I am dedicating this blog post to dear Aunt Olga K!!!!!!! It's her birthday today!!!!!!! Happy 27th birthday!!!!! She also told me today that she faithfully reads this blog, so if no one else reads this, at least I know she'll see her birthday greetings in print!!!!
I wrote this a few weeks ago and decided to post it today in honor of being thankful for Olga!!!! She and her husband, Godfrey are staff members with a deep passion and heart for the vision of New Hope Uganda and it is a privilege to serve here with them!
Thankfulness. Simple? Easy? Hmmmmm . . . It is simple AND easy once you DETERMINE you are going to be thankful. If you don’t consciously make an effort to be thankful, you will default into grumbling and complaining. I know that personally to be the case and I do not think I’m alone in my observation.
There are so many things for which to be thankful, yet being consistently thankful takes unrelenting effort. That is a fact of life. None of what I am saying is new to anyone of us. However, realizing how very negative and unexercised in thankfulness I had become led me to a fresh determination to look for God’s good in all circumstances. The good is there along with the negative, but what is more prominently in our view? (and spewing from out mouths????) From within only myself I can’t tell you exactly why I came to a reawakening for the need to be thankful, but from the perspective of a loving Father who wants the best for us, I see that the time for thankfulness was long overdue. He didn’t force me to become thankful again, but began gently placing in my path His truths regarding how thankfulness is the key to unlocking and keeping open the doors to joy, peace and a calm that is stayed regardless of the circumstance. I took notice when I began seeing the theme of thankfulness being woven before my very eyes through Bible studies, friends’ comments, worship songs, devotional books and scripture, so I responded. I took those God-given opportunities to step up and put the extra effort into looking for reasons to give thanks. Yes, initially, I had to really look for reasons to be thankful. As I began, I found it difficult to quickly list reasons to be thankful. Reasons did not fluidly stream into my mind. For so long an “under the radar,” low-level of grumbling permeated everything I did and thought which made my determination to be thankful a task at first. But, I knew I had to do something or I would continue to have the life drained slowly out of me. My life is God-given and He desires to bless me abundantly, but if I have a wall of dissatisfaction up it presents a barrier to me SEEING His abundant gifts and inhibits free-flowing thankfulness. So, I began to not just list things silently in my head, but took pen to paper and began writing. God’s goodness impacted me more throughout my day and set a tone for joy when I wrote about God’s goodness in what I saw and experienced. I found that by writing them I was breaking the negative thoughts that can so quickly follow a positive thought. You know how it goes, “Lord, thank you for X, though it often is a struggle because . . . “ and off goes the mind to negative land.
God takes things out from under the blanket of discontent where we’ve stuffed them and blows off the dust as He infuses us with real joy in His truths. We don’t even realize our negative bent until He opens our eyes to see things that have always been there. It’s as if we walk shrouded in a vision-reducing cloud of negativism until we look clearly again at Him and His truths in scripture and allow Him to sharpen our eyesight to His blessings--real blessings we have simply walked by unable to acknowledge.
His truths don’t change. We, unfortunately, change our perspectives and our focus and what follows is trouble. Lord, I ask to have my eyes opened every moment to Your goodness that surrounds me. I do not deny that this life is challenging, difficult and often tragic, but You, God, are always good, always present and always the truth on which we can stand strong. In all my days and in every situation may I be settled and stayed on the truth that You are good and in everything there is thanks to be given.