10 Thanksgiving Goals

Last weekend, I made the mistake of entering a craft store full of frantic, pre-Black-Friday-deal shoppers. A kind employee helped plow the aisle so I could reach the two items I needed, and after thanking her, I retreated to the check-out line as quickly as I could.

Sure, the ribbons, dizzying displays, and sparkling bows are pretty, but too many people get wrapped up in the “stuff” of celebrating and miss out on the gravy (i.e. the best part).

What don’t I want to miss this Thanksgiving holiday?

Here are my top 10 goals.

  1. Be thankful for what I have and content with what God’s given (easier said than done).
  2. Spend quality quiet time with God.
  3. Celebrate simply with my favorite people. Bring on the card tables and paper plates, both of which are niece and nephew friendly.
  4. Get on my hands and knees to play with my nieces and nephews who are growing up way too fast.
  5. Enjoy simple pleasures. For me, this might be a bonfire, a sunset, a hot Vanilla Chai tea, or a book next to a fireplace. (This Florida girl gets cold easily!)
  6. Prioritize my time to spend on “legacy” project work.
  7. Revisit my 2016 goals and start planning ahead for the New Year.
  8. Go running in the sunshine. If you don’t enjoy running, do whatever physical activity suits you; just don’t be a couch potato.
  9. Eat in moderation.
  10. Hope to do most of my Christmas shopping online and avoid crazy shoppers.

Ordinary Choices, Eternal Perspective

Perhaps you’re thinking: Kristen, that’s a nice list, but it’s not especially spiritual (minus the quality time with God part). I thought this blog was supposed to provide biblical perspective?

In one sense, I would agree with you. I haven’t listed my Bible study group, service projects, or outreach programs; and those activities certainly have their place.

However, I am becoming more and more convinced that when we seek to make God first in our lives, our ordinary choices take on an eternal significance. Let’s take another look at that list:

  1. Be thankful for what I have and content with what God’s given. Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have …”
  2. Spend quality quiet time with God. Jesus modeled this habit, as recorded several times in the New Testament, when he rose early and spent time with the Father (Mark 1:35).
  3. Celebrate simply with my favorite people. Did not Jesus Himself enjoy time with his close friends, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 12)? Remember also that He celebrated the Passover with his 12 disciples, not all of his followers.
  4. Get on my hands and knees to play with my nieces and nephews. Jesus welcomed little children to come to him (Matthew 19:14). Enough said.
  5. Enjoy simple pleasures. Mary could have spent all her time busily working in the kitchen with Martha, but she chose instead to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42).
  6. Prioritize my time to spend on “legacy” project work. God has given each of His children gifts and abilities to use (I Corinthians 12). Whatever your gift, don’t waste it.
  7. Revisit my 2016 goals and start planning ahead for the New Year. James 4:14 reminds us that our time here is short. I want to spend my years well. Don’t you?
  8. Go running in the sunshine. Our bodies are God’s temple, and we need to take care of them (I Corinthians 6:19).
  9. Eat in moderation. Proverbs 25:16 advises, “Eat only as much as you need (NKJV).”
  10. Hope to do most of my Christmas shopping online and avoid crazy shoppers. If Amazon.com had been available in biblical times, the wise men might have purchased their gold, frankincense and myrrh online to save time and reach Bethlehem a few days sooner. It’s a theory anyway.

What are your Thanksgiving goals? I invite you to share in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristen

 

Tweetables

Don’t get wrapped up in the “stuff” of celebrating and miss out on the gravy. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

10 Thanksgiving Goals – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Rest and Be Thankful this Labor Day

Labor Day is a day set aside to recognize the hard work that has helped build America.

The Department of Labor explains the holiday this way:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

We know that God commands hard work (Colossians 3:23), rewards hard work (Proverbs 13:4), and equips us “both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Sometimes, the temptation can be to boast in our accomplishments, yet the Bible makes clear we are not to boast in our works themselves but in the power of Christ that works within us.

Although I realize some of you will spend the day working (your job) or catching up on personal work or house chores, I hope you find time to rest and relax with family and friends.

Perhaps the best advice for the day are the words of William Wordsworth:

Rest and be thankful.

Thankful to Whom? James 1:17 reminds us.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights … (ESV)

Blessings to you this Labor Day,

~ Kristen

 

Tweetable

Rest and be thankful this Labor Day – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

Thanksgiving: God’s Will for Us

Photo credit: Miss Kristen
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

Thanksgiving is a time for family, good food and fellowship with friends. As wonderful as those things are, it’s even more than all that.

Thanksgiving is God’s will for us.

We spent several weeks this year trying to understand God’s will for us and how it often doesn’t shape up the way we imagined it would. Do we want God’s will – or our way?

One of the simple ways we learned to practice God’s will is through giving thanks.

God’s Word makes clear:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV, emphasis added).

Maybe you’re not where you want to be. Maybe your circumstances aren’t ideal. Maybe this year, you watched your best-laid plans crumble at your feet.

I encourage you, as gently as possible (and as someone who’s experienced disappointment too), focus more on what you have to be thankful for – and less on what you don’t have.

  • Do you have good health? Be thankful.
  • Are you able to spend time with family and friends this season? Be thankful.
  • Do you have food on your table? Be thankful.
  • Are you part of a local church body that loves Jesus? Be thankful.
  • Has God given you a job to do? Be thankful.
  • Do you have a place to live? Be thankful.
  • Do you have a Bible to read? Be thankful.
  • Are you able to get an education? Be thankful.
  • Did your car start this morning? Be thankful.
  • Is your heart still beating? Be thankful.

Thankfulness is a choice; it’s an attitude; it’s a way of life; it’s God’s will for us. That’s why I’m intentionally writing down three things each day to thank God for during this month. It’s not too late to join me in this November challenge.

The bottom line: Choose to be thankful.

~ Miss Kristen

November Challenges: NANOWRIMO and Thankfulness

Photo credit: Miss Kristen
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

It’s November. Most people think pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas a few short weeks away.

Writers think NANOWRIMO, which stands for National November Writing Month. Essentially, it’s a challenge to write 50,000 words (a novel) in one month. There’s a whole history behind it, and many hard core writers change their whole routines to reach this Denali-sized word count.

Half excitedly, half oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-get-no-sleep, I’m taking the plunge this year. I confess I’ve modified the challenge; I’m currently writing a YA Dystopian novel, estimated at 80,000 words. I’m 35,000 into it (and worked hard last week to push my existing word count as far as I could).

Maybe that’s cheating; but I’m all about getting a head start. Ha, I’m going to need it to finish the remaining 45,000 words while juggling a job and existing commitments/plans while cramming in as much family time as possible before my brother leaves for Africa.

So if I say no to anything this month, don’t take it personally. I don’t expect you to join me; feel free to drop me a line every now and then to make sure I’m still breathing.

There’s a second challenge I’d like to tackle this month – one you can join me in doing. An article in a business magazine called Entrepreneur gave me the idea. The author shared that he challenges his clients to do the following:

Write down three things every day for which you are thankful. These must be new things, which means nothing can be repeated. No cheating.

So in this case, I can’t work ahead. Okay, agreed.

He goes on to say:

The purpose of the exercise is to train your brain to constantly search for positive angles, because, believe it or not, finding three new things every day to be thankful about isn’t easy.

No, thankfulness doesn’t come naturally. Complaining does. But if the secular world realizes the power of thankfulness, how much more should we as believers practice it?

After all, Scripture commands it.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15, NKJV, emphasis added)

The sleeves are rolled up. I’ve had my coffee. It’s time to get busy.

What has God given you to do today? Give it everything you have (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Every day, choose to be thankful.

~ Miss Kristen