Praying the Unattainable

I was in a Bible study this evening, sitting at a table with some people that I barely knew or had just met. We were discussing why it is that thanksgiving isn’t more of a part of our lives of faith.

One girl said that when she prays, she starts off by thanking God for those certain attributes of His that she will never have.

That took me by surprise. At first, it sounded like she was copping out, but I figured I’d hear her out so I tuned all the way in to the rest of what she said.

She basically said that she praises God for attributes like His omniscience and omnipotence. That centers the rest of her prayers around the fact that God knows way more than she does and can see from a bigger vantage point than she can.

I wonder how that would change my own prayer life. If I was mindful of God’s ability to know and see things I can’t, it might change my perspective toward what I think God needs to give me. It might shift my focus from what I don’t have to what I do.

I might even choose to ask for less and pray more “Thy will be done,” leaving the choice to God to provide what He knows I need instead of what I think I want (that often times I don’t really want once I get it).

Thanksgiving comes first. It changes my mindset from entitled whiner to grateful praiser. It reminds me that everything I am and have is really only God’s doing, so I have no reason to think I’m all that and a bag of chips. Then I can rightly see myself as God sees me and understand that when God sees Jesus in me, that’s a very good thing.



Let Go

“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy’s flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

Five years ago, I read a book that changed my life. It changed the way I look at my circumstances, allowing me to seek joy and to always be on the lookout for those 1,000 small daily gifts for which to give thanks. There’s always, always something to be thankful for.

I still have moments of grumpiness and days where entitlement and bitterness seem to win out. I go through seasons of complaining and comparison, unrest and envy. I can Debbie Downer with the best of them.

But the best days are still the ones where I give thanks and live out of gratitude and awe. That’s where I see God at work in me and around me. That’s when others see Jesus in me.

Regardless of how well or how poorly I lived out my thanksgiving, tomorrow’s always a chance to do better or start over or simply surrender and let God have His way. I think door number three sounds best.



Living by Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” (John F Kennedy).

Today is the 54th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. Nearly all of you who were alive on that day back in 1963 remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.

He may be gone, but his legacy and his words live on.

Anyone can talk a good game, but living it is something entirely different. When it comes to gratitude, anyone can say thanks. Words are cheap. But living out your thanks is much rarer and more precious.

How do you live by gratitude? You pay it forward. You take the good done to you and do something good for someone else. You thank God best by living out His message of reconciliation and hope in a world that desperately needs that message.

In 27 minutes, it’s Thanksgiving Day. Let’s not just live out thanksgiving on this one day of the year but on each and every day of 2017 and 2018 and every year to follow, for as many years that God gives us.

As a reminder, I urge you to look for one small thing every day to be thankful for and see if that doesn’t change your entire outlook on life.

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving Eve, everyone!


The Return of October

Once again, October is upon us. We’re entering yet again into my favorite time of the year.

Today was a pleasant reminder of why I love this month so much with the very fall-ish weather. I could almost smell the pumpkin spice in the air (though my personal preference if I have to choose is the salted caramel).

I’m completely aware that this is still the wonderful state of Tennessee and the warmer weather is far from done for the year. I expect there will be a few more days of 80+ degree weather (though hopefully no more 90+ days).

Still, the advent of October means that Halloween is on its way, and after that comes Thanksgiving and Christmas. October means bonfires and changing colors of leaves and crisper temperatures.

My one and only gripe about October is that I wake up in almost complete darkness. It looks and feels like midnight and my body doesn’t want to get out of bed. Still, I’ll take that if it comes with all the goodness that October brings.

Happy October, everyone!

A Word from Mr. Bonhoeffer

“Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the
Christian life. Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the
great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts
prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think that
we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge,
experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be
seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the
strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians,
and we consider these complaints to be pious. We pray for the big things and
forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we
receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not
gratefully receive the little things from God’s hand?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

To receive the greater gifts and blessings, it’s important for us to give thanks for the seemingly smaller gifts (which in hindsight turn out to be not quite so small after all).

Above all, I think it’s important to give thanks for each day God wakes us up and not take for granted another 24 hours that we got to see and touch and taste and smell and live.

No matter what happened today, good or bad or ugly, the fact that you survived is an indication that God’s not done with you and that He still has a purpose for you being here.

I believe those who are the happiest and most joyful are the ones who are grateful for everything, not just the obvious blessings. I know those are the people I want to get to know and to be like. May we all be those kinds of thankful people.



Grateful for Sore Muscles

Yes, that title is correct. I’m thankful for sore muscles tonight. I’m generally not a fan of soreness, but tonight I give thanks for several reasons:

The soreness came from washing and waxing my car this afternoon, so I’m thankful for being physically able to do those things, even if it resulted in slight discomfort later on. There are a lot of people, some my age or younger, who could not perform those tasks because of physical limitations.

Being able to wash and wax my car means that I have a car that’s reliable transportation, so for that I’m also grateful. It may be old . . . I mean vintage . . . but it still gets me where I need to go with a little style to boot.

I give thanks that the good weather held out just long enough for me to finish waxing my car before the rain started. I also held out long enough, though I was sweating profusely by the time I was done. My next post will likely be about how I need to workout more.

Eyes to see with, ears that hear, a mind that works. I refuse to take anything for granted anymore, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. I believe gratitude opens up the door of blessing and makes us see more of the blessings we already have.

Usually, I suck at giving thanks. I do my fair share of complaining and grumbling (mostly to myself in my head). Those days when I give thanks, I can tell a tangible difference in the way I see the world and the way the world sees me. It makes a difference.

Oh, I’m also thankful that Advance Auto Parts had the car wax on the shelf for me to buy so that I could wax my car. I almost left that part out.

Simple Pleasures

It’s easy to let life overwhelm you and get you distracted by all that you didn’t get done today or how much awaits you tomorrow. You can get so focused on the big picture and what will happen five years from now that you forget to find joy in the simple pleasures.

Right now, my geriatric feline is sleeping on the pillow next to mine. Occasionally, she snores. I suppose when you’re an 18 year old cat, you’re allowed. Still, it never ceases to amuse me.

I still love the feeling of driving at night with the windows rolled down and the breezes blowing. It works best in spring and fall, but there are the occasional summer nights where the air is slightly less hot and humid.

In case you forgot, the very act of breathing in and out and being alive is itself a miracle and one of the greatest joys for those who are able to appreciate it. None of us are entitled to the next day, so when it comes, it comes as a gift.

Your assignment is to take time out in your busy day to find the simple pleasures and say a quick prayer of thanks for each one. You might be surprised how it changes your perspective.


Thankfulness Makes You Rich

“I discovered that being thankful and experiencing the power and presence of Jesus Christ are tightly entwined. As we practice thankfulness, we experience more of God’s transforming grace, God’s there-ness” (Mark BuchananThe Road We Must Travel: A Personal Guide for Your Journey).

I keep thinking about what Dietrich Bonhoeffer said. And no, I normally don’t go around pondering the words of dead German theologians, but what he said has stuck with me ever since I read this: “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

It’s not possessions or wealth or status that makes you rich. It’s not what car you drive or what shirts you wear or what part of town you live in.

It’s gratitude.

I’d forgotten to give thanks. I let envy and anxiety creep in (like all of us do from time to time) and forgot to be thankful for all the little things that make life great.

I still believe that when you give thanks for the minutiae, that’s when God shows up and that’s when the miracles start happening. That’s when your life becomes rich in a way that no amount of money could ever buy.

That’s what I want to get back to.

Thank you, God, for this life and forgive me if I don’t love it enough.




Happy Birthday Adam to Me!!

It’s my Birthday Adam, the day before my birthday Eve, the day before my actual birthday. As usual, all forms of payment are accepted.

I’m thankful that I’m still around to celebrate another birthday. Growing old is a privilege denied to many, so I’m not going to grumble or take it for granted.

I’m going to wake up tomorrow (God willing) and say a prayer of thanks for the privilege. I’m going to get in my car and drive to my job and be grateful for those things as well.

I’m going to take pleasure in the little things like the early appearance of spring weather and the flowers blooming. I’m not going to dwell on the things I can’t control or bemoan all that I don’t have but rather give thanks for everything I do have.

So here’s to a happy 45th birthday and another year full of grace and mercy to come!


Boxing Day 2016

Christmas Day officially ended 37 minutes ago. Even though I know that the Christmas spirit lives on, I’m always a little sad to see the day end because I know it means the end of all those festive decorations and lights.

Still more than that, it means the end to the time when I feel most closely connected to the past and all those family and friends who are no longer here. Somehow, those memories seem to visit me a little more freely at this time and I’m a little more thankful for them.

The beauty of Christmas is that because of the child born in the manger, no one I loved is ever really lost to me. I have the hope of seeing them again one day. Those of us who have received the greatest gift of Christmas in the form of Jesus can grieve not as those who have no hope but will the full assurance of the blessed hope that Christ has given to us.

That’s the same hope that nullifies any fear of death and the grave. It cancels out any fear of what anybody here on earth can do to me. That hope not only gives me a future but also an abundant life here and now.

It’s now 12:45. It’s all quiet except for the sound of my geriatric cat purring on the pillow next to mine. I’m still trying to make sense of the blur that has been the last five weeks since Thanksgiving.

I know that the next Christmas Day rolls around in 364 days but I also know the promise that day holds will be good tomorrow and the day after that and through all the days of the year.

That same gift that came in the manger so long ago is still available to anyone who asks and seeks the Christ in faith.