If Mama Ain’t Thankful

She stood there smiling at me, in the basement of the church where we both were visiting. It was a genuine smile, a relaxed smile, not a forced “I have to smile at you because I’m the evangelist’s wife” smile. She had three or four small children in tow, and they were climbing on everything in sight, as were mine. We had just met. “Wow, it must really be tough,” I remarked. “Traveling full time with these little ones! Good for you. I don’t know how you do it, going from church to church, ministering with your husband and always being on the road as a family. I’m sure it’s hard!”edit2She kept smiling that real smile. And then she said, “You know what I’ve found out, as we travel from church to church? Everybody has a hard life. We all serve God where He has called us, and it’s not easy for anyone. I have nothing to complain about compared to some of the people I’ve met in our travels.” She didn’t say it harshly at all, just matter-of-factly. I nodded, as the truth of her words sank in. (So true! Why do I let myself fall into complaints and pity parties so easily?) We went on to chat about our children and the ministries we each were involved in.

How blessed her children are, I thought, growing up under the wings of that grateful mama.  If I could see them in ten years, I imagine that her non-complaining spirit will have been caught by those young ones. Because, if mama complains, everybody complains.

If mama ain’t thankful, ain’t nobody thankful.edit4I used to hear this song when I was growing up:

Let’s have an attitude of gratitude,
Let’s fill our hearts with praise!
Thank you Lord we’ll say, to whatever comes our way.
And with our attitude of gratitude,
Our lives will tell our friends
That something special happens
When Jesus lives within!edit3Guess who the singer of that song was? It was a beautiful lady with a song on her lips, a bright smile on her face, and a clear testimony of God’s faithfulness and goodness to her. Was it somebody whose life was perfect, who had it all together, and just had so much to be thankful for that she sailed through her days, singing songs for kids about having an Attitude of Gratitude? No, not quite. The singer of that song was… Joni Eareckson Tada. I’ve read her story, and it’s full of pain and difficult times beyond what most of us could imagine. Maybe you’ve read it too. _MG_0025An orange folder resides on my bookshelf, marked on the front by a sharpie: “Walking in the Beauty of Holiness: Ladies’ Bible Study.” It’s filled with notes that I took during an eight-week Bible study taught by a dear friend of mine a few years ago. Walking in the Beauty of Holiness? That sounds so “spiritual” and must have involved hours of prayer and Bible memorization, right? Actually, it did not. Do you know what main thing I took away from that study?

Four words: “Stop complaining. Be thankful!” Such a major spiritual lesson wrapped up in such a simple truth.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo especially during this upcoming season of gratitude (and actually, all the time!), I want to remember that a grateful spirit does not come naturally to anyone. Complaining DOES come naturally, to both mamas and children alike. It’s so easy to get into a habit of complaining. If needed, let’s stop ourselves mid-sentence. Let’s lead the way ladies, and set the tone in our homes: a tone of gratitude and thankfulness. Some days are joyful. Some days are tough. Whatever myriad of big or small troubles may come across our path–  let’s keep an Attitude of Gratitude. May our hearts, minds, and lips reflect back to God all the praise He so rightfully deserves.

“The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9 fall tree with filters 2



A thought from Steve (with Fall pictures!)

IMG_5448After reading my last blog post, about working alongside your children, Steve said, “There’s a spiritual lesson in that.”

Here’s the truth he shared. We have One who comes alongside us, too. As followers of Christ, we’ve all been given jobs to do, many of which seem beyond our abilities. Our Master hasn’t left us alone to figure it all out ourselves. He’s given us Continue reading “A thought from Steve (with Fall pictures!)”

Sandals for the School Year

{photos by Ethan Hall}

Here we go…. setting out on another year of schooling. Preparations at our house just got bumped into super-speed mode. Due to scheduling changes in two of my older children’s work on a local farm’s butchering crew, we are having to start school a week earlier than we had planned. (Hopefully you can’t hear the panic in my voice as I say that.)
Continue reading “Sandals for the School Year”

God of the Very Small

{I wrote this several years ago. The photos were taken by Katelyn during a family day at the Blue Ridge Parkway, although not the same day referenced in this article.}

“Look at this, Mom!” My daughter ran up and handed me a lacy green fern leaf. We both gazed at it for a moment, a delicate and detailed specimen.

Our family was enjoying a day together with friends on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had just gazed Continue reading “God of the Very Small”

Lessons of the Field, part 2 (Parable of the Seed)

Once there was a little seed. It was a beautiful seed, black and shiny, and it thought of itself very highly. It wanted to be set in a prominent place where it could be admired by all who passed by. It took great care for its image and comfort at all times, and despised the thought Continue reading “Lessons of the Field, part 2 (Parable of the Seed)”

Lessons of the Field- Part 1

Such a glorious time of year; plants of all types growing and blooming all around. Across the road from our house in the farmer’s field, some kind of golden grain waves in the wind. Don’t you love seeing a fresh new plant burst forth out of the soil? It’s a miracle, and I’ve never met a person who didn’t enjoy the process of planting a seed and watching it grow. It’s a good time to pause and consider this question: “In order for these plants to grow and bloom or bear fruit, what has to happen first?” Think about something Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)
Continue reading “Lessons of the Field- Part 1”