Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

What does gratitude actually DO?

Monday, November 20th, 2017

What Gratitude DOES….

As Thanksgiving approaches with all it deep feelings around gratitude, I have been thinking a great deal about two things.

First, how do we continue to speak to gratitude, to list our blessings, even the one’s that come in broken circumstances?

And second, if we can somehow attach our souls, open our souls to gratitude, how would we then live? In other words what does gratitude DO in our lives?

Imagine a Thanksgiving table…

  • Round I … what are you thankful for?
  • Round II … and what are going to do with that?

Gratitude is an emotion, true. But it is also an action. Powerful to witness those who feel that deep gratitude for the gifts life has to offer, and then in turn move that gratitude out there into the world in all kinds of life giving ways.

If I believe life is fundamentally good … even in the broken places.  If I notice the gifts … even when times appear dark.  Then maybe it is time, with a smile, and with my beloved, to ask what is it that gratitude DOES?

A thankful soul is a giving soul.

Thanksgiving When It Is Hard

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Thanksgiving, when it is hard.  What do we do?

Some years.  Some years are simply loss.

Maybe one idea.

Christianity is a story not an answer.  

Sometimes that story shines, shines beyond what we can contain, what we can hold.  Gives easy rise to abundance and gratitude. And other times, the story is hard.  Painful to beyond painful.  And what we mistakenly try to do, often well intentioned, is to give others “the answer.”

My son, a first responder, spoke to me this Thanksgiving of loss.  The death of a 3 year old.   Still can’t shake it.  Sees a young child in a Walmart and he returns to to that farm.  And that loss.  There are no words.  None.  Nothing shiny and bright there.  My heart breaks hearing his broken.

And I know when its time … and that time maybe months, maybe years in the future, maybe decades … my son and I will talk of stories. We will talk of loss and suffering.  And maybe there grows a crack in that suffering as we come to speak of redemption. Of life continued. Of goodness, and people, and love, of the humane tissue stitched together in spite of the dark.  Of Easter.

I am thankful for my loving, tender son.  I am thankful for a story.  Even when life is hard.

The Hope To Which We Are Called

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

As we enter Thanksgiving, much leaves me in awe at the incredible blessings with which life abounds. The challenge is that problems/ angst/ stress remain loud. Blessings, like God, are still and quiet.

There are of the course the material parts of life to be thankful for.  With NewChurch LIVE I am thankful for the overwhelming generosity of donors, the clear vision of leaders,  the work of paid and volunteer team members, a continued tradition of inspiring music, amazing congregants here and scattered across the country.

And there is something more for which I am thankful.  In Ephesians 1, we read these words by one of the founders of the Christian Church, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.”  I am thankful for the Hope to which we are called.

You know, why else do this, build this church thing, unless in some way we were all called to a unique hope.  Words around that probably of necessity fail.  But maybe the concept points to a deeper heart motivation, a deeper “knowing” that resonates with a Heart far larger than this particular church.

I don’t believe we start the journey “knowing” what exactly that hope is.  I do believe we touch it – glancing blows here and there – as we seek to serve.  This mirror’s God’s spirit, a spirit that fails to arrive in a mechanistic, prescribed fashion.  As Christ noted, spirit like the wind, blows where it will and we are not (thankfully!) given to control it.

What we are given is the ability to respond to it, to acknowledge, and allow spirit to accomplish, over time, its works of shaping our lives.

The hope at the Heart of what we are doing is a loving world, one in which selfless endeavor finds itself transcendent over the fevered pursuit of “stuff” and “accomplishment.”   The heart of stone becoming the heart of flesh.  The hope of heaven becoming the hope of the world.  Christ born anew into the world as Spirit, as Hope.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


“‘Hope’ never adds up but the blessings do.” Anne Voscamp

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I enjoy this line from Anne Voscamp’s book “1000 Blessings.” So many of my hopes are attached to the word “more.” I hope for “more” of this, or that – relationship or stuff – believing that in “more” I will finally discover “enough.” That kind of hope is actually hopeless.  Like the millionaire who cooks the books for that extra shot of money, I find myself addicted to the femoral “hope” of attaining “more,” and that “more” will mean I am “complete.”

My Prayer:  I am nothing without you God.  I am nothing without what You already placed in my life – today, this Sunday morning – which in the end is enough – blessings and breaking.  

I can strive but let that striving Lord be from service, be from love, be from a giving that does not care about receiving but only in the Gift. 

Experiencing Intense Gratitude

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Given the events of the past two weeks, I am struck by what we are to each other.  The image that comes to mind is of a summer time rain – the warm kind of rain, the kind that actually is joyous to get “caught” in.

Drops of gratitude, grace, kindness.  They fall on our lives and at times, actually pour down, all over, to be felt, experienced, danced in.  (Scary thought!)  I like to think that that experience is always available but I know pain keeps the drops at bay.  The noise of such pain can at times be so great it understandably eclipses much of Life.

Brian McLaren wrote of how we move towards a time of radical simplicity, a time when we come to discover the oneness of God not as a singular entity but as a relational oneness, the oneness of trees to a forest, the oneness of a drop to the rain, a oneness of experiencing what we are to each other, what God is to us, what God is through us, what God is through others.   It is Jesus’ prayer of oneness in the Gospel of John.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  (John 17)

God’s Oneness is a Relational Oneness.