Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

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hydrated and thankful — November 24, 2020

hydrated and thankful

I recently wrote about my son who spent time in the prayer closet.  He was an antsy preschooler and it showed up during our prayer time.  I had to corral him between me and the sofa as we knelt and prayed. 

How ironic is it then, that he sired a sweet and passionate prayer warrior?   When her daddy asks, “Who wants to…?”  She has her hand up before he can say, “pray.” 

From three years old and on Lainey has led our family in the saying of grace.   And I would wish that my whole family could pray as she does; even the whole world would pray as she does.  Dang – if only I could pray as she does. 

She sweetly and personally speaks to the Lord.  When she prays, it’s as if she’s sitting on His lap – with their eyes meeting.  Multiple times she will say in the sincerest of voices, “and Jesus, I, I just love you.” 

But what is most striking is the profuse amount of thanksgiving that permeates her prayers.   While my mine are full of platitudes, hers overflow with gratitude and for the most unusual things.  

Her mother was a science major and filters life through that lens.   She once explained to her little Lainey the importance of drinking water throughout the day.  Since then, Lainey regularly thanks the Lord for keeping her hydwated.  

Her mother also explained the amazing law of gravity and Lainey now thanks the Lord that we don’t fly away up in the sky. 

Lainey is profoundly cute. She has an uncanny ability to look at everything that you and I take for granted and recognize it all as gifts from God. 

It’s as if God somehow impressed 1 Thessalonians 5:18 on her little heart, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  In every circumstance and for every circumstance we ought to be grateful. 

So tomorrow we give thanks!  Psalm 92:1 tells us that it is a, “good thing to give thanks to the Lord.”   

This is true according to the experts.  Gratitude activates the reward center of our brains so that we emotionally feel better.  A great way, by the way, to combat anxiety and depression.  Gratitude also has been proven to lower blood pressure and give us better sleep.*

Saying thanks is also a wonderful way to refresh and strengthen our relationships with others. 

It really is good to give thanks, not only because it does good things to and for us, but because God is a good God. (Psalm 107:1)

I am with Lainey – thankful for God’s good gifts of health and food and people that love me and a God who gave His life on a cross for me and a job that challenges me and for photosynthesis.  (Hey why can’t I be thankful for a scientific principle too?)  

Tomorrow our mouths will work hard at taking in Thanksgiving.  They also need to work hard at giving out thanksgiving.   Scripture says, “With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord.”  – Ps 109:30

After dinner we’ll turn on the game and scream ‘til we’re hoarse.  David said that we ought to give thanks in the same way, “with all our hearts.”  – Psalm 86:12

Some of us will get up and raid the refrigerator for a midnight snack.  Also, a good time to give thanks says the Psalmist, “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee…”  — Ps 119:62   KJV

2020 has been a tremendously tough year!   Amen?  All the more reason to gather the family on turkey day and have each person write out 5 things for which they were thankful this year.  Compare your answers.  Make note of the duplicates and the diversity and then offer a group prayer of Thanksgiving!

A PRAYER: Lord give me the eyes to perceive every blessing and the words to return proper thanks.

– All scripture references from the NET Bible ®

– * The Health Benefits of Giving Thanks; Community Health Network November 20, 2019; www.ecommunity.com/healthminute/2019/health-benefits-giving-thanks.

life can squeeze the thanks from our tanks. — November 27, 2019

life can squeeze the thanks from our tanks.

when your egg scoots

Tis the season to be thankful.  However, one wise guy said, “It seems like the only place you find gratitude today is in the dictionary.”   Life can squeeze the thanks from our tanks.  Better, however, to meet the challenge with a grateful heart than a great complaint.

Jesus addressed a crowd of eight thousand who had feasted on His words but were famished for a piece of bread.   They were hungry and far from home. 

Out of concern, He asked His disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.”  (Mark 8:5)Seven loaves for 8,000?  Each small loaf would need to feed 1,142 people.  Enough for a crumb a piece!  Nice if you are on a low-carb diet, but ridiculously little for the crowd.

Jesus could have said, “whatever” or blamed His congressman.  He might have shaken His fist at the Father and said, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” 

Instead, “He took the seven loaves and gave thanks.”  (v. 6).  He somehow juggled the small loaves in His hands and prayed a sincere thanksgiving prayer

It was a meager and insufficient amount, but it’s what the Father had decided to supply at that moment.  So, He gave thanks for it, trusted the Father to make it all work, and then saw that it was distributed to the crowd. 

And then, He took a few small fish and unexpectedly gave thanks a second time. (vs. 7)   Sort of odd really.   What would your family say if you should interrupt your turkey feast to say grace – again?   Evidently Jesus had a lesson to teach about gratitude.

Of course, we know what happened next.  In His hands the meagerness exploded into more than enough to feed the multitude – with 7 good sized baskets full of leftovers.

He made it clear that a grateful heart is a great asset.

But I guess my wife and I are not spiritually perceptive enough to learn it from Him.  He needed to use a three-year-old instead.

I was in college at the time. My wife, our 3 year-old daughter and me – all squeezed into a very used up, 12 by 60 mobile home.  It was quite the place.

The support beams underneath had sagged over time, so the floor of the trailer was high in the middle and sloped toward the walls. 

If you cracked an egg into a frying pan, it would race to the side and try to climb out of the skillet.

The drain from the washing machine often overflowed the sewer line.  So, I had to drain the washer into our bathtub to accommodate the excess.  Not a problem unless you were taking a bath. (as if my naval didn’t already have enough lint) 

She and I were asleep one night when we were awakened by a jolt to our bed.  There was a new slope in the house.  A bed leg had had poked right through the rotted trailer floor!

The biggest challenge was the cramped space.  We had a tiny house before they were hot.  With only 820 sq. ft., we had furniture stacked on top of furniture with a growing theological library crammed into every nook and cranny.  

My daughter needed a bed.  I had to create a miniature version to fit in the teensy bedroom of our tiny house.

We endured.  We knew it was for just for 3 years, but eventually my wife reached the breaking point. The egg scooted just once too often, and she was overwhelmed with the cluttered chaos.

That evening we grumpily readied our 3-year-old daughter for bed who wasn’t aware of our frustration and yet she prayed the sweetest most sincere prayer ever.  She said, “Dear God, thank you for this nice day and for our big, big house.” 

Nuff said!   Take a good look at your house, and your family – your job, your car, your health, and whatever else needs a look – and thank the Father.

PS: You could even thank Him that your eggs don’t scoot (or do they?)


*Scripture references from the NET Bible®

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