abundantly above All that we could ever ask or think! 

Day1~ Defined by Gratitude!

Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:12–17

I’ve often said that “gratitude is learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others.”
This means constantly being on the lookout for blessings, making each day a treasure hunt. It means being intentional about thanking God and others for the blessings that come our way.
Overall, how would you rate your “Gratitude Quotient”?
  • I look at the world through grateful eyes and consistently express my gratitude to God and others.
  • I know I’ve been greatly blessed, but I don’t often stop to actually express my gratitude to God and others.
  • To be honest, I had not thought a lot about gratitude until starting this challenge. I’ve got a long way to go to develop a lifestyle of gratitude.
  • I’m a whiner! I tend to focus on my problems and I frequently express them to others.
Ask the Lord to cultivate in you a more grateful heart over these next thirty days. If you have realized that your “Gratitude Quotient” is not what it should be, confess your ungrateful spirit to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you and to transform you into a truly thankful person.
  1. Pray for a Grateful Heart
    Heavenly Father, I confess my Gratitude Quotient is not what it should be. Please forgive me for my hardened heart and blinded eyes. In the next thirty days, cultivate in me a grateful heart that eagerly praises You for every blessing. I choose to thank You now for all You will do! 

Choosing Gratefulness- A 30 Day Challenge!

I would like to invite you to join me on a journey of gratefulness. I've noticed how easy it is for me to whine and complain about things I don't enjoy, and how difficult it is for me to be truly grateful. Making ourselves the victims of our circumstances will make us feel like we deserve pity, but it won't change the situation. Gratefulness to God will pull us out of our situation, and help us see how much we have that we don't deserve. I truly believe a grateful spirit will cultivate a life of trust in The Lord, and a desire to let Him take control of our hearts.

For the next 30 days, I'm going to take Nancy Leigh DeMoss' Choosing Gratitude Gratefulness Challenge, and I'm asking you to join me. I'm going to post each day's encouraging reminder, Scripture Reading, and any notes I take in my gratefulness journal to keep you informed of my progress, and to encourage you to be grateful for all of life's circumstances. If you are interested in taking the challenge with me, go to This link, and let me know if you're doing it too, so I can keep you in my prayers. And if you don't want to take the challenge, you can still answer the gratefulness question on the end of each day's post, and show your gratefulness to God and others each day for the investment they have made into your life! 

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

I have been working on a poem for my mother over the past few days. It was supposed to be finished by Mother's Day, but alas time did not allow, and so I am just now able to share it with her, and with you all. I hope you had a blessed Mother's Day, and I hope your Mother was blessed to call you her child. We enjoyed a very nice day together, and it was so special to be able to share another day with my loving faithful Mother. This poem is dedicated to Motherhood, and the overwhelming blessing it has been in all of our lives. Thank You! 

There was a time not so long ago,
When I couldn't help myself 
I couldn't walk, or say hello,
Or do anything without help. 

I was born an ignorant being, 
With no knowledge of my own, 
I just ate and cried, and slept, 
And lived like I was all alone. 

But there was someone watching me,
Taking care of my every need, 
Even when her mind didn't agree,
She gave her life, her all for me. 

In the early morning, and late at night, 
When she was tired and wanted to sleep, 
She fed, clothed, changed, and cared for me, 
Making sure everything about me was just right.

Through the years she taught, counseled, corrected, 
Loved, modeled, protected, and instructed 
Me in the way which I should go, 
She taught me faithfully, nearly everything I know. 

As I've grown older I've noticed more and more, 
Her many sacrifices that I almost ignored.
Everything she did for me was done with care, 
And now she stays up late my youthful burdens to bare. 

There's nothing quite so touching as a Virtuous Mother, 
She's my faithful caring friend unlike any other. 
And there's one thing that I want more than silver or gold, 
And that's to be just like her when I get old. 

So thank you Mom for the things you have done, 
For the wars you've waged and the battles you've won, 
How you've sacrificed your life, your all for me, 
So that I could learn to serve Christ completely. 

May God bless you today and every day forever, 
May His strength be your joy, your hope, and your treasure, 
May your days be filled with laughter, joy and unending peace, 
And may the Love of Jesus Christ, from your life never cease. 

And to all the Mother's who have given their whole lives, 
To make sure the next generation has the knowledge to survive. 
For the youth of this life I'd like to say, 
Thank you for giving us life, for without you we wouldn't be here today!

"Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel." Psalm 128 

Christian Heritage Conference 2014!

One of our most favorite trips of the year is when we travel to Washington for the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference. We always enjoy attending the encouaging sessions, and enjoying the fellowship of likeminded believers. 

This year, the trip began with us unexpectedly buying a car. We had been looking for this particular type of vehicle for several years, and we were very surprised to find one available for sale in our local area. So, the day we left for the conference, Dad made the purchase, and we managed to fit everything into our new vehicle which was a blessing since the van was in the shop at the time. 

After a couple hours of finding and packing a luggage carrier for the back of the car, we were on our way. Once we arrived at our hotel, we met up with friends, and ate dinner before heading over to the chuch for some pre- conference fellowship, and registration. After several hours of much needed talking with friends, we headed back to our hotel to get some sleep......well, we actually talked a lot more, and Evan and I had a pillow fight, and then we went to sleep:)

The next morning began bright and early with us heading over to the church for a full day of sessions, choir practice, and lots of talking:) I really enjoyed hearing the ladies panel on "Pursuing Life's Adventures While Living at Home." Here's my favorite quote from that session. 

"God will use whatever means He needs to to refine you, and keep you focused on Him. The goal of life is to serve Christ, and keep focused on giving Him the glory no matter where He has you at." 
~ Anna Hainline 

Between sessions, there were break times, which we filled with talking and fellowship. It was great to be able to see people we haven't seen for quite a while, and hear how God has been using their lives for His glory. 

Also twice during the day, we young people had chorale practice, which is always a great time of learning and fellowship. 

One of the biggest highlights of the coneference this year was being able to see my brother Evan and quite a few of our friends perform in the family night. While we were waiting for their mic checks to begin, we had a good time of fellowship, I guess we were being watched from the balcony.

Eden and I waiting for the mic checks to beigin. 

After dinner, I went back stage with Evan and our friends to wait for their performances to begin.

Evan did an amazing job with a debut performance of one his original hymn arrangements. 

Eden and I got to step out on stage behind the curtain and listen to his performance. I was so impressed by his confidence and enthusiasm as he played. 

Evan did a wonderful job playing "This is My Father's World" and I was so proud of how he brought glory to God through his performance. 

Evan and I moments after his performance. Who could ask for a better brother? 

Evan and Ross L. after his performance. 

I was so grateful to be able to encourage my dear friend Eden S. before her performance. 

Eden brought the house down with her amazing heavenly angelic rendition of "The Holy City."

Her brother Jordan did an excellent job accompanying her on the piano. And together, they made for one impressive performance, and they definelty glorified God in the process.

Later in the program, Jordan got to take back center stage with a spectacular performance of Chopin's "Revolutinary Etude." I'm always impressed by his playing, and how he strives to glorify God through it. 

Also on the program were our friends the Bisgellias with Ross L. They played a beautiful classical chamber music piece, which I could have listened to for hours.

Here's a link to videos of the concert Evan put on YouTube, so you can feel like you were there! Enjoy:)

After the concert, we all enjoyed time to relax, and fellowship some more.
The lights in the above picture reminded me of something from a movie. They were so beautiful. 

Evan and I were very excited for him to be done with his performance.

As were some other people:) 

Well, that may have been just a little exaggerated:) this looks more appropriate for a group of  mature homeschoolers:)

Anyhow, after the evening session, we went back to our hotel, and spent a few more hours with friends talking, and playing games together. Then we headed to bed to get some sleep before the sun came up. 

Saturday morning we got to the conference just in time to see our friends Noah and Mahala C. performing a beautiful piano duet rendition of "Blessed Assurance." Evan and I had helped them prepare for their audition, and we were so glad that they got the opportunity to perform for the conference. 

The first session of the day was an excellent message by R.C. Sproul on the purpose of homeschooling. Here's one of my favorite quotes from that session. 

"We must know where we are trying to get with education before we proceed to educate. The goal of education is not to get your children ready to have a job, it's to prepare them to be leaders in the kingdom of God. The Bible equips us for educating our children.  Ephesians 6:4 The goal of education is to give our children the mind of Christ!" ~ R.C. Sproul 

And, apparently this is what we looked like when we were listening to that session. 

Mr. Craig once again did an excellent job leading the choir of over 250 homeschoolers, and preparing us all for singing on the stage.

The only other session I heard on Saturday was a men's panel on the topic of "Pursuits in Life and Business." Although most of the session was geared towards the men in the audience, I did appreciate hearing the practical applications, and took quite a few notes.

I think this was my favorite quote from the session. 

"Sometimes it's easy to not have a plan and make excuses for yourself, and waste your time and money. But, you must be purposeful with what God has given you, and be faithful in the little things, and God will bring you bigger things. Prioritize and stick to the priority list. We all struggle with being lazy, and waisting time. But we need to think long term, and realize the importance of every opportunity. " ~ Ross Leavitt

I guess Noah C. was making sure people saw the Vendor Hall Upstairs. Suprisingly, I was only able to make it up there once for a very short time during the entire conference. There were so many vendors, that I didn't have time to even look closely at each booth. It was more of a walk and look while passing by. But thankfully Mom was able to spend some time there during one of the breaks and found some good books for our nieces and nephew. 

The highlight of the entire conference for me is always the chorale made up of over 250 amazing young people. It's always a tremendous privilege to be able to sing and praise God together. If you look closely, you can see me in the back, at the top of this photo. I enjoyed singing soprano again this year, and was really excited to get to stand next to my dear friend Eden S. who is simply an amazing singer. 

Here's some more Sopranos, and a few of the Basses. On the top right, you can see Evan and Paul L.  preparing to sing. Evan had an unexpected opportunity to help with a person fainting during the choir, and I was so proud of him for knowing just what to do, and rising to the occasion to meet the need. 

Here's the front row people:) made up of some Tenors and Altos. I'm still not sure how Jordan S. is able to sing so expressively.

And here's the entire choir from a distance. It was such a trememdous privilege as always to take part in the Christian Heritage conference, and it's amazing how the event you wait for all year, goes by so quickly. 

Here's a link to videos of the choir that Evan put on YouTube, so you can feel like you were there! Enjoy:)

After the last session, we stayed around talking for a few hours and said goodbye to friends we won't see for quite a while. Then we headed back over to our hotel to have an after conference dinner and fellowship time with lots of friends.

I'm trying to think of a nice way to write down the story behind this picture.....Suffice it to say, that a few girls and I sat down to have a "quiet girl" conversation, not realizing that one chair was left open at our table. Before we knew it, that chair was filled with four boys, and our table quickly turned into.......

This:)  We had a great time talking, and fellowshipping, and eating, and trying to teach each other how to play Dutch Blitz, (which didn't go so well....I guess I'm not a very good teacher:) and laughing, and taking pictures, and just plain enjoying being together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Here I am:) 

And here's Eden,

And Grace, 

Paul and Jordan,

And Evan, (with his favoirte red apple:) Somehow, I didn't get a picture of Bethany, and Ben :( 

Here's a group photo towards the end of the night with some members of a family from Canada that we met at the conference. Some of us ended up staying up until 2 am, (which is typical for the last day of a once- a- year conference.) playing Anomia, and talking. It was a wonderful night, that made for great memories. 

The next morning.....we all checked out of our hotel rooms, and then played some Volleyball, before getting some group pictures, and then saying goodbye. 

Here's a group photo of us girls.

While preparing for a group photo Evan took advantage of a photoboming moment:) I think we all had plenty of opportunities to practice our photoboming skills, and some of the photobomed photos turned out better than the ones we were trying to capture:)

And here's one last group photo before we left. What a great way to end a wonderful conference. 

Although it took several hours (as usual:) to say goodbye, we finally did, and then enjoyed several hours of talking, and laughing on the way home.

We also stopped at Panera Bread on the way back before we said goodbye to Mrs. P who was traveling with us. We had a wonderful trip, and were very blessed to once again attend the Christian Heritage Conference......and I already can't wait till next year:) 

And I'll close this post with a passage that has been really encouraging me recently. 
" But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." Isaiah 43:1-2, 4-7