“I feel like I have no control!”

…. my life is in control of me!”

She went on to share details of her over-committed schedule and the many demands on her time and energy. She felt she no longer had control over any of it. Her life was way out of her control!

Can you relate? 

 While we may go through seasons in our life when this is our reality, it will continue to be so until WE personally do something about it. We have to take back control.

As a friend shared recently, her ‘wake up’ came when she realised…

“there is no shining knight on a white horse coming to rescue me,
there is no ‘fix-it’ pill I can swallow 
there is no magic wand I can wave
 – If its going to be – it’s up to me!”

You are the only one in control of your life!  If its out of control, only you can get it back under control. 

Easier said than done! 

But some steps to freedom are these ….

 1. Find someone who can be a sounding board, to enable you to think and talk through all your different challenges, and options (Yes, there are always options!)

2. Identify how long this crazy season may last for. Is there an end in sight?

3. If there is an end in sight in the foreseeable future, then brainstorm how can you intentionally plan in a date to ‘fill up your tank” on a regular basis
eg:  prioritize a personal time out, book time with your family or loved ones, exercise, eat healthy etc – to give you a ‘breather’ and refresher to keep going

4. If there is NO end in sight – then be intentional to make changes. What is the greatest energy/ life drain? How can you

  • delegate
  • delete
  • drop
  • diminish

        some commitments? Which commitments? 

5. Write out a plan. Set a date

6. Ask your friend to keep you accountable.

7. Do it!!

 Get your life back in control. 

If you don’t – no-one else will. 

You can do this – and its worth it!

Laurie

Those awful circumstances and situations we don’t want….   when it’s HARD  to give Thanks – how do we come to a place of peace and  yieldedness ?
 
What Did Jesus understand that we haven’t yet? 
 
In Hebrews 12:2 Scripture tells us :

“…for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame …  

 
The JOY that was set before Him??? 
 
 Have you ever really pondered this?   What was that Joy?  
 
Perhaps,

  • That He would, once, and for always,  overcome  EVIL – the deceiver, the enemy who  only ever kills, steals and destroys –   to render him powerless, so that WE could overcome him
  • That He would provide a place, a way to deal with our sin, greed and utter selfishness  – once and for always
  • That He would open the way for us, His beloved,  to come to Him freely, personally, intimately – now, here on earth
  • But also eternally, never to be separated from Him, His love and Goodness ever again

Oh !  How can mere words ever describe the depths and wonder of the JOY He knew was before Him –  not only for Him, but for US!

… But only after  He had endured this unspeakably horrible suffering.

He knew and lived this truth

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)


The trouble is – that we don’t have this perspective. 

Our focus is on the here, now. We think only in the short term  –  the trials, and suffering.  The short term pain and discomfit.  The loss and grieving  –    as though it will endure forever.

Our focus is the NOW – this life, this earth – and our comfort and happiness. No-one wants suffering, loss, pain, or discomfit.  It’s not what we call ‘Good’

So – by this reasoning, we ask. “How can a GOOD God allow us to suffer?  How can He allow sickness, loss, pain, shame – things that go wrong. Things that don’t go MY WAY? “

“If He’s GOOD – can’t He stop these things?”

YES of course He can. But our happiness  and comfort here,  in this sin-, selfish- and sickness-ridden life is NOT His focus. No, His focus is on

“the eternal glory that far outweighs then all”

Eternal:   

years beyond  years that will make this suffering seem like a light and momentary trouble – the blink of an eye

Glory:

   The reward! Freedom from our self, our limitations,  the reward of close intimacy with Him and everything our heart could desire – forever

That Far Outweighs:

  not balances, or makes it an even exchange, but FAR OUTWEIGHS.  God always exchanges upwards.

If we could understand the exceeding, abundant, above and beyond exchange that God is promising – and keep our eyes focused on that…

Then I believe we could give thanks in all circumstances!


So it seems we have two choices…

1. To resist, refuse and rail against those unwanted circumstances or situations we don’t want 

To this, Jean –Pierre de Caussade says:

“You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances and tedious annoyances really are.  You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies – though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet God’s beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is”  


Or:

2. Like Jesus – to yield, to accept – NOT MY WILL, but YOUR WILL be done – for the JOY set before us, to endure this trial, believing that:

“…  our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
 (2 Corinthians 4:17)


So let us then …

Give THANKS in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18:) 

Blessings always
Laurie 



It so unfair!!  


My beloved  went to South Africa to do a Landscaping job. He worked hard, got to bed late every night – but loved it. It had turned out brilliantly, and he was so proud of the way it all looked. Just a last few small details to tidy up.  His co-worker said she would tidy up. The employed gardener could continue the watering.   He left South Africa very content and satisfied.

But the client’s response on his return from another country was terse -and very dissatisfied! The co-worker had not tidied up. The gardener had not watered – and the expensive plants looked dead.  The client blamed him.

Relationships soured.  Promises of more work were doubtful. Future possibilities of on-going expansion were stalled.

“But that’s not MY Fault!”   Unfair!   Unjust!



How do you “Give Thanks”  when it’s hard, unfair? 



But this could be considered ” a light and momentary struggle”.   What about those REALLY HARD things: 

…. a loved one dying of cancer
…  losing the job desperately needed to keep the family fed and clothed
…  ongoing pain, or sickness
…  desperate financial times
…  and others

Are we seriously asked, even expected, (or commanded?) to give THANKS in these circumstances?  

1 Thessalonians 5:18:  Give THANKS in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,  giving THANKS to the God the Father through Him. 

Colossians 4:2  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and THANKFUL


There are over 353 verses commanding us to give thanks – one for every day of the year.  Not just the GOOD days!   EVERY day!

But HOW can I give thanks in these hard to accept trials and challenges, when things are NOT going my way?



MY WAY???


 
Well –  Its not WHAT I want, or HOW  I  want it, WHEN I want it, WHERE I want it.  It’s not MY WILL.  “I’m saying NO!” to all this suffering, pain, loss, injustice!    No to a world that’s NOT PREFECT!!

But really – am I not saying “No” to God?   Am I really saying,  “ I want MY will, not HIS will?  My way – not His way? “

But our Beloved  Lord Jesus –  He gave us this example…


 … “ on the night He was betrayed, He took bread, 24 and when he had GIVEN THANKS, he broke it and said,  “This is my body, which is for you … “ 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

 
He gave Thanks for the Bread, which symbolised His body, about to be cruelly broken and abused. He gave Thanks, and in so doing, YIELDED Himself, and accepted the Father’s Will – even later praying:

 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet NOT MY will, but YOURS be done.”  Luke 22:42

 
He knew that Gods will was the BEST way, in-spite of the cost, the pain, the suffering
 
That’s the first step  
 
Are we willing to lay down our will, what we want,  no, what we demand?   To TRUST His will for us?
 
Do we have a choice?  YES!
 
a) To Trust and yield,  and give thanks,  and find peace and joy – a peace that passes understanding
Or
b) To continue to wrestle  and struggle for my will, my way,  and be angry, dissatisfied & discontent in our life,  screaming Its unfair!
 
The choice is ours.  I know what I have chosen.

What’s Your Choice? 

  
Next week – It’s one thing to come to a place of peace and  yieldedness – but to actually GIVE THANKS  for it, in it?

What Did Jesus understand that we haven’t yet? 

Blessings and Yieldedness


Laurie

As we come to the end of our 1000 Blessings Challenge, what difference has it made in your life?  

What has it made of you?

It’s not important how close you came to the 1000 Blessings –  

  • it’s the fact that you were willing,
  • that you took the challenge,  
  • that you tried
  •  that you recorded some
  • and the difference that this has made in your life

Each blessing you noticed and recorded was one more than you may have done otherwise.

And every one opened your eyes, and your awareness, a little bit more to the abundant blessings God has showered all around us.
 
Even the smallest opening of our eyes allows the light to pour in.   Thanksgiving and gratitude are a light that pushes away the darkness.
 
There are SO MANY things that bring darkness and despair.  It’s EASY to become discouraged, depressed and overwhelmed.  The world is in crisis and seems headed for destruction. Governments are in chaos. And I live in a nation where greed, injustice and corruption among the few elite are causing unspeakable suffering , hopelessness and hardship for millions. 
 
It’s EASY  to get so angry, to rage, criticise, become despairing and depressed.  The darkness threatens to overcome us and it shouts loudly!
 
But God speaks in a still, small voice. He IS in control. He is GOOD, and everything He has created around us is His proof. 


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,  who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

The beautiful sun shines every day, whether we see it or not. Look at this picture as proof of His Control!

Someone took time, over a year,  to record this, and that’s how we see proof.  But the proof of God’s goodness is easily seen all around us, every day, if we will take the time to notice, and record …

  • The exquisite beauty of each flower, each bird, and tree
  • The incredible gift of water and fresh clean air
  • New growth, even after destruction
  • New treatments and medicines being discovered to help the sick
  • Good people and organizations who are pouring in aide to help the hungry, the sick, the needy
  • The wonder of sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing
  • The love of family
  • The gifts of friendship and laughter
  • The ease of travel these days
  • Technologies that make our lives easier, more efficient eg; washing machines, kettles, sewing machines, computers
  • The beauty of seasons
  • The joy of pets and animals
  • and. and, and ….

 
There are SO MANY things that bring darkness and despair.

But there are SO MANY things that bring LIGHT, HOPE, JOY and THANKSGIVING.

 In fact, So MANY MORE!!

 For where sin, (darkness)  increased, grace (light) increased all the more
(Romans 5v 20)

 
We can’t stop the darkness. We can’t make it go away.

But we can CHOOSE  where we will focus. What we will focus on.

The LIGHT

or the DARKNESS.

 
And counting our blessings, choosing to focus on all the good and lovely things that God has given all around us, is choosing to focus on the LIGHT.

And where LIGHT increases,

darkness diminishes.

 
That’s why we are commanded:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable, 
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
— think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 )


I want to focus on God, and all His goodness, instead of the enemy and all his darkness. I want to be a Light in a dark world – and the only way to do that is to be filled with light.
 
And for me, the best way I have found to do this in a very dark world surrounding me, is to focus on looking for and noticing His GOOD gifts, to  give Thanks and to Praise Him for them.
 
And the best way to train my brain to do this, is to record. To notice and to write down. Each one I capture on paper, changes me little by little. And opens my eyes little by little, more and more.  The longer I do this, the more I see.
 
This is my deep desire for you.  Just because October is over, don’t stop noticing, recording, counting and thanking.  Make it a daily habit to continue to focus on the goodness around you.  Even the tiniest thing.
 
Imagine the joy that we bring to the Father when we notice His gifts, and say Thanks.
 
Will you keep counting with me?  Fill up this journal, and start the next? And then the next and the next – and keep going.  

Blessings  and Thanks – for doing this challenge with me.


Laurie
 

Margaret Prescott, “Twenty Minutes in Reality” –  Atlantic Monthly  1916


I was lying on a cot on the porch of a hospital at the time, convalescing after a serious illness.

It was an ordinary, cloudy March day. I am glad to think it was. I am glad to remember that there was nothing extraordinary about the weather, nor any un-usualness of setting – no flush of spring or beauty of scenery – to induce what I saw. It was, to the contrary, almost a dingy day.

Yet here, in this very ordinary setting, and entirely unexpectedly (for I had never dreamed of such a thing), my eyes were opened, and for the first time in all my life I caught a glimpse of the ecstatic beauty of reality.

 I cannot now recall whether the revelation came suddenly or gradually;

I only remember finding myself in the very midst of those wonderful moments, beholding life for the first time in all its young intoxication of loveliness, in its unspeakable joy, beauty and importance.


I cannot say exactly what the mysterious change was.  I saw no new thing,

but I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light
– in what I believe is their true light. 

I saw for the first time how wildly beautiful and joyous, beyond any words
to describe, is the whole of life.

Every human being moving across that porch, every sparrow that flew, every branch tossing in the wind, was caught in and was part of the whole mad ecstasy of loveliness, of joy, of importance, of intoxication of life.


It was not that for a few keyed-up moments I IMAGINED  all existence so beautiful, but that my inner vision was cleared to the truth,

so that I SAW the actual loveliness which is always there, but which we so rarely perceive;  and I knew that every man, woman, bird and tree, every living thing before me, was extravagantly beautiful and extravagantly important.

And as I beheld, my heart melted out of me in a rapture of love and delight.

For those glorified moments I was in love with every living thing before me – the trees in the wind, the little birds flying, the nurses, the interns, and the people who came and went.

There was nothing that was alive that was not a miracle. Just to be alive was a miracle in itself. My very soul flowed out of me in a great joy.

For those fleeting lovely moments I did in deed and in truth love my neighbour as myself. Nay more: of myself I was hardly conscious, while with my neighbour in every form, from wind-tossed branches and little sparrows flying, up to human beings, I was madly in love.

This is how, for me, all fear of eternity has been wiped away.

I have found a little taste of bliss, and if Heaven can offer this, no eternity will be too long to enjoy the miracle of existence.

But that was not the greatest thing those twenty minutes revealed, and that did most to end all fear of life everlasting. 

The great thing was the realisation that weariness and boredom, and questions as to the use of it all, belong entirely to unreality. When once we wake to REALITY  – whether we do so here or have to wait for the next life for it, we shall never be bored, for in REALITY there is no such thing.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  

 
Hmmm – food for thought.  But why wait until then to be giving thanks for all the beauty and loveliness He has given us?

Keep giving thanks now, always

Laurie

Numbers 13  (God’s Word Translation)  tells us that the Lord spoke  to Moses telling him to send 12 men, one leader from each of the tribes,  to explore Canaan, and He reaffirms, 

 “which I am giving to the Israelites.”

 It had already been promised to them.   God had spoken to them about this while they were still slaves in Egypt  ….

 
“And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – a land flowing with milk and honey.’ (Exodus 3 v17)

 
What are the Promises that God has spoken to you:  – about your loved ones, your future, your finances, your health …
 
What is YOUR Promised land that God has spoken to you about?
 
What Scriptures has He given you as His Promises?
 

So Moses chose one leader from each of the tribes, and tells them specifically what to look for in their new land, promised  to them by God ….

18 See what the land is like and whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 Is the land they live in good or bad? Do their cities have walls around them or not? 20 Is the soil rich or poor? Does the land have trees or not? Do your best to bring back some fruit from the land.” (It was the season when grapes were beginning to ripen.)

 
It seems to be such an amazingly extensive land, or else there was so much to see, that they were gone for Forty Days. That’s more than a month!!

25 Forty days later, they came back from exploring the land. 26 They came back to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. They gave their report and showed them the fruit from the land.

 
Not just ‘some fruit’ from the land

25“They cut off a branch with only one bunch of grapes on it. They carried it on a pole between two of them. They also brought some pomegranates and figs. “



Yum!  Imagine how huge that bunch of grapes was that it took two people to carry it!   Wow!

27 This is what they reported to Moses: “We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit.

 
So, they agreed that what God had said about their promised land was true!

BUT … some of them had their focus on the wrong things!

But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. 

 
Their fear , lack of faith and negative mindset overwhelmed them.  They did not focus on God, His Promises,  and  the abundance of all He had shown them in the Land He had already promised to give them.

But Caleb and Joshua had the RIGHT Mindset and Focus:

 30  Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land.
We should be more than able to conquer it.”

 
Sadly, Scripture tells us that the 10 others (the majority of those who entered the Promised Land and saw how awesome it was) did not count the Blessings – but the problems and difficulties!  Talk about a negative focus?

 They influenced and persuaded the people. It even says they spread lies!

31 But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there.   

 Tragically – the majority of people chose to believe what the negative people said.


Sadly, we are too often influenced by all the negative talk around us.  It’s easier to go with the download flow than to swim upstream

Numbers 14 Then all the people in the Israelite community raised their voices and cried out loud all that night. 2 They complained to Moses and Aaron, “If only we had died in Egypt or this desert! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land—just to have us die in battle?  Our wives and children will be taken as prisoners of war! Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  4 They said to each other, “Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”   (God’s Word Translation)  

Seriously?????

So obviously,  Joshua  and Caleb despaired

 7 They said to the whole community of Israel, “The land we explored is very good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us. This is a land flowing with milk and honey! 9 Don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. We will devour them like bread. They have no protection, and the Lord is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.”


Now that’s the right mindset! 


Where was their focus:   “The land is very good, He will give it to us, The land is flowing with milk and honey, the Lord is with us”

But the negative mindset won and the people rebelled. God was so angry at their response – in the face of His promises and the proof the people had seen, that He threatened to wipe them all out with a plague.

Imagine the despair God must feel when He has given us so much – and all we do is complain, moan, rebel and behave like we are victims.



Through Moses intercession, God agreed to forgive the unbelieving Israelite’s,   but:

20 The Lord said, “I forgive them, as you have asked. 21 But as I live and as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, I solemnly swear that none of the people who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I did in Egypt and in the desert will see the land which I promised their ancestors.


So- because they had such a negative mindset and focused on the giants and the fear (instead of the blessings and promises) – they wandered in the desert for Forty Years – one year for each day the spies were in the Promised land!

They NEVER entered the Promised land that had already been given to them!!


But – Caleb and Joshua did – and their decedents possessed it.


 
Do we have the Right Mindset and Focus on all that God has promised, and on the Blessings and Gifts He has surrounded us with?
 
Or is our focus on the giants, the problems and difficulties?



That’s why this October 1000 Blessings Challenge is so important.  There’s nothing special about October, or 1000  – but its training us to notice and be aware of, and focus on all the gifts and goodness of God, and the fulfilment of all He has promised us.

If you want to enter the land God has promised you, you need to have the right mindset and focus.

Are you failing to enter the “Promise Land because you don’t have eyes to see ?

Or are you using this 1000 Blessings Challenge to start to open your eyes and train your focus to see, and to give thanks, and to enter in???


I’m praying you will enter in with me!

Blessings always

Laurie

So we are in the middle of our October 1000 Blessings Challenge, and you may be wondering….


What’s so big deal about all this Thanksgiving and Gratitude?  Why all the fuss? 


In this blog I want to show you the incredible benefits you can get from developing an “Attitude of Gratitude”


Firstly – Why is Thankfulness so critical  that God commands it?


In a quick count, I can find over  353 verses commanding us to give thanks. That’s more than one for every day of the year. Wow!   That’s some emphasis!   Just a few to mention … 

1 Thessalonians 5:18:  Give THANKS in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,  giving THANKS to the God the Father through Him. 
Colossians 4:2  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and THANKFUL


But WHY does God command us to be Thankful?


 In researching this I found a very in depth, scientific research document on the benefits of Thanksgiving and Gratitude.  Not a Christian study – purely scientific.  It compiled the results from over 36 different organisations & Institutions who,  over many years, have done specific, concentrated research and scientifically controlled studies on the benefits of Thanksgiving and Gratitude.  I’m not going to share all the information and explanations in depth, but just a quick overview for you.


 
Here’s proof of WHY God commands us to be Thankful and Grateful….

Report from Happier Human (Amin, 2014).
The studies were researching  5 different aspects and influences of Thanksgiving & Gratitude:

  • Personality benefits
  • Emotional benefits
  • Health benefits
  • Social benefits
  • Career benefits


Personality Benefits: 

An  Attitude of Gratitude” affects your personality.1)  Makes us more optimistic    Showing our gratitude not only helps others feel more positive, it also makes us think more positively. 5% to 15% increases in optimism

2) Make us more generous  & decreases our self-centredness.

3) Increases our Contentment: Those who are the most grateful also tend to be less materialistic, less likely to fixate on their discontent and obtaining more.


Emotional Benefits:

4) Gratitude reduces envy

5) Facilitates positive emotions,  –  makes us more resilient, able to cope better

6) Leads to lower levels of stress and anxiety increased feelings of calm, peace and joy

7) Gratitude is a protective factor against depression, feelings of not coping, and suicide

8) Thanksgiving can reduce depressive symptoms –  a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms that suggests Gratitude Journaling can be an effective supplement to treatment for depression.

9) Increases and builds up self-esteem  Being Thankful about who you are, your abilities, strengths and attributes.

10) Increases overall psychological well-being.    Make us generally happier & more positive.   Journaling for five minutes a day about what we are grateful for can enhance our long-term happiness by over 10%   (Wow! –  Imagine being at least 10% happier – or more?) 


Physical Benefits:

Gratitude is proven to …

11) Reduce blood pressure  –  Increases chemicals of peace and joy which alleviate stress symptoms  (Want a healthy heart? Count your blessings!)

12) Improve sleep – a greater focus on contentment 

13) Increase frequency of exercise: Feel far more positive and energised

14) Improve overall physical health by building immune systems

15) Helps people recover from substance misuse or abuse

16) Gratitude’s Role in Recovery  – 
has been proven able to help those who are suffering to take control of their lives and get well again.

17) Enhances recovery from coronary health events

18) Facilitates the recovery of people with depression and anxiety disorders


Social Benefits:

(So we know that gratitude make us more emotionally balanced, happier, and more positive. It makes sense, then, that all of these positive effects result in social benefits as well. After all, happy and healthy people are fun to be around!)

19) Makes people like a thankful , grateful person. Being  thankful affects how trustworthy, social, and appreciative we seem to others.

20) Have access to a wider social network, more friends, and better relationships on average

21) Improves depth of friendships:  Those who have a more positive perception of their friends, then communicate their gratitude to their friends are more likely to work through problems and concerns with them

22) People with an attitude of Gratitude have access to more social support. Gratitude not only helps you get the social support you need to get through difficult times, but it lessens the need for social support in the first place

23) Strengthens  family relationships in times of stress:

24) Protects children & acts as a buffer against the internalisation of symptoms.
Teenage and young adult children who are able to find the positives in their lives can more easily deal with difficult situations.

25)  Those who are more grateful are more likely to engage in voluntary helping behaviours.

26) Improves romantic relationships  Expressing gratitude to significant others results in improved quality in the relationship.  Makes them feel good, make us feel good, and makes the relationship better in general!


Work & Career Benefits:

In the workplace, gratitude can…

27) Improve work-related mental health and reduce stress:  Finding things to be grateful for at work, even in stressful jobs, can help protect people from the negative aspects or side effects of their job

28) Help increase meaning in work, be more effective and more fulfilled throughout their career.

29) Reduces  impatience and improve decision-making – less pressure from hasty decisions & the desire for short-term gratification

30) Make more effective leaders. Practising gratitude enhances leadership/ managerial skills, enhancing your praise-giving and motivating abilities as a mentor and guide

31) Contributes to reduced turnover and attrition – more satisfied work-colleagues


Spiritual Benefits:

32)  Increases Spiritual awareness and Connectivity. (If you are feeling lost spiritually or far away from the Lord, practising gratitude can help draw near.   
Interestingly:  Those times when you are feeling in a good place ‘spiritually’ are probably the times when you are the most grateful and giving thanks.  The times when you are not in a good place, you will find there is little Thanksgiving or gratitude happening.)

32 Benefits – one for each day of the month – plus! Wow!!


In conclusion – the Research summary stated:

1) A regular practice of gratitude and thankfulness can lead to a higher quality of life, measurable by affect.

2) It can be difficult to motivate people to consistently practice gratitude.

The report concluded by saying … 


“It seems counter-intuitive that we are often so resistant to doing something that can make our lives objectively better, but that’s the truth: it’s hard to cultivate a regular gratitude practice.“
How do we then cultivate a regular practice of gratitude?

Start by joining us in our :

October 1000 Blessings Challenge

to notice, record in your Journal and thank the Lord for 1000 gifts or blessings – or as close to 1000 as you can come.
If you haven’t yet, join us here: 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ItsYourTimetoThrive/


Then keep going. You will have, hopefully,  already created a great new habit – no keep going in November, December, January and on-wards. 

I did – and now I’m on my 3rd journal and 5347 (something) blessings later – my whole life and outlook has drastically changed. 

Join me? 

Laurie

Photo Credit – Musa Kika

I sat with a friend who was grieving deeply over the loss of her 9 month old, not yet born baby. She had woken up in the morning and thought, “I just don’t feel pregnant any more.”  This led to a gynae visit, who confirmed the baby had died in-utero – with only 2 days to go before her c/section was booked!  

What utter tragedy and heartbreak. There were just no words!

She looked at me and cried, “Why Laurie?  If God is so good, why did He let this happen?”

At that time, I had no answer, or understanding either.  Now, years later, and many heart-aches and trials later, perhaps I have a different perspective on this question.

I shared in my last blog about the No.1 Power Tool for a Positive Mindset = Thanksgiving!  (http://lauriecoaching.com/the-no-1-power-tool-for-a-positive-mindset/(opens in a new tab)
This Power Tool has not only changed my mindset. It has also helped me change the questions I ask. 

I realise now that we, as humans, question, “Why is there so much suffering in the world?’  But do we ever question ….

“Why is there so much loveliness, or good, in the world?  

Even in the midst of the chaos and pain…

  • the Msasa trees exploding in glorious colours, as in the photo above
  • the chirpy little birds singing their hearts out on the wall
  • the awesome door of opportunity that just opened for me
  • sinking my teeth into the juicy apple
  • a heart-warming call from my son overseas
  • looking forward to a Christmas together with family
  • a catch-up and prayer time with a faithful friend

Small, precious gifts of God’s love and goodness, every day, surrounding me.  Loveliness! If only I will notice, and give thanks.


Do we fail to question why there is so much loveliness and good because all human beings presume upon the goodness of God, the over-flowing grace He constantly pours out? 

Is this because we innately know this is what the world is actually supposed to be like?  Life is supposed to be fair and just, with no suffering, no evil, no corruption or violence – but Good and Lovely.  Like God created it in the beginning when He declared, “It is Good!” 

Isn’t the truth that ‘goodness’ is our intended reality – and evil is the exception?  It’s not supposed to be here.  When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit –  their eyes were opened to the reality of evil,  and they ushered in evil & suffering to the world.   Before that, there was only good, and the norm was good and lovely.

So, if our created nature knows that the default is supposed to be good and we presume that’s what is ‘normal’ and ‘expected – is that why we only usually notice, and focus on the unexpected, the not-normal of evil and suffering, and ask “Why?”

But what if we were to change our focus? 

What if we were to ask God, “Why is there so much loveliness?”  Not only in time of struggle and distress – but daily, constantly?

Wouldn’t that help us to see His amazing grace, His love for us, His kindness and so many aspects of His loving character revealed to us in the many gifts of loveliness He showers upon us, all around us, every moment?  

Perhaps then we would have a different perspective on suffering, pain, loss and evil?   

I know I have. And it started when I started noticing the overflowing loveliness, the gifts and goodness that revealed His love and grace to me everywhere, everyday.

Can I invite you to join me in the “1000 Gifts Challenge”?


A challenge for October (2019) to see how many blessings, or loveliness, you can notice, record in your thanksgiving journal, and give thanks to our loving Father?
Start a new habit, and new lifestyle, and a new perspective on life.  

If you are up for the challenge, I invite you to join our Facebook Group:
  
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ItsYourTimetoThrive/


Lets focus on all the loveliness – and start thanking Him for it.

Chat again soon

Laurie

My Thanks to Ann Voskamp, “1000 Gifts Devotional” for inspiring these thoughts.
https://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Devotional-Reflections/dp/0310315441

I sat in our beautiful garden this morning, overwhelmed with thanksgiving and deep gratitude to the Lord. We are in such a season of blessing! It’s so easy to praise and thank the Lord at times like these. There is so much to be grateful for.

But – it wasn’t always like this.

For many long years, there were mostly only pleas for help, the inevitable questions, “Why, Lord?” , and my journal filled with struggles, trials and pain, trying to process it all with the Lord.

But it was during these long hard years that I learnt the No:1 Power Tool that could help me cope. No – more than just cope – Thrive!! And slowly my focus and attention started to shift from all the negative, discouraging and depressing – to see beauty, joy, life and loveliness, in the midst of difficult circumstances.

The Lord brought a powerful tool into my hands. I came across it as a challenge in a book by Ann Voskamp, called “One Thousand Gifts“. The challenge was to notice, write down, and give thanks for 1000 gifts or blessings.

In the book, Ann shares about her struggles to break free from her dark, hurting past – and how she used the power of noticing, recording and giving thanks to lead her into joy – the fuller life.

She shares, “I decided to try to live this giving thanks as I believe Jesus did each day, regardless of His circumstances. And what I found was that in giving thanks for each moment and savouring it as bread from His hand, I found sustenance and the grace of God Himself in it. Through this intentional, daily practice of giving thanks, I found myself on a transformative journey that affected every aspect of my life – including all the broken places. God began to show me the graces, the love gifts, that were right before me, waiting to be noticed, waiting to be received. This easily overlooked stuff, the small – and especially the hard – became for me a life-giving stream of joy in Him”

So, like Ann was challenged to do, I took the dare and accepted the challenge. I started noticing, and recording, one thousand gifts. ‘Gifts’ – small, usually unnoticed blessings, joys, loveliness, the special ways God loved me and showed me His goodness all around me.

  • The cheeky robin hopping around the lawn near where I am sitting
  • Waking up to a beautiful day of glorious sunshine – again!
  • The amazing gift of free whatsapp calls to friends across the globe. Wow!
  • Being able to lie down in warmth and comfort at night
  • Peace and safety as I sleep – I don’t have to fear bombs, tsunami’s, earthquakes etc.
  • My daughter’s smiles and hugs as she comes home
  • My husband carrying so much responsibility, so confidently
  • The smooth stretch of road where the potholes had been fixed
  • …. and so many more

I started noticing and giving thanks for SO many, many things I had just taken for granted. And I started to change. I found joy in many hidden places. And so I kept noticing – and recording.

In my Thanksgiving diary this morning, I noticed I am up to 5779 ‘gifts’. It’s taken a few years. I accomplished the challenge, and it has now become a lifestyle.

I kept going because I realised how this simple act of giving thanks for everything – the big and the small, the easy and the hard – has totally transformed me. It changed my whole outlook, my mindset and my attitude towards life, people, our circumstances, and the world around me. Because now I see my Father’s love and loveliness every day and every where.

Do you want to change from a negative mindset and outlook to a positive, empowered and joyful mindset. The No:1 Power Tool is THANKSGIVING. Paul was so spot on when he wrote:

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It’s God’s will because He does not want us staying in a place of discouragement, negativity and hopelessness. It’s His will for us to notice, and give thanks, for the abundant gifts, signs of His love and goodness, all around us – because this is where you will find life and joy.

So now I’m challenging you to take this challenge! …. To notice and record 1000 gifts!

Find or buy yourself a nice journal or notebook – and start recording. Make it a NEW HABIT! Find a time of day that works for you. Put your journal where you will see it, and use it, EVERY DAY.

Will you take this challenge?

Can I invite you to join me in the “1000 Blessings Challenge”?
A challenge for October (2019) to see how many blessings, or loveliness, you can notice, record in your thanksgiving journal, and give thanks to our loving Father?
Start a new habit, and new lifestyle, and a new perspective on life.  

If you are up for the challenge, I invite you to join our Facebook Group:
  
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ItsYourTimetoThrive/

Chat soon and happy recording!

Laurie

Peter sure knew this dilemma!

And his story beautifully illustrates the point I’m trying to make.

Mathew 14: 22 – 31:   The Chapter title says “Jesus Walks on the Water
 -but really the focus is Peter walking on the water!

Jesus had gone up on a mountainside by himself to pray, after he had dismissed the crowds and sent his disciples ahead of Him in the boat. 

23: “Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 
 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink
, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
 “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Peter  started off full of Faith.  But, on his way, he saw the wind and the waves.  Don’t situations in life,  like this,  often happen to us? 

We start off full of faith and hope and excitement…but then the winds and waves of adversity come up against us – hardships, trials, obstacles, difficulties … anything that threatens to overwhelm us.

It says “Peter was afraid”.  So too, we can become afraid , and doubt and fear  “I’m going to drown!  Everything is going to be lost?  Am I going to sink now?  How can I carry on?”
 
Peter cries out to Jesus, who immediately reached out and caught him.  What a lovely encouragement for us!  Immediately! Jesus caught him!

But  Jesus says to him – “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I wonder… If Peter had kept his eyes on the goal (Jesus) would he have not become afraid and lost faith? But he took his eyes and focus off his goal.  Likewise,  we need to keep our eyes, our focus, on the goal – and not on the wind, the waves, or difficulties around us.

 

That’s why we need a clear vision of what we are going for – and WHY? 


– Do you have a clear vision of what you are going for – and Why?
– What is your goal? 
– Where/ What would you love to be, to do, to have? 
– If you don’t know where you want to be, then how will you know where you need to go? 
– How will you know when you get there? 
And, importantly – how can you keep your eyes on the goal when the wind and waves buffet you?

Peter became afraid

What is FEAR ?  It is agreeing with negative thoughts that something BAD is going to happen. But, there a 50% chance (or more?) that equally something GOOD might happen. So why do we choose to focus on the BAD instead of the GOOD? 

You’ve heard the acronym:  “FEAR is  False Evidence Appearing Real” 
FALSE Evidence – basically it is a LIE!  It only APPEARS real.  It hasn’t actually happened, and it may never happen. Have you every considered how many of your fears have actually happened? 

I read this in my favourite devotional,  “Jesus Calling”,  and it spoke deeply to me. So, I wrote it out on some colourful card and now have it posted up on my door.

“Trust me enough to face problems as they come, rather than trying to anticipate them – and many difficulties on the road ahead will vanish before you reach them.” 

I love reflecting on this and reminding myself of its truth.

Negative Thoughts &  Beliefs are NEVER the Truth. They are LIES!!!!
Wow – That is a strong statement!  But think about it a while.   

What lies were Peter’s fear or lack of faith built on?  

– The waves are too high and are going to overtake me
– I’m going to drown
– Jesus cant save me
– This situation is too much for me…

And so what were the consequences of his fearful thoughts …

– Fear,  – Panic,   – Alarm,   – Despair,   – Discouragement   …. Hopelessness!!

“Any area of our lives for which we have no hope is under the influence of a lie”
Bill Johnson


 God is a God of Hope – not hopelessness!

“May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)  

He is NEVER hopeless – He is a God of Hope!   Therefore, any Fear is False Evidence = lies!  

So, what should we do with the Fear and Lies – or any negative beliefs?

(This exercise could take you 5 – 10 minutes and will set you FREE! Why don’t you grab a pen & paper and try it?)

1: Recognise and Identity what you are feeling

Bring them into the Open – into the Light – instead of them rumbling around inside of us, doing damage.   Give it a Name:  “I am feeling Fearful, Discouraged, Hopeless”
When we are sick and don’t know what’s wrong – it’s so reassuring when the doctor gives it a name!    Adam & Eve were given authority over the animals by naming them. As soon as we name something – it gives us authority over it.  So recognise and name what you are feeling and take authority over it!

2. Put it into words

Write out that negative belief or thought with the exact words that you are saying or thinking. Get it out of you and actually write it down on paper, in your journal

3. Question it

As we question these lies, its starts to tear then apart.
Where did I learn this lie?  (may be way back in childhood?)
When was the 1st time I felt this?
Who taught me this?
What is the evidence that it is not true? 

4. Look for Evidence to prove the opposite


Write down 3 points or examples when this fear did not come true, or when the opposite was proven true.  Its really worth thinking about,  and writing these down

5.  Then write down what Truth/ Empowering Belief you need to believe instead

One of the best ways is to wait quietly on the Lord. Share with Him what you are feeling and believing. Say, “I repent of believing this lie. I renounce and reject it. Father God – what is the truth you want me to know.”  Then you have His exact words to declare.

6.  Find a Scripture to affirm this Truth?

The Word of God is powerful and active. His word will not go out and return void. Start declaring Gods promises in Scripture.

7.  Find a picture

Find a picture (Google it?) that clearly represents what you need to be focusing on. Put it where you will see it often.  Write out your Truth and put that up too.

And always remember, even if Jesus asks us , “You of little faith – why did you doubt?”, He still reaches out, immediately, and catches us. He is always faithful, even when we are unfaithful – or focused on the winds and waves instead of Him!


Next week – my awesome, No: 1 negativity buster!!  Don’t miss it. 

Abundant Blessings!

Laurie

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