12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season

season

November is upon us, but we need not fear the upcoming calendar. Pinterest may have you pining to do more with your decorations, but my goal this month is to remind us to stay focused on our hearts. I need this encouragement on a daily basis! The usual stresses of the season don’t just happen for homeowners and parents. Students are preparing for finals. The working crew is trying to eek out as much vacation time as possible, and we are all seeking to create amazing moments for our favorite people. This season piles expectation upon expectation, and I’m not just talking about Christmas. Somehow Thanksgiving and Christmas get rolled into one and the exhaustion creeps in earlier each year.

Yesterday I mentioned one of my favorite hymns and my theme for the rest of 2013.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

My prayer is that my heart would keep in tune with God’s grace and not drift sharp or flat.

If you’ve ever played an instrument you know how easy it can be to let things slide out of tune. You lose your focus, forget to check, the weather changes… so many things play into the perfection of the pitch. So let’s keep the pitchy notes at bay and stay engaged in the process.

Today kicks off 12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season.

STEP #1. Demonstrate GRATITUDE!

An attitude of gratitude is completely counter-cultural. Everything about our culture tells us we will be happy if… we get the right stuff, have enough house, take the big vacations, have the best body… and on and on. Thankfulness should be our daily rhythm because it’s the truth. We have SO much to be thankful for.

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.” St. John of Avila

Gratitude is like a muscle; we’ve got to work it out. So while I LOVE combing Pinterest to find projects and things to beautify my house, maybe I need to start walking through my own house and pin post-its of thanks for the blessings I DO have. The growth could start by simply thanking the baggers at the grocery store. Or maybe it looks like voicing my thanks to the Lord in the morning and listing out my thanks in a journal before I go to sleep.

I love the trend to list thanks in November on social media, but what if that same attitude could continue throughout the year. What if we took up the challenge to ONLY use social media to spread an attitude of gratitude rather than gloating, complaining, or arguing?

The more readily we express thanksgiving, the less room we have for negative thoughts and words. So let’s be intentional and let’s be proactive. Ideas for active gratitude:

1. Volunteer with those less fortunate
2. Write thank you notes
3. Purposefully call, text, or e-mail to tell someone why you are thankful for their presence in your life
4. Memorize a verse about giving thanks: “… Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
5. Go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for
6. Get a paper tablecloth and record your blessings
7. Speak your gratitude out loud even in challenging situations: “Thank you for another diaper to change… for a daughter who is healthy, arms that are strong enough to lift her, hands that are able to love her in this way.”
8. Make eye contact and say thank you to any service staff you come in contact with: waiters, drive-thru employees, clerks… you get the idea!
9. I keep hearing about people getting “Boo’d” for Halloween or “Egged” for Easter. Someone start giving “THANXED” blessings on doorsteps. Hah! Leave a cornucopia of encouragement and thankful notes for the house.
10. Let your prayers begin with thankfulness and praise!

Any other ideas?

 

The list is just a start, but I hope it stirs your thoughts. If we want to live more fully in tune with God’s grace, a thankful heart is the perfect launching point.

“The real problem of life is never a lack of time. The real problem of life – in my life – is lack of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks-take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks-and He miraculously makes it more than enough.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Following,
Ginger

Oh Give Thanks!

Forgive the silent blog this week. My family is visiting from Texas and I haven’t wanted to spend a moment in front of a computer screen. We’ve been planning the big meal, playing games, enjoying the Phoenix weather, and just loving being together. I am so thankful for this week.

I hope and pray that you find joy in giving thanks this week with a table for two or a table of twenty. May stress fall to the wayside and be replaced with laughter. (After all, when you stop up your drain with potato peels and you have to clean your turkey in the bathtub, what is there to do but laugh?!) 

May your heart be filled with the fullness of joy!

“Oh Give Thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for his mercy endures for ever.” Psalm 136:1

With Thanks,
Ginger

To the Moon and Back

“…Love is never stationary.”  – Bob Goff, Love Does

Over the past month I’ve been to the pine forests of East Texas, the humid suburbs of the south, and the deserts and mountains of Arizona. I spoke to junior high students about “following” and finished “Love Does” at 30,000 feet. I ran and walked miles with my mom and shopped the afternoon away with my sister. I talked to my grandfather about stocks and met my cousin’s soon-to-be-forever family. I danced the Electric Slide with old and dear friends. I watched home movies with the superstars in the home movies. I saw the dark side of the moon and the green flare of the setting sun from the top of a mountain. It has been quite an adventure.

Today I am thankful for a grandmother who is filling my home with her paintings.
I am thankful for time with my brother, who should not be old enough to have a beard even if he’s 24.
I am thankful for the opportunity to witness wedding vows on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
I am thankful for the chance to do what I love by sharing what I love with young people!

I’m also thankful for changing colors SOMEWHERE in Arizona.
I’m thankful for two years with a man who enjoys two scoops of life.

I’m thankful for the setting sun and the chance to watch the stars and moon come out by night.

I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who goes before me, and hems me in from behind.

“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It’s not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He’s made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, “Let’s go do that together.” 
― Bob Goff, Love Does 

Keep adventuring friends!
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Cultivating Thanksgiving

So how do we move from a complaining atitude and cultivate steady gratitude? We ACTIVELY embrace thanksgiving. When we exercise the muscle of thankfulness the result is evident joy. Who doesn’t want more joy in their life?

Last year at Thanksgiving I shared some tips regarding thankfulness, and I think they fit perfectly with our gratitude theme this week. Check out this retro video and just remind yourself that even now… Thanksgiving is steadily approaching. ;)

 

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17, ESV)

Following,
Ginger

Starting Somewhere

With temperatures hitting near 110 all summer in Phoenix, I’ve spent most of my exercise time indoors and enjoying the ac at our local recreation center. The plan is to possibly run a 10k in September and then a half marathon in November or January. Because of those goals I’ve had to start seriously training again. And just like the last race, training for this next round started with mile number one. So more miles to run = more time on the treadmill. While music helps me for the first few miles, eventually I turn on the TV and start hunting for something that will keep my mind off how long I still have to run! Since I run mid-afternoon the programming is less than desirable. I keep getting sucked into viewing shows I ordinarily wouldn’t watch; much less admit to you now. (Darn you Bravo and those housewives of all kinds.) It’s easy to fall into patterns of behavior with entertainment, food, gossip, language – you name it. The more I’m around something the more I’m prone to just go with the flow.

This weekend in church we were challenged by a great guest speaker (Marty Caldwell) to look at Romans 12:1-2 in a translation I’m not familiar with- the J.B. Phillips New Testament. Check out why it’s made such an impact on my heart:

“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Romans 12:1-2, JBP NT)

I love that picture of God re-molding me from within. You are probably more familiar with the NIV version of this verse that says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The reason I like the J.B. Phillips version so much is because I think it gives me a more literal picture of what it looks like to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I understand the concept of transformation… it’s like the caterpillar to the butterfly… but how do I actually accomplish that? “Let God re-mould your minds from within…” It’s Him. It’s God’s work.

So does that mean there’s nothing I can do to work out this transformation? Paul also writes this in his letter to the Philippians… “So then, my dearest friends, as you have always followed my advice—and that not only when I was present to give it—so now that I am far away be keener than ever to work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility. For it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve his purpose.” (Philippians 2:12, JBP NT)

Our speaker challenged us to consider the evidence of transformation in someone’s life. He suggested that the first bit of evidence would likely be seen through an attitude of gratitude. Think about it- it’s totally counter-cultural. Everything about our culture tells us we will be happy if… we get the right stuff, have enough house, take the big vacations, have the best body… and on and on.

Thankfulness should be our daily rhythm because it’s the truth. We have SO much to be thankful for. Paul’s challenge in Romans 12 is to NOT let ourselves simply be influenced by the world, but to reprogram our thoughts and desires – to ask God to open our eyes so we can see and live as thankful people. Gratitude is like a muscle… we’ve got to work it out.

So while I LOVE combing Pinterest to find projects and things to beautify my house, maybe I need to start walking through my own house and pin post-its of thanks for the blessings I DO have. The growth could start by simply thanking the baggers at the grocery store. Or maybe it looks like voicing my thanks to the Lord in the morning and listing out my thanks in a journal before I go to sleep. Who knows? A workout has to start somewhere…

What are you thankful for today?

Following,
Ginger