As I stepped outside into the winter air to start the grill, I thanked God that He caused the ignition switch to work so I didn't have to hunt down matches, try light the gas grill in the cold wind and thus delaying dinner which needs to be completed on a tight schedule so our family is punctual for evening activities. Is it unspiritual for me to think that a grill ignition switch is something for which to be thankful? I've been conducting a little experiment this week: tracking my attitude and my thought patterns throughout the day, then seeing how they relate.
As I returned inside from preheating the grill, I noticed how calm and peaceful I was before a busy night. Indeed, I think choosing to thank Jesus for the little gift of a working ignition switch rather just chalking it up to good luck is giving God glory and it changes my attitude to one of joy and peace.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 
One way, among many, to set my mind toward things of the Spirit (yielding life and peace) is practicing thanksgiving. Paul commands thankfulness in all circumstances to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
However, I admit that I'm not good at thanking Jesus for a screaming baby. Just a day ago, our 12-week old decided he would have nothing to do with cuddling before nap time. Nothing! Squirm, squirm, cry, scream. Set him in his crib and within minutes, he's soothing himself to sleep. Thinking on this later (not in the moment) I realized that this is new found independence for him is a gift. Yes, it comes with screaming, but he already wants to do something on his own. So thank you Jesus for a self-soothing, sleeping baby.
She's mad. I'm steaming. She's stuck in a rut with a new song on the violin. Stinkin' rhythm, staccato, accents, quarter notes, eighth notes. It's hard. I think she wants help, so I offer. This has only made the situation worse. Leaving the room and leaving her to herself, I continue listening (honestly, I'm still steaming) as she works through the piece. However, at times I can tell she's figuring it out. On her own. Thank you Jesus for nine-year-olds learning the violin.
She hates to enter new places by herself. She loves the comfort of momma beside her. But lugging a carseat in and out isn't exactly fun or easy and she knows it. When I drop her off at her appointment she asks, "Going in myself?" "Yes, please," I plead. And she bounds out the door. Thank you Jesus for twelve-year olds who can (and will) go by themselves.
"Are you sure you don't want someone to go over it with you?" both mom and dad have asked the middle schooler before her next math test. Lately, the engineer hasn't been helping her with any homework but she simply says, "I got it." As parents, we choose to let her go and trust her work ethic. Days later when she delivered the news: 100% on the test, we celebrated with her. Thank you Jesus for her discernment and confidence.
All these  prayers of thanksgiving are really thanking God for my children moving toward independence. Independent children are a gift.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, are the children of one's youth. Psalm 127:4
Arrows aren't meant to stay in the quiver or case, they are meant to go out. Our little (and not so little anymore) golden heads aren't meant to stay in our fold forever, but to go out into the world and spread the gospel. These prayers of gratitude for the little things are really prayers of thanksgiving for a bigger gift of independence. Independent children are a gift.
So on second thought, I will thank God for the screaming baby.
What circumstance in your life seems less than ideal? Sassy children, lying co-workers, broken dishwasher, waiting for surgery, the mundane day-to-day? Will you choose to find gratitude somewhere in that? In Corrie TenBoom's The Hiding Place, she tells the story of her sister, Betsy, thanking God for fleas. Later, the sisters realize it is because of the fleas, the Nazi guards let them have Bible Study and prayer in their bunk beds with other prisoners. Betsy chose to thank God for the circumstance in her life and in the bigger picture, the miserable circumstance was a gift. If you choose to offer prayers of thanksgiving, maybe like me with the screaming baby, you'll see the larger gift.

I'm pleased to report the baby boy found a new pacifier he likes and will occasionally let me cuddle him before naps. Thank you Jesus for pacifiers too!

No comments: