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.

 

 

Attitude to Gratitude

There are two things I have control over: my attitude and my expectations.

For longer than I care to acknowledge I think both have been far off course. I would inch further from what I had known-grounded expectations and a softening attitude until I really  no longer recognized myself. I let the misery of others sway my life because I chose to keep company with them.

It took some quiet reflection recently for me to note how much I was feeling like the me I was four plus years ago-mentally well and spiritually seeking more. For the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel a weightiness to my life eventhough I would have reason to be.

Choosing my attitude and letting go of expectations has been a big part of that for me as I have learned humility and joy-things I must choose each and every day.

Joy allows me to celebrate the small in each day as I look to count 1000 gifts and get my heart in a place of gratitude instead of the ingratitude it so deeply embodied. Joy allows me to find contentment not in a title or a salary but in what God is doing in me and Who He is to me. Never more have Paul’s words been so true in my life than they have on this journey I am grateful to be on currently.

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NLT)

In Memorial

Today I want to pause from talking about singleness, life and relationships to remember. After all that is what Memorial Day is about…remembering those who have fallen in service to our country. I am so very grateful to all who serve in our Armed Forces. I come from a family of veterans, and am thankful for all who have protected and fought for my freedom.

We neglect our veterans in this country alot of times, through how we care and provide for them and their families. However I see we are a grateful nation any time I am with my dad, a Marine Corps Vietnam Vet, and people stop him and say thank you or fellow Vets give the knowing nod.

We all know someone who has served, or is serving currently. Take time to remember those who fell for the freedom we have today, the freedom we had yesterday to go to church without fear of bullets or persecution, the freedom we have today to post up blogs and talk about life. I know I take it for granted often. I pray today I will not, and that I carry that along with me every day.

Thank you veterans…

Thank you active duty…

Thank you to the fallen…

Thank you to the families of anyone serving…