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.

 

Big change starts with small Actions

imagesI’ve been back from Cambodia for less than a week now, but the streets of Cambodia linger in my mind like a disease. I can see the children climbing through the mosh pit of traffic to beg for money in the streets. Many parents will punish their children if they come home empty-handed, and for some their financial situation is so dire that they will sell their daughters into sex trafficking to pay a bill.

I never imagined the kind of conditions people were living in around the world. I’ve seen the commercials fundraising for children in Africa before, and you probably have, too. The problem is that we filter those images with the same processing capabilities we use to filter everything else we see on TV. Our minds interpret those very real situations on the same level they interpret crazy movie affects.

Our minds tell us, “Don’t worry, none of this is real.”

Well, it was real. It was very, very real. And it is real right now to millions of people.

Ever since I got off the plane and stepped back into this world of instant gratification, I’ve been asking myself, “What can I do to make a difference? What can I do to make someone else’s life just a little better?”

What I’ve discovered is a new passion for people–a challenge to impact everyone I meet in some small way.

Every single person has a purpose for their life, and God has strategically put you in a place of influence with your friends, co-workers, and the acquaintances you pass on a weekly basis. God has given you the ability to make a difference wherever you’re at, simply by being like Christ.

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” 

 Catherine of Siena

I frequently make the mistake of thinking, “When I have a really big opportunity to share Christ, then I’ll do it. Maybe if God really shows up and tells me to do it then I’ll go pray for that person in the grocery store.” The thing is that God has already given me the huge opportunity to share Christ! God orchestrated those people to be in my path—me, out of billions of other people in the world. And I could be the very reason they’re standing where they are—because God wants me to make a difference in their life.

I can’t help but wonder how many people God has put in my path that I’ve missed, simply because I was waiting for God to do something He already did. The Bible is a book about evangelism–so why am I always waiting for confirmation that God wants me to evangelize? It makes no sense! That’s because it’s an excuse. It shifts the responsibility from us to God, but let’s be clear: the responsibility is on us. God would take every opportunity to minister to people if He could.

I have had experiences in my life where I had to make the decision to reach out to someone, and not in a “smile across the foyer” way, but actually taking the time to share the love of Christ with them. It was hard for me to do, but every time ended with an amazing story of how God put me in the right place at the right time. In fact, those simple conversations brought people to know Christ and even reached people who were on the verge of suicide.

After I reached out to these people and heard their stories, it became clear to me how selfish I was for not wanting to share the good news that’s changed my life with someone else. The excuse that once felt so cement, the embarrassment that tried to hinder me from reaching out, all of it now seemed worthless.

God has a plan for you. Where you’re at, the people you know, the strangers you pass by—those aren’t coincidences. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s life a little bit better.

Be bold. Be courageous. Stop waiting for the “magic green light” and GO! Do what God’s called you to do! Big change starts with small actions.

Image found on Google images.

 

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Kirsten Keesee is 19 years old and lives in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where she works as a content writer for the Drenda Show. She enjoys traveling, collecting books, and dreams of someday owning a first edition Jane Austen novel!