Thankful to Learn

Are You Having Trouble Becoming a Blessing Hunter?

Thankful living is tough work. It is a discipline, for sure. The verse I claim for overall motivation in this endeavor is I Thess. 5:18. It reminds me that thankfulness is not optional. It’s also not a something for the non-existent “super Christian.” It is, however, a basic response that our Heavenly Father expects and enables us to do.

But that doesn’t mean it still isn’t super hard. Here are 5 of the most helpful things the Lord has taught me to do on a daily basis to cultivate a thankful heart. I hope these tips help someone today!

Tip #1: Tune Your Heart to Praise (Preparation)

Now this has several tips wrapped up in one. First there is the preparation, both in prayer and the Word. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God for us to do the work of God in the ways of God. I guess I could say that is my definition of tuning. When that is going on day after day, won’t you just be bursting with thanksgiving!? Yes, you will. But you will have rough days and need a fine tuning adjustment. When those times come, before you read, ask the Lord to teach you to see the blessings in what you are about to read. He delights to affirmatively answer that prayer when made from a contrite heart! And if you need Biblical support for this exercise, just start reading the book of Psalms. I’m sure you’ll be convinced after the first 6 verses. If not, keep reading. It won’t take many chapters.

But how do you practically turn your regular Bible time into a workout for your thankful muscles? Enter Tip #2.

Tip #2: Tune Your Heart to Praise (Practice)

After you’ve asked the Lord to show you things to be thankful for, practice! All new habits seem awkward at the start. But follow the Lord’s example in prayer and begin with praise and thanksgiving. Can I tell you what happen when I did this? The Lord actually expanded my understanding of the depth of the blessings I already recognized and showed me new ones, too! I know He’ll do this for anyone of His children who comes to Him ready to grow a thankful heart. So, just start by thanking for what you read in His Word. Thank Him for the truth of it and ask Him to show you beyond all that you can ask or think (Eph. 3:20). It really works! I promise!

We had this hymnal at home and my sister and I regularly sang from it when scared. (Image from hymnary.org)

Tip #3: Tune Your Heart to Praise (Protection)

The Biblical principle of putting off and putting on (Eph. 6) is just so helpful here. Things like wonderful, theologically-rich music, time with other believers and intentional ministry opportunities can be very helpful things to put on in your thankful endeavor. Learn who the thankful people are in your circle of friends. Become BFFs. Sit and listen to what others do to have praise running off their lips and settledness ruling their hearts. And truly listen to the words of hymns! Think on them as you sing. Truth put to song is easier to memorize for me, although it’s not a substitute for scripture memorization. Yet, when you are in the valley, hymns more readily occupied my anxious mind and turned my heart to the Word.  I also highly suggest (from personal experience) to spend time in Eph. 1. Memorize it if you can. You will find no shortage of praise-worthy content there. We call that passage “The Riches of Christ” here and it is a great place to run when your blessings seem to be hiding from you.

Tip #4: Take Influencer Inventory

Our pastor shared a wonderful “time-management” principle with us that is really more seeks to manage your mind and heart. He said, “You should spend twice as much time reading/listening to God’s Word as you do reading/listening to the news, talk radio, social media, etc.” All those avenues for information/entertainment bring with them a host of challenges to the seeker of a thankful heart. Yes, we love seeing everyone’s babies and puppies and all the recipes and crafts we’ll never make. But at the expense of exposing myself to endless complaints, anxious thoughts and down right filth at times, I’ll just take a pass. Take a look at Romans 12. If you are influenced more (in actual minutes per day) by the world than the Word, how do you expect to be transformed instead of conformed? If you put one thing in, how do you expect to have something else come out?

There are so many avenues for negative influences that threaten your joyful, thankful heart!

It’s time to take inventory. Is your heart always troubled and fearful over your family’s safety, health or general well-being? Perhaps you are prone to complain and fret over the state of our country politically or socially instead of praying for the very people God has allowed to lead (Romans 13). Sign-off Facebook and stop watching/reading the news. Get a weather app and consider yourself informed. If there is a particular event you want to know more about, Google it. Don’t go to news websites where you will inevitably see something that causes you to worry. I had to do this when my son was born because every influencer out there from the news, Facebook, and Mom forums convinced me that if I didn’t have a safety/food/sleep checklist of at least 243 things to do each day, then I wasn’t protecting my child from death. I was a hot mess. So I got a hold of what I was “putting in” and eventually thankfulness and peace starting “coming out.” And by the way, 7 years later….I still don’t watch/read the news and am still a functioning member of society.

Tip #5: Capture Complaints and Moments of Fear

It is my goal to do this at the start, but I’m not there yet. But let’s look at some times throughout the day where we often complain and instead learn to hunt down those blessings! What happens when your schedule gets thrown off by something like a traffic jam, sick child, an appointment running long or spouse forgetting to bring something home? I know, you may be looking for the BIG problems, right? Well, remember my blog intro. This is any and every day stuff. This is where we exercise our thankful muscles for the “big” stuff. Besides, these kinds of things will happen way more often so we face temptation more frequently in these daily challenges.

So how do you capture the ugly, bag it up and let the pretty shine? It helps me to consider two main things from Scripture – God’s illumination and His purpose. First, knowing that I am promised only “a light unto my path” (Ps. 199:105), I am completely unable to see what lies beyond my immediate reality. Am I being delayed for my protection? Is there something more precious that the Lord wants me to do in the uber-scheduled day I’ve made for myself? Will there be someone along my altered path for the day that needs spiritual encouragement? Do I just need to slow down and rest? Is this an opportunity for me to teach my children something about living for the Lord? Does God just want my attention? I work very hard to go through these and similar questions to turn my mind from frustration and complaint to thankfulness for the Sovereignty of the one who holds my times in His hands (Ps. 31:15).

When I do these things mommas, even imperfectly but intentionally, He is 100% faithful to His Word to work my day together for good (Rom. 8:28).

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This is my blog devoted to sharing lessons learned about thankful living. Along the way, you’ll see all sorts of bits of the life I’m so thankful to live.

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