Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep with Gratitude

The past several months I’ve decided that I needed to cultivate gratitude. I found too many negative thoughts swirling around from situations I couldn’t control and certainly wasn’t going to be nominated to be the designated fixer any time soon.

Life is overwhelming, the world seems out of control and sometimes my heart just hurts from all the sadness and brokenness in our planet.

I realized that I could be a Negative Nelly if I’m not careful.

Ouch!

This isn’t who I really want to be AT ALL!

Months ago my cultivating turned into a nightly ritual. Being a visual person, I like creative ways to be intentional especially when God has gently prodded me about something I need to change.

As I slip under my feather comforter each night, I posture myself to touch each of my five fingers. Moving over each finger on my hand, I name what I am grateful for that day. As days have turned into weeks and weeks into month a subtle slow transformation has taken place in the crevice of my soul. Negative Nelly and her thoughts have been shoved out and replaced by a new resident bringing a thought of thankfulness.

I find myself looking at the world differently.

Even on a hard day, windows of opportunity present themselves and gratitude seeps through built on previous days of practice.

It’s amazing when gratitude makes it way from an occasional moment to a ritual where you can’t go to sleep without naming at least one or two things to be grateful for. It is like taking vitamins for the soul. It keeps us healthy and changes our perspective.

I’ve read realms about how gratitude can change us, change physical and emotional health, change a perspective and well, change just about everything when it comes to how we approach life. Here’s an article to prove I am not exaggerating.

Gratitude is the sweet balm to a broken heart and that is exactly what I’ve discovered.

Part of the journey of healing is detecting that embracing gratitude to the fullest is the best pathway to wholeness.

There was a time several years back that I believed my heart could never be whole again.

It was too bruised, too wounded, too betrayed and too weary.

Jesus has changed all of this as I’ve surrendered slowly and unwilling at times allowing Him to be my teaching healer on the journey. His ways are perfect and his timing is impeccable.

As we approach American Thanksgiving this week, my heart is bursting with gratitude and it has taken me by surprise of how it is trickling out in the moments of my day. I believe it is because the ritual of gratitude has transformed me with the notice that my heart is healing.

I don’t know what circumstances you might be facing right now and to be reminded to be thankful might just bounce off a heart of cynicism.

Don’t worry, it’s okay. I’ve been right there.

And don’t hate me for this next sentence… but gratitude isn’t an option if you are a Jesus follower. We are instructed to be thankful.

Always.

Yes, always, and in everything, and it’s true.

Does it mean we live in denial or delusion? Of course not! Somewhere in the midst of our circumstances we have to find a place to hold gratitude in our heart besides the good, bad and the ugliness of life. The only way I know how to do that is not by myself. I have to ask God to help me.

If he has commanded me to be thankful then He will make a way to do the impossible even in a hard situation. If you heart is cynical, try Him. Ask God and see what happens.

In the meantime, I pray that there will be a moment this week in between family gatherings and chaotic Black Friday shopping where thankfulness catches you and inspires you to want more gratitude in your life.

I encourage, no, I challenge you to give daily gratitude a try for 30 days every night. You can borrow my ritual or create one of your own and I guarantee that your tired heart will be different at the end of 30 days and you won’t want it to end. Here is some inspiration to start and Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

Cinderella, Redemption and the Noise of the Election

My father has affectionately called me his Cinderella for as long as I can remember.

My story unlike the fairytale Cinderella, is not a tale of servant girl to living happily ever after with her prince. Rather it is a tale of experiencing brokenness to understanding redemption and what it means to walk out what the word redeemed means everyday of my life.

Part of my understanding of redemption is what you might call coming of a mature “spiritual age.” In other words, it has taken me a long time to get it. And still, I don’t do it perfectly or like Paul said, Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)

I long to live the concept of Jesus redemption to the rest of the world.

This isn’t going to be a weighty post or a deeply theologically one that would make you hit the share button. But rather a reflection of redemption in contrast to all the noise that seems to be quite deafening lately.

It’s been really hard to not jump in and join the rants and raves on social media with our own country days away from a historic election. I’ve read and listened, watched and prayed on what seems to have imploded. It makes me sick and sad all at the same time and I wonder, just wonder what God sees when he watches.

Today, was a fresh reminder of that as we had our windows repaired and the two men who came to the house. One had an accent and I asked him where he was from. He hesitated and said he was originally from Mexico. As we began to talk, he shared with me how he loved his job but he was sensing hate and fear recently when he showed up at various homes. It made him nervous he said as lawns were littered with signs of campaign supporters that he knew were disparaging about his own heritage. It made me sad and I assured him he was welcome to his own thoughts and opinions in my home.

And so today, as the noise continues to try and crowd out learning what it means to live walking out being redeemed in Jesus, I offer these thoughts.

God is in the process of redeeming all of us with the noise and madness of our world.

It signifies just how patient He really is. I actually struggle with God’s patience at times. And yet, I know it is a part of the narrative that is being written of redemption.

I ask you, can we walk as redeemed human beings and to our very best ability practice the virtues that reside in the hallows of our own personal redemption?

Can we in our bantering back and forth choose carefully to state our opinions with both courage and yet let them be sprinkled with kindness?

There is a line in the recent remake of Cinderella where at the end of the story her prince discovers his mystery princess and asks,

Who are you?

She steps forward and says,

I am Cinderella, I’m no princess I have no carriage, no parents, no dowry and I don’t even know if that beautiful slipper will fit. But if it does, will you take me as I am?

For some reason as I watched this, the word beautiful word redemption came to mind in the midst of all that is screaming at us. And I saw myself presenting myself to the Prince of Heaven asking the same question.

Will you take me, as I am each and every day? To which He whispered yes and I pursued His promises later in the day to fill the ache of not feeling at that moment redeemed.

You are my treasure. Exodus 19:5

I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

When you are serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. Jeremiah 29

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

This is the redemption God longs to give to us through His son Jesus as we present ourselves with all of our flaws and failings so that we may give back in our world.

He longs to redeem us to Himself and create in us a new person full of all the virtues that His redemption represents every single day.

There is a catch.

We have to be willing to admit our need for redemption and choose to live it out with His truth and grace.

Redemption then comes full circle and each day we can wake up with confidence believing that our lives matter and our own realization of our redemption in Jesus can make a difference to all we encounter. Yes, even in the messiness of what’s taking place, we can bring the essence redemption.