Gratitude and Happiness – A Thanksgiving Message

I’d like to introduce you to a new friend of mine today. Her name is Sheri Graham and she’s a homeschooling mom of five and a fellow Christian. One of the things that first grabbed my attention was her happiness and contentment. Life is often stressful, particularly around the Holidays and it’s important to focus on the good things and enjoy our time with loved ones.

Last night I started working through Sheri’s 30 Day Thanksgiving Journal and knew I had to share it with you. Take a look at it. It’s $5 for the ebook and I plan on making it a part of my November each year from here on out. I hope you will as well.

I also asked Sheri to share some thoughts on Gratitude and Happiness with us. Here’s what she’s come up with. I think it’s a wonderful inspirational message for this time of the year.

Choosing Contentment in the Here and Now!Thanksgiving Journal
by Sheri Graham

Choosing contentment is a battle that we all face each and every day.  How do we go about choosing to be content when our work as a wife, mom, homeschool mom, never ends?  When we find ourselves at the end of our strength and longing to be in another place, another time?  How do we do it?  Before I dig in, I want to begin with a quote on contentment from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl

“Maybe this is the true secret to being fulfilled and content.  Living in the moment with God, defined by His truth, and with no unrealistic expectations for others or things to fill me up.  Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays.  And not reaching for what I hope will be in my tomorrow.  But living fully with what is right in front of me.  And truly seeing the gift of this moment.”

The gift of this moment…It seems that when I am discontent, I am not acknowledging “this” moment as a gift from God.

Another quote on contentment from Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart

“Most of us base our contentment on our circumstances, on our feelings, or on other people.  However, true contentment is separate from our circumstances.  Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs.”

I want to share now something that the Lord laid on my heart a while back. While this article is on contentment, I feel that what I am about to share is closely tied to not choosing contentment…not choosing to acknowledge “this” moment as a gift from God…not choosing to be content in the “here and now”.

“Instead of relishing each moment, each year, each opportunity, each step on the journey, I’m constantly overeager to get to the next thing, which always looks more enticing than what’s currently before me.”  (excerpted from The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer)

HappinessIt is this very attitude, this state of mind, that I struggle with at times, and what the Lord dealt with me about one morning a while back…

One morning when I was doing my reading, I came across some verses in John 6. Jesus had just finished teaching that He was the bread of life. That He was the Living Bread that would fill them and abide in them. Here are some verse quotes:

John 6:60 – “Many therefore of His disciple, when they had heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can hear it?’”

John 6:66 – “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”

John 6:67 – “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, ‘Will ye also go away?’
Then Simon Peter answered Him:

John 6:68-69 – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

When the teaching got too hard, some of the disciples left and followed Jesus no more. As parents, when what we hear the Lord teaching us (through His Word and His Spirit) gets too hard, do we bail out as well and not continue to follow Him for our lives and for our families? Will we also “go away?”

When the teaching gets hard (steps on our toes or is overwhelming) and others are turning away and not following Jesus any longer..will we follow suit? OR will we remain steadfast following Him because we KNOW that He is the Bread of Life..the ONLY ONE who can impart Life to us!

As parents, are we following Jesus because He is our Life or is it because we seek the benefits He brings us? What are we imparting to our children? We are to disciple them as the Lord disciples us. If we as parents are not truly being discipled by Jesus, then we cannot disciple our children as unto the Lord.

This phrase, “Will ye also go away?” has been running through my head a lot lately. This is what the Lord has been speaking to me . . .

  • When my children come to me wanting to me to do something with them, and I would prefer to sit and read, work on the computer, etc. what will I choose? Then I hear, “Will ye also go away?”
  • When the heart training times get so challenging and I don’t know if I can deal with one more battle . . . I hear “Will ye also go away?”
  • When responsibilities at home, such as getting the house organized & cleaned, meals prepared, laundry done, etc. are needing attention, and I would prefer to just sit or leave the house to do something with the kids (to avoid my ministry at home) . . . I hear “Will ye also go away?”
  • When my children are eager to tell me something and I am in the middle of doing something else. . . will I stop to “really” listen to them or . . . then I hear “Will ye also go away?”
  • When the best thing for my children is to bring them alongside of me during the day to really disciple them and train them up in the Lord, BUT I don’t want to take the time – I hear . . . “Will ye also go away?”
  • When I am feeling the Lord leading me to be a little more organized and intentional in educating my children at home, but I prefer to just “go with the flow” (and not get much done in the process because of lack of discipline and laziness) . . . I hear, “Will ye also go away?”
  • When it is the Lord’s will for me to be a true helpmeet to my husband and support, honor, and submit to him in the Lord – but I would prefer to do things MY way – I hear . . . “Will ye also go away?”
  • When dinner time comes and I haven’t been a good steward and planned ahead, I hear . . . “Will ye also go away?”
  • When I sit down for my quiet time but then realize there is something else that needed done before the kids wake up, I hear . . . “Will ye also go away?”
  • When I see sin in my children’s lives and realize that they are a reflection of me – will I choose to go to the Lord to allow Him to change me first OR . . . “Will ye also go away?”

I could go on and on with ways that the Lord has spoken these words to me. It has challenged me in so many areas of my life. Will I choose to also go away? When times get hard, the teaching gets tough, and those around you are choosing the wide path . . . Will I also go away or will I choose the narrow path (Jesus) that leads to Life?

Will I choose contentment in the “here and now” or constantly strive for the future when things will be “better” or “different”?Thanksgiving Journal

As we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and as we desire to be thankful and content, my prayer is that this has been a challenge to you. May these few simple words penetrate our hearts and spur us on to choose His way – His Life – in all we do each day, and choose contentment in the “here and now”…where God has us!

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Ready for more from Sheri? Take a look the 30 Day Thanksgiving Journal.

For each day of November there is a verse to copy, memorize, and/or journal about.

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