Journaling: giving Thanks, giving Praise–it’s all Worship

Journaling: giving Thanks, giving Praise–it’s all Worship

I was humbled to speak and be among the most beautiful, most inspirational women last weekend at the Faith, Hope, Butterflies: Seeing God’s Beauty in Change Christian Women’s Conference in North Wilkesboro.  I am still in awe of the stories and the beautiful worship music shared and the blessings God rained down on us.

I spoke about journaling, giving thanks, and worship. Glory to God alone.

It had been less than 48 hours to the moment that I had shouted at the nurses and doctors to stop–it was too late.  Too late.  My loud didn’t come from a heart of anger but from the deepest of darks.  You see my Daddy was lying on a cold steel table there in the hospital and the electric shocks the doctors and nurses were pounding into his heart were not going to bring him back to us.  Jesus was there and my Daddy was with Him.

And God tells us….In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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There was so much I wanted to say about my Daddy at his memorial service.  But I was struggling to find the words–my thoughts.  And I went into his bedroom on that Sabbath morning, the day of his service and picked up one of his journals and began to read it.  My family didn’t even know my Daddy had been writing down his thoughts–we only found the journals the day after his passing.  His journals weren’t the fancy ones–they were the 5-for-a-dollar notebooks.  That was my Daddy.

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Daddy’s penned words didn’t talk about himself or his life–they glorified God–through thanks, through scripture, through song lyrics, through quotes.  And on that Sunday out of his yellow notebook I shared Daddy’s testimony from his own words.  His writings expressed Jesus’ love, a love that is calling to us to our last day and the question, are we ready.

In his journal he wrote, “Some call it heaven.  I call it home.” And the words I shouted, ‘it’s too late’ on that snowy morning in the hospital–it was never up to the doctors and nurses to save him.  Only Jesus can offer salvation and Daddy accepted this grace gift and prepared for his eternal home years before March 7, 2014.

In everything give thanks.

Research shows anyone who practices gratitude on a daily basis benefits greatly both physically and mentally.  It’s so much more.  It’s worship.  It’s prayer.  It’s talking to my Heavenly Father.  It’s what I believe we are supposed to do.  It’s recognizing all of His good gifts.  In all things.  In sorrow and in joy.

As I was preparing for today I spent a little time reading some of my past journals entries….

November 16, 2011, “Dear God what a wonderful, wonderful night–thank you for answered prayers.  Thank you for saving JB.  Please God help us to guide and help him.  And then I wrote the text message JB had sent me on the opposite page so I wouldn’t forget.

January 20, 2018, I set a timer you know.  In my urgency I was only going to work 3 hours–done in 3 hours–cleaning and organizing the craft supply room at the church.  And then I received a text message fom a dear friend, ‘you have been on my mind–are you okay?’ And right then the altar was calling me more than the disarray of glue, paint, beads, twine, yarn, stickers.  And on that day God was preparing me for 2018.

The past few years I have chosen a word and this year my word is brave.

And on January 31st my baby brother was rushed to the ER and the medical staff gave us little hope.

March 22, 2018. Dear God, My journal stopped on January 29th, two days before Tom was close to death.  And I couldn’t write–only pray.  My brother is a miracle because of you.  Thank you God for your healing grace.

August 23, 2018. Today I am waking up to a new season in my life–a new chapter–so to speak.    I have breast cancer.  Breast cancer–not sure it has soaked into my heart–fully saturated it but my mind has absorbed all the medical language–the procedure steps.  Today I am a number–one of the many women diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer.  A partial lumpectomy with six weeks of radiation.  God, keep me brave.  Keep me strong.  And thank you for your many blessings.

My journals are often times filled with lists–names–people needing the uplifting of prayer–one liners of gratefulness-blank pages.

  • Sunrises so blinding I have to look away.
  • Hugs so tight from grand baby girl they almost take my breath away
  • Pink clouds
  • The dark night sky filled with stars.  Filled with visions of heaven
  • Birds at the feeder
  • Baby Wyatt’s first birthday party–his curls are just like his Daddy’s at that age–my baby boy
  • Sweet tea with crushed ice
  • My grand baby boy Kase singing loud, Love Lifted Me

And my prayer lists–

  • Jacob Brown and his family
  • My aunt Geraldine and family
  • My church
  • My family
  • Children in need
  • Homeless

And the list goes on…….

Do I write in my prayer journal and gratitude journal every day–no.  I fail God daily.  But I am trying to do better.  Because what I have found most for me in keeping a prayer journal, a gratitude journal is this–returning to the pages whether I am writing or rereading, they both bring me closer to God.

Keeping a journal has helped me to be more grateful for the privilege of prayer, both answered and unanswered–to pray–to read and remember scriptures–to be thankful for both my blessings and my storms.

And on some days I return to the pages and many are filled with tear stains–marked by the noise of the world and sadly even myself–trying to drown me in words such as loser-failure–unworthy.  And as I reread my past I am once again reminded of how much God has changed me through some of the hardest struggles.  How my faith and trust in Him has grown.  How His presence, His grace, and His mercy are steadfast.  I remember His goodness and remember He is my hope.  And I am reminded these words should be a constant in my thoughts–my warrior cry–I am His daughter and I am forgiven.

I ask each of you to take a moment and think of three things you are thankful for and three people who are in need of prayer.  I am certain you didn’t have to think very long.  We all have much to be thankful for and many are in need of prayer.  The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, study God’s word, serve others, and to give thanks.  When we focus on our blessings rather than our burdens and our complaints, I believe we will experience more contentment and our faith will become stronger.  And when our hearts are on the needs of others, we will forget self.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 136:1

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

2 Timothy 2:15, Study to shew thyself approved unto God. 

Isaiah 34:15 Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read

And the story of the Good Samaritan–to serve others–And he said, He that shewed mercy on him.  Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. Luke 10:37

You may want to give journaling a try.  Whether it’s illustrating or simply keeping a list of names in a prayer book, keeping a prayer journal, a scripture journal along with your thoughts–a list of ways you can serve others or sermon notes on Sunday mornings.  You don’t have to have a fancy journal to begin.  Only a pen and paper will do, along with a willing heart.

Thank you for your presence today.  I thank you for your kindness and your prayers.  I am not worthy nor do I deserve to stand before you.  But I hope something I have shared with you today will encourage you.  And most importantly I pray I have used my voice to praise His Holy Name.

In closing I want to share this.

The hard is getting harder.  The cruel in this world is becoming more and more hurtful.  And evil is, as we have never experienced.  We are living in a world that has forgotten God–a world that has forgotten to where our blessings flow.  A world that has forgotten how to love.

As I stand here and look at all of us–together in this room I want to leave you with this thought and read from Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 5 and 6.  

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  

We need God to shine strong in our lives.  Together. Our world needs God and they need to see God in us.  Our world needs to hear our prayers and see us praise Him more.  And our world needs to see us more like Jesus–love more and judge less.

Let’s share His story and share ours.  We need each other.  We need the giving of thanks–the giving of love–the giving of encouragement–the lifting of prayer for one another.

We are so much better together than we are apart.

May God bless each of you.

 

 

 

A week of thanks; the Saturday Gratitude Journal

A week of thanks; the Saturday Gratitude Journal

I haven’t picked up that particular journal in a while.  The journal where I started writing my gifts–my blessings.  Not that I haven’t been thankful or received many undeserved blessings.

Why is it we sometimes fail to give thanks–thanks to Him where all our blessings flow? And perhaps we do.  For the big things. But what about for the everyday. Maybe it’s the busyness of this drowning in life that we often bring on ourselves.  The rush. The everything else is more important.  Or I’ll do this later.  And later comes and we are exhausted.

Or maybe–just maybe our focus is on the struggles, the trials, the “wants”, the “have-tos”.

Can we say we truly have a grateful heart?   In all things?

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It came as a dare to Ann Voskamp, Christian writer and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully. A challenge, so to speak to pen one thousand things in her life she was thankful for. And she began in simple, in the everyday, gifts we sometimes overlook .

Researchers studied in excess of one thousand people from the young to the old who kept gratitude journals and found this, “Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks. And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits: 

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Resource: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good/

 

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But giving thanks is so much more.  It’s worship.  It’s prayer.  It’s talking to our Heavenly Father.  It’s what we are supposed to do.

It’s recognizing all of His good gifts.  In all things.  Sorrow and in joy.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 136:1

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20. 

And on this rainy Saturday morning I look back over the pages of my gratitude journal. The gifts I had written not so long ago.  The ink is dry but I still remember and I am once again reminded of how He gives.

Listening to the birds singing in the early morning through open windows–no man has ever produced music such as this

My Daddy’s white handkerchiefs

White roses

Beauty in the healing miracles–Baby Everleigh

Blessed assurance

Sunrises so blinding you have to look away

Receiving gifts from the core of someone’s heart.  And me, feeling so unworthy. 

You don’t have to have a fancy journal to begin. Only a pen and paper will do, along with a thankful heart.  The Saturday Gratitude Journal

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 

James 1:17 (KJV)