Morning Prayer

Dear God,

As I begin this day with my little ones, please help me to remember that they are children, and that I am the grown-up.

Help to expect and embrace that they will be childish because they cannot help it.

And help me to repent quickly of that behavior when I see it reflected in my own heart.

Give me the perspective to see that my tantrums and pouting set a bad example, and that I am the one who is old enough to know and do better. 

Grant me eyes to see them as the blessings you say they are in the midst of their toys on the floor, their dramatic tears, their silliness, their overreactions, their noise, their neediness, and their immaturity.

Let me not grow weary of answering their questions, or bending to lift them up, or helping them do things that are too big for them.

Help me love them as you love me, patiently, tolerating my ignorance and faults, and forgiving me immediately when I repent of my sin.

Show me, in the way my boys play today, the spark of the men they will be when they grow up, and help me to encourage and nurture that in them.

But help me not to overlook who they are right now, at this exact moment.

Keep me from allowing my so-called “maturity” to diminish their wonder, zeal, and faith.

And remind me that you said I need to be like them to enter the kingdom of heaven, not the other way around (Matthew 18:3). 

Be with us today, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

My husband is not my third child

Jason and boys

I am a mom to two preschool-aged boys, Caleb and Garrett. They are wild and crazy and caring for them occupies a lot of my time and energy.

I am also wife to Jason, a wonderful, crazy, goofy man who makes me laugh and loves me deeply.

But sometimes, when I talk about being a mom, people jokingly say something about me really having three kids – my two littles, and Jason. I don’t know if it’s because he has a silly bent that they joke about him being a child, or if it’s because they feel this way about their husbands. But it bothers me.

When somebody calls Jason my “third child” I usually will politely chuckle or smile uncomfortably and look away and say “yeahhhh…” quietly, because I’m not very confrontational by nature, and in the moment I never know exactly how to respond to those accusations. But inside I’m irritated, and sometimes even angry.

Because my husband is not my third child.

If I was great at thinking on my feet in uncomfortable situations and bold enough to correct someone who tries to get a laugh by belittling my husband, this is what I might say:

I have two children. When they have to go to the bathroom, I go with them and help them with the tricky snaps and buttons on their clothes, help them wipe their bottoms, and lift them up to flush the toilet and wash their hands.

When they need to eat, I fix them a meal, cut it into little bites, remind them over and over to sit down at the table, and sometimes feed it to them when they need extra motivation to finish.

When we have to go somewhere as family, I help them find their shoes and put them on. I get their coats out of the closet, hold out the sleeves while they shrug into it, and zip it up for them. I lift them into the car and buckle them into the seat.

When it’s time for bed, I brush their teeth, read to them, and tuck them in.

My husband, on the other hand, manages to do all of those things for himself.

Now, I do take care of Jason in other ways. I make meals and wash clothes. I buy stamps and schedule appointments and give advice when he asks for it. And if I were not around, he might struggle to manage our household the way I do. As far as I know, he doesn’t know how to bake bread or use the sewing machine or have any clue where I keep the snack schedule for Caleb’s school.

He might very well be hopeless at accomplishing many of the things I do as a wife and mom if they fell to him. And this is because I contribute to our household by offering the work that falls within my skill set and available time.

Jason, as the other half of the marriage that underlies our family, does the same thing.

Just as he cannot do everything I do for him and our kids, there are tons of things he does for our family that are beyond me, or at least outside of my everyday contributions to our household.

I could probably manage paying our bills if I had to, but I don’t know all of the account numbers or when they are due like Jason does. I’m not sure I could ever learn how to change the oil in a car or have the upper body strength necessary to change a flat tire. I don’t know how to work our lawn mower or run a computer clean-up program. (Defrag something-or-other? I am clearly so far out of my element on this I don’t even know what I’m talking about here.)

These are the the things he gives to our family, without expecting me to help.

Of course I take care of my husband. And of course my husband takes care of me. That is what marriage is. And neither of us cares for each other in the same way we care for our children.

So stop calling my husband my third child, please.

Why Entitlement Has No Place in the Church

Sometimes, I think we get this crazy idea in our heads that church is somehow something we deserve.

We grew up under America’s stars and stripes, and Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words insisting that we all should be granted the right to life, liberty, and (here he changes the words of Locke) the “pursuit of happiness.” Which of course, we have now twisted to mean that anytime there is something that would make us happy, then it is our right to have that thing.

That sense of entitlement has permeated the church.

There are things in the church that would make us happy. So we think they are our rights. That we are somehow owed them, just by the nature of who we are, or most definitely based on the virtue that we too are Christians.

So we go to church and we expect to be comfortable. To be entertained. To be handed a free cup of coffee. And for qualified people to entertain and educate our kids for a couple of hours for free.

It’s ludicrous when you really think about everything we expect when we go to church. Where else would we bring those same expectations?

But this is not our worse offense. No, the worst thing we do is when we bring this sense of entitlement into the presence of God.

It’s not okay for us to expect other people to cater to our needs, but it’s understandable because people are our equals. When we come into the presence of God, all that sense of equality should completely disappear.

Yet oftentimes, it does not. We come into to church, and we sing songs that tell God how great we are. We tell him how massive our love for him is, as if we are doing God some gigantic favor by taking a couple of hours out of our week to come into the church building and grace him with our presence.

We have it completely backwards.

We are in 1 Samuel in our Bible reading plan, and recently read the story of when the ark was captured from the nation of Israel by the Philistines. In those times, the ark was a tangible symbol to the Israelites of the presence of God in their midst. It was housed in the innermost part of the tabernacle when the Israelites were in the desert, and later in the innermost room of the temple. It was gold-plated all over, and contained some of the most important objects in Israel’s history as a nation: the tablets with the 10 commandments, Aaron’s staff, and a jar of manna.

Above the ark were two golden angels, whose wings were spread out over it. This is what comprised God’s throne on earth. He told Moses, “There above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites” (Exodus 25:22).

The ark meant God was with the nation of Israel. And it was captured by the Philistines.

I love this story because of what happens next. Not knowing where else to put such a sacred and obviously important object, the Philistines stick the ark in their temple. Inside the temple was a statue of their pagan god, Dagon, and when the Philistines come back the next morning, they find their god laying prostrate before the throne of the one true God. Assuming it’s a fluke, they reinstate their god into his place. But the next morning, they find him on the floor as before, and this time his head and hands have broken off.

What a stunning image of the supremacy of our God!

After the statue breaks, the Philistines in Ashdod, where the temple was, suffer a plague of tumors. They realize the ark of God is not something to be trifled with, so they send it to another town. The same thing happens there. So they send it on to another town. Wherever the ark goes in their kingdom, destruction follows.

Finally, they decide that they cannot keep the ark, and they put it on a cart with some offerings to appease God. They hitch up a couple of cows and hope that the ark, by the hand of God, finds its way home.

It does.

The people of Israel cannot contain their joy. And then right before the Bible moves on to the next chapter in Israel’s history, it makes this interesting note: “But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them, and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, ‘Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?’” (1 Samuel 6:19-20)

I was thinking about this story during worship at church a couple weeks ago, as I sang about the greatness of God and the great things that he has done. When it comes down to it, God is terrible in his mighty, awesome power.

In this story, everywhere God’s presence went, death and destruction abounded, even in Israel. This happened because God is holy, and glorious, and all-consuming, and we are only sinful humans. And but for Jesus, our approaching the throne of God would result in the same death and destruction that it meant for the Philistines, and those who arrogantly looked into the ark.

But for Jesus.

Church, our sweet Jesus has made a way for us where there was no way – a way right into the presence of our majestic God. When we think of the great things that God has done for us, what even comes close to comparing to this?

And when we approach God with anything other than humility and awe at his grace and his love, are we not acting like those seventy men who were struck down in Beth Shemesh? We have no rights when we stand before God. And yet, he bends his ear to listen to our complaining, and our requests, tolerating our short-sightedness as we build our own kingdoms instead of His.

We must never lose sight of the awesome reality of who God is. Every Sunday, when we come into church, when we dare to ask God to show up in our midst, God has every right to strike us dead where we stand for our audacity in expecting to experience his presence.

Instead, he allows us to clothe ourselves in the blood of Jesus, and experience his nearness to us.

As the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” (Hebrews 10:19-21)

We can draw near to God. What a privilege! Let’s come to church with that on our minds.

Why I’m Okay with Not Doing Big Things for God

I posted this quote from Phil Vischer on Facebook yesterday:

“If I am a Christian–if I have given Christ lordship of my life–where I am in five years is none of my business. Where I am in twenty years is none of my business. Where I am tomorrow is none of my business. So our plan… is to make no long-range plans unless God gives them explicitly…. Just a bunch of people on their knees, trusting God for guidance each day. Holding everything loosely but God himself” (Me, Myself, & Bob, 248).

I started Phil’s biography the morning of January 1, and found I couldn’t put it down. I was done with it before the first day of the year was over.

This quote appears towards the end of the book, after Phil tells the story of both the growth and the failure of his company, Big Idea Productions. He felt like the dream for that company, for the VeggieTales films, had been given to him by God, and then he failed. And he could not fathom where God was in the midst of that.

Then he takes readers through his journey of learning to let go of everything but God himself, to love nothing more than God, and to let God lead him.

The whole thing resonated with me a lot more than I expected. You see, I really want to do something big for God.

Last year I read this book, Anything, by Jennie Allen. It was one of my favorites from the year and after I read it, I found myself praying the same thing Jennie did: God, I will do anything. I didn’t have any idea what sort of anything God might ask me to do, so I started throwing things out there, bringing every aspect of my life that I could think of before the Lord. My prayers were something along these lines: I’ll go to a foreign country if that’s what you ask us to do. I will sell everything I have and move into an even smaller home. I’ll adopt a baby. I’ll quit my job. I’ll go to work full-time. I’ll go back to school. Whatever it is you ask of me, I will do it.

The more I threw out big things like that, the more silent God seemed. I would do anything for him. Didn’t he get that? Didn’t he want me to do something big and audacious for him? Something that would make the world sit up and take notice?

After weeks of praying like that, I finally got desperate. I kneeled down beside my bed, and wept before the Lord. “God, I really will do anything. Just tell me – what do you want from me?”

In that quiet moment, the Holy Spirit whispered to me the one thing I had not considered: What if I ask you to simply remain exactly where you are and stay faithful with what I have already given you? Would you do that?

Would I? Did I have a choice? I had already told God I would do anything. But this was not the anything I was expecting. I was not even sure it was the anything I wanted. It did not sound splashy or exciting. But it was what God was asking of me.

I could try to do something really big for God this year and completely miss what he wants from me. He doesn’t want me to decide for myself what is important for his kingdom. He gets to decide where to use me.

Phil Vischer came to the same realization: “I started to get it. The Christian life wasn’t about running like a maniac; it was about walking with God. It wasn’t about impact; it was about obedience. It wasn’t about making stuff up; it was about listening” (p. 243).

I still want to do something big for God. I always have. And I still believe that believe that maybe someday, I will.

But for 2015, if the most meaningful writing I compose is a note to a friend, that is okay. If the most important words I speak are to a single person in my church instead of a huge crowd, I will speak the words God gives me. If the most Christ-like service I accomplish is wiping a dirty bottom, or cleaning up my kids’ messes, or folding yet another load of laundry, I will do those things in Jesus’ name. I will let God decide what my contribution to the body of Christ needs to be.

I will do whatever Jesus asks of me. No matter how big. And no matter how small.

The best books I read in 2014

Another year is in the books, or it will be in about 9 hours, and I just finished the last title I’m going to check off my list for this calendar year. According to Goodreads, I read 122 books this year, which sounds like a lot, even to me.

If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I recognize that there are times that I was reading when I probably should have been doing something else. In 2015 I really want to get better at stepping away from a book when I’m using it to escape when I should be engaging or to cope when I should be going to Jesus. But I imagine that even if I get good at that stuff, I will probably still read a lot in 2015. If I read every day during the boys’ nap, even if that was the only reading I did, I could easily log 700 hours in a single year, which is more than enough to finish a whole lot of books. And I have some really good ones on my list that I’m looking forward to reading.

But since it is still 2014 (at least for a few more hours), I thought I would share some of the books I most enjoyed from this year’s long list. Not all of these were published this year, but I read them all for the first time at some point over the last twelve months.

My favorite books from 2014, in no particular order, are:

Cinder, Marissa Meyer ($2.99 for Kindle right now!)
This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles, a series of re-imagined fairy tales with a sci-fi element. I love fairy tales, and while I wasn’t so sure about the sci-fi part, the series gets better with each book. There are three out already: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and the 4th book, Winter, is set to release next year.

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
This was a suspenseful, impossible-to-put down novel. I’m worried that if I say any more I’ll give away the ending, so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Imagine losing your whole family in a car accident, and having an out-of-body experience while in a coma yourself, realizing that you have the power to decide whether or not to fight for what’s left of your life or join your family in death. Such is the position Mia finds herself in. This book intersperses flashbacks filling in her story with an inner monologue as she wrestles with her decision, and I found it wonderful and compelling. Heads up: there is some pretty strong language in parts. (This came out as a movie this year, too, but I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say anything about it one way or another.)

Where’d You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple
Once upon a time, I really wanted to be an architect. The eccentric mom in this story is eventually revealed to be a brilliant architect, who at one time had received the MacArthur genius grant. It’s a light-hearted and quick read, perfect for a long summer weekend, which is when I read it.

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
I explained this to someone recently this way: If Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory wrote a book about falling in love, it would be a lot like this. The sequel, The Rosie Effect, came out yesterday, and I can’t wait to read it.

Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarity
The newest title from the author of What Alice Forgot. Brilliant book about the complicated relationships between moms of young children. It opens with someone dying at a school charity event, and you’ll race through the whole book trying to find out who died and who did it.

The Blue Castle, L. M. Montgomery
I loved Anne of Green Gables when I was younger (Jason bought me this copy for Christmas, and it’s beautiful), but I just recently discovered that Montgomery wrote other books. I read Emily of New Moon last year, but I liked this a lot better.

Anything, Jennie Allen
I devoured this book, and keep turning its concepts over in my mind. The basic tenent for this book is my prayer for 2015: God, we will do ANYTHING you ask of us.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, Sarah Mae ($2.99 for Kindle right now!)
This is by far the best parenting book I’ve read in a while. At once practical and incredibly encouraging, from a mom who’s had those pull-your-hair-out moments. I got it from the library, but my own copy is on its way to my house now thanks to Christmas money and Amazon. A group of moms I get together with regularly will be going through this next year, and I can’t wait to read it again, and really take my time with it.

Cooked, Michael Pollan
Jason probably got tired of hearing me go on about this one, both while I was reading it (every few pages I would turn to him and say, “did you know…?”) and every time I recommended it to someone at all of our various gatherings of friends and family over Christmas. It’s pretty academic, but I thought Pollan did a good job of making complicated science and detailed food history really interesting.

Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull
Absolutely a must-read for anyone who is in management and wants to create a collaborative culture in the workplace. Or for anyone who loves Pixar movies and is interested in the behind-the-scenes of how they were made. I might buy this one. That’s my list. Happy New Year, and happy reading!

To Santa or not to Santa?

So… Santa.

Lots of talk going on this time of year about this one poor man.

I had a friend ask me recently about my opinion on this issue, and suggest I write about it. At the time, I didn’t feel like I had much to say, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I do have some opinions about Santa and Christmas.

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Of course, if you go on Facebook, it won’t take long before you begin to believe that everyone has an opinion about how you should celebrate Christmas and whether or not it should include Santa. Easter and its infamous bunny has a lot of the same issues, but I don’t know that anyone takes the debate over the Easter Bunny quite as seriously as they approach the issue of Santa Claus.

It’s tricky ground, I realize. Some people would have you believe that if your children are taught Santa Claus exists as a red-suited, chimney-climbing, gift-delivering North Pole dweller, when they find out otherwise they will categorically deny everything else you’ve taught them to take by faith, most notably, the existence of God.

Others would have you believe that if you deny your kids the experience of believing in Santa, they will miss out on an important rite of passage as children, and grow to be joyless adults who have no sense of the magic and beauty of the world.

These are generalizations and over-simplifications of the two main camps when it comes to Santa, I know, but that is the general gist of what each is afraid of, deep in their hearts. But the truth, as is often the case, lies somewhere in the middle.

The phrase Santa Claus has descended to us from the Dutch Sante Klaas, and the earlier Sinter Niklass which means Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a real person who lived in the 3rd century and was a follower of Jesus. Nicholas lived in what is now Turkey, and was known, among other things, for his generosity.

There are a lot of legends surrounding the life of Nicholas, the most well-known of which tells how Nicholas heard of three young women whose father was too poor to afford a dowry for them. There were not any good options for single women back then, and without a dowry, the girls could have ended up having to sell themselves to survive. In one version of the story, Nicholas came at night to secretly give enough gold to the father to be able to marry his daughters off, and the bag of gold landed inside a stocking that had been hung to dry by the fireplace.

But aside from this well-known story, Nicholas was also an important figure in church history. He was a part of the Council of Nicea in 325, a meeting of bishops called by Constantine, which helped solidify some of the essential doctrines of the Church. After his death, the bishop Nicholas was sainted by the Catholic church, and St. Nicholas Day is observed on December 6 on the liturgical church calendar

We talked to our kids about St. Nicholas this year, and how he gave things to people who had less than he did. Part of the reason we talked about him was a reaction to Caleb’s interest in Santa this year, for the first time ever. He started slipping casually into conversation things about Santa – how he lived at the North Pole, and how he would be delivering presents to us this year, and I’ll admit, I panicked a little bit.

If I had to pick one side or the other of this debate, I’d have to confess that right now I lean a little toward leaving Santa out of things, but I think that’s mostly a default because neither Jason nor I really remember ever believing in Santa, and we do not feel as though we missed out on anything.

But I think it possible to do either and do right by our kids, and by the same token, do either and lead our kids astray. You can make sure your kids know that Santa isn’t real, and still fill the bottom of your Christmas tree with everything your child asks for and more, and teach them by example that Christmas is about how much you can get. Or you can encourage Santa fantasies and teach your kids about a generous spirit and the power of faith in things that are unseen.

I’m not certain about all these things, by any means. Honestly, we are just making up this whole parenting thing as we go, talking with our kids as much as we can, about as much as we can, and praying that God’s spirit will fill in all the gaps of our imperfection. But I have a feeling that in the context of the larger scheme of my boys’ life, when I look back in 10 or 15 years, agonizing over Santa will seem as silly to me then as agonizing over pacifier brands in the boys’ infancy seems to me now.

I can’t tell you whether or not including Santa in your Christmas celebrations is right for your family. There isn’t a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all answer to that question. But I can tell you that the way to give your kids the best chance to follow Jesus when they are adults is to make sure they hear about him at home for more than a couple of days in December.

So let’s agree to be okay with how other people – people who genuinely love Jesus – decide to celebrate Christmas with their kiddos, even if the choices they make are different than the ones we have made for our own families.

I honestly do not know which side of this we will land on in the course of the next several years. I’m sure the boys will pick up things from friends at school, and even if we don’t teach overtly about Santa, he’s in a lot of the Christmas movies we love, like Polar Express and Elf. But I’m really not too worried about it, because I am convinced that whether or not my boys end up thinking that Santa Claus exists, it won’t shake their faith in Jesus. Of course, only God can draw their hearts, and they will have to decide to follow him for themselves at some point, but God is a part of our family life in a way that Santa will never be.

Santa Claus sees heavy action in most homes, ours included, for four weeks, maybe five. But we talk about God all the time. We talk about God at each meal, and before bed every night. We talk about God when we see people making bad choices, and when we are believing him for things that are bigger than us. We talk about God when we see a pretty sunset or hear scary thunder. He is the center of our home.

And I don’t think anyone, not even Santa, can uproot that.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving All Year

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A couple of years ago, I accidentally got on a kick of books about suffering.

I had been wanting to read CS Lewis’s A Grief Observed for quite some time, so I picked it up. I think I had known ahead of time that it was a more or less private journal of his thoughts and feelings following his wife’s death, but it was a great read.

Then I picked up a book from Jason’s bookshelf by an author I’d already read and really enjoyed, not knowing what it was about. Turns out Bob Sorge’s In His Face is a study of the book of Job and how it can help us in the midst of difficult trials that make no sense.

And then I went to my mother-in-law’s house and saw a copy of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts sitting on the table in her hearth room. I had heard of the book, but did not know anything about it, so I asked what she thought. She hadn’t read it yet, but insisted I borrow it. I remember sitting by the window downstairs at her house, reading with tears streaming down my face, while my boys fished outside,  how at four years old, Ann had he watched her little sister be run over by a propane truck in her front yard. And then she told the story of her two nephews, both born with the same genetic disorder, being buried by their parents less than two years apart.

I was reeling, unable to imagine the pain of those losses from the comfort of my unfathomably blessed life. But as I read how Ann began to wrestle with God and how we serve him and continue to believe that He is good despite the pain we suffer in this life, I began to wonder what God was trying to tell me.

Over and over and over again I was reading about grief and loss, and trusting God in the midst of the storm, and I wasn’t choosing books on that topic on purpose. They just kept coming to me. These themes were showing up unbidden, and I was starting to wonder if perhaps God was preparing me. I still don’t know if that was purpose of those books or not. We did lose my sister-in-law tragically last September, and I can tell you unequivocally that it was only God’s grace and his presence that has carried my family through that loss. But I don’t know what is around the corner of tomorrow – perhaps fresh grief awaits me there.

But no matter what I face, I cling to these words from One Thousand Gifts: He is always good, and I am always loved.

Of all the books I read that fall, One Thousand Gifts had the most lasting impact on my life. When I saw a sale on it at our local Christian bookstore, I snatched it up, and over the summer I reread it, underlining something on almost every page now that I had my own copy.

I started keeping a blessings journal shortly after I read One Thousand Gifts for the first time. It was an exciting habit at first; I took the journal with me everywhere and saw gifts in everything. But like most new things I undertake, my enthusiasm for keeping the journal eventually faded, and the habit went by the wayside. I would still occasionally write when the inspiration struck, but I was not writing gifts down anywhere close to every day.

Rereading the book renewed my passion for keeping gift lists, as watching this video, where Ann explains that there is no wrong way to count gifts. It sounds a little silly now, but I was super-paranoid about writing down the same thing twice, thinking that somehow it would only count if I was able to name a thousand unique ways God had blessed me. Realizing that it does not really matter if I wrote the same thing more than once was completely freeing for me.

If I’m being really honest, I want to write “coffee” down every morning. Every single morning. Also, looking back through my journal, I can see that there are a number of time where I’ve written “potty in the toilet,” and every mom who has every potty-trained a child understands what a gift that really is.

 

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve written down that I’m thankful for my morning cup of of coffee, because the goal of counting gifts has nothing to do with reaching the milestone of 1000. It has everything to do with learning to find something today, right now, for which you can offer thanks to God.

Looking for things to be grateful about changes the posture of your heart. Especially when it seems like there is nothing for which to offer thanks – only things to complain about. For example, I remember distinctly one night recently, when I was trying everything I knew to get the boys to go to sleep. I’d spent almost an hour hopping off the couch every few minutes to send them back to bed.

Finally, I decided to sit in their room with them and sing to them and rub their backs. At the point where I was finally giving in to frustration and my belief that they were never ever going to sleep again, Ann’s words came to me unbidden: eucharisto (the act of giving thanks) always, always precedes the miracle. So I started thinking of things I could thank God for, even in my frustration with them.

I thanked God for the two little beds sitting side-by-side in my boys’ room, a luxury many kids in third-world countries cannot imagine. I thanked him that they had their own room, and that I could go do something else in another part of the house when they were asleep. I thanked God for the music that was rising softly from the mp3 player we leave in their room, and the way it was turning my thoughts towards him. Earlier that day, I’d seen pictures of orphans in China who’d been abandoned because of their deformed hands, so I thanked God for the five little fingers interlaced with mine.

It was hard thanks, but I started offering it up anyway. And you know what? They fell asleep. They probably would have eventually anyway, but giving thanks changed my attitude about it.

You will probably spend at least a part of today thinking about things you’re thankful for. But don’t let it stop after today. Don’t buy into the lies that as soon as the dishes are cleared away, you need to start planning a strategy for how you can acquire so much more tomorrow. Look around you and really see all the amazing blessings that are in your life.

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:4

Happy Thanksgiving!