Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Meditation | A Season of Gratitude

Hello, brand new week in a new month.  Come in and sit down, fresh November Monday.  Let's talk about all the opportunity you bring with you.

I feel like you are handing me a brand-spanking new notebook with scads of crisp pages.  I can let my thoughts roam anywhere about anything.  After blogging daily on one topic (31 Days to Be Still) in October, I am thrilling in this November no-agenda.

And, at the same time, I'm a little freaked out.  No agenda?  Anything goes?  However do I decide where to begin?

So after consulting with the Big Guy in the Sky, I'm starting this new chapter in regular-but-not-rigid writing with a general plan.  I welcome your prayers that it will be fruitful and I will be faithful.

Mondays you can swing by for a weekly warm up.  I'm calling it...

Part stillness (gotta keep that habit going!), part reflection, part intention-setting for the week ahead.

I'll also have a little something for our faith-filled conversations on Wednesday and Friday.  But I'm not leaking that yet.  You'll just have to stop back later in the week!

So, dear reader/cyber friend, this is what's on my mind this Monday...

Cruising through the aisles at Target last week, I balked at the "welcoming" display of — aaaack! — Christmas decor.  Hello?!  People!  I haven't even purchased my Halloween candy!  I still have a panda costume to create!  Stop rushing us with all this fast-forward consumerism.  Target, darling, you are freaking. me. out!

So I squeezed my eyes shut and blindly steered my cart to the slightly more sane section of the store, where Halloween was still the current calendar item.  (Yes, I go to Target often enough that I can navigate without my sense of sight.)  I aimed for the section where all the normal people were, grabbing their fun-sized sugary bribes to keep the local kiddos happy and stave off any tricks.

And in transit between fast-forward-future and eleventh-hour-present, I breathed a sigh of relief that between the sugar frenzy of Halloween and the present frenzy of commercial Christmas, we have the gratitude of Thanksgiving.  (Granted, it's another holiday of over-indulgence, but as long as pecan pie is involved, I don't really see a problem with that.)
Thanks-giving.  Giving thanks.  Now there is a delightfully sugar-free, finance-free, feel-good attitude.  And in the giving of gratitude we also receive a happy heart (yes, that's a direct reference to Madame Blueberry of Veggie Tales fame).  Which makes Thanksgiving a holiday worth starting a little early.

Now I'm not saying let's get our undies in a bundle planning for the big meal and decorating the house and polishing the silver.  I'm suggesting we pull on a layer of gratitude this lovely Monday.  We wrap ourselves in a coat of appreciation.  We look through our November days with an eye out for how we can be more thankful.
Because God gives us so much to be thankful for.  The fact that He is good and His love endures forever is just the beginning.  And when we are grateful to God, thankfulness leads us along the path to joy.

You know Ann Voskamp?  The lyrical, spiritual writer I mention about every sixth post?  One of the Christian Super Heroes (in my book, at least) whose capes are compassion and whose powers all hinge on prayer?  She has an amazing book about this gratitude/joy/faith connection: One Thousand Gifts.  If you haven't read it, I encourage you to rush right out to your local library or book store and grab a copy. Or, even faster, download it on your e-reader and start reading it.  Right now.  Yes... you'll have to leave my humble little page.  But she's miles more insightful than I am, and I love her work dearly, so I'm okay with that.
Oh, good.  You came back!

So Ann (yes, I'm still talking about Ann), challenges us to this fabulous thing called #joydare where we count up our God-given blessings and aim to reach #1000gifts. I've dabbled in this on and off and off and on over the past few years.  When I take the time to reflect on my day or week and document the richness of little details or the delight of big moments, I start to float.  My spirits lift.  My grin comes bigger and faster, my laugh erupts quicker and louder.  And I float over the little bits of bitterness that try to trip me up.  (It is a little bit like having a super power, endowed by the Holy Spirit).
But I'm human.  I get distracted, and the habit falls to the wayside, lost in the daily detritus.  I get bored, and the notebook list gets abandoned for slips of colorful paper in a box which gets pushed aside for a digital document.  I get forgetful and can't remember if I'm on gift 42 or 37 or 61 and so I simply give up.  Just look at the gap in my 1000 gifts page.  Gifts 72 to 92?  They are scattered in a box and a book and a glitched, lost list on my phone.

Yet I'm capable of change.  By the grace of God I posted 31 Days to Be Still, so I know if I trust in him and pray to him and make the time and space...
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13
With that in mind, I'm going to pray for God's help to put thankfulness in my heart and on my tongue every day this week.  Care to join me?


You give me so much to be grateful for.  As we move into November and the weather turns a bit bleaker and darker, I ask that you make my heart brighter and lighter.  

Help me to see the little gifts in each day.  Gifts in relationships.  Gifts in work.  Gifts in nature.  Gifts in my church and in the universal church.  Gifts in my neighborhood and gifts across the globe.  Gifts that come in pretty packages and gifts that seem a bit dingy on the outside, but carry true love and caring nonetheless.

Like a little kid on the hunt for a dropped penny, keep my eyes open for bright bits of shininess.  Remind me to pick them up, to hold and observe them, and to praise you for them.  For in savoring the unexpected, I will find the good fortune of a more joyful heart, a more trusting faith, and a more generous outlook on life.
Lord help me to be intentional and faithful in marking these moments of gratitude.  I want to make my praise public and glorify you.  I want this for myself, so when I doubt your deliverance, I have concrete evidence of all the good that you do.  I want this for my kids, so that they witness firsthand the blessings of gratitude.  I want this for my community, so that we can push back the carping and the criticisms in the media and crowd them out with positive attitudes and pleasant moments.  I want this for you, so that more and more your good news is known, in ways big and small, in the hearts of all humans.  

That last part freaks me out a bit, God.  The idea of being public in praising you stretches me past the edge of my comfort zone.  But I know that's where the greatest gifts happen — when you nudge me into a new and challenging place.  That's when you show me how you can fill in the the distance between my comfort and your better way.  That's where my faith grows and my heart fills and my soul sings.

So I'm not editing that soul stretching part out.  I'm sending this prayer up.  And I know you will provide.  Thank you for always providing.


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