Last week I returned to participate in and volunteer for the Miss South Carolina program that has given so much to me…lifelong friends from all over the USA, scholarship money, opportunities to speak, a unique second family. And, at a very early age taught me to know myself…what I think, what I deem important in life and to be bold in my passions and pursue them.
For several years now our state pageant has been held during my birthday week. This year it was held the day before my birthday. As we lined up back stage to be introduced, according to our year of reign, I did notice how “far” back in the line I had moved. Instead of being in the front, now there are many who have followed me as Miss SC. I felt a “little old”…LOL…Yes, this year’s winner and several years before are young enough to be my daughter. If you are a former Miss South Carolina, the pageant family (my second family) fondly calls you ”The Forevers!” That title does warm my heart…to be known as a “long ago Miss SC”.
As my birthday rolled around on the Sunday after the pageant, I had already decided that I would start my birthday by thinking of every reason in the world I had to be “Thankful” to be 54. If you have never tried this, I urge you, especially if you are getting older, to do this. It was a fabulous way to start my day. In fact, the minute I wake up every morning from now on I will start with a “gratitude” list to God.
It is amazing to me how “lassoing” my thoughts and disciplining my mind on what I am going to think about can affect my mood, my emotions, my actions and my outlook.
Prayer has always been the very first thing I do when I become conscious in the morning. But the order of my prayer has usually started with either confession of sin, which is a good thing but also a “downer” for me as I allow my mind to revisit the previous day, or sometimes I start right out with requests and petitions for the current day ahead.
Years ago the leader of a Bible study I was in recommended Adoration of God, confession, petition/intercession, and thankfulness as an order of prayer. I know God just desires us to come to Him and have that time of relationship, which is prayer, but I found starting out with just listing to God and recognizing all my blessings, having a decided heart of “gratitude,” really nourished my heart and ordered my mind for the rest of my prayer time. It even singled out some “hidden sin” in my heart that I was unaware of. It basically invigorated my prayer time and MY DAY.
Life gets busy…real busy and it appears to me more often than not that the “days are evil!” I can even be overwhelmed with the worries of life and at age 54 I have really come to realize WE ALL HAVE THEM (troubles/worries)…even if some people wear “MASKS!” Scripture teaches that giving thanks is the will of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give THANKS in ALL circumstances, for this is the WILL of God in Christ Jesus for you” [emphasis added].
NO one escapes adversity, aging, or difficulties. So today the point of the post is to ENCOURAGE the readers of the Back 9…count your blesses and count them ONE BY ONE and See what God has done. A great way to open your time with God. Just living in America is a huge blessing…the freedoms WE ALL ENJOY! That is a big one as we approach the 4th of JULY.
We all get to choose how we think…how we pray…when we pray….if we pray….and the order of our prayers.
On my birthday…as I counted my blessings and gave thanks… I never got to finish before I had to start my day. There were too many to count. One I will mention is how God provides in the seemingly insignificant details of my life. As I have grown in my relationship with the Lord and make the time to reflect more and move about my day in “praying continually,” I am keenly aware of God’s fingers and provisions throughout my day, even if it is “peace” in the middle of a storm.
Yes, God blesses and teaches in storms and sometimes that is how we see and recognize His power the MOST. When I start my day out with counting my blesses and reflect, I see His very “visible” fingers! Philippians 4:6-8, ”Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your HEART and your MINDS in Christ Jesus” [emphasis added].
The root of JOY is gratitude…and I have found that gratitude turns what we have into enough.