Well, it’s been over a month since my last blog post, and since then my mind has often wandered in various directions as if I were on a roller coaster of stress and emotions. With a smile on my face, I can say that much of that stress has dissipated now that I am a week and a half into Christmas break.
Throughout this past semester, I have been consumed with stress and emotions as I have tried to balance academics, extra-curriculars, ministries, personal and family life, and anything else one might add to that list. There have been times when I have wondered, “Okay God, what next? What am I supposed to do now?” When I look to the horizon ahead of me, I see a future, and that future is with God. He guides my every step, and He will always go before me. But, I wouldn’t be honest if I told you that there weren’t times when all the stress and various circumstances have caused at least some level of doubt in my mind as to what that future entails. And yet, even when our mind wanders, even when we face that scary precipice, that daunting chasm of doubt between us and the future that awaits, even then, God reminds us that He is always with us. He reminds us that He is a bridge of hope and assurance for us to cross all of those fears and doubts, as we travel down the road He has paved for us. And He reminds us to be thankful for the little things along the way.
Sometimes I need to be reminded to stop worrying about everything and to just thank God for the little things. Sure, it’s easy to thank Him for the big things, and we most certainly should thank Him for the big things, such as miracles, improved health, fantastic grades on finals, etc. After all, I am beyond thankful that my grandfather’s health is improving after his heart surgery, that my Dad’s cancer is shrinking, that I managed to pull of another all A’s semester, that I get to spend the holidays with such an inspiring family, and the list goes on. Major things like these are ones we should be thankful for. But, do we stop and thank Him enough for the little things?
About a month ago, the Monday before Thanksgiving, UMHB’s International Ministry held their annual Thanksgiving meal for the community where international students, American students, and others can come, eat, fellowship, and give thanks with one another. I truly enjoy it every year as I get to meet some really awesome foreign exchange students and learn a little about their cultures.
Just a few hours before the meal, I realized that I had not yet bought anything for the gathering. Less than an hour before the event, I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to purchase a couple of pies for the feast. On my way to FBC Belton for the gathering, I paused and thought, “Thank you Lord for Wal-Mart being just a few minutes away. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” After that thought, I reflected more on Thanksgiving, and as I pictured the importance of the holiday, I thought, “I don’t thank Him enough for the little things like this.” As Christmas soon approaches, I am reminded once again to be thankful. Not only am I thankful for the greatest gift ever given, the gift of Christ, but I am also thankful for the little things.
One thing I enjoy doing is watching clips of my favorite late-night comedians on YouTube. Anyone who watches much of Jimmy Fallon knows that he writes Thank You Notes every week where he thanks random things, giving funny explanations of why he’s so thankful they exist. So that gave me an idea. Relating his Thank You Notes to a faith-based perspective, I decided to write (in this case, type) thank you notes to God (not all of them necessarily in a humorous way), thanking Him for some of the smallest things that have helped me grow in my relationship with Him and with others.
Here are some of the ideas I had as I made the short drive from Wal-Mart to FBC that evening, and as I thanked Him for various things, I tried to start with the phrase, “Lord Jesus,” because of the joy I have in proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of all…
Lord Jesus, thank you for the Belton Wal-Mart. It is especially convenient when you’re in a hurry and it’s only minutes away from campus.
As I approached a green light… Lord Jesus, thank you for the green lights as they help me get to where I am going even faster.
Then I approached a red light… Lord Jesus, thank you for the red lights as they cause me to stop, not be in a hurry, and give me a second to focus on you and be thankful.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the beautiful sky. What a marvelous sight to look at as I think of how awesome and mighty you are.
When I saw a random tree… Lord Jesus, thank you for that tree. I’m not sure why I’m thanking you for that tree, but it’s an awesome tree. And you know what, you’re awesome for making that awesome tree.
Lord Jesus, thank you for that parking lot over there. I’ve had some good conversations and have gotten to know people in that parking lot.
At the Thanksgiving meal, I walked behind my friend Alexia, who was standing next to my friend Michael. I put my hands over her eyes, seeing if she could guess who I was. “Hmmmm,” said Alexia, feeling my hands, “They’re certainly female hands.” “I have female hands?,” I asked in a deep voice. That caused for an awkward moment.
Lord Jesus, thank you for awkward moments with friends. These moments create laughter, help form stronger friendships, and give us stories to tell in the future.
At the meal, as I sat with Michael and a handful of Indian students, I got to learn about their likes, their dislikes, their culture, and what they like about America and UMHB.
Lord Jesus, thank you for this Thanksgiving meal. It allows me to form new friendships with fascinating people from different cultures. And we get to laugh and tell stories. It’s such a blessing to give thanks with new people. And I got to learn more about their holidays and traditions.
Then we started talking about sports, specifically American football and cricket. I mentioned that I’m a fan of Baylor and Texas. “Oh didn’t Baylor just beat Oklahoma State? What a good game. Too bad they lost to Oklahoma. Texas isn’t doing as well.” (This was before Texas beat Baylor!) I wish I knew as much about cricket, their favorite sport, as they knew about American football.
Lord Jesus, thank you for conversations about sports. Especially when it’s with international students. These conversations help form friendships around topics I love (that being sports!) and I get to learn about their favorite pastime, cricket.
After that group of Indian students left, Michael and I, along with our friend Dylan, thought it would be fun to stare at different people, all at once, shifting to different people several times, to make people feel awkwardly uncomfortable.
Lord Jesus, thank you for goofy humor. What a fun way to bond and have good laughs with close friends. Plus, it makes other people laugh too.
Michael, Dylan, and me having fun staring at people…
Since the meal, I have thought of other things to be thankful for, between Thanksgiving and now, shortly before Christmas.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the show Friends. It gives something for Dad and me to bond together and have laughs. It also gives us good conversations as we remember our favorite episodes.
Lord Jesus, thank you for friends that have also seen Friends. It gives me something to talk about and have good laughs with friends (especially Michael, who’s also seen just about every episode and can quote any part of them).
Lord Jesus, thank you for White Elephant Gift Exchange Parties. It’s so much fun giving and receiving sometimes pointless gifts. It’s fun because I get to have good laughs and spend time with wonderful friends.
You can’t see it, but I got a flashy ornament and anti-wrinkle cream. Lol. Not sure why I’m the only one smiling.
Lord Jesus, thank you for Star Trek (the movies and the TV shows). Yet another thing for Dad and I to enjoy together.
Lord Jesus, thank you for Candy Crush. It allows me to watch my grandfather have tons of fun playing it. He gets excited when he gets to show me the newest challenge the game throws at him. (He’s probably on level 1300 or something or higher)
Lord Jesus, thank you for Facebook messaging. It allows me to encourage friends and allows friends to encourage me.
The first Saturday of December, my family and I watched the Texas-Baylor football game. Shayla and I were cheering for Baylor while the rest of the family was cheering for Texas.
Shayla and me for the Bears, Jeremiah for the Horns. Horns won!
Lord Jesus, thank you for family football rivalries. They allow us to have fun, in a competitive spirit kind of way. I even thank you when the team I’m rooting for loses. Because being teased afterwards is also fun.
Lord Jesus, thank you for that feeling college students have after finishing the last final of the semester. One word: FREEDOM!
Lord Jesus, thank you for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I got to see it with Dad and Jeremiah in 3D, and it was such a wonderful experience. The months long excitement and Star Wars marathon before was half the fun.
Jeremiah and me shortly before the new Star Wars movie…
Lord Jesus, thank you for middle and high school girls’ basketball games. It brings me so much joy to watch Shayla and Mikayla play the sport they love so much.
Shayla after her high school Lady Buffs basketball game…
Mikayla after her middle school Lady Buffs basketball game…
Lord Jesus, thank you for the fun Shayla and I have teasing each other. I love teasing my Horned Frog, my Red Raider. (She’s more of a Baylor Bear fan than I am, so she doesn’t like being called that 🙂 )
Lord Jesus, thank you for the long drives I have by myself. I love spending time talking to you or listening to Christian music.
Lord Jesus, thank you for College Football Bowl season. Did I mention how much I love football!?
These are just a handful of to the many things that I am thankful for. While it may sometimes be easy to be thankful for the big things, we sometimes overlook the small things. I constantly need to be reminded, myself, to stop and thank God for these precious little things.
Scripture is filled with verses about being thankful…
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 (NIV)
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. – 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NLT)
Sometimes I need to be reminded to be thankful for not just the big things, but also the small things. Life is not always going to be a smooth journey, but no matter what, praise Him. Sing to Him. Give thanks to Him. Thank Him for the big things! And thank Him for the little things. In everything, give Him thanks!
Lord Jesus, thank you. Thank you for all your countless and many blessings. Even if I had absolutely nothing, I would still be forever thankful that I will always have you Lord, and that is what I am most thankful for.
With every breath I have, Lord Jesus, I say THANK YOU!
New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
New Living Translation. Bible Gateway. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
Thank You by the Katinas
Thank You Lord for Your Blessings by Jeff & Sheri Easter, Charlotte Ritchie, and Vestal Goodman