Attitude of Gratitude

During November, a lot of people do these posts on gratitude. You may think, oh another year, another list of things to be grateful for, blah, blah. What’s the big deal?

Well for me, it helps shift my perspective!

A lot of times I get caught up comparing myself to other moms. I look at my friend’s posts on Instagram and think, they have a better life than me! I love their house, their clothes, their new shoes, their make-up, that great bag! I envy their vacation spots and wish I had their life.  You know what’s crazy though? They are probably doing the same thing with my posts!

The Bible talks about gratitude as an attitude of our hearts.  Giving thanks for what we have is so important, because it changes our perspective. Did you ever stop to think, you don’t envy people who have less than you, you envy those who have more.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Rejoice always? Pray continually? Give thanks always? Those are some pretty hard words to live out!

Several years ago, I had the privilege to travel to Tijuana, Mexico on a mission’s trip with a group of teens we were leading. One afternoon we traveled up the side of a windy mountain to a village to share the gospel with people who lived there. When I got there, I was shocked at the level of poverty. The people who hosted the trip tried to prepare us, but until you see things up close, in person, it just isn’t real. There was no running water and no bathrooms, it was crazy!

A woman in the village invited us into her home. As part of our team crammed into her tiny one-room house, my heart sank. Her entire family shared this space that was probably the size of our guest bedroom (which isn’t very big). The floors were dirt, the roof was a piece of tin literally held down by tires and the walls were a mud-like mixture. A very thin, dirty mattress laid on the ground with a blanket. Thin pieces of cloth that covered the “windows” waved in the breeze. There were no screens or glass, just openings with this flimsy fabric covering them. A small table sat in one corner that was their kitchen. A pot with some boiling water sat on the tiniest stove-like structure I had ever seen. I don’t know if they had to buy the water or fetch it from a well or spring, because again, there wasn’t running water in the village anywhere.

The woman invited us in with the biggest smile on her face. She wasn’t ashamed of how little she had, she was gratefulfor the Americans who had traveled to her village to share the love of Jesus. I was amazed in the middle of her lack, she was so joyful.

There is no way I could compare her life to mine. Her house fits into my guest room. Her belongings were old and tattered. They had very few clothes, no closet, no dresser, no extra shoes. Her family members didn’t have their own rooms, in fact, they didn’t even have their own beds – they shared one mattress on the ground. There is just no comparison of her life and mine. But if I had to measure her joy and contentment, I bet she had more joy and was more content than I was. It’s not about how much we own, it’s about being grateful for what we do have.

As I sit at my desk today, Starbucks in hand, typing away on my Mac laptop, surrounded by things I love – a scented candle, a gold embossed mug, books, family photos, inspirational quotes, Bibles and journals, I am reminded how good I really have it.

I am healthy. I am loved by God and friends and family. I live in beautiful home and am warm. I am able to do things in my life that I love. I have money in our bank account, more shoes than I need, clothes I never wear and many, many things I take for granted.

I’d encourage you throughout November to look at what you have in life, rather than what you don’t. A change in perspective helps you see how blessed you are. If you dare, take the 30-day challenge and write down at least one thing you are grateful for every day this month. (If you start today, list 2! J)

Leave a comment here on our blog, or take a second to post on Instagram or FB.  Take the 30-day challenge! I dare you!

Pam Lozano is the Founder and President of Pure Design Ministries and Teen Magazine. She is a Youth Pastor with her husband at Oasis City Church in Westerville, Ohio. She is a conscientious leader who believes in investing in and mentoring the next generation to raise them up to be who God has designed them to be. Pam loves to write, drink Starbucks with friends and go for long walks.

 

Give Thanks

Every year as brightly hued leaves begin to fall, the wind chills to cooler temperatures and pumpkin spice lattes make their rounds, I am reminded that a great season is here. The season of Thanksgiving reminds us to thank the Lord for our blessings. Although the entire day is centered on celebrating God’s gifts in our lives, is it possible that we succumb to the world’s ideals and unintentionally replace our thankfulness with greed?

It is no secret that our world is dominated by greed. Time and time again we see that no matter how much we have, we will never be satisfied until we have a little more. However, this lie holds no weight against the truths of God’s Word. We learn from the Bible that the things of this world will fade away. One day when we face all of eternity, none of the things of the world will matter. On the contrary, eternal lives will matter.

Instead of wanting more this holiday season, let’s take the focus off ourselves, give thanks for the gifts we have, and use them for God’s glory. Let this holiday season be one of giving. Give up your selfish desires and worries and put someone else’s first. Whether you are given the opportunity to help prepare the meal or pray with a family member, make this season about others. Be thankful for what you have been given, but don’t let the gratitude stop at words, allow your grateful heart to influence your actions as well. The Lord promises to answers your prayers, if you pray for opportunities to express your thankfulness (whether through words or actions) He will provide a way. This holiday season allow the Holy Spirit to soften your heart to the world’s hurts and take action through the giving of thanks.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

(1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV).

Sophia Kalinke is a homeschooled junior who is actively involved in church and youth group. She loves dancing, reading, writing, drawing, theatre, hanging out with family and friends, and ministering to God’s world. Writing is one of her favorite creative outlets and she seeks to encourage others through her shared Instagram account: @beautifullybelovedministries.     

Still I Praise You

Gratitude is often given when we notice good things in our lives. When a loved one is healed from being sick, or when we receive gifts from friends and family, we give thanks. We even set aside a special day of Thanksgiving to give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. It is easy to be thankful for the good in our lives, but I recently found myself wondering how much more joy I would receive from the Lord, if I was thankful for both the good and bad I have faced.

I stumbled upon a verse that made me think deeper; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.”

What if I was to praise God for walking by my side through my worries and fears? This past year I lost a friend that was both my mentor and a sister in faith. This sudden passing made me question what I am grateful for in my life. It also made me question my own happiness. Through many dark days God walked before me showing me the way He wanted me to go. Without God, I would not have made it through the dark tunnel of grief. Although it may sound odd, I look back at my sadness with gratitude. It truly shaped me into a stronger child of God.  It opened my eyes to be grateful for the constants in my life – to not just praise God in the moments of excitement and joy, but to continue to praise him when it is calm and when life is steady. I wrote a song called “Still I praise you.” Below are the lyrics:

Our Father, the One who guides our souls.

Messiah, please lead me wherever I go.

Where have you been?

My heart is longing for your love.

I feel alone, Lord give me the strength to carry on.

Cause even when it’s dark,

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

I get so caught up in my day to day life.

I start to lose sight of the beauty in this world you designed.

When I lose hope, and lose sight of my faithfulness inside.

Oh Lord,

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

Cause even when it’s dark, you lead me in the dark wherever I go.

Still I praise you, when I feel like giving up, and I don’t think I’m enough.

Still I praise you, when my heart is falling through I just turn and look at you.

Still I praise you, still I praise you.

Oh Lord I praise you, oh I will praise you.

Cause even when it’s dark, you lead me in the dark wherever I go.

I have started to thank God even on days I feel restless and sad. I know I must praise Him for all the blessings and gifts He has given me. I encourage you during this season of Thanksgiving to give God praise for the times your faith has been tested this past year. Give him praise for being constant in your life and for always watching over you. Through each season we must remind ourselves to praise the One who loves us and who will continue to be with us through all our trials and times of joy.