by Mary Parker
Lately, on Sunday nights, I’ve had trouble getting to sleep. Thoughts of Monday morning “what-ifs” and “to-dos” keep my brain riveted in cyclical momentum. This has resulted in several crabby (to put it mildly) Mondays, after a great day devoted to God just 24 hours before.
The same restlessness plagues my brain as we plan a cross-country trip during the holidays to see our family for the first time in two years. A time that should be full of joy and relaxation is haunted by worry and anxiety. The harder I try to plan and fix, the messier everything seems to get.
In the situations of holiday planning and late night restlessness, I often find that the comfort I’m seeking only comes when I surrender my tired body and brain to
So instead of staring at the ceiling in mind-numbing thought, I thank Him for the mercy He provides for me to start each day anew, for the lessons of loving others that make my marriage, familial relationships and friendships more fulfilling, for providing more than my family could need or imagine and encouraging me to give freely to others. The list goes on, and I find myself beautifully rested and restored when I awake Monday morning.
When I begin praising God for all He has done and continues to do in my life, I become less concerned with what can go wrong. I can even remember the times when things have blown up at work or with family, and the times I rely on God to see me through are infinitely more successful than when I rely on my own devices.
For some of us, restlessness comes with the daunting challenges of the work week. For others, it’s during the nail biting moments of the college football game when we say things we probably shouldn’t (myself included), while prepping the prized Thanksgiving turkey, or while planning to spend holidays apart from loved ones.
Whatever the restless moments in your life, I encourage you to praise Jesus in the midst for all that He has done, is doing, and continues to do in your life.
Ultimately, thanking God for the blessings, which surely exist in our lives, is an amazing way to renew ourselves daily, as He intends:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him'” (Lamentations 3:22-24).
Questions for Reflection:
*If you are struggling with restlessness, is there something you need to give to the Lord?
*What are some specific blessings you can thank God for right now?
*How can you remind yourself of God's faithfulness?
Father, thank you for all the blessings you have put in my life, for loving me more than I can ever know, for pouring your mercy on me every single day, and for refreshing me daily. I seek you today and ask for help to recognize your great hand in this world. Help me to be thankful for my blessings and not take them for granted. I love you Father and am thankful for your supremacy in my life. Amen.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects at her blog, Mary's Mischief.
by Chantal Graupmann
Thankfulness is on my mind as the calendar month changes from October to November. As the holiday rush begins, it is easy to lack true gratitude while we go about our merry way of checking off items on our to-do list. Our lives become so cluttered and busy it can be a challenge to stop and remember God’s plan and all he has done and continues to do in our lives.
In the midst of military life, we are often dealt circumstances that (if we allow) can rob us of our thankfulness. It is not always easy to be thankful for God’s many blessings when a loved one is away for the holidays or we are in a new place without familiar comforts, family, and friends.
True feelings of gratitude stem from our deliberate perspective on thankfulness. Psalm 24:1 reminds me that I need to put God at the forefront of my thoughts:
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
If my mind is not focused on God and his blessings, I will be thankless. As I look toward the busyness of the holiday season I wonder how I can foster a right perspective.
How can I be sure to be full of thanks when it is so easy to choose otherwise?
1. Spend time with the Lord
This is always the easiest way to correct our thoughts and perspective. God has given us the gift of prayer and supplication for a reason! This tool is always available to us, yet we often do not use it as we should. Ask the Lord to help you in this area; He will show you exactly where you should be placing your focus.
2. Meditate on Scripture
There are many passages in scripture that can help us to understand gratitude on a deeper level. Psalm 24:1 is helpful for me, but another scripture may be better suited to you. A simple word search can help you find these passages.
3. Keep a journal
Write a daily list of things you are thankful for. The ability to look back and recall reasons to be thankful can be a helpful reminder on the hard days when gratitude is lacking.
I pray that each of us takes the time to remember the true gifts and blessings we have been given by our Creator. As the hustle and bustle of the season gets underway, take time to seek Jesus. A deliberate perspective of thankfulness will make the season all the more rich and full.
Chantal Graupmann is an Air Force wife and mother to two children. She is striving to serve women in the midst of motherhood and military life, and is passionate about building community. She loves finding time for DIY projects, experimental cooking, and travel.
by Brandis Trionfo
Last year in March, my sister-in-law was killed in a tragic bus accident as her Lacrosse team was headed to a game. She was seven months pregnant with my nephew and it shook our whole family very deeply.
My mother-in-law is very rooted in her faith and it hasn't wavered since the accident. I've questioned God a few times since the incident and I can always look to her to see not only how strong she is but also how God has worked in her and through her from the time I've met her until now.
Last year they didn't do their big Thanksgiving celebration in light of what happened. This year they will have it again, and fortunately for us, my husband will be able to take leave so we can be with our family in Baltimore.
I think it takes on a whole new meaning to be thankful, even when times are tough. God says in the Bible, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We know that we're going to have trouble. We never understand what God is doing or how He's working, but I know this: If you are thankful for what He's given you, you'll continue to see how He works for you. I know that the day Kristie was killed, her entire team was spared. The only people He called home were the bus driver, my sister-in-law, and her unborn son. And every single one of those girls will go on to do amazing things; I believe it without a doubt.
Being thankful is about the little things and the big things. We're called in the Bible to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) says:
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
In a time where Thanksgiving is more about Black Friday than gathering with loved ones, I hope (in my family at least) we'll pause to remember that no matter what troubles we face, He is with us. He is for us, and we should always be thankful.
If I doubt it, I'll just look to my amazing mother-in-law, who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt where her daughter is, and where she'll be someday.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
How can we pause to be thankful even during times of trouble?
What or who can we look to when we feel doubt?
Lord, I thank you that we're able to gather in this season to give thanks. I thank you that you're mighty and so much stronger than I, and I pray that you will help me to remember, day in and day out, to be thankful for what you've given me. I pray that you will reach out to me and help me to give you the attention you deserve and to be aware of your presence, especially during these holiday seasons. Help me to praise you in all I do. In your name I pray, Amen.