In Everything? Give Thanks?

In everything, give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This time of year, especially the week of Thanksgiving, we see the first part of this verse tossed around. It’s on plates, napkins, chalkboard walls, plaques. It was probably on church bulletins Sunday and will be statuses come Thursday.

But I have to be honest that Sunday I really didn’t want to give thanks in my situation. As I sat waiting for the police to take an accident report (I’m fine, Betty’s scratched up) I was not giving thanks thinking it was God’s will for my life. I was frustrated and irritated at the hassle of someone not paying attention and side-swiping me. In the extended wait time for the cops (who never showed) I didn’t give thanks for that time in my car in the middle of a busy thoroughfare near my neighborhood. Thankfulness was not entering my mind as I steamed over plans for my afternoon that were now thrown out the window.

Real honesty here that I was just pissed. Pissed that now I have to get my car fixed, pay a deductible and deal with insurance claims for the next few weeks. It’s life I know, but I was not having it and most definitely was not giving thanks through it. I stress baked and fumed for a good part of the night. Then suddenly this verse floated into my head. So I pushed it aside and distracted myself with a book I’d gotten. I dove into another world to find some semblance of salvaging my afternoon, my evening, my day.

This same verse from 1 Thessalonians 5 popped back up yesterday morning in my mind. It was a gentle reminder that I hadn’t taken stock of giving thanks in my circumstances. That I was intentionally living outside of the will of Christ because I was vehemently choosing to be unthankful in my circumstance. I didn’t want to be thankful it wasn’t worse. I didn’t want to be thankful that there weren’t injuries. I wanted to pitch a fit and be stubborn in my irritation.

Guess what though…you don’t get to live in that attitude or perspective. Because it’s not in the will of Christ. No, instead we give thanks in every circumstance, not comparing that we are better than the next person in it or that we aren’t like them. We give thanks that He saw fit to place us here in this moment, that we have a God who hears when we’re frustrated, broken, angry. Thankful hearts recalling seasons of joy and pulling them into our now. Thankful minds choosing an attitude of thanks in all things rather than an attitude of disdain.

The Solo Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving week y’all!

My pantry is stocked, the menu is set, and the house is mostly clean. This year we’re having Thanksgiving here in Nashville, as my parents had an appointment in town this week. There’s baking to be done and a Turkey Trot to prep for Thursday morning.

I wrote last week a bit about rushing Christmas but I do enjoy Thanksgiving as well. For several years my parents traveled to the beach during this week for a festival, and to escape the colder weather of east Tennessee. Between schedules, vacation time allowances, and the short travel window, I often opted not to join them. So it often meant I was solo for Thanksgiving. Honestly I didn’t much mind as I love to cook, and this is the Super Bowl of cooking in my mind. I had offers from friends and coworkers to join them and their families for the holiday, which I always appreciated, but never took them up on. Partly because I’m a bit of an introvert (shocking I know) but I also didn’t want to interfere on their family time.

Recently I was thinking on this as I prepped my lists and put up my decorations. Singles often find themselves alone on holidays for many of the same reasons I had-travel costs, vacation time allotment, schedules. But sometimes family is just hard for some singles, or they don’t have family in the definition we often attribute. In that perspective it’s hard to give thanks, it’s hard to sit at home and dwell in that constant quiet of single life. It’s difficult to see the family aspect come out in every commercial, show and conversation being had.

So if you know of some singles-whether they be at church, work, friend circles-check on them and find out if they are spending Thanksgiving solo. See if they’d like to join you, your family, or start a new tradition as a single and host your own for those who may not have somewhere to go or who don’t want to cook! You may get turned down, but press in a bit without being pushy. Be a bit vulnerable with your hospitality, even when it’s not perfect. Even when it gets a bit messy explaining the family relations as a backstory. 

It doesn’t take a buffet, an immaculate home, or well-behaved family. It takes opening your heart and your door to someone and giving thanks for that opportunity. It’s giving thanks for perspective and a seat-filled at the table, where so many conversations and life are done. It’s choosing a moment of uncomfortable for a season of thanks and giving. Maybe you’ll have a new tradition for your family for years to come.

 

 

The No H Summer

For a very long time there has been a very real stigma attached to singles. We have to have someone in order to enjoy life. You have to have someone in order to own a home, to choose a life of fulfillment, to be content. It’s about the outward presence of another in order to be living life. 

I have come to realize in the last year to find contentment is to be joyful in spite of circumstance, to choose a perspective that is not my own but one in which God colors my life. It’s to surround yourself with women and men who are the picture of life and love. It’s to fall in love with a contented life that isn’t bound by a boyfriend or spouse. It’s loving fully this glory which is set before me, walking confidently and with dignity through it in every moment. 

As I referred to in a post just days ago, a life isn’t defined by a marital status. I do believe you must be an example though for others, in coming out of something you have endured with heartache and hurt, in joy and triumph. So this summer I am choosing the theme of the #noHsummer for my life.  (My name is also spelled without an h and something I throughout my days as well)  

Follow along this summer on my social media and right here on the blog as I share the adventures of being a no H Sara that has no H (husband) and what life looks like in that. What joy and fun and adventure awaits if we stop waiting for Him to send us someone and instead we live this life He has gifted us with abandon. 

The Complaint Department

Yes, I’d like to lodge some complaints around here. I haven’t felt well. Things haven’t gone my way. Someone pulled out in front of me in traffic. My blender exploded while I was trying to make a smoothie. I haven’t felt like working out all week. I don’t really feel like praying. In short, what are YOU going to do about it? complaints Over the last few days I have that way mentally. I could blame that funk of life on any number of things. But I just kept coming back to this gross attitude of complaining. I made myself go to bed incredibly early one evening on the remote possibility that I could sleep it off. Then I realized what it boiled down to was a change of heart and transformation of mind. I hadn’t really been connecting transforming head and heart the last few days and had merely been focusing on the wrong things. I had let whispers infiltrate and flood me, washing away traces of His influence and filling Presence. Steadfastness is not something I could claim these last few days and so I lodged all kinds of complaints to anyone that would hear them. But alas, I should have just stopped and spoken with the One whom I had the most to say to, to spend time with and just let the burdens fall away. I should have waged the war against complaining and been grateful instead for what I was feeling, what I did have, and where I was sitting. I have the free will to choose gratitude in my attitude, rather than being a miserable grouch who complains. Instead of voicing such complaints, I have to fully turn and appreciate all that He has given and continues to give in the midst of my perceived loss. I have so much yet choose to focus on the one thing I don’t, or the tone of someone’s voice when talking with me. Instead of dwelling on the complaints, may I dwell on the thanks.

A Listening Heart

As I sat across the table from my friend, I stilled my mind to intently hear what was said. Not for a lesson for him, nor what I could learn in what he was sharing. No, I was there to simply listen.

Hours before I had prayed over this meeting, the conversation and what would be talked about because I know my friend needed to talk. He needed to share and be heard, something I don’t think he feels is happening with his life presently-either with colleagues, friends, family or even God.

My nature as someone who empathizes with others is to often listen to fix. To figure it out and discern what God is trying to teach-maybe to them but often to myself. I want to hear them but only as I prepare to mindfully respond to what they are saying.

God had other plans as He calls us to walk this life in community. To not just listen with our ears but with His heart, to the cries of His children. To the moans of the earth, and respond appropriately.

A listening heart means that sometimes you don’t respond verbally, but in repeated prayers. A listening heart means you don’t sit and think on how to respond immediately but actually hear the heart of the other person opening up. This was a vulnerable conversation I had with my friend, one in which I shared with him in return something I do not talk about very often (actually rarely). It was an opportunity for God to use me to hear but also for my friend to speak.

A listening heart allows vulnerability to take place and be present, it provides an avenue in which friendship is grown without pretense or expectation. A listening heart bears the burden without judgement. And a listening heart allows time and thoughtful consideration to the person speaking.

I hadn’t fully prepared my head and heart for the conversation that transpired and the heavy weight my friend is carrying presently. However I know God needed me present and listening for my friend more than He needed me to suggest solutions or fixes. He needed me to share a prayer with my weary-hearted friend hours later rather than in that moment. God needed me present and listening with my heart, just as my friend did.

It is a joy to be used and available in such a way…as I am ever so thankful to have rediscovered a listening heart within that Christ fills with His love and compassion.

Giving Thanks A Try

This week, and perhaps even this month, often instill in us Americans the need and notion of giving thanks. You become a bit more patient or see the goodness that surrounds you. at least I hope you do…

I believe there’s a stigma that is slowly starting to creep in though that this is the only time we can be thankful, or gracious. Whether that be through giving of time, of encouragement, or of money. I am not sure about you but it started to eat away at me a bit, to become a bit jaded to giving thanks.

Because I was seeing the ugliness of this time of year, and that it never really flowed into the remainder of the season, let alone the year. It became such a snowball effect, and I think that happens to alot of us. We want to be gracious and thankful, but we just don’t feel it.

Oh sure, I am thankful in the mornings for a new day, full of new mercies. But by the end of the day? I am grumpy and full of sass. I can point to all the ways someone else wasn’t gracious or kind which led me to my ‘tude. Then it hit me. I can only control me (and let’s be honest, that’s a full-time job for God too).

I simply have no management of others, how they respond, how they act or how they think. My choice, and it is mine, is to simply respond in grace and love. Remembering that those new mercies don’t just pour out in the morning, but all. day. long.

Yep, that’s right…all day.

You know what that means? That I get to give Him the thanks all day long too for them. For Who He is, His sovereignty, and His work. Not mine. Because as I desire the mind of Christ in me, that means I desire the attitude of Christ. When you look back through Scripture, you see He was giving thanks even when no one got it. When He was judged, beaten and betrayed? He still carried out His calling.

This time of year instills such an air of thanksgiving, but I believe it’s a reminder to us to continue that thanks continually as my friend Hanna points out in her post. I think it also means having the mind of Christ in it, which means cheerfulness in giving. Whether that is money, time, thanks or praise. We get to give thanks y’all. That’s pretty stellar to think about.

I keep coming back to this passage in Psalms right now, as it reminds me that no matter the hour of the day, it is good to give Him thanks, to praise Him. He never stops working out good in our lives if we are faithful in obedience. So why not be obedient in giving thanks?

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High;

To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night,

On an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound.

For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Psalm 92:1-4 (NKJV)