“One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.”
~ G. E. Lessing
“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”
~ Celia Thaxter
I’m learning that an attitude of thankfulness changes my perspective. Thankful Thursday’s are my chance to cultivate this attitude of gratitude in my heart and in my home. Though I don’t post every Thursday, my goal is to list several things I am thankful for at least a couple of times each month.
First and foremost I’m thankful for the revelation that my heart needs changing. Personally, I have faced some daunting challenges in the past several months. Struggling through those challenges, I must confess that my attitude has suffered and my joy has vanished. I have been emotionally and physically drained… tapped… exhausted. But God, in his mercy -- through His word, the wise counsel of friends, and an exercise in thankfulness -- has begun to change my focus and thereby change my circumstance. The Thankful Thursday posts have helped me regain my joy; and for this I’m thankful.
As I sit before my fireplace watching the snowfall outside my window, I am thankful for heat. Yesterday, much to my shivering chagrin, I discovered that my heater was blowing cold air. Additionally, just last week, I cut and mailed a check to our friendly heating and air specialist for repairs we found necessary during the last ice storm. Wouldn’t you know that my dear old heating unit would choose the very next winter storm in which to announce that it was again in need of a special kind of physician? My poor children would have frozen in their beds last night if it had not been for our much adored fireplace and our recent happy location of a very difficult to find supply of firewood. They, being teenagers who missed their preschool slumber-party days, happily gathered blankets and pillows and a sundry of warm fuzzy objects, and camped out in the den. Bright and early this morning, the happy heating and air specialist cured our ailing system and warm air is being pushed through our duct work in copious amounts. Thank you, God.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the life of my 80 year old grandfather. Grandpa celebrated his 80th birthday this past weekend. He lives with my parents about 45 miles from my home. We visit at least monthly and have benefited from his wisdom, his love, and his humor. Our family is very close. Everyone lives less than an hour from each other, and it’s not unusual to see four generations seated around mama’s kitchen table (it seats sixteen) eating dinner, drinking coffee, or playing dominoes. My children have learned at their great grandfather’s knees. For this I am extremely grateful. And as a special birthday gift, my younger sister’s son and his girlfriend gave birth to grandpa’s first great-great grandson on January 25th. I’m doubly thankful – for little Tristan Allen, the first in the fifth-generation still living, and for the singular joy of knowing that my baby sister became a grandmother before I did. Yippeee!
This may sound shallow, but, shallow or not, it is true. I am thankful for TiVo. I’m not unusual in the fact that my life is busy. Everyone leads a busy life. But I take great pleasure in the ability to sit in front of the television at 11:00 at night and to choose from the “now playing” list several of my favorite shows that are waiting for me. Last night as the snow fell I watched American Idol, C.S.I. Miami, Gilmore Girls, Seventh Heaven, and Digging for the Truth. Fast forwarding through commercials makes me smile.
I’m also grateful for ZOOBA. It’s one of those book-a-month clubs. On the ninth of every month $9.95 is deducted from my checking account and my friendly postal worker brings me the latest hardcover novel from my favorites list. Now I read more than a book a month and rely heavily on our local library to feed my addiction, but anticipating a good read in a brand new book that will make a nice addition to my library shelves makes me feel happy. Since today is February 1, I am looking forward to my next book. It will immediately find a place on the table next to my comfy chair and I will spend some upcoming afternoon under a cozy throw, with a pot of tea and a handful of Dove sugar-free dark chocolates, escaping into an alternate reality with my nose in its’ favorite place -- between the pages of a really, really good book.
The past two weeks have given me much to be thankful for. Life is good – because God is good. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank God it’s finally sinking in to my thick skull. I’m thankful for my children, my parents, my extended family, my marriage, my husband, and my relationship with my creator. His mercy blows my mind.
This is the end of my Thursday Thankful list, but, being the loquacious poster that I am, I’m not finished. I wanted to share what God comforted me with yesterday. Maybe someone will read it and find much needed comfort, today:
From 1 Samuel 30
To make a long story shorter, the Amalakites raided the city of Ziklag, where David, his army and all their wives and children were living. They tore the city apart and burned it down, while David and his army were away fighting. They took all of the men’s wives and children captive. David and his men returned to Ziklag, where they found their razed city and realized that their wives and children were gone -- maybe dead. He and his men have literally exhausted themselves with mourning and wailing. They are devastated! So much so, that the men are threatening to stone David.
David, having lost his own wives and children and now facing the threat of his own death, strengthened himself with trust in his God. In perhaps one of the darkest hours of his life, David prayed and asked God what to do. God told David to go after the Amalakites, and rescue the wives and children. So, with renewed hope, David took six hundred men and pursued the Amalakites.
When they came to a brook and prepared to cross it, two hundred of the men were overcome with physical and emotional exhaustion. The trauma was more than they could bear. So, two-hundred men stayed behind at the brook and watched over the equipment. David and the remaining four-hundred men pursued the Amalakites, and overtook them. They attacked and with God’s help, destroyed the Amalakites and rescued every single wife and child.
Imagine the anguish of those two-hundred men who succumbed to exhaustion beside the brook and were unable to go and rescue their own families. But, God provided an army of four-hundred other men to go on their behalf. These men who stayed behind were not lazy; they weren’t half-hearted or quitters. They were exhausted. And when their strength had failed, God proved that He was enough -- more than enough.
Every man was reunited with his wife (or wives) and children. And although there were a few of the army of four-hundred who were mean-spirited and wanted to withhold the spoils from those who stayed behind, David refused to listen and decreed that the same reward went to both those who went into battle and those who stayed behind with the gear.
God’s overflowing blessing comes even to those who are too spent to keep fighting. What a comfort it is to realize this, when exhaustion sets in and despair threatens us. We don’t always have to be strong. We must simply rely on God’s strength and on His goodness.
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