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)

 

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Ten to One, Give Thanks Anyway

Photo credit: Miss Kristen
Photo credit: Miss Kristen

Thankfulness is not an attitude that comes naturally – even when we receive the very thing for which we ask.

We are good at wanting and asking; but how well do we show appreciation?

Ten to one, the odds aren’t good.

In Luke 17, ten lepers met Jesus and begged Him to heal them. Jesus responded, not with instantaneous healing, but with a command to act in faith.

So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14, NKJV)

God rewarded the lepers’ faith. As they went (in obedience), they were healed.

However, only one of the lepers took the time to say thank you. And that leper was a Samaritan (Luke 17:16).

What’s the big deal about Samaritans?

When Jesus referred to this healed leper, he called him a “foreigner” or a non-Jew. Today, we think of foreigners in terms of people who live in a different country.

However, the distinction between Jews and Samaritans was more than cultural. Between these two groups ran a deep-seated discord, centuries old.

Everyone knew this. John’s gospel records Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at a well. Based on their ethnic differences, she initially rebuffed His request for water.

Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:9, NKJV)

You get the idea. Jews and Samaritans avoided each other because they hated each other. The only reason the group of lepers included Jews and Samaritans was that their terminal disease had given them common ground.

Yet only one came back to thank Jesus – and he was a Samaritan.

A challenge for us

Does the world sometimes do a better job showing gratitude than us believers? Do people see Christians as grateful people – or as people constantly complaining?

Be a 10-percenter. When God does something in your life – big or small – redirect the praise back to Him.

The world is watching. When they see you and me, let them see Jesus.

~ Miss Kristen

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

I shall not want

Sweetwater Creek_Psalm 23
Photo Credit: Miss Kristen / Sweetwater Creek State Park, Georgia

The words of Psalm 23:1 have been a comfort to countless many when facing circumstances beyond their control.

But what does “I shall not want” mean?

Let’s eliminate the obvious. It doesn’t mean we get whatever we want.

Honestly, it also doesn’t mean we will never be in want (or in need of) something. Look at the Apostle Paul. He faced all sorts of terrible situations – shipwrecks, stoning, homelessness, beatings, hunger, and more. Yet in Philippians 4:11, he says, “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (ESV). 

Clearly, he had unmet physical needs. Yet, he was not “in want.”

Why?

Let’s look at Psalm 23:1 again. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (KJV). The key to understanding this verse lies in the first few words: “The Lord is my shepherd.”

When the Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need. In other words, my Shepherd is all I need.

The holidays can be lonely for many and painful for some who have lost family or friends. It’s hard to feel thankful when our surroundings aren’t merry and bright.

I don’t know what your needs are this Thanksgiving holiday, but the Shepherd knows.

  • Is the Lord your Shepherd? If He’s not, then the first step to finding true contentment and peace is knowing Him. To do that, you must admit your need for a Savior and Shepherd, believe that Jesus Christ paid for your sins by His death on the cross, and choose to follow Him.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

– Titus 3:5-7 (NKJV)

  • If the Lord is already your Shepherd, commit your cares to Him with the full assurance that He cares for you (I Peter 5:7).

It’s not wrong to want something you don’t have or ask the Lord to provide for you. I ask all the time!

But whether the answer is yes, no, or wait, you and I have to remember that at the end of the day, our Shepherd knows our needs, and He will supply as He sees best. He is our source of blessing, and knowing Him is the richest blessing of all.

My prayer for you this Thanksgiving is that you may know the Shepherd and enjoy the peace and joy of His presence.

~ Miss Kristen