Thanks-Living: More than a Meal

Thanks-Living: More than a Meal

The plump turkey slowly roasts. Sausage stuffing sizzles in the skillet. A mixer cuts through creamy potatoes like butter for the garlic mash of a lifetime. Heavenly aromas waft throughout the house greeting it’s guests. Candles aglow, real ones. China polished to perfection. A table set as if Martha were coming herself. Chimes beckon guests to gather and recline at the Thanksgiving table.

As we sit down to feast, the host (the one that wasn’t in the kitchen) invites everyone to share what they are thankful for. It’s at that moment one blurts out, “I am so thankful for all the time and effort it took to make this delicious hot meal. So why don’t we eat it while its HOT!”

Were you thinking I’ve said that? Nah, not me! Never. But I have thought it.

It has been moments like these, reclined at the Thanksgiving table, red flags have gone up for me to reflect on. Questions surface like, “Is my heart truly thankful? Why do I rarely tear up like others when sharing things I’m grateful for? Has thankfulness really taken root in my soul or just on the surface?”

These questions have invited me to ponder a heart-posture that Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts coins as “thanks-living”.

As I perceive it.

  • Thanks-living starts as a list to become a lifestyle.
  • Thanks-living starts as an exercise to become an experience of deep gratitude.
  • Thanks living starts as a conscious discipline to become an unconscious disposition.
  • Thanks-living starts as a mindful practice to become a soul posture.
  • Thanks-living initially comes and goes dependent on the day, but eventually becomes a dependable constant no matter the circumstance.

Have you met someone who lives like this?

Someone whose joy never runs out no matter how jostled their day. Who sees the best in a person who’d never even bet on themselves. Who finds the silver-lining despite the stormy clouds. Who can truly be grateful despite  grave circumstances. Someone who can perceive the extraordinary in the midst of lots of ordinary. Someone who could own nothing in the world but whose heart is open to it all.

Someone who embodys true thanks-living.

I have. And they inspire me grow in true gratitude. This Thanksgiving, as we all sit down at our tables, my hope is that instead of being flooded with guilt from a lack of thanks-giving, we will have tilled the soil of thanks-living into our souls.

To do so, we will have a weekly discussion leading up to the big day. In this post we will ponder the first of 2 key questions. And in our final conversation, we get to hear from some women that have inspired thanks-living in my life. You won’t want to miss it! These women are AH-mazing!

So here are our 2 key questions.

First, what are our obstacles to thanks-living?

&

Second, what are our opportunities for thanks-living?

Today we will discuss the first. Engage with me for a moment. What do you think are obstacles to thanks-living in our lives?

 

That white space was to give you time to think. Did it work? 🙂 Thought I’d try something new.

Even before we get to the gratitude journals, here are some obstacles that I have come across in my life and research. However, I’m not going tell you which is which. You’ll just have to guess. 😉

  • A heart filled with hidden pride.
  • A mind with doubts and insecurities.
  • A soul weary with wounds.
  • Eyes pasted on our problems.
  • Feet that are frenzied with activity.
  • Hands of control that always choose to trust themselves.

Ouch that last one hurts. At least for me. I’d elaborate but I know you don’t have all day to chat.

One obstacle to thanks-living is our belief system. The real one. The one we operate our daily lives out of, not just sing about on Sundays. Please don’t hear me say that with a spirit of condemnation. We are all on a journey where our knowledge of God and His Word are increasingly renewing our minds, re-orienting the way we operate our lives, and rewriting the fabric of our souls.

But for example, I can say (or for those of you know me…sing till the cows come home), “God is my provider. He is for me, I will not fear!” But presently, with my eyes pasted on my problems, I am struggling with a grip of worry and anxiety about the two cars that need to be replaced in a year and how we will afford them. Despite, God providing countless times before, I still can be scared to tears about how we are going to navigate this need.

The Holy Spirit has used this duality to tenderly reveal to me that my eyes are pasted on my problems because I have an obstacle of unbelief.

So take a read again, at some obstacles to thanks-living in our lives.

  • A heart filled with hidden pride.
  • A mind with doubts and insecurities.
  • A soul weary with wounds.
  • Eyes pasted on our problems.
  • Feet that are frenzied with activity.
  • Hands of control that always choose to trust themselves.

Do any of those pop off the page for you? Pay attention to those.

Because pride believes, “I don’t need God.” Doubt whispers, “God is not truly good or I am not enough.” Wounds ooze, “God is not really for me but against me.” Problems say, “God is not going to come through.” Activity shouts, “Just keep moving don’t pay any attention to anything else.” And hands of control cling to “trusting themselves” rather than reaching out to God.

Each obstacle is a hurdle of unbelief. An operational belief in ourselves due to a deep down unbelief in the person, presence, provision, proclamations, and promises of God.

So how do we begin to hurdle these obstacles?

One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is the gracious and authentic interaction between Jesus and a perceived bad parent. You know that parent whose child tantrums, wails, and whines to no end. In other words, me, with each one of my children between the ages of 18 to 42 months. Well in this story things were a bit more severe unless like the child in this gospel account, my children were demon possess during that age. Hmmm…

I am going to skip to the end, but you can read it in its entirety in Mark 9:14-29.

In short, Jesus asks the boys father, “How long has this been happening?” The boys father responds, “since he was little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. [Then hear this] Have mercy on us and help us, if you can?” (Mark 9:21- emphasis added)

The dialogue continues with Jesus asking, “What do you mean , ‘if I can?’ When instantly the father exclaims, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'”

The Answer: We recognize the obstacle of unbelief and request the Lord’s help to overcome. 

If we don’t, unbelief becomes an opportunity of the Enemy to rob our souls of His joy, trust, faith, identity, healing, peace, love, and hope. All which help us experience true gratitude. But when in partnership with the Holy Spirit we seek God to overcome our unbelief, we secure the way for our souls to enjoy deep, lasting thanks-living.

This is our first step in our journey together this month. I look forward from hearing from you, in the comments or via Facebook, as we shape our discussion on Thanks-living.

In the words of Paul, I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all you, I always pray with joy for your partnership in the gospel from the first day till now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion till the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way since I have you in my heart  (Philippians 1:3-7).

So this Thanksgiving as we sit down and smell that turkey. We can know that with this gratitude thing? He’s started something fresh and won’t stop till it’s finished.

 

Next Week: Thanks-living: Opposition our Opportunity

Want to grow in Thanks-living? Freely subscribe to my blog and receive a 3-Part Exercise entitled Growing in Gratitude along with my weekly blog posts right in your inbox. Growing in Gratitude will guide you in Scriptures to read, prompts to reflect on, and provide an opportunity to respond. (Note: Your email is never sold or used for any other purpose.)

 

About Erin Nicole Thompson

Erin Nicole Thompson is a fun-loving and authentic momma to 4 littles, wife of a ruggedly handsome Pastor, and as she likes to think, the CEO of her home operations. She delights in worship, cooking with good music, the sweet faces of her sleeping children, adult conversations, and some quiet time at Starbucks. She loves to serve alongside, encourage, and equip young and seasoned women. Erin is grateful to be part of what God is doing at The Chapel, a multi-campus church in Northern Chicago-land where her husband, Dave, pastors the Lake Zurich Campus. Presently, she lives to dream and follow God as he writes her story.

  • Ever Moore

    I loved it!!! Thank you so much for sharing. You write from your heart. You are a natural!

  • Angie W.

    Great read! One of the obstacles LEPT off the page and me. Thank you for helping me to self-reflect and reminding me that Jesus can walk with me through this.