Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Count Your Blessings

By LeAnn Rice

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!
(Psalm 118:1)

His steadfast love endures forever! Reason number one to be thankful!

All of us have good days and bad days. It’s part of life. But no matter how bad the bad days are, we can always hold on to this truth: The King is still on the throne and His love is steadfast and true and always. You simply can’t escape it!

As a young widow with a child, I experienced many “bad days” in the past 14 years (especially during the toddler years). There were days when I thought I wouldn’t make it another 24 hours without some help. But God never left my side and, over the years I started to notice the little blessings that each day held.

Whether you are experiencing the loss of a loved one, chronic illness, financial hardship, addiction, marital stress or other painful situations, you can find something to be grateful for each day. Looking for these blessings will refocus your thoughts toward Him, instead of your situation.

Honestly, this hasn’t always been easy. I have had days when all I could find to be grateful for was that the sun was shining or that I could actually get myself out of bed that morning. But, day by day I forced myself to count my blessings and eventually, I started to notice them all around me.

You may not be experiencing a rough patch. You may just be in the midst of a “normal” but hectic life and have a desire to develop an attitude of gratitude. Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on the things we are thankful for and get into the habit of thankfulness! Isn’t it easy to complain about the things that are inconvenient, frustrating, not going our way, etc? Just this week I found myself complaining about my piles of laundry. I should have been grateful that I have running water and a working washer and dryer when so many in our world do not have these items that I take for granted.

What about you? Do you struggle to notice the simple blessings in the midst of your hectic days? Are you experiencing a challenging time and really need to see some “good” right about now?

Here are a few practical ways to count your blessings that may become a new Thanksgiving tradition in your home.

Create a Blessing Box- Make or purchase a simple or ornate box (if you have kids, perhaps they can make and decorate one). Place cute notes or strips of paper, along with a pen, beside the box. Display the box, paper and pen in a location where everyone will see it several times a day. I like to place mine in the center of my kitchen table. At least once each day have everyone in the family write something they have to be grateful for on a strip of paper and place it inside the box. Do this throughout the year and then read the strips together in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

* Keep a Blessing Journal

Keep a journal beside your bed. Before you go to bed each night, write down at least three things that happened to you that day that you are grateful for. It could be as simple and wonderful as a child’s smile or laughter. It could be that you had enough money to fill your gas tank. Maybe a long soaking rain started right after you did some planting. Write down anything that you were grateful for that day. When you are having a rough day, pull out your journal and read through your blessings as a reminder that there is much to be grateful for, even in the midst of life’s challenging circumstances.

* Give a Good Night Blessing

When you tuck your kids in at night, ask them to tell you one good thing about their day. This ends their day on a positive note and gets them in the habit of noticing the blessings. Perhaps, keep a journal beside their beds as well!

* Create a Blessing Chain

You know those paper chains kids make in school? Make one out of blessings! Cut up strips of red and green paper a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Have your kids write down blessings on the strips and then staple together to form a chain. When you decorate your Christmas tree, place your blessing chain on the tree, around the bottom of the tree or on the mantle. Your decorations will be covered in blessings! This makes a great conversation piece, and provides the opportunity to share the Gospel with visitors!

* Make a Blessing Tree

Instead of making a chain out of the strips of paper, punch holes in the strips, tie a pretty ribbon through the hole, and then hang strips of blessings on a tree. You can do this for Thanksgiving or Christmas, just select the color of paper and ribbons to match the occasion! You can even use a large twig with lots of branches as your tree, or a houseplant, or make one on poster paper and tape on your blessings.

* Give a Treasury of God’s Promises

If you know someone who’s going through a difficult time, consider creating a box for them and fill it with God’s promises personalized just for them. Imagine opening the box and reading, “My plan for your future, Gabriel, is filled with hope.” I have created a free template with 100 of God’s promises ready for you to customize. Simply purchase or create a box, personalize the promises, print and cut them into strips, fold the strips and place in the box, and then tie the box with a beautiful ribbon. Perfect gift for any occasion! You can find the free template by visiting www.SheCooks.org and clicking on “Resources.” Scroll down to the middle of the page and you will see the template.

Sweet friends, I pray that your blessings will be too numerous to count and that God will reveal Himself to you in the most unexpected ways.

LeAnn Rice is the Executive Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She lives with her 17-year-old son, Nick, and their ornery cat, Angel, in a small town just outside of Charlotte, NC. LeAnn is co-author of the book “Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday,” an e-book filled with recipes, organization and gift suggestions, as well as tangible outreach ideas and ways to seek our Savior during the holiday. LeAnn shares recipes, grace, and southern hospitality on www.SheCooks.org and hope and inspiration on her site www.AWidowsMight.org.