The Gift of Sacrifice {Thanksliving}

Give Thanks

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

For the month of November, we at 5 Minutes for Faith will be spending time each day Thanksliving. That’s what I call it, anyway. Where we take the time to list our praise. Our thanks. Our admissions that we would be nothing without Him.

And it’s my turn today!

Won’t you stop by and share with me what you’re thankful for today? Let’s offer a sacrifice of praise together! Simply click on the button below:

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
      If you keep to my path,
      I will reveal to you the salvation of God.
Psalm 50:23 NLT

Living Thanks {My Thanksgiving Prayer}

“What are you thankful for?”

It’s a question I dread. Still I try to have a variety of answers on the tip of my tongue at any given moment.

I’ve been writing lists of thanks…gifts as I see them for nearly two years. Disciplining myself to acknowledge Him regularly and yet, when asked point-blank, my jaw drops in shock at my lack of response.

As if what rolls off my lips isn’t good enough.

One might think I’m not really thankful while my heart longs to scream the contrary.

Where does one begin to express the realization that everything is a gift? How do I explain to you that I don’t deserve a single thing this life offers me and yet I am so humbly thankful for it all?

I am swimming in love, treading on grace,
kept afloat by my Savior.

And when I tell you I’m thankful for love, grace, my Savior, I sound cliché.

For years I’ve tried to find a new way to say thank You.
This year, I heard Him ask me “Why?”

Friends, He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s been in the redeeming business for centuries. 

Our thanks don’t need to change.

In homeschooling, I struggled with what to share of the Pilgrim journey and what to save for another time. While discussing it over with my husband, I realized my heart was stuck on this quote I stumbled upon last year:

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
~ H.U. Westermayer

It’s clear to me they got this. They realized God never changes. He’s still the same as when they left the harbor with hope heavy on their hearts.

What’s more — they lived it. Even when thanks didn’t come easy, they gave it.

We say it regularly: God is good. All the time. But do we live it like the ones before us?

Henri Nouwen figured out how:

Gratitude … goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

So as I bow my head around the Thanksgiving feast, joy will overwhelm as my heart proclaims:

Father, all I am and have is a gift from You. You give and pour out and overwhelm me with love and mercy and I realize: All I need is You. Thank You for pursuing me…for saving my contrite heart. Thank You for loving me relentlessly and never letting go.
Lord, I long to see You the way You see me. My heart aches to share how much You mean to me and yet I cannot express You in words.
I owe You my life and that’s all I have to give: A life of thanks. A grateful heart. So I offer my heart to you. It’s the best I can do. Take it, Lord. It’s always been Yours.
You are all that’s beautiful within me. The fibers of Your being intertwine my everyday and I could burst with joy at the sight of You. Thank You. For giving me the gift of You.
Father, thank You for giving me this life to get to know You.
You are worthy of praise. Yesterday. Today. And all my tomorrows.
May my life bring You glory and honor now and forevermore.
And one last thing, Lord: I love You, too…

~~~~~~~~~~

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

How about You, friend? How do you live out your gratitude? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

All Blessings Flow {Let Praise Ring Rampant}

We put on our Sunday best and ensure our best behavior as we enter God’s House. We fold hands neatly and bow heads politely. And we Greet others doing the same warmly.

When worship begins, we nod in rhythm. Tap our fingers while making sure we don’t swing our elbows too far. Sometimes our hands raise, but all within our own personal safety zone. Some forget and break free from the norm, but we show them grace.

Together, we gather our voices in harmony and praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

And as I drive home and see faces painted, waving encouragement, proudly displaying colors being celebrated today. As I see others congregate to hoot and holler and support the team they side on, I wonder…

Am I giving God my best worship?

Does He see me waving His colors? Does He get my utmost passion?

Do I exude praise?

This week in church, The Doxology was quoted in prayer. And as I reflected on the man who authored that powerful hymn, I answered my own question.

Thomas Ken knew how to praise God unabashedly.

He didn’t believe in Sunday’s best. No. He believed in worship. And discovered the key to it all:

We need to bend low to praise high.

Friends, “The Doxology” was considered blasphemous when written. It wasn’t Sunday’s best. It had to be penned behind closed doors. Sung in secret.

But Thomas Ken, an Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Wells in the Church of England, thought this worship was worth the price.

He could have lost it all. His social status, job, home, and all of his friends if anyone had found out he was writing hymns not using scripture verbatim. But he saw the need those college boys had under him. He saw the personal relationship missing in the greatest love affair they could ever obtain. And he decided to do something about it.

Aren’t you glad he did?

His last request and final act on this earth proved his belief that praise was worth it, no matter the cost. I can almost hear that college boy singing “The Doxology” at his funeral…per Thomas Ken’s request…

And I wonder…do I deny myself enough to do the same? To praise no matter the cost? Do I prove where my loyalties lay?

When the message of my life is done,
will His praise ring rampant?

I want to say yes. But I’m worried that I’m even asking the question.

So this is the day.

Today, He’s going to get the best of me.

How about you, friend? Do you fully praise from whom all blessings flow? Do you wave your homer hankie for His glory? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

NOTE: I shared the history of this song on the Monday before Thanksgiving last year, but felt led to expand upon it again this year. You may see my previous post on “The Doxology” by CLICKING HERE.

T.H.A.N.K.S.

“Happy Thanksgiving! It’s your turn to say Happy Thanksgiving back.”
and if you can name that movie…it would make me smile if you said the next line in comments!

I trust you are enjoying the day with whomever blesses you most. I pray you are praising our Savior for all the blessings you have around you. And I hope you’re enjoying a festive meal with minimal cleanup.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share a number of things I’m thankful for this year.It’s amazing how beneficial it is to actually write your thanks down. If you haven’t done that, I urge you to please try it. No matter how small.

Here are a few of the things I’m thankful for (in a particular order):

A.  America and All of the Armed Forces who have put their lives on the line to keep my family safe.

B.   Starting this Blog and the encouragement it’s been to keep me striving. 

C.  my hubby’s short Commute. It could be so much worse and I don’t want to take more time with him for granted.

D.   Not incurring any Debt this year despite some extra expenditures. Thank You, God, for providing. And thank you, hubby, for working so hard.

E.   my son Elijah and the 22 weeks I was able to spend with just me and him. What a gift.

F.  my Friends. Who love me even though they don’t have to. Thank you for your grace.

G.   God’s Promises. God’s Grace. God is Good. All the time.

H.  my Hubby. He has his own list as to why. 

I.   the Internet and the ability it gives me to connect with so many friends and family, Including you.

J.   Jesus and the debt He paid for me. As well as the gift of Joy.

K.   That Kindergarten is still at least a year away. I have time to decide what we’ll do! 

L.  Laughter and its ability to heal.


and Lilacs that burst forth with fragrant blooms after a cold, hard winter. Ooh, and Libraries. They’re invaluable.

M.   Mangos and being brave enough this year to learn how to cut a fresh one (thank you YouTube!).

N.   Nature. What a gift!

O.   Orange. Am thankful for the fruit. Am thankful for the color. Am especially thankful for the muffins.

P.  my Parents (in-laws included) for their Godly examples and unconditional friendships. I am so blessed. Oh, and Peanut Butter. Yes, it deserves to be capitalized.

Q.   Quiet times. All of them.

R.  my Readers. I don’t know why you choose to read, but I thank you for your encouragements.

S.  my oldest Son. For being my glimmer of grace every single day.

T.   The Toddler years and all they’re Teaching me.

U.   That God made Us all Unique. Makes for a joyful adventure!

V.  Paid-off Vehicles. Even when they break down, I’m thankful we have the mode of transportation.

W.   the Weight-loss I have incurred this year.

X.  x-rays don’t show everything. I’m thankful for MRI’s and other means to determine the cause of an ailment.

Y.   New Year’s Resolutions. I must say, I don’t miss drinking soda…all that much.

Z.   Having a free Zoo so close to home. What a blessing!

How about you? What are you thankful for? Pick a letter and share. I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Thanksliving

For my friends in America, the day of Thanksgiving is upon us. As a parent of a very curious preschooler, I thought I’d better refresh my memory on how Thanksgiving originated. Have you ever googled such a thing? I never knew there was so much controversy surrounding when this holiday originated and how.

We all remember the gist of it. Pilgrims traveled via boat in hopes of discovering new territory. When they finally found land and set their feet on solid ground, they gave thanks. When they were struggling to feed the colony that survived the voyage, their Native American neighbors taught them how to live off of the land. They celebrated and gave thanks together after the first full harvest.

Now remember, this was no pleasure cruise. This boat was no Titanic. No plumbing, heat, or electricity. No weather tracking equipment helping them steer around any dangerous water ahead. Nothing. All the passengers possessed was a drive to keep going and the unwavering passion to discover a new life.

They had given up everything they had ever owned or known for a life they weren’t guaranteed to get.

Is that ignorance or is that faith?

They had quite a few mishaps on their voyage. But they made it. William Buford captured the event in his journal:

“Being thus arrived at a good harbor, and brought safely to land,
they fell on their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean
and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof.”

They praised. They felt thankful. They worshipped.

But their trials were not over. Sickness broke out. They lost half of their population due to health-related deaths. Yet they set aside a day of thanksgiving.

Is that ignorance or is that devotion?

I’ve said it before: God is good. All. The. Time. He never waivers. He never falters. He has never failed.

He is worthy to be praised.

Our struggling settlers not only knew that, they lived it. They practiced thanks. And so should we. Beyond the Thanksgiving holiday. Even during trials.

Through life’s hurdles — we should give thanks.

Can we live like that? Giving thanks all year round?
Can we turn Thanks
giving into Thanksliving?

I’m willing to try. Will you join me?

I’ll start.

I’m thankful God has given us so many promises we can rely on:

  • His mercies are new every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22-24)
  • God has a plan for each of us. One that gives us a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He will supply all our needs. (Philippians 4:19)
  • Nothing can ever separate us from Christ’s love. (Romans 8:37-39)
  • My debt was paid. My sins are forgiven. My reward is heaven if I only repent and believe. (Romans 10:9, John 3:16)
Just to name a few.

To practice my life of thanksliving, I hope you don’t mind if I continue to share  my thanks on this blog. You will find the posts in my Joy in the Journey Category on my sidebar or more specifically tagged “Giving Thanks”.

How about you? How will you try to turn Thanksgiving into Thanksliving? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking this post up to:

My Top Ten Thanksgiving Quotes

I’ve been reading up on Thanksgiving this past week and stumbled upon some great quotes. Inspired by OhAmanda‘s Top Ten Tuesdays, I would love to share the ten Thanksgiving quotes that have affected me the most in one form or another.

I hope they put you in the heart of Thanksgiving this week.

1.   If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.
~ Meister Eckhart

2.   To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.
~ Johannes A. Gaertner

3.   The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
~ H.U. Westermayer

4.

Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

5.   Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.
~ Konrad von Gesner

6.   Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.
~ Kevin James

7.   Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.
~ Henry Van Dyke

8.   Feel thanks and it’s absolutely impossible to feel angry. We can only experience one emotion at a time. And we get to choose — which emotion do we want to feel?
~ Ann Voskamp

9.   As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

10.   Gratitude … goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

How about you? Which one do you like most? Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving quote/saying? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking this post up with

Music Monday’s — The Doxology

I’m going to be spending this week talking about Thanksgiving in one form or another. I was so excited about Music Monday as there are so many wonderful songs about giving praise and having a heart of thanksgiving. I was all set to share one or two, but my heart is elsewhere and because I’m not a talented enough to ignore that, I hope you will be encouraged by

“The Doxology”

♪♫ Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. ♪♫

It’s fairly Thanksgiving-y. Praising the One from whom all blessings flow.

Do you know where it originated? Well, stay with me even if you do, it’s a good story.

Thomas Ken, an Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Wells in the Church of England wrote this hymn in the 1600’s. Actually, he wrote several hymns and this happens to be the last stanza in two of them.

Those hymns, “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun” as well as “Glory to Thee, My God, This Night” were written while he was taking the role of  Parish Priest for one of his alma maters, Winchester College. Now, back in the 1600’s, the church considered it sacrilegious to sing any hymn that was not pure scripture. To write a hymn not derived from scripture verbatim would have been sinful/blasphemous as if you were trying to add another book to the Bible. Given the role Thomas Ken was in as well as how highly educated he was, we can be certain most of the people he circled with socially were of this group.

But he did it anyway.

He felt the boys studying under him deserved an added boost to their personal spiritual life. He wrote a number of hymns and instructed the boys to sing them behind closed doors during their personal morning/evening prayers. It would be their little secret.

Here are some of the stanzas that preceded the final doxology we all know:

 ♪♫ Glory to thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O keep me, King of Kings,
Under the shadow of Thy wings.

Teach me to live that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Triumphing rise at the last day.

May He celestial joys rehearse,
And thought in thought with me converse,
Or, in my stead, all the night long,
Sing to my God a grateful song.

Lord, let my soul forever share
The bliss of They paternal care;
‘Tis heav’n on earth, ’tis heav’n above,
To see Thy face, to sing Thy love. ♪♫

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything sinful about those words. In fact, I’ll be soaking them in and praising Him with them all week-long.

Those boys were blessed to have Bishop Ken. And so were we.

From what I know of Thomas Ken, I think it’s fair to say he understood two things well:
1. Having a strong, personal relationship with the Lord is of utmost importance. It’s even worth feeling uncomfortable for because no one can take it away from you.
2. The Lord deserves our praise. Even if we’re frowned upon by our peers. Even if others won’t understand, He is worthy.

Now, I do not recall how this man died, but I do know he planned his funeral. This man of the cloth specifically requested “The Doxology” we all know and love, the one he authored, be sung at his burial. Even though a number of people attending would have found it blasphemous. Even though it was frowned upon by the ones he worked under. He insisted it be his final act. His final message. His final praise.

I trust this week, like Thomas Ken, you hold nothing back. I pray you praise Him behind closed doors as well as in front of your friends and family. For He is worthy.

He is from whom all blessings flow.

How about you? How will you praise Him this week? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

 

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