How to Live a Life that Overflows with Thankfulness

Last Monday I had my second opportunity to lead in prayer on Facebook Live. It was the fifteenth day of  21 Days of Prayer for Waterline Church, where I am the Director of Relational Arts. You know, I absolutely loved my time leading online and experienced fantastic engagement with the people who joined me live. We talked about how to live a life that overflows with thankfulness.

How to live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Thankfulness

The theme that book-ends each week of our 21 Days is  thankfulness. Therefore, we begin and end each week with gratitude. The Scripture I shared was Colossians 2:6-7.

 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6-7 NLT)

I love how the Message words this same passage:

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7 MSG)

 

#BOOM

Paul paints a clear correlation here:

Rooting + Building our lives in Christ  —>  Strong Faith + Thankfulness

I believe most of us want to be thankful people. And I think many of us want to have strong faith. But it’s hard to muster those things up. It seems they depend on our rootedness in Christ, which leads to lives built up in Him – living Jesus.

When we begin to live Jesus, to truly walk out the things we’ve learned (from the Word, from our Pastors, from our worship songs, from others’ life stories), then our faith grows, and we become thankful people.

Does that sound scary to anyone? Doesn’t walking out what we’ve learned mean stepping out before you are sure God will catch you? Isn’t that kind of like jumping out of the plane before you know for sure the parachute is going to open up?

 

That’s faith, my friends.

Faithfulness is one of the spiritual fruit listed by Paul in his letter to the Galatians.

Spiritual fruit grows naturally in people rooted in Christ. Click To Tweet
Fruit

One of my sons likes to grow things.

At any given time, we could have potted plants from pineapples and cantaloupe to avocados and tomatillos in various stages of growth around our house and patio. I don’t know if any of you are gardeners, but I’ve noticed that sometimes fruit grows v-e-r-y slowly. After all, nurturing young plants requires incredible patience and diligence. And it generally helps if he keeps going back to check them, care for them, and assess their progress.

Sometimes I think our spiritual fruit grows in us so incrementally that I wonder if we even notice. And I wonder if we forget to keep track of its progress.

So, I want to help us notice fruit.

Monday evening, during prayer time for the 21 Days of Prayer our church is walking through on Facebook Live, I issued a challenge I’d like to extend here too. Instead of looking for external things to be thankful for (let’s face it, there are a TON), instead, why don’t we start to look internally for some fruit to thank God for?

Overflowing and Spilling Over

Did you notice that Paul said our thankfulness would overflow? The Message version says, “spill over.” That means it comes from the inside. And it can’t be contained.  After all, things that overflow come out from somewhere, and can’t be held in any longer.

So what’s on the inside? What’s going on inside of us that might begin to spill out thanks? 

One key to natural gratitude is being diligent to acknowledge and express what God is doing in us. Click To Tweet

Now, an incredibly important discipline for the joy-seeker and the one who wants to be grateful is to  look for things to be thankful for. So let’s start the inward search. Let’s take inventory of our fruit – the ones that are ripe, and the ones just blossoming.

Notice Fruit and Discover Thankfulness

 

Printable to inventory your spiritual fruit

 

Download the free printable

As you take your time considering each of these spiritual fruit, allow God to direct your thoughts. Important: Recognize that our fruit doesn’t grow all at once. Often we are in a season where God is helping us to grow just one type of fruit. Other times several types might be growing at once, but you’ll still find it s-l-o-w.

How do you start?! Survey your day today. Do you notice you reacted differently to any situations than you might have a few months ago? Think about conversations, or your inner thoughts. Do you have a sense of contentment where there used to be anxiety? Do you notice you have been able to be more kind to someone difficult in your life?

Where are you changing?

Then, as you notice that you indeed have grown, even if it is just a small amount of growth, begin to celebrate that! Speak it out to the Lord. Write it in this Colossians 2:6 journal, leather notebook, or on the printable above. And tell a prayer partner or friend.

Let your living spill over into thanksgiving. 

 Live a life that overflows with thankfulness

Habits take time to form. So I invite you to keep today’s printable handy. Let it remind you to go back to the garden again and again. Assess growth, nurture and cultivate it. And with every new leaf or new blossom, thank God – loudly! Praise Him that fruit is growing and you are living Jesus.

Those who do overflow with thankfulness.

Elizabeth Joy

Making a Joyful Livelihood: It’s No Small Potatoes

We had to fly over crystal seas, navigate the bustle of a foreign airport, and do the slow, bumpy climb to 5200 feet above sea level to discover the beauty of making a joyful livelihood. It was, and it is, no small potatoes. A joyful livelihood is a currency that transcends language barriers and economic differences, yet is something I struggle to see in my North American affluence. 

A joyful livelihood is a currency that transcends language barriers and economic differences. Click To Tweet

And I found it last week, high in the mountains of Haiti.

making a joyful livelihood

 

What’s My Livelihood?

In many ways for us, this year has been a lean one. We’ve been lean on income since I was unable to work. We are lean on friends since we are so new to the area. And we’ve been lean on activity since our energy has been spent on healing and regrowing. My livelihood no longer took the form of a pay-check, but of simple emotional sustenance to try to spread among our ranks. 

Now that is shifting, as I am stepping in to a new position. But first, my husband and I were invited to come away to the remote mountains that tower over Port Au Prince. We were asked to bring emotional sustenance to full- and part-time missionaries by leading them in worship in their heart language. I didn’t realize how refreshing that would be to them.

Our modest sanctuary housed silence and song, prayer and laughter as we worshipped together. But it was actually along the roadway that I learned about making a joyful livelihood.

Making a Joyful Livelihood

 

tinder block houseWe almost missed seeing her cinderblock house, because it was disguised by the green foliage reaching towards the hot sky. But we heard her warm voice as we picked our way along the rocky road. Her Creole words bid us to come in for a visit. There was no pretence; no scurrying to tidy up or to hide the fact that life is messy. Instead it was all welcome, just as we are.

Our guides spoke well with her in her native tongue. All the while, her daughter scrubbed clothes in a wash basin, and her grand-daughter smiled with curious eyes. This wash would be added to the clothes drying in the sun on fences and roofs.

drying clothes

The conversation was light as she asked whether we had brought them any gifts. We had not, they told her, because we were simply out for a walk. Our guide teasingly asked if she had any gifts for us, and her response made us melt. 

She said that she, indeed, wanted to give us a gift.

The Gift

My soul was a jumble of gratitude and disbelief as I watched her peel the corrugated metal sheet away from the small cinderblock shed. She disappeared inside with a giant step up, and we heard her rustling around inside. The wash continued to be washed and the curious eyes continued to twinkle life as we wondered what would happen next.

Out she came, a giant step down and laden with a heavy sack. Brown eyes beamed. Inside the bag, 20 pounds of beautiful potatoes: her livelihood. She gave joy currency in that moment, and welcomed us into it. This gift was a gift of self and sustenance. Her hands had tilled the earth to bring these potatoes to life; her back had born the weight of the harvest. Yet her storehouse was open to us.

 

In a moment of welcome and grace, we were invited into her joyful livelihood. 

 

It was more important to our new friend to give than to receive. It was more honorable to share what little she had than to hold on to it for her own hungry belly. There was pure joy in feeding the stranger in her midst, of letting joy loose with no thought of with-holding it from the wealthy.

These were no small potatoes.

Our Joyful Livelihood

God smiled on us last Friday afternoon along the rocky roads in the Haitian mountains. There was no guilt in receiving the gift, only joy. The transaction was grace as He reminded us of His provision. 

ripe unto harvest

As I move from being home back into the workforce, what will my livelihood be? Will I keep it in my storehouse, or will I deal in transactions of grace? I may never see our new friend again, and yet her potatoes have impacted me profoundly. Because what was hers was ours, no pretence or with-holding.

May my joyful livelihood be the same.

Elizabeth Joy

The Morning Joy Challenge: What Will You Choose?

The Morning Joy Challenge
Morning Joy Challenge
Morning Joy Challenge

The pink sun starts to draw itself above the black horizon as the familiar tones of my alarm clock ease me into wakefulness. By now, it has learned to be polite. It’s blurry, I’m pretty sure it’s too soon, but morning’s here nonetheless. A new day stretches out in front of me with a morning joy challenge in it. Even before I reach my toes to meet the rug, I have a choice to make about how I’ll enter the day: I can growl, I can bury my face for just. one. more. minute. Or I can choose differently.

I really want to CHOOSE JOY.

Let’s face it, mornings often arouse the bear in us. A litany of reasons to start the day under a cloud of tension and negativity often exist: a looming deadline, echoes of a previous day’s argument, nervousness about an upcoming appointment, the realization that it is time to begin the tired routine of dragging children out of bed…again. We often don’t begin our days with the perspective we wish we did. But the reality is that our mornings set the tone for the entire day. 

So, is morning joy simply a decision we can make? Maybe. But most of us need a few reminders and a little help in order to discover it.  I wonder just what might happen in the long run if more of us set our sights on pursuing true, and abiding joy.  Continue reading “The Morning Joy Challenge: What Will You Choose?”