Love

Let’s celebrate Advent! Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. Some churches observe Advent by lighting a candle on the four Sundays before Christmas. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Since today is the fourth Sunday, we will talk about love.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Love – What speaks love greater than God wrapping himself in skin as a tiny, vulnerable baby in order to save His children? How amazing and awesome that He did this for us. The meaning of Emmanuel is “God with us.” I am in awe when I think about that. God with us. This love that He has displayed for us bubbles in my heart whenever I ponder the fact that God loves us THAT much.

Take a moment to reflect today: What does love mean to you? Have you fully excepted God’s love in your heart?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, when I think about how much You love me, I am speechless. I have no words to express how amazing Your love is. Emmanuel. God with us. When I reflect on those words, I feel Your love overflowing in my life. Knowing that You loved me so much that You chased after me and paved away to save me from death. I can never repay that debt. But I am so very thankful for You and for Your unfailing Love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Here is the fourth video by Ann Voskamp in which she talks about love.

Joy

Let’s celebrate Advent! Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. Some churches observe Advent by lighting a candle on the four Sundays before Christmas. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Since today is the third of the four Sundays, it is dedicated toward Joy.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:11

Joy – God wants us to have joy. But the enemy is eager to steal this away from us. He will do whatever it takes to make sure we do not have joy. We have to make an effort to hold onto our joy each day. Don’t allow small things to bring you down. Don’t let tiny annoyances come between you and your loved ones. Many of these battles are spiritual. So we have to hold onto the joy of the Lord and defeat the enemy.

Take a moment to reflect today: What does joy mean to you? What situations in your life can be conquered with the joy of the Lord?

Prayer: Dear God, I want to have more joy in my life. But I confess that I let circumstances steal my joy. Deep down I know these circumstances come from the enemy. So today I am taking a stand. I will not let the enemy steal my joy any longer. Having Your joy gives me strength. And I will hold onto it tightly. Thank You for giving me true joy. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

On each of the four Sundays I will also share a video by Ann Voskamp. In this video she talks about joy.

Peace

Let’s celebrate Advent! Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. Some churches observe Advent by lighting a candle on the four Sundays before Christmas. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Since today is the second of the four Sundays, it is dedicated towards Peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Peace – Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But what is so amazing is that He left peace for us as a gift. There is a lot of turmoil in this world. But we can choose to hold onto peace in the midst of it all. It doesn’t mean we won’t have difficulties. But we can rest in Jesus’s peace, knowing that our Father is on the throne, working things out in our favor.

Take a moment to reflect today: What does peace mean to you? What situations in your life need some of the Lord’s peace?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, how I long to have peace in my life. This world we live in feels anything but peaceful. The things I face each day bring a lot of stress and worry. But then I remember Your Son, The Prince of Peace. Oh how amazing it is that Jesus left me the gift of His peace. So today I choose to take hold of that peace. I will allow that peace to work in my life. And in turn I will also be an instrument of Your peace to those around me. Thank You for giving me peace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

On each of the four Sundays I will also share a video by Ann Voskamp. In this video she talks about peace.

Hope

Let’s celebrate Advent! Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. The word “Advent” is Latin and it means “coming.” Some churches observe Advent by lighting a candle on the four Sundays before Christmas. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Since today is the first of the four Sundays, it is dedicated to Hope.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Hope – The birth of Jesus gives us hope. In this crazy and fallen world we live in, what else do we have, if not hope? Hope that God will forgive our sins. Hope that we will spend eternity in Heaven. Hope that the Lord will walk with us each day while we are on this earth. And hope that Jesus will come again.

Take a moment to reflect today: What does hope mean to you? What are you hopeful for?

Prayer: Father, I admit at times I feel beaten by the despair in this world. But You have overcome the world. So thank You for giving me hope today and every day. I have hope in Your Son, Jesus. I have hope because You have redeemed me. I have hope of spending eternity in Your presence. And I have hope because You are by my side every single day. Thank You, Father, for this beautiful word – Hope. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

On each of the four Sundays I will also share a video by Ann Voskamp. Here is the first one where she talks about hope.

(Ann Voskamp also has a wonderful Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, which I love. You can find it here.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, so I want to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you are American or not, I hope you will take time today to thank God for all the blessings in your life. Our Father is so very good to us, each and every day. We have so much to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to stop and look around. When we do, we will see how blessed we are. And we will see that every day is a gift from God!

I will leave you with a song that might be familiar to you. The Doxology by Anthem Lights (featuring Selah).

Grateful for Our People

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

We are surrounded by people, all day and every day. Even if we live alone, we can’t avoid people. We interact with people at the grocery store, at work, at church, and at home. Not all relationships will be stellar, no matter how much we wish they were. Some people won’t like us, no matter what we do. We will have conflicts and trials in life, and they often deal with people. We might even have our own family members cause strife for us or shun us. In the world of social media, we all have hundreds of “friends.” But in reality the majority are not deep, bonding type of friendships. Unfortunately, in today’s society, many of our friendships are only surface level. Superior relationships in our world should be cherished.

I recently had someone confront me. I don’t want to get into the details, but the bottom line is that I felt blindsided. I was running my race, thinking all was well, when someone came along and knocked my feet out from under me. (This was really an attack from the enemy to steer me off course, but I won’t get into that now.) Although this confrontation was hurtful, in the end the incident brought gratitude. Why? Because it made me grateful for my people. It made me grateful for the trusted person who I could turn to about what happened and who agreed that I did nothing wrong. And it made me grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who are always there by my side, rooting me on, and encouraging me. People who faithfully show up, day after day. People who love me despite my flaws. People who bring joy into my life.

As I look over my gratitude journal from this year, there are dozens and dozens of entries reflecting on people that I am grateful for. Entries like:

  • My husband texting me “I love you” when I am at work.
  • Talking to my parents on the phone who live over a thousand miles away.
  • My sister who I talk to via text almost daily and she is always there to answer when I need her.
  • A friend who often tells me how much my writing is a blessing to her.
  • A coworker who left a nice note on my desk.
  • Friends who came to my first book signing.
  • A friend who owns a blueberry farm and made my first book signing possible.
  • Faithful friends who kindly offered to be on my book launch team.
  • Lovely people who walked beside me when I hosted the Redeemed Challenge. I was hoping to help inspire them, but as iron sharpens iron, they inspired me too.
  • Other bloggers who have been a blessing to me.
  • Saying hello to a neighbor at the community mailbox.
  • Seeing family who we had not seen in a while, which brought a bit of peace, as we were attending a funeral.
  • Even my dogs who bring love and comfort. (Yes, our pets can be our people too!)

My heart is so full when I look over this list. Yes, we will have negative experiences with some people. But we shouldn’t let those experiences cloud the wonderful experiences we have with our people. So today, as you focus on gratitude, think about the people in your life who are there for and take a moment to tell them that you appreciate them.

And with that, I would like to say “thank you” to you for being here. A writer’s life can be lonely. We never know who will read our writing. And as we send our work out into the world, it can bring anxiety, as we don’t know how it will be received. So having wonderful people like you show up faithfully to read these blog posts and encourage me along the way means more to me than you will ever know!

I thank my God every time I remember you. ~ Philippians 1:3

… And remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for a Guarded Heart

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts. I believe this is important to remember when walking in gratitude. We have to be conscientious about what we allow into our lives, into our minds, seen by our eyes, and heard by our ears. Negativity and chaos breed more negativity and chaos. But optimism and peace breed more optimism and peace. How can we walk in gratitude if we are filling our lives with the all the wrong things? What we allow into our minds flows to our hearts. And in the end this ultimately affects our lives. We have to be selective about what movies we watch, what books we read, what comes through our television, what kind of friends we hang around, who we follow on social media, and so on.

We have to feed ourselves the right things. Things that will keep our hearts in the right place. Things that will edify and help us grow. Here are a few examples:

  • The Bible. The living, breathing Word of God. Making the Bible part of our daily life will not only help us grow in our walk with the Lord, but it will also help us to grow in gratitude. This is vital when trying to fill your mind with the right things.
  • In your spare time, listen to sermons or podcasts that teach the Word of God, or encourage you in some way.
  • Listen to Christian radio.
  • If you are on social media, follow Christian pastors and writers. Look for pages that inspire. Don’t follow pages that are filled with negative posts, complaints, questionable content, or foul language.
  • My husband and I do not go to the movie theater very often. Maybe once every few years. Part of the reason is that if there is a movie we want to see, we would rather wait for it to be on television so that we don’t have to hear the four letter words.
  • My sister and I like to read classic literature, authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. We usually read them at the same time as one another so we can discuss the books. It’s as though we have our own mini book club. A couple of years ago when we read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, we talked about how “juicy” it was because the book had a multitude of plot twists. But we never reach for juicy books in a worldly sense.

Some things, people, and activities will help our spiritual health to grow stronger, while other things, people, and activities may weaken our spiritual health. Some things will draw us closer to Jesus, while other things pull us away from Him.

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. – Luke 13:24

I know this post wasn’t fluffy and heart-warming. But I do feel this is an important topic to consider when walking with the Lord and when walking in gratitude. I am the type of person that is easily brought down by the negativity around me. So I have to make an extra effort to fill myself up with the right things. In this world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with all the wrong things. So I hope this post helps you to consider how you might make changes in your life as you walk in gratitude.

… And remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for Rest

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

When I have a lot of tasks on my To Do list, it makes me feel stressed. I worry about lack of time and getting everything accomplished. This is not a good environment when you are trying to grow in gratitude. And lately my life has seemed extra busy. So before this month began, I tried to clear my plate as much as possible. And each day I am trying to be intentional about how I spend my time.

When we begin to walk in gratitude, we might have to be extra diligent about focusing on gratitude. It’s not easy to change our mindsets. These things take time and practice. And I believe a key piece of the puzzle is to slow down and savor life. This helps us to keep gratitude in mind, instead of allowing a million other things to clutter our minds. Be picky about the things you do each day. Especially when you are first starting out on this path. Allow yourself time to rest in the Lord’s presence. Be still. Listen.

“Be still and know that I am God…” – Psalm 46:10

When we take time to slow down and rest in the Lord’s presence, this helps our gratitude attitude to prosper. The weight of the world falls off of our shoulders. Stress melts away. And we find a sense of peace.

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

If you sit most of the day, you might think you are resting. But I am talking about resting the mind. Allow yourself to sit quietly with God for a few minutes. Even just five minutes with the Lord with refresh your soul.

So today take some time to sit quietly with the Lord. Reading your Bible for a few minutes would also be helpful to get yourself in the right mindset. Then ask Jesus to allow His peace to wash over you.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)

Remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for My Journal

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

One thing I am thankful for today is my journal. I always liked the idea of journaling. However, throughout the years I would start a journal, then give up on it before too long. Now for the first time in my life, I have been able to consistently keep a journal for a couple of years.

What is the difference between then and now? Gratitude!

In the past I would use a journal to complain about the things in my life that I wished were different. The result was that journaling became a negative experience. Why would I want to keep a journal which only brought me down? When we complain and focus on the things that are wrong in our lives, we become bitter and resentful. And studies show that complaining can have harmful effects on our health.

A couple of years ago, I started using a journal to write down things I was thankful for. And I continue to do that today. Often I will write down good things that happened during the day. The things I write down could be something big, like publishing a book. But more often they are small things that are part of daily life, such as a beautiful sunset or my husband surprising me with a cooked dinner when I get home. These moments make up our lives. They might seem small because they are things that happen often. But they are still beautiful and meaningful moments.

It can be all too easy to allow life to bring us down. But if you open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you, your perspective will change. Over time you will see miracles that you wouldn’t have noticed before. You will see all the blessings that God showers you with each and every day. As a result, your mood will improve and your health will also reap the benefits.

I believe that writing these special moments on paper is also vital when you want to focus on gratitude. There is something significant about putting pen to paper. Studies show that writing things down helps us to remember them better. In the case of gratitude, writing down the things we are grateful for helps our brain to remember the blessings in our lives. If we merely look around and don’t actually write these things down, we will forget them quickly. As soon as something bad happens, all our gratitude will go out the window.

Let’s take this a step further. Writing down what we are thankful for also helps us to enforce this new habit of gratitude in our lives. If we don’t write down the things we are thankful for, we will forget to continue to look around at the blessings in our lives. We will get busy with our normal day-to-day life and gratitude will be long forgotten.

When I began walking in gratitude, I started out by writing down ten things I was thankful for every day. And I intentionally laid my journal in a place where I would see it every day, so I wouldn’t forget. So this helped me to make gratitude a routine in my life that I still follow today. As a result, it helped my attitude to be more optimistic as well. That is why I am grateful for my journal. It was a key tool I used when implementing gratitude in my life.

So let’s make a point of writing down all of the wonderful treasures in our lives. Our Father is a loving Father who enjoys being good to us. I pray we can all be better about opening our eyes to all the wonderful blessings He gives us every single day.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1

And remember that every day is a gift from God!

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A Month of Gratitude

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As some of you know, last November I held a Gratitude Challenge. This was similar to what we just went through last month with the Redeemed Challenge. With the Gratitude Challenge, we walked through my book Every Day is a Gift, which is about … you guessed it, gratitude. I chose the month of November to do this last year because in the United States that is when we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Now since we all just went through the Redeemed Challenge, I felt it was best not to do another Gratitude Challenge this year. I know everyone is busy and it takes time to keep up with the daily posts. But in case there was anyone out there who really wanted to walk through it anyway, I compiled all the posts from last year for you. If you do decide to do this, you will just need to grab a copy of my book, Every Day is a Gift, read the chapter for that day, and then come back to this post and click on the corresponding link.

For the Gratitude Challenge, I did not include a music video, like I did with the Redeemed Challenge. But I did have a YouTube video each day where I personally spoke about each chapter. If you decide to walk through this, I hope you enjoy it. Of course if you are not ready to tackle this anytime soon, you can still save this post and go through it at a later date.

However, I have good news! I hope to have gratitude themed posts throughout the month of November both on here and on Christians Read. I will try to post here every Saturday. And I always post on Christians Read every Thursday. So stay tuned for those!

Gratitude is an essential part of our walk with the Lord. When we take note of the blessings in our lives, we draw closer to God because we see His love everywhere around us. And when we see how much He loves us, provides for us, and cares for us – this in turn helps us to have more peace and joy in our lives.

I would like to leave you with a song which speaks to the heart of my book, Every Day is a Gift. The song is Counting Every Blessing by Rend Collective. Enjoy!

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