Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude takes planning, discipline, and an awareness of the feelings of others. It requires stepping out of our own shoes and test driving a pair of our neighbor’s shoes. Actually, that’s not a bad idea for many things in life!
Growing up in the 70’s, our parents emphasized thank-you notes to anyone who gave us a gift or who went out of their way to do something special for us. We couldn’t get away with only an in person thank-you. This rule was etched in stone, no compromising on gratitude. While an in person thank you was required, the written thank-you demonstrated to the giver that we understood they were in no obligation to give. This helped guard our hearts from an attitude of entitlement.
With the written thank-you we elevate the giver and the kindness they have shown. With no thank-you, the giver feels unappreciated and may even question giving in the future. Granted, as a young person it seemed excessive with a written note after thanking them in person, but now I am thankful my mother taught me the importance of being grateful, being a giver, and thanking others for their generosity.
My mother also taught me how to set the table properly, wash dishes, vacuum, clean house, wash clothes, make a bed, and stand or sit at attention with good posture and alignment. I wish I could write her a thank-you note in appreciation. Passing it along to my kids is my way to promote generational gratitude!
She taught the importance of not talking back, grumbling, whining, or interrupting adults. We were to be polite and look people in the eyes when they spoke to us. We did not hang on the legs of our parents; we faced adults when spoken to. Life did not revolve around us, and our parents did not hover over us. We were not the center of attention, and if we attempted to be, a helicopter hand could swing into us, sending said child to a secure location!
At dinnertime we did not have a restaurant menu to order from. No way did we expect anything other than what had been prepared. Although my mother knew I hated liver and onions, and lima beans, they stayed firmly written on our weekly meal schedule. She could have been teaching me to be thankful in all circumstances. Or, as she often said, “At least you have food to eat.”
We were taught to respect authority and just be a kid. But I must admit there were times when I wished my parents had listened, believed, and intervened with certain adults. We were not interested in every aspect of our parents’ lives, or eavesdrop on adult conversation, we just wanted freedom to play. And yes, rain or shine, I walked two miles one way to school, with an armful of books and my warm bologna sandwich lunch. And no, it was not uphill both ways, but occasionally I would jump a fence or climb a tree to escape the German Shepherds!
The Word of God is filled with scripture which address thankfulness and an attitude of gratitude. God wants our hearts to be filled with thankfulness.
We always thank God for you and pray for you constantly. 1 Thessalonians 1:2
We should be thankful for our family, friends, co-workers, and those who are brought into our path by God. Are we praying for them? It is easy to take each other for granted. The Word reminds us, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2
Even those grace growers, people who try your patience and electrify your last nerve, God placed them in your life for a reason. They should be on your prayer list too! Maybe they are in your life to toughen or soften you up, test your faith, or keep you humble.
My fitness students are absolutely the best, showing up each morning, ready to train their bodies for God’s purposes. There are so many other things they could be doing besides exercising. It is a BIG DEAL to me! Praising God for what He has done in your life, growing stronger and closer to Him!
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
Talk about abundant blessings and reasons for thankfulness, God has had His hand on Shaped by Faith. Through the television program and streaming online, Shaped by Faith is reaching hundreds of millions of people. God is the only one who can make that happen, and I am thankful to Him. But God is not only the God of millions, He is the God of the individual, and more importantly, the personal relationship with each person.
Recently, a lady from Canada reached out asking about attending my classes in person. She had been following my classes online and exercising with me for years. I thought, “that’s a long way to come to my class?” Well, God worked it out, and she drove from Canada to Kentucky to attend classes.
She said, “I have known since the first time I exercised with your Pilates for the Soul DVD 13 years ago that this program is different. God is absolutely involved! God fills my soul while I strengthen my body. I am so thankful for how God has and continues to use this ministry to grow my faith.”
“All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:15
These truly are the golden years of gratitude!