True Thankfulness is Learned

true thankfulness

There is a discipline to true thankfulness.  It takes a journey to develop an attitude that is truly thankful for everything.

Are you thankful for everything?

On Sunday, the preacher asked if we are truly thankful.  We all ask this question around this time of year.  One I think we should ask more often, but that’s not the point I want to make today.  So, right there in my chair third row from the front, I asked my heart if I was thankful to God for everything in my life.  It’s easy for me to say I am thankful for my family, because they are amazing!  I live in a fantastic community and go to a wonderful church.  I feel accepted and loved by my friends and I know I belong.  But am I grateful for the pain and hard work it took to bring me here?  That is a much harder question.

James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Thankful for suffering?

I’ve never understood how I could count all my trials as joy.  I’ve really struggled with the concept.  About three years ago I began a journey to understanding.  I learned that year I have PTSD from some experiences in my younger years.  EMDR is specialized therapy used primarily on patients with PTSD and trauma.  Therapy is exhausting and can be hard, but I believe healing is worth the struggle.  It was instrumental in bringing me healing and health in so many areas.  Therapy taught me if I put up walls to protect myself I don’t just keep bad things out, but I also keep bad things inside.  Those walls can also keep God out.

This was also the year both my grandfathers passed away within months of each other.  It was a tragic loss when my Grandaddy died.  As I grieved I learned I had wrapped a good bit of my identity in whether or not my Grandaddy was proud of me.  I wanted more than anything in the world to earn my Grandaddy’s approval.  After many months of therapy and hours spent in the word, I realized I was striving for something I already had, love and acceptance.  I realized the striving I was doing for my Grandaddy’s acceptance was the same striving I was doing for God’s.  He freely gives love, acceptance, and also hope.  So when my pastor asked on Sunday if I had true thankfulness in my heart, I had to take into consideration the journey I have been on.  My world was turned upside down.

True Thankfulness

Luke 17 tells a story about ten lepers that had an encounter with Jesus.  The passage says they cried out “Jesus, Master have mercy on us.” Jesus gave the healing they so desperately desired and sent them on their way to present themselves to the priest.  But only one of them turned back and thanked Jesus.  This one had a worship service at the Lord’s feet.  There is a lot to be said about the other 9 in the story.  Why didn’t they go back and at least acknowlede what Jesus did?  How long did it take to realize they were healed?

But Luke 17:19 is the verse that really struck me that day.  It says, “And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'”  What a miraculous thing!  Jesus healed leprocy.  But what is more miraculous is the word well can also be translated as saved, or whole.  Then it hit me.  We can be healed from whatever trials or afflictions we face, but only Jesus can make us whole.  Only Jesus can save us.  

This last year has been incredibly hard for me.  I have been tested and stretched emotionally, physically, and even relationally, yet I am thankful.  I am thankful for a God who is unsatisfied with just healing my heart.  He wants to see me made whole.  James 1:4 says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to make me whole.  I lack nothing because I have you!

What are you thankful for today?  Are you truly thankful for everything God has given?

Trust in God: It’s a Matter of the Heart


Trust.  What does it look like to trust in God?  This question plagues me because it is my biggest struggle.  I struggle with trust in several areas of my life.  I want my relationship with God to shift from a head knowledge of trust to a heart knowledge.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Trust Defined

First, I want to define trust and see how it applies to God.  The English Oxford dictionary defines trust as “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”  I love words and their meanings, and based on this definition it would seem that it should be easy to trust in God.

Is God Reliable?

I absolutely believe that God is reliable.  I have evidence of His reliability from this summer on my trip to Haiti.  He sent people who had key connections that would take care of us by guarding us as we walked the streets.  We were able to find hotels with rooms available for us to stay.  We knew our prayers were being heard and answered by a God who is reliable.  He has shown me He is reliable by sending people into my life to speak words of encouragement.  I did not accept Christ until I was a teenager.  I needed plenty of encouragement and direction because I was hard-headed.  God was always reliable and always sent the answer I needed.

Is God Able?

I know what you are thinking, is this really even a question?  I believe in a creator God who “is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)  Genesis 1:2&3 should be enough to illustrate that.  “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”  My favorite part is next because scripture tells us, ” And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”  God spoke a word and light was created.  His word is strong and powerful enough to create.  When you look at all of the “And God saids” in Genesis 1 can you see how He is able?  When He speaks creation obeys.  He is able.

Is God Strong?

Scripture tells story after story of God fighting battles for Israel.  Gideon in Judges chapter 7 did not fight the Midean army alone!  Samson was not strong of his own accord.  It was the strength of God that led to victory.  Psalm 9:9 says, “The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”  We can turn to Him because He is the source of all strength.  I can testify that the Lord has been my strength.  This last year has been a stretching season for me.  I was finishing up my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education, working full time as a third-grade inclusion teacher, my husband is a youth minister, and I have two fabulous children.  The Lord was the only thing sustaining me around March of this year!  He was strong when I was very weak.

Can I Believe What He Says is True?

Let’s be real, all of this is based on whether I believe His word is true.  Did He do those things from the Bible?  Did Jesus really walk the earth, heal the sick, and forgive sins?  The Bible contains historical fact, poetry, and prophecies that God wanted His people to read so that we could know His character.  You can fact check the Bible for historical accuracy.  I believe with all of my heart that the word of God is inerrant.  It is remarkable that God used humans to convey His message to us.  These men saw the works of Jesus and even though they did not use the exact same words or structure, they told the same story.  I love the word of God because it is His gift to me so that I can learn more about Him.

So What’s My Problem?

Why is trust an issue for me and so many other people?  Why is it when I am going through a stressful time I try to step in and take God’s place?  My problem is that I have plenty of head knowledge about how reliable, truthful, able, and strong God is but my heart hasn’t gotten the message.  I want to live out the trust I have in God.  I want it to move from belief to unwavering trust in the God who is bigger than all of my fears and problems.  So my plan will be to focus on Philippians 4:8.  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  I want to think about things above because Proverbs says this leads to perfect peace.  Not that everything will be perfect, because that is not how the world works.  The world is a cruel place.  Following the way of Christ is not popular or easy, but we can have peace.  If our minds are on “stayed on Him” the circumstances won’t matter.  We can begin trusting God with all of our hearts.

Do you struggle with trust like me?  What truth can you hold on to in your life?  What can you think about that is worthy of praise?  How can you begin to trust with your heart not just your head?

God’s Mercy: Can you see it?

The school year has finally wrapped up around here!  It’s amazing to me how tired I am when summer break starts.  I am usually ready for routine pretty quickly.  This year, I decided it is time for me to count all of God’s great mercies and blessings.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!”  God’s mercy is new every morning.  This summer I am looking for evidence of how he is moving.


Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines mercy as, “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment.”   I have heard preachers say that grace is giving people a gift they don’t deserve (Jesus), but mercy is not giving them what they do deserve (an eternity in hell).  I believe the mercies of the Lord are much more than that.  I think mercy is related to salvation, but I also think the Father extends mercy in more ways than just not condemning me to hell.  The Hebrew word most often used for mercy is hesed, which means lovingkindness.  I think God in His mercy knows we do not deserve a relationship with Him, yet he shows His love for us in ways that are genuine and unique to who we are.  What are some ways that the lovingkindness of the Lord is evident in your own life?

Family time

Family picture

I have the privilege of working in an amazing school district with the best teachers in my state.  I love working with students and seeing Aha! moments every day.  It is one of my favorite things in the world.  That being said, I really enjoy having summers off with my own children.  I have the two coolest kids on the planet.  This summer I will be spending time in the sunshine with my family and loving every minute of it!  The time I get to spend in the sunshine with my family will be one way that God will show his great mercy to me.

Give me SPACE


Another one of the mercies that I am praising the Lord for is space.  I am an elementary inclusion teacher, but this spring I was also a student finishing my Master’s degree.  This school year I didn’t have time for one extra thing because of homework!  The walls were closing in on me every time I sat down to rest.  Psalm 18:19 says, “He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”  I am excited because God is making space for me and my relationships with my sisters in Christ this summer.  God has blessed me with some pretty amazing women who constantly encourage me to be who God created me to be.  Fewer obligations on my time and in my life mean that I can focus on loving others well.

In view of Mercy

Romans 12:1 – 2 says, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   In light of all that God has given me, I am called to a few things.  One is to offer my body as a living sacrifice.  I want to give back to the creator that has shown me mercy.   I want to spend time in the sunshine with my family, make space for my friendships, and do it all for the glory of God.