Every Blessing Turned Back to Praise
One of my practices every November is to take time to list some of the blessings for which I am thankful. This year is no different! Every blessing God pours out I want to turn back to praise.
Nov. 2 Every Blessing Turned to Praise – I am blessed with the rare privilege to be raised in a great family. I am who I am because of the people who faithfully and lovingly hold me up and hold me accountable everyday for my whole life. Thank you Lord for my family
Nov. 3 Every Blessing Turned to Praise – The blessing of freedom is a privilege and a responsibility. Thank you Lord for the beautiful gift of freedom: The air I breathe. The travels I can take. The land I love. The rights I appreciate as an American citizen. The peace I experience. The joy of speech, art, music, and their daily expressions. And for the grace, love, hope, mercy, and forgiveness that is mine to enjoy—freely. It is a freedom to do good to all around me and bring glory to Your Name.Be free and do good – “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”—1 Peter 2:16
Nov. 4 Every blessing turned to praise! The blessing of choice is amazing! God loves me enough to allow me to choose. He doesn’t require me to check off a list of directions. Rather, God lets—no, expects- me to use my good brain to make wise plans. He made me smart, and by choosing I get smarter, even when I make a poor choice. The fact that I have choices is one of God’s loving blessings for which I am grateful. I can choose to be grateful. I can choose to see the glass as half full. I can choose joy. I can choose to be kind. I am given a fresh start every day entirely new and full of opportunity. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,” Deut. 30:19
Nov. 5 Every Blessing turned to Praise. I have never needed to convince anyone that good things are blessings, but I am reluctantly grateful for the blessing of sorrow which has connected me to the comfort of God’s presence, given me hope and a more eternal perspective, and allowed me the privilege of loving others who are brokenhearted. God is brilliant at using all of my life, including pain and loss, to create a perfect work. 10 years without Jim is not long compared to the many happy memories with him and the many blessings I have enjoyed since opening the gift of sorrow.
Nov. 6 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Humans were made for community and I am going gush as I state that true friends are a blessing. I am so grateful for the people in my life today (and over the last 60 years) that have allowed me to be vulnerable, honest, silly, and creative. More than that, they have trusted me with their secrets, their time and their hearts. We have made memories, shared adventures, laughed and cried together. We have encouraged, listened, hugged, held each other accountable, inspired and without them I would certainly have lost my way. Friends are a joyful way of knowing the Lord even better. With much love always!
Nov. 7 Every blessing turned to praise. Today I am glad for the blessing of home. Home is the place where one belongs, where there is respect and safety and love. Home is somewhere you can always go for it is not only a place, it is a state of mind. One day I will go to my real home that God is preparing for me! Sometimes home is a person; I long for Christ to be at home in my heart (Eph. 3:14-21).
Nov. 8 – Every blessing turned to praise. Now I could thank the Lord for the best blessing I have ever known in this life – my husband Jim, who would have been 65 today, and I do often. But, in part because of Jim, I am even more mindful of the value of and blessing of laughter. Laughter lets people understand each other even if they don’t say what’s in their hearts. Just as there is a saying that goes, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy, but we’re happy because we laugh,” I am convinced that perspective is changed by the way we choose to respond. I work to remember that laughter shines more brightly when I am exhausted and in despair. Many of you know about Jest in Time, the humor business that Tibby Cornelius and I started many years ago. We know laughter strengthens the immune system as much as a vaccination does, lowers the blood pressure as it relaxes blood vessels, and increases oxygen availability and breath. It also helps regulate diabetes and is effective like an exercise. Like this, laughter is the easiest way to take care of the family’s health from little children to elderly people. Thank the Lord for the gift of happy laughter. A day without laughter is a day wasted. So laugh the unquenchable laugh of grace!
Nov. 9 – Every Blessing turned to Praise – I love that I have enough, actually more than my fair share. I deserve none of it. The fact is that God chooses to bless me, even when I arrogantly take credit or somehow think I deserve it. Everything is a gift – a blessing – and it begs the posture of praise because it is only God’s great mercy that allows me to be in this moment of time. The other reality is that everything I have is from God and not to be hoarded; rather it is a privilege to be generous and bless others with “enough”. I am thankful for the overwhelming love, provision and grace of God, which cannot be overestimated and is more than enough, nor my own brokenness, which I often underestimate.
Nov. 10 – Every blessing turned to praise – The words we say have power to bless or to curse. I am grateful for the former and, unfortunately in the current cultural climate, I am convicted by the latter. The spoken blessing is a powerful thing; it is a choice that honors God when we use our words as a moment of God’s grace in the lives of others. The opportunity to speak the truth IN LOVE, seasoned with grace, is no small thing. I am grateful that God blesses me through the words of others. May I use mine to do the same. May I never become a “spiritual cannibal”, biting and devouring others instead of encouraging and building them up, (Gal. 5:15, Eph. 4:29). I praise the Lord for words of peace and hope that build bridges, heal and restore. May we all hear more of them today.
Nov. 11 Every Blessing turned to Praise – Today I am compelled to remember those who serve and have served our country. But more than, that I want to be reminded about the blessing it is to serve. This is a foundational principle for everyone who calls himself a Christ follower. Jesus said He came to serve, not be served (Mk. 10:45). Serving creates a perspective of gratitude. I am not sure why, but as I give I am better reminded of all that I have; it really is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I am thankful for being allowed to partner with something bigger than myself and the opportunity to bless others.
Nov. 12 Every Blessing turned to Praise – I confess that I need perspective. All the time. About everything. This perpetual need of perspective is one of the countless blessings I’ve found when keeping my eyes on Jesus. I’m constantly presented with two options: looking at situations eternally, reflecting on life from God’s vantage point and experiencing joy of knowing I am loved perfectly, OR looking at things through my own skewed viewpoint, which leads to self absorption and misunderstanding. I am thankful that there are opportunities to have more than one perspective; .I can reflect on those who are less fortunate and I can see more than one side to a challenge and learn to respond accordingly with a grateful heart.
Nov. 13 Every blessing turned to praise – Intelligence and the ability to reason and create is a gift from God, God created humans with all different types of intelligence (musical, mathematical, artistic, etc.). Additionally, we also have the blessing of making choices. It is good to thank God for intelligence, as it allows us to better understand God and participate in is plan for redemption, trust Him more and thank Him for all things in all circumstances.
Nov. 14 Every Blessing turned to praise – The faithfulness of the sunrise every morning is a blessing. No matter what the weather, no matter what the day brings, every morning the mercies of the Lord are new. I am thankful that I can count on the Son/sun 24/7.
Nov. 15 Every blessing turned to praise. I am blessed by the health God has given me. I hope to always be able to thank the Lord, not matter what my health looks like.
Nov. 16 Every blessing turned to Praise. I have not suffered many trials or suffering in my life and the majority of my blessings are easy to count. They parade themselves rather boldly. Blessings in disguise are much trickier to spot and count. Then the pandemic hit; people I know and love have been impacted with unemployment, illness, disease, depression, death, and even weddings that had to be greatly modified. It has been a very hard year and no end is in sight. It has been a chance for God to show up and faithfully shower blessings in every trial, which are still minimal compared to many traumas around the world. Blessings I have depended on and counted regularly have become more scarce and I have felt their loss in the past 9 months. This makes the blessings I still have more precious and the hunt for vivid reminders of love and joy, hope and peace even more important as well as learning to embrace the Giver of all good gifts with gratitude. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ…” Phil. 3:8
11/17 Every Blessing turned to praise. The gift of story is one of my favorite blessings. Books, movies, television programs, plays and other creative media have provided me with hope, laughter, escape, information, insight and untold ideas of my own. They all collectively remind me of the Author of my own story and of the greatest Story ever told, both of which are riveting and meaningful. Thankful for the Word.
11/18 Every Blessing turned to praise. Not everyone likes surprises, but one can learn to appreciate them as a great reminder that we don’t have ultimate control. There are unknown, unexpected and unsung blessings every day. God is the giver of every good gift, both temporal and eternal. God’s faithfulness and grace often surprise me and his plan is ALWAYS better (There are over 5000 references to surprises in the Bible). God often does His best work when we least expect it because we don’t mess it up and we can’t take credit for it! For example, it is surprising that obedience leads to freedom and yielding leads to hope. I am thankful that God surprises me with blessings everyday. May I learn to see them and count them all joy!
11/19 Every Blessing turned to Praise. One of my greatest needs and blessings is to know love and to love others. It is a life changing gift that makes all the difference. I am humbled by those that love me and the privilege it is to love my neighbor as myself. We know what love is because of an amazing God who loves – generously, unconditionally, sacrificially, eternally.
11/20 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Forgiveness is a blessing. Can you imagine a world without forgiveness? I think it is one of the hardest concepts to grasp in reality – it is something we all need but it is so hard to pardon offenses and move forward. Peter asked Jesus how much he needed to forgive and Jesus responded with such a crazy math problem to emphasize the point that we are to live a life of grace and forgiveness, seeking reconciliation instead of revenge. One of the reasons I like baseball is that it is a game of second chances; what if you were only allowed one strike? Baseball only works because there is more than one chance to learn from our mistakes and try to get it right. Similarly, in the “big inning” I am glad that God forgave me. The one who has been forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:47).
11/21 Every Blessing turned to Praise. I am blessed with TODAY. Not tomorrow which is not guaranteed. Yet, how I live today influences tomorrow. And while living with a future view is important, living today with joy and gratitude is the way to live in praise to God.
11/22 Every Blessing turned to Praise. I cannot imagine life without music. In fact, without it, I would never have met my husband. Music is a gift from heaven, meant for everyone. Music moves us, inspires us, gives us courage, comforts us, connects us to God and to others. It makes life better. It is the way we say thank you, express love, heartache and a million other feelings. Through music we can express our deepest longings; we have access to what we might not be able to say otherwise. It is the easiest way to spread blessings and cheer. Imagine what it sounds like to God when we praise him in the international language of music!
11/23 Every Blessing turned to Praise. One of the understated benefits (which I miss about IL) of living in a place with seasons is the “forced” rest that comes every fall and winter. A balanced life has rhythms of work and REST. This year, while it feels like we have too much rest and isolation, it is easy to take for granted that perhaps it actually a gift rather than continuing to feel restless. Since life is laborious and creation is at war with rest, God has been working to bring us back to finding rest in Him. God blessed Israel with Sabbath rest; He set the example Himself. I am grateful that God has slowed many things down so that I can learn lay it all down and to rest. (Mt. 11:28-30).
11/24 Every Blessing turned to Praise. I am grateful for a job. There are many blessings with work. Work is something we give as a gift to our families, ourselves and even the Lord (Col. 3:23) Working hard is godlike. May I continue to find joy in being and doing what the Creator intended by joining Him in work and then walking with Him in the cool of the day. Praying for my family and friends who need work too.
11/25 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Shared gifts. I am blessed by the wisdom and inventions of others. Inventions like the wheel and the compass, the printing press, concrete and steel, modern plumbing & toilets, tools, antibiotics, x-ray machines, refrigerators & microwaves, phones, electric lights, the internet and computers, planes, trains and automobiles. People like Edison, Ford, Franklin, Bell, Wrights, Pasteur, Curie, Babbage and Gutenberg. All of these amazing things are gifts that have been shared with the world and I cannot imagine life without them. With them I can live better to the praise of His glory. May I do so gratefully.
11/26 Every Blessing turned to Praise. I am blessed, as is every human, with expressions of God’s goodness, or common grace. I am stunned by how many favors I enjoy at the hand of God; though sinful and deserving of God’s wrath, He mercifully blesses all of us with his patience, rain, sun, laughter and happiness, talents, gifts and more blessings than one can count and fully enjoy. At His hand, we are given more than we deserve. May I use everything to gratefully praise the giver of good gifts.
11/27 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Water is more than a blessing. It is essential and yet, because of plumbing and living in America, we often take it for granted. I am grateful for water. It reminds me to praise the Lord for the Living Water who is Jesus.
11/28 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Art is universal; all societies and cultures produce it. It is an integral part of human nature and is part of the way we reflect the image of the Creator. We have been given a beautiful place to live and the power to share in the enjoyment of beauty. Psalm 19:1-6 describes nature as a language without words that has “gone out to all the earth.” May all the aesthetic expressions I create and see bring glory to God.
11/29 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Marriage is a blessing; perhaps the greatest gift in perfecting love. No other relationship allows us the privilege of learning oneness and the demands of self-sacrifice and surrender. It is the clearest example of the community of the Triune God. My marriage lasted 30 years until Jim was called to heaven. Today my parents celebrate 63 years together and Jonni & Kelly (my nephew & niece) celebrate their 1st anniversary. May those who have a spouse continue to live in praise to God through their marriage.
11/30 Every Blessing turned to Praise. Biblical hope desires something good in the future BUT it expects it to happen! And even more, it is confident that it will be a reality! Everyday, in the midst of chaos, new routines, upheaval and uncertainty, I cling to hope. It is a blessing to do so. One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption, is: “Never Forget. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”. So I wait hopefully for the second advent where my faith will be sight and everything will be turned to praise. Maranatha!