Tag Archives: Praise.

30 Days of Thankful: day 27

In addition to her training as a counselor, my friend Rebecca has unique gifts of wisdom and insight that help her guide others to spiritual health and wholeness. She shares her journey of how giving thanks helped her cope with her own loss.  After reading Rebecca’s words, I believe you’ll feel like you have been blessed with a personal counseling session with her–you may even be changed by her insights.

GUEST BLOG: Rebecca Woodman

Gratitude is a choice, available to anyone. It is a choice that holds the power to change our entire perspective. It is a choice that turns into an attitude and an attitude that can then become a habit. Learning to be thankful and practicing giving thanks can be transformative in taking negative thoughts and finding positive return, ultimately blocking toxic emotions.

Scripture tells us in Psalm 100:4Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” Begin your conversations with God, the Creator of the universe, and your conversations with the people who He has placed in your life with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Some of the ways that I help those who come and sit on the couch in my counseling office understand that his/her current struggle does not have to ruin or dictate life is by helping the client understand how to look for the gifts and be grateful, even when life is throwing its fastest curve balls. Encouraging those who are challenged to find the positive to think of one thing each day for which to be thankful. Some questions to get folks started could include:

  1. What is one thing that is going well in life right now for me?
  2. How do I see that my needs are being met?
  3. How can I help someone today? Who would that be?

There is a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful. Feeling grateful is a response to a benefit. Being grateful is a way of life. John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Research on benefits of gratitude from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology help us to understand that there are psychological, physical and interpersonal benefits to a heart filled with appreciation. Those who understand how to be thankful are found to be more alert, energetic, have higher scores on scales of happiness and optimism, achieve better sleep, have improved immune response, are shown to be more helpful and connected, feeling less lonely and isolated, among many other positive outcomes.

I personally learned after the loss of two sons born stillborn that counting our blessings was one of the only ways to survive the pain. Counting my blessings when at my weakest state helped me to gauge my healing and served as a marker in time – recognizing all that was good, even in those moments when the tears fell so easily. Thanking God, even in the midst of a storm, is really an expression of faith. A thankful heart can bring about faith and faith can move mountains. Author Charles Dickens said it as, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”

Our Life Group has been memorizing Scripture together weekly and it has been a pretty cool, unifying experience. This particular week, our verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” THIS is God’s will. Even if there were not all of the positive benefits to uttering a simple “thank you” and even if I had not learned in the midst of struggle to look for the hidden blessings, I would still be convicted by Christ’s words that HIS will for my life is a heart of appreciation. I will choose gratitude.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 25

If you’ve ever wanted to know whether God is in the details, you’ll be inspired by my friend Allie’s adoption story.  I hope her words encourage you to reflect–and  give thanks–for the times you’ve experienced God’s guidance in your own life.

GUEST BLOG: Allie Osman

Throughout our journey of adopting our two-year-old son Peter, God repeatedly reminded me that as we follow His will and allow Him to order our steps, He is in control. For that I am filled with thankfulness.

God was in control of every part of the process: the timing, communications with agency personnel and doctors, the administrative paperwork, all the details. He chose Peter, cared for him, and delivered him into our arms. On so many occasions during the time-sensitive process, I stressed over the administrative details, about whether certain meetings would take place on time, about whether I’d be able to communicate with certain people, about whether I’d be able to find out critical information. What God showed me over and over again was that He is with me and the adoption was in His hands. He always provided what we needed when we needed it.

Right before Thanksgiving 2014, we were officially matched with Peter by the adoption agency months sooner than expected. Then, in February 2015, we were issued our Letter of Approval (LOA) from the Chinese government authorizing us to adopt Peter. We were told the average time frame for a family to receive an LOA is two to four months after Log in Date (when the Chinese upload into their system a family’s Letter of Intent to adopt a specific child).

We had been praying that we would receive our LOA in two months. Not only did God provide, but He provided abundantly. We were issued our LOA five days before the two-month mark! Then, our agency said we would most likely receive the remainder of our documentation from the Chinese government in time to travel to China to bring Peter home in June. We prayed that we would travel in May, bringing Peter home as soon as possible. Yet again, God’s timing prevailed and we had Peter in our arms May 11, 2015. All evidence that God was driving this adoption.

In the five months since we brought Peter home, God has blessed us over and over again with Peter’s health and development. Each medical test has yielded perfect results. He is in excellent health and is developmentally delayed simply as a result of institutionalization, which he will overcome over time.

Peter’s rapid physical and motor progress reminds us daily of God’s blessings and His provisions. Although Peter is almost three years old and not yet speaking, he is demonstrating great progress with comprehension and some progress with making sounds. We have no doubt that he will learn to talk in God’s timing. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness and we praise the Lord for bringing this sweet, lovable little boy into our family.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 22

In everything give thanks,  for this is the will of God…concerning you. (1 Thess. 5:18)

I have been pondering 1 Thessalonians 5:8 as we continue our 30 Days of Thankful. I’m struck by what seems like a double meaning.  Am I to give thanks in every situation because giving thanks is the will of God? Or is God simply reminding me that every situation I encounter is His will for me at the moment?

Perhaps both meanings are true. Everything  I encounter, the good times and the hard times, is God’s will for me. And in each situation, I am to give thanks, because giving thanks is always God’s will for me.

I recently walked through a difficult time with an extended family member who was critically ill. I couldn’t seem to find the words to pray…and even reading the Bible seemed a bit hollow.

But what I could do was to give thanks. To praise God in the midst of the fiery trial actually brought peace. Here’s why I could thank Him:

  • He is still God and He hasn’t changed.
  • He is in control, even if things look out of control.
  • Only He knows what my loved one truly needs.
  • He can bring comfort and peace that defy my own reasoning.
  • He knows how to bring glory to His name through this situation.
  • The burden is not on my shoulders, but on His.

In short, I found thanksgiving to be the most effortless prayer I could pray.  And strangely, as I put the situation squarely into God’s hands, joy began to spring up inside.  A peace that passes understanding.  I’m beginning to have every assurance that God is at work, though I can’t tell you exactly what He’s doing. It’s no wonder that the New Testament words for joy and thanks are so intertwined.  God gives us everything we need, at just the moment we need it, so that we can give thanks to Him in everything.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 19

Giving thanks changes everything. When we find someone giving thanks in the Bible, there’s usually a miracle close by. The feeding of thousands, the healing of the leper, a changed heart. That’s not to say that giving thanks causes miracles—but they’re definitely related.

This is Day 19 of our 30 Days of Thankful. We’ve been talking about giving thanks to God for our blessings. Becoming more aware of His many benefits, large and small.

But what about the hard places? Can we thank God when we’re going through trials? During times of suffering and pain? The Bible tells us to do just that. And this is where the real stretch comes.

The book of James takes it a step further.  He encourages us to “consider it pure joy” when we face those hard times when our faith is tested, promising that the testing or our faith “produces perseverance.”   “Perseverance,” he promises, will make us “mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).   A different translation tells us to “be very happy” when trials come our way (GW).   Seriously?

To help us understand the connection between giving thanks and joy, let’s take another look at the following verses:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Rejoice. There’s that pesky word again. Rejoice, or chairo, is the verb form of the word we just saw translated as “joy’ in James 1:2. We’re instructed here to “give thanks in all circumstances.” All circumstances—not just the good ones. Are you tracking with me?

The word translated as “thanks” in this verse is Eucharisteo. It comes from eu, which means “good or well,” and chairo, or “rejoice.”  So the word,  thanks, actually comes from the word for rejoice.

If this makes you a little dizzy, it should. But when you stop to think about it, giving thanks is an expression of joy. When we give thanks in hard places, we are saying to God that we trust Him so much that we can be joyful, even when going through trials.

Why? Because this is the time when our faith really grows. We mature. So we’ll be lacking in nothing. Not missing out on one single blessing God has for us. And when you think about it, that’s reason enough to give thanks….and to rejoice!







30 Days of Thankful: Day 17

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

I don’t know about you but I am beginning to notice some changes during our 30 Days of Thankful. The changes aren’t huge ones—more like a shift in the atmosphere. But they’re real nonetheless.

For example, yesterday I noticed a softening in a very difficult extended family member’s attitude. And a friend who I’ve been reaching out to for years is becoming more tender to the gospel. Just the other day, I experienced an unexplainable feeling of hope in a long-standing problem that had begun to feel hopeless. I wonder if you’ve noticed some changes, too?

As I become more thankful, I’m more aware of God’s blessings all around me.  And no wonder, since the words in the New Testament for thank and bless are practically the same. Both can be used to translate the Greek word eulogeo, which means “to speak well of or to give praise.”  More thanksgiving naturally leads to a greater sensitivity to my blessings.

But the vagueness of praying for God to “bless” my food, my friends, or my family was a problem until I learned a simple tip from our friend John DeVries, founder of Mission India.

In his wonderful book, Why Pray?  DeVries recommends praying for blessings by focusing on five areas which correspond with the letters for B-L-E-S-S:

B – Body – For physical health, safety, strength

L – Labors – For the success and prospering of their work

E – Emotions – For emotional health, peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety

S – Social life – For social relationships, family to have love and unity

S – Spiritual life – For each to know Jesus personally and grow in their spiritual lives

I set my cell phone each day to remind me to pray for several special people. And I pray the BLESS prayer when someone comes to mind and I’m not sure how to specifically pray for them.  Why not take a minute right now to B-L-E-S-S a friend, a family member, a government leader, or even the ruler of a nation.  And while you’re at it, be thankful in advance for what God will do in response to your prayer.