Monday, November 26, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Dana's thoughts on thankfulness

Thoughts on Thankfulness
A devotional by Dana McNeely

As a child, one of the first movies I watched on our new 12-inch TV was Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I laughed at “Grumpy,” with his crossed arms, frowns, and for whom nothing seemed to go right, but I wanted to BE like “Happy,” with his irrepressible cheer.

Happy, Happy, Happy

The next day, I resolved to emulate Happy, but a series of events conspired against me. Before school, my sister scribbled with purple crayon on my prized Breyer horse. Later, my best friend Shari ignored me at recess. That afternoon, one of my lock-onto-your-shoes roller skates flipped off as I raced down our driveway, and I skinned up both knees. Later, as I settled with bandaged knees in front of the TV, my mother insisted I come to come to dinner right now, despite pleas that my favorite program, Mickey Mouse Club, was starting.

Smarting from the unfairness of it all, I announced I was running away to live with Shari. Her family also had a TV, and I planned to catch part of my program there. Having forgotten her snit, my friend was glad to see me, but Mickey Mouse Club was over, and so was dinner at her house. As we sat on her bedroom floor playing with dolls, I heard her dad talking on the phone. Was he calling my mom? Did she miss me? My knees smarted and my stomach growled.

Shari sympathized over my scraped knees and said she was getting skates soon so we could race together. Her little brother pranced into the room, grabbed one of the dolls, and ran out whooping.

My little sister wasn’t so bad—cute, really. I was lucky to have roller skates, and next time I’d tighten them better. I wondered what Mom had cooked for dinner. It didn’t really matter—my mom was the best cook in the world.

I asked Shari’s dad to ask if I could come home. In minutes, my dad picked me up. When I said my prayers that night, I thanked God for roller skates, my parents, my little sister, and the Mickey Mouse Club.

Lesson learned?

Sadly the tendency to channel “Grumpy” instead of “Happy” has plagued me throughout life. But I did begin to learn I can choose to look at circumstances in two ways. I can see unfairness, difficulty, and pain. This is the path of resistance, leading to resentment and anger. Or I can see blessing, potential, and God’s leading. This is the path of acceptance, leading to thankfulness and peace.

Easy-peasy choice? Not! The only way to keep our focus on the path of thankfulness and peace is to constantly bolster our spirits with God’s wisdom. When I first wake, I think, “This is the day which the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it! Yay!” My version of Psalm 118:24 starts my day right.

When we face difficulty, we can thank God if we remember Psalm 138:8 (CSB) which says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me. LORD, your faithful love endures forever; do not abandon the work of your hands.”

When we pray, each prayer can incorporate thankfulness. God gave instructions for thanksgiving and praise at certain times. 1 Chronicles 23:30 (NIV) says, “They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening…”

He also tells us to praise him at all times. Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Good Manners

Remember the ten lepers who Jesus healed?

Luke 17:15,16 (NIV) says: “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.”

This both shames and encourages me. I’m encouraged that a Samaritan, an “outsider” like me, could please Jesus by doing the right thing. I’m ashamed when I think how many blessings I take for granted without thanking the giver of all good gifts. Don’t be like the nine who went away amazed but never thanked the Healer.

A Challenge for you

Pick one activity below and practice it this week:

· A day without complaining. Don’t complain for twenty-four hours. Not once. If you grumble, ask forgiveness, and reset the clock!

· A day of extravagant gratitude. Thank God for everything that comes into your life today. Take notice of little things – a tender leaf, a butterfly spiraling in flight. Look for ways to thank God for even those things that unsettle your soul, like the driver who suddenly dives in front of you and slams on his brakes!

· A gratitude journal. As a writer, I love this one! Start with your Bible’s concordance. Find verses under the topics of thankfulness, praise, gratitude, and blessing. A few to get you started: Acts 3:7-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10. Copy these into your gratitude journal to re-read on days when “Grumpy” wants to take control. Draw pictures or make lists of people, things, and circumstances you’re thankful for.

Please share your ideas and verses in the comments section. I’ll be checking in to read your responses and chat. Thank you for reading my post!



Author Bio:

Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back? 

Dana began research for her novel, Rain, which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).

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