Celebrating the Spirit of Thanksgiving

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. -Thornton Wilder

Pause to Reflect

It’s easy to become so consumed with the swirl of life around us that we rarely pause to reflect on the good things in our lives. I think that’s why so many people appreciate Thanksgiving—a day dedicated to remember, appreciate and to give
thanks. We set aside just one day out of the entire year to allow our minds to stop
and consider our many blessings and to allow our hearts to swell with gratitude;(and of course, the plethora of tantalizing tastes and smells doesn’t hurt!) As we adjust our routine, slow our pace and begin thinking about all of the unexpected joys, triumphs, lessons, opportunities—blessings—of the year now past, the list goes on and on.

Connecting the Dots

As we begin to think about one thing we’re grateful for, a natural snowball effect begins to take place.  And that’s good. It’s good because we do more than just check an item off our mental list. We take time to look at the details of a thing and realize it’s not just about a solitary experience, incident, possession, or relationship, but the reality that our lives are full of connections. If we let our minds relax and expand on a single grateful thought, other thoughts begin to flood in.

Time Doesn’t Stand Still

We’re grateful for time off from our normally busy schedule and routine. It’s time to recharge our batteries, let down our guard, and maybe relax in a way we haven’t all year. Time is a commodity we don’t necessarily stop to be thankful for on a regular basis. Why? Because we think it’ll just “always be there”. But, it won’t. We all live on borrowed time. We spend it, use it, and invest it in whatever way we choose, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. So, we are grateful for time. Time to be with, or catch up with, those we care about. In the process, we are also making new memories, and that brings up something else to be thankful for–the people in our lives. It’s an opportunity to reflect on each person who has brought something into our lives that has made our personal tapestry even richer.

Perspective Matters

Maybe we’re thankful for the chance to travel this holiday and to appreciate new scenery; or, we’re glad we don’t have to cook because we’re visiting family or friends away from home, and we appreciate the change. Or, maybe on the flipside, we are the ones that are doing the hosting and “work”, but we’re grateful that we can serve others this holiday season. And, we consider it a blessing to be able to share in the warmth, laughter and joy in our own home. Then course, there’s the food. And even with that, it’s more than just the initial “food” thought. Yes, it tastes wonderful and we are more satisfied in the end than when we first gathered around our tables. But more than that, to be grateful for the plenty—for the abundance of provision, when so many don’t have the ability to enjoy even the simplest of meals. We are thankful to live in a place where we are free to farm, to buy and sell our goods, and to make a living so we can enjoy days like these, celebrating with the ones we love.

Linger, Reflect, Celebrate

If we linger on that thought, it goes even deeper. Our hearts surge with gratitude for our freedoms and liberties. We’re grateful for those who have gone before us to
make a way. We’re grateful to live in a land where freedom is celebrated and not cursed–a land where every man and woman has the ability to pursue their passions and live out their dreams. We have great cause to celebrate our freedom of speech, religion, and basic human rights that so many around the world cannot take for granted. We’re thankful for the opportunity for prosperity, peace, and a hope that still burns brightly for those who believe.

The Simple Things

And, it is the simple things. A glance at the fireplace and we’re thankful for its warmth. A glance out the window and we appreciate the leaves that are changing hues and the crispness in the air. In nature, we witness that there is order in the
universe, the changing of seasons like clockwork, and the beauty of each new transformation. We take pleasure in the smiles, laughter, and camaraderie of our family and friends that have gathered. Maybe we stop to ponder the newness of life, gratefulness for the accomplishments and blessings of the past year, or the opportunity for fresh beginnings ahead. And on and on it goes, if we take the time to pause and reflect.

Count Your Blessings

So, as you gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what are you thankful for?Who are you grateful for? What do you want to be more appreciative for in the year
ahead?

Thanksgiving should be more than a holiday we set aside each year. We can choose to live with the spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts and minds—as a part of who we are–with an attitude and posture of gratitude every day.

There’s an old expression, “Count your blessings count them one by one,” and that’s the idea. When we start to break it down, we begin to realize that each thing we have to be thankful for is connected to something else. Every blessing is filled with its own blessings, like gifts within gifts. And behind every gift, no matter how great or how small, there’s a gift-giver that is worthy of our expressions of gratitude.

May your heart and home be filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving season, and throughout the year!

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship

In her new mini-book, Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship, award-winning author and speaker, June Hunt says:

“Codependency is a relationship addiction. A codependent is anyone who is dependent on another person to the point of being controlled or manipulated by that person.”

So what drives people to unhealthy dependency?  Hunt says, “Everyone is created with three God-given inner needs–the need for love, for significance, and for security.” When those needs get confused, we can get off track veering into unhealthy zones in our relationships, and also how we think about ourselves.

Our significance and self-value cannot come from another person. We are not meant to meet all of another person’s needs or desires. Likewise, we should never expect, imply, or demand that of another person. Positive and healthy relationships are bi-directional, balancing needs and desires while respecting the necessity for both boundaries and compromise.

Here is her quick checklist. You are in a codependent relationship if:

  • Your excessive care causes you to compromise your convictions
  • Your excessive loyalty leaves you without healthy boundaries
  • Your excessive “love” (note the quotemarks) allows you to say yes when you should say no

This booklet includes biblical-based truths about self-worth, definitions and check-lists to help you assess co-dependendent thinking and behaviors, characteristics and causes of codependency, practical steps to recovery, and ultimate freedom.

About the Author

Author June Hunt

June Hunt is a biblical counselor whose award-winning radio program “Hope for the Heart” is heard on nearly 900 radio outlets around the world. She is a sought-after public speaker on topics such as crisis counseling, child abuse, forgiveness and self-worth. She’s also developed a scripturally based counseling course covering topics including depression and anger, marriage, parenting, stress, suicide, and more. Her “Hope for the Heart” booklets have been translated into 27 languages.

Look for all 25 of the Hope For The Heart mini-books − These books are for men and women who are seeking restoration from circumstances like codependency, anger, conflict, verbal & emotional abuse, and depression.

Purchase the book: Codependency: Balancing an Unbalanced Relationship

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Give an Unconditional Gift — Free a Heart

Sometimes, the most valuable and empowering gifts we can give a person don’t come from a store, but from our heart.

They are the gifts that money can’t buy. They might take an investment of time, energy or commitment but what we sow, we also reap.  So what do these unconditional gifts look like?  Giving hope or encouragement, taking the time to really listen and connect, showing thoughtfulness or caring, and sometimes, the purest form of all, the one that reflects the true nature and spirit of Christmas: Unconditional Love.

And, one of the greatest extensions of the gift of unconditional love is asking for, or extending, Forgiveness.

When we give one of these unconditional gifts, they aren’t meant for the person on the receiving end alone. They are meant to be shared with us. They give comfort and peace and they bring comfort and peace. Like a healing balm, they relieve and soothe places deep inside of us that couldn’t be touched in any other way outside of the divine.

One of the most common reasons people resist taking action, especially when it comes to giving the gift of forgiveness, is connected with a sense of entitlement or justice. They are unwilling to move until an apology is issued or when an offense is acknowledged or admitted. In their own estimation, the other person is unworthy and doesn’t deserve it.  Justice will come eventually, not always in our timeframe, but it will come.

Life is too short and too precious to put on hold.  What many people do not realize is that by holding on to an offense, negative thoughts or feelings–whether they are justified or not–our own hearts become hard and enslaved in the process.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” -Lewis B. Smedes

Some say, “Live today like there’s no tomorrow.” I prefer to take it a step (or heartbeat) further and say, “Love today because you might not get another chance tomorrow.”  What is life lived apart from love, except going through the motion of living on the outside, but not being completely (peacefully, joyfully, gratefully) alive on the inside. 

Is there someone you need to connect with this holiday season?  Don’t stop to over-think, over-analyze or calculate things to death. Just open your heart, pick up the phone, (pen or computer) and give your gift

Remember to give it with no strings attached. Once you open your heart and let it fly away, there’s always a possibility that it will meet with disappointment, but we can’t control the outcome of another’s reaction.

What we can control, is our own internal response. And we will have to live with our own choices–the dullness or brightness, heaviness or freedom within our own hearts.  Give the gift that costs nothing, but is priceless.  Free someone today, and in the process… Free yourself.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” -Mark Twain

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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