Tag Archives: Black Friday

Giving Thanks

Can I admit something to you on this dreary Black Friday? Oh it isn’t that I am a secret shopaholic or that I got up at 4AM to stand in line to purchase a television. This is something that I am really not proud of. And it certainly isn’t a part of my life I want to highlight.

But I want to share it with you, just in case in might help you.

I realized last night while praying before my Thanksgiving meal I don’t thank God often enough.

thank_you_by_loish-d8boqn5Oh, I manage every once in a while to thank Him for the big things. My husband, my dog, the house I live in, the fact I get to live in my favorite state. But when it comes down to where the rubber hits the road, I skid away from thankfulness.

This morning, I grabbed my journal because it seemed like a great way to start the day. Normally, I journal at night, but today I wanted to begin with it – to ask God to bless my day in advance instead of reviewing my day with Him at night. And in the middle of asking Him to use me today, it struck me how often I ask Him for things instead of thanking Him.

I rush through my day so intensely, I rarely take time to thank Him for some of the blessings He gives me. Like the delightful taste of my morning cup of tea. Or the comforting warmth of my slippers keeping my feet balmy on the cold wooden floors. The soft whoosh of my dog’s tail on the cabinets as I prepare her meals. The things that make our lives rich and beautiful, but that we often don’t notice or appreciate.

Instead my prayers seem to be “Help me, Lord. Give me, Lord. Please, Lord, provide this thing for me.” I tell myself to send up short prayers in the middle of my day to thank God, but I rarely do this. I even journal about the deep desire in my heart to develop this habit. My faulty attempts fall short.

I wish I could say I was learning how to do this much better than I currently am. It’s as if all roads lead back to me and not to God’s glory.

I have done things I never dreamed I could accomplish. Like marrying the man of my dreams when I thought love would never bloom, traveling to Hong Kong, moving to California, writing a book. I remember moments that were so uplifting I couldn’t hold my joy inside. But rarely in that moment of exquisite delight did I take time to thank God, even though I knew as the Creator of joy, the blessings came from Him. Somehow I miss the power of the short prayer in 2 Corinthians 9:15: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

This year, I am bound and determined to thank God as often as I can. Because during those times when I wonder where He’s gone, why He’s not more present to me, I realize it is mostly because all I’ve been doing is praying about what I want and not thanking Him for what He’s given me.

As the season of gift-giving starts, I’m preparing my heart so God gives me the eyes to see the gifts that gather in the small, mundane, everyday places of my life where I can easily say, “Thank you, Lord.” Won’t you join me? 

Black Friday

Are you a Black Friday fanatic? Please tell me you aren’t! This year, I was thoroughly disgusted that major retailers started the Christmas shopping season on Thanksgiving. Instead of giving us a few more hours to bask in the thankful glow for all God gave us, for all the blessings this country has received  –  instead of sitting with family and friends relishing deep community and fellowship – something we all need – folks were out sleeping in tents, standing in lines, pushing and shoving all to save a few dollars on an item that will probably be obsolete in a couple of months.

The saddest commentary for me was a man sleeping in a tent in front of a big box realtor. He explained, “I brought bats and pepper spray; just in case someone tries to cut in front of me.” How very sad that the holiday meant to pause and offer gratitude has become one of battling it out for the latest electronics.

Especially this year, I didn’t want Thanksgiving to end. It’s quickly becoming a holiday that is skipped over in our dizzying rush to Christmas. Instead, I like to make Thanksgiving a time I reflect on all God has done for me. In Luke 8:15, Jesus reminds us, “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it and by persevering produce a crop.” (NIV)

I long for all of us to have the noble and good heart – to reflect the love of Christ in all we do. There is no better way to express thanks to Christ than that. Could those at the first Thanksgiving dinner ever imagine their holiday of love, peace and thanks would get sandwiched in between Blackout Wednesday and Black Friday? America showed its nobility when it became the first nation to set aside a national day of thanks, yet now we seem to be the laughing stock of the world as we drink ourselves to oblivion the night before and shop ourselves silly on the day afterward. Has that become the sign of a thanking God for our country, life, family and friends?

Thanksgiving for Richard and I has always been a slow holiday. We enjoy each other; we cook dinner together, we talk, we laugh – we open up space to love each other. We both want the same thing, a heart that is humble and fertile enough to receive God’s Word, retain God’s instruction and reflect on God’s character in both action and reactions.

Want a noble heart during this frenetic season?  Here are three simple suggestions:

Focus on People – Open your heart to all. See everyone as someone who deeply matters to God. Place a higher importance on people than on anything you could ever purchase in a store.

Be Generous – Think of your favorite Christmas memories. Most don’t involve the gifts, but the people. Create fantastic new memories for your family. Give your time and your treasures to those around you – even if it means giving up an afternoon of shopping to work in a homeless shelter. That precious gift will bring more joy than anything wrapped under the tree.

Slow the Season – Avoid hurry. Replace it the community, with friends. Sit on the sofa with those you love reflecting on how Christ’s birth impacts you. People are shaped by two things: trust and truth. And those two things require time.

Above all, with a noble and good heart, thank God for the miraculous love He showers on you.