Giving Thanks

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!

- Henry Beecher Ward

It's sad to me that the one day set aside specifically for giving thanks often means a drastic shift in perspective. I so easily drift into complaining and discouragement the other 364 days of the year, focusing on what I don't have and what circumstances I wish were different. The truth is, there are countless blessings in my life that I simply take for granted: from the very air I breathe to being married to an astounding man sovereignly hand-picked for me. This season, instead of feverishly chasing Black Friday deals and making lists of the things I want, my goal is to step back and ponder with deep gratefulness all that God has done for me. Here are 30 reasons that I am giving thanks this holiday:

1. I am thankful for a job that makes my dreams come true every day; for the chance to interact and share the love of Jesus with hurting people who otherwise might never have a chance to meet Him.

2. I am thankful for godly coworkers who believe in the power of prayer and set a true example of love and compassion.

3. I am thankful for a beautiful car that makes my daily commute so enjoyable.

4. I am thankful for a lovely apartment that is filled with laughter, games and deep conversation several times a week.

5. I am thankful for food, new recipes, a big kitchen to cook in and a long-suffering husband who eats everything I put in front of him. Most of the time.

6. I am thankful for good health, exercise and energy.

7. I am thankful for my wonderful, cuddly kitty who's loved me unconditionally for 11 years.

8. I am thankful that my husband has put up with said kitty and even makes occasional efforts to befriend her.

9. I am thankful for books and words, and the unlimited opportunity to learn from the greatest minds in history.

10. I am thankful for friendships that continue to grow regardless of time and distance; for the dear ones at home who intentionally involve me in their lives.

11. I am thankful for a vibrant, growing youth group full of kids who open their hearts and lives to us, and for all the memories we've made over this past year.

12. I am thankful for our small group, the way we spur each other on in godliness, the deep friendships that are forming and that we can spend Thanksgiving together.

13. I am thankful for a church that preaches the gospel unashamedly and that has welcomed us with such open arms.

14. I am thankful for my dear Texas friends who make this home-away-from-home business so much easier; for the long talks, movie nights, sleepovers, baking escapades, travel and countless memories.

15. I am thankful for the most loving parents-in-law on earth and for their faithful prayers and support.

16. I am thankful for three incredible siblings-in-law. They are such a joy and some of my dearest friends.

17. I am thankful for my littlest sister, Sue, and that we got to spend a whole week together in September. I am thankful for her humor, creativity, passion for God and the highly entertaining letters she sends.

18. I am thankful for my mini-me, MaryLynn. I am so inspired by her maturity, intellect, faith and prayer life.

19. I am thankful for my brother Sam, and for what a fighter he is. He has remained steadfast and faithful in the midst of many trials, and embodies the truth that God is good, all the time.

20. I am thankful for Jared, my prayer-warrior brother. He has a real anointing on his life and I am so refreshed and filled with faith every time we talk and pray together.

21. I am thankful for Christene, my hero and best friend. She is one of the most Christlike people I know, and makes me love Him more. She embodies Psalm 37, and over the years I have watched her delight fully and completely in the Lord. I am thankful that God gave her the desire of her heart this week!

22. I am thankful for the perfect parents for me: a strong, hardworking and committed dad, and a mom who gives everything she has to care for and encourage her kids, and follow her husband. I am beyond-blessed by them.

23. I am thankful for the heritage of faith passed down from my grandparents, and how their continual prayers work powerful change in my life.

24. I am thankful that Jesus is King, and that nothing happens outside of His reign.

25. I am thankful for a country where we are free to worship, believe and preach the truth of the gospel.

26. I am thankful for Jhaneth and Fernando, our Compassion children, and for how they daily teach me gratefulness.

27. I am thankful for the time and the means to travel; for the myriad of photos and priceless experiences collected with my better half.

28. I am thankful for every single hardship and heartbreak that God has brought me through. I am thankful that He has been with me all the time; that He sustains me and without fail gives me the opportunity to use what I've learned to help someone else in similar circumstances.

29. I am thankful that almost 7 years ago a country boy wearing plaid and blue jeans walked in my front door and changed my life forever. Our selves are so intertwined that I honestly cannot imagine myself without him. These 2+ years of marriage to Nathan have truly been a taste of heaven, and I love and respect him more every day.

30. I am thankful that I have everything I need in Christ. When all else is stripped away, He is always there, and He is enough. The spiritual blessings I have been given in Him far outweigh the temporal things on this list. I am filled to overflowing with His goodness to me. May I never stop giving thanks!

I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps

around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,

for those who fear him have no lack!

The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

~ Psalm 34:1-10