Grumpy or Grateful?

Last week, I heard one of my wise kids say to my grandchildren, “Just because you can’t have something you want doesn’t mean you get to be grumpy about it.”

Those youngsters have pared down the rhetoric. Now they say, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit!” Thrown any fits lately? Gotten into the “grumpy gimmies” about your lot in life? Lest you think an occasional pity party is okay, check this out:

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

And then this quote, uncredited but repeated by Jan Karon in The Mitford Bedside Companion: “In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”

SO, when life doesn’t give you what you want, deny yourself the easy choice of grumping about it. Choose, instead, to be thankful, because the Lord who loves you really does know best.  Gratefulness can make the difference in your day!

photo credit: Ben White via

Revival of a Different Sort

Today, before the sun was even up, I flushed a toilet, started a load of laundry, boiled a pot of eggs, and made myself a cup of tea.

Somewhere else in the world, before the sun was even up, a woman not really all that different from me headed out along a mile-long path. She filled a 5-gallon pail with 40 pounds of water and carried it back to her family.

I’m passionate about providing clean water to those in need. But that’s a topic for another time. Today I want to share my passion for gratitude.

Sometimes, even in our western world of comfort and ease, we become exhausted or uncomfortable. And that can lead to a self-absorbed discontent. Or, maybe we begin to notice neighbors whose lives seems more delightful than our own. Our gratitude begins to fade, even in light of all our blessings. And we let it.

No more! Today I call on you (and on myself as well) to notice the simple blessing of water. I challenge you to breathe a prayer of thanksgiving every time you flush a toilet, turn on a tap, or take a shower. These are gifts! And then, move on to noticing the many other “simple” blessings God has given you. Make a list and stick it on your mirror if need be.

  • Revive your contentment.
  • Shout your praises.
  • Be happy and smile over the good things in your life.

And, if you are so inclined, share a list of your newly noticed blessings with me.

Why Do We Give Chocolate to Children?

Photo by cottonbro on Please note that this is not a photo of my grandson!

As you’ve gathered from earlier posts, I have grandchildren now. I also have a generous supply of chocolate chips—white, dark, milk, and caramel. While Steve and I certainly get into my stash from time to time, I keep those chip jars full primarily for the sake of the little ones in my life. Today they sprinkled them on top of pans of pumpkin muffins. They’ve insisted on adding them to our quarts of homemade frozen yogurt. Sometimes, though, I just dole out small piles of chips into each of their eager hands.

But why? Why do any of us give chocolate (or sprinkles, or ice cream or…) to children? We all know it’s not particularly healthy. I think we do it because we take pleasure in delighting those we love. I enjoy the broad smiles and pure excitement a few chocolate chips can evoke in my grandchildren. I like giving them what they like. It makes me happy.

I think God takes pleasure in delighting those he loves—that’s us. Of course, every blessing he gives us is 100% good. The questions I want to ask you today, though, are these:

  • How good are you at delight?
  • Do you keep your eyes open for God’s blessings and please him by enjoying what he gives you?
  • Do you take good things for granted or, worse yet, deny yourself the pleasure of His gifts because you know you don’t deserve them?

My grandchildren often say, “I’m so excited…” When I hear that, I’m challenged to rekindle my own excitement, to renew my recognition of the pleasant things in life, all of which are gifts from God. I want to urge you today to up your level of delight in the Lord, not just in who he is, but also in all he provides.

And won’t you please take a moment to tell me about it here?

And one more thing: Last week’s blog was written by my mom, Beth Smith. Some of you received it by email before it was properly credited. ‘Just want to set the record straight!

Thankful Anyway


This was my Thanksgiving post six years ago. My how times have changed, and how, in many ways, they are still exactly the same…

It was a morning of contradictions. The dawn was about to break, seemingly obscured by a thick blanket of low clouds filling the horizon. As we drove out of the neighborhood and Steve clicked on the car radio, I was struck by the onslaught of evil our world had only recently sustained.

The capture and probably massacre of students in Mexico.

The death of an Ottawa honor guard at the hands of a terrorist.

The usual (When did it become usual?) litany of crimes and punishments taking place throughout our land.

It’s so easy to despair, to decide we’ve been forsaken and that all is lost forever. Yet even as the radio droned on, the sun rose, splashing red and gold across the sky, those ominous clouds now serving as mirrors to reflect the spectacular light.

What a perfectly timed reminder for me. I could hear a childhood hymn playing in my memory banks.

Oh, who can make a sunrise?

I know I can’t. Can you?

On who can make a sunrise?

No one but God, that’s true.*

He’s so much bigger than we are, so much greater than even our most consuming heartaches and difficulties.

It’s time for Thanksgiving! Actually, it’s always time for thanks giving. Yes, there are dark days behind us and before us, but the sun also rises. The SON also rises. He is, ever was, always will be Lord of all, and he will carry us through the darker days. I hope you are approaching this season with a life full of good things. But either way, He is always reason enough to give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*My apologies to the lyricist. I am unable to find the source of this song.

Thank You Days

A single day in November seems too small a portion of time to set aside for giving thanks. Yes, I know we give thanks at meals and many other times, but there’s something special, powerful even, about setting aside a whole day. I’ve also found Thank You Days to be an effective deterrent when anxiety or “the blues” are threatening a take-over of my joy. So, even though—or maybe even because—these are troubling days, I want to tell you what a Thank You Day looks like for me. (‘Sorry, no turkey.)

I’ll start my morning prayer with something like, “Lord, you know all of my needs and concerns. I know I don’t need to list them, so I leave them with you. Help me to thank you all day long. Open my eyes. Thank you for…” In some part of me, that prayer continues all day long. I’m not saying we should abandon all intercession for the needs for others, not by a long shot. But, just for one day now and then, couldn’t we turn our thoughts and prayers to thanksgiving alone?

My Bible reading for those days is taken from passages of praise, mostly the Psalms.

I might choose to skip the news as a matter of focus, or simply thank God for his sovereignty over all things even as I listen to disheartening reports.

And, for me, music matters. I’ve found I can work best at my desk with instrumental praise streaming in the background, switching to something more lively when it’s time to exercise or knock out household chores. (Message me if you’d like to know my Pandora favorites.)

We know God wants us to praise him. I believe this is for his glory, but for our good as well. Praise, worship, and giving thanks are inextricably intwined, and when I engage in them, I am more fully aware of our Lord’s presence. Loads are lifted. Joy—and perspective—return.

A Thank You Day: Try it. I think you’ll like it!

Is There a Song in Your Heart? OR Singin’ in the Rain!

I’m listening to a lot of music these days. A surprising number of songs invade my consciousness in silent form, coming directly from the playlists in my brain. Those playlists often encourage me. Sure, there’s worship music stored in there. But there’s also a whole bunch of show tunes! Many of them encouragement me. Thanks to Facebook, I discovered the favorites of a few friends. Here’s a list, shared for your enjoyment:

“Singin’ in the Rain”

Gene Kelly is laughing at the clouds (currently dumping on him) because he’s in love. I wonder, when we feel dumped on, do we manage to remember the love that surrounds us, letting it alter our sinking perspective?

“My Favorite Things”

When Maria’s feeling sad, she remembers the good things in her life. How’s that for great advice? We all have blessings, some of them very, very simple. When we face limits and disappointments, looking at our remaining blessings may help us readjust.

“In My Own Little Corner”

Okay, some of you have missed this one. (But thanks, Kelly!) Cinderella lauds the power of imagination—in a life of near-quarantine, come to think of it. Good books, great music, a bit of quiet thought: These are great ways to escape when the walls close in.

“Put On a Happy Face”

You’ve just got to see the first minute or two of this number. I hope it convinces you that the simple act of smiling does matter! Watch here.

“Ya Got Trouble”

So just how bad can a pool table be? As my friend Jacqueline said, this song “Is a lighthearted take on real troubles.” It begs us to ask what other troubles we magnify beyond reason.

“Everything’s Alright”

The most important line in this song reminds us not to get worried, not to let our problems overwhelm our peace. Worry never solves anything. Really, it never does!

“Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”

Most of us already have nearly everything on Eliza Doolittle’s wish list. ‘Best to remember how “loverly” we have it much of the time.

“High Hopes”
Sinatra belts out a great reminder—Don’t give up! Don’t give in to feeling low! (And you can check out his performance here:)

“From Now On”

If you need a fresh start on your perspective, your choice to rejoice, your commitment to trust and follow the One who loves us, don’t wait. Start now!

Enjoy these great tunes, and if you’ve got a favorite song to share, let’s hear it!!!

Photo by Spencer Imbrock via