Three Psalms to Inspire Gratitude


3 psalms to help you pray grateful prayers

Gratitude is so good for our hearts. It reminds us to look past today’s temporary troubles to see the big picture of God’s everlasting care and concern. It reminds us that life is not as dark as it sometimes feels. It heals our wounds and protects us from bitterness. It reminds us of God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us confidence as we look to the future. Gratitude strengthens our faith, cures our self-centeredness, and makes us happier people. The minute we start thinking about things we are grateful for, our mood and perspective start to shift. (Try it! Quick—think about 5 things you are thankful for. I bet you feel happier already, don’t you? Keep going with that list and you might even hit warm-and-cozy-in-a-cuddly-blanket-on-a-cold-fall-day levels of happiness!)

With Thanksgiving upon us (How is that possible? I just vacuumed the summer sand out of my car!), we are all looking for ways to express gratitude. I love borrowing words from the psalms to guide my prayers. I start by reading the psalm aloud to God, and after a few verses I usually find myself taking detours, adding praise and thanks of my own inspired by the psalmist’s words. If your prayer life needs a boost in gratitude, try praying through these three psalms! I abbreviated them a little here, but they are (of course) beautiful in their entirety.

3 psalms to help you be thankful

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God. . . .
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion. . . .

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Psalm 89

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”

Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him. . . .

12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance. . . .

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

Thank you for reading, and for sharing a bit of life with me here on this little corner of the Web. Wishing you a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.


Looking for a great gift for Thanksgiving or Christmas? When God Says “Wait” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.com. I am deeply thankful to all of you who have read, reviewed, and shared WGSW. You are on my heart and in my prayers.

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


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Answering Skeptics by Douglas Jacoby: Review and Giveaway!


First, before we get to the good stuff (a giveaway of a SIGNED BOOK from one of my favorite writers!)…a quick life update. It’s been quiet around here. Like, graveyard quiet. But I promise I haven’t died—and neither has Lizzy Life! I just had to put myself on total writing and family lockdown from June till October in order to finish my new book (!), When God Says “Go”: Rising to Challenge and Change Without Losing Your Confidence, Your Courage, or Your Cool. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this book’s message. It releases July 31, 2018, so you’ll hear more about it in the coming months. But bottom line, I had to choose between blogging and family life, and I chose family life. I couldn’t write a book, blog, and be the wife and mother my family needs all at the same time (Wonder Woman only exists in the movies, right?! And I never see her doing laundry…), so there you have it. But I missed all of you, and to celebrate being back, I’m giving away a signed book! Woohoo!

Right after I turned in When God Says “Go” to my publisher, I had the great joy of speaking at a Women’s Day in West Palm Beach. We laughed, we cried, we ate…is there any more to life?! It was a bonding, joyful time of connection and growth, and I loved being with that vibrant group of ladies. (I even introduced myself in Spanish, which nearly gave me a heart attack from terror—but they forgave my grammar mistakes, and it was fun! I’m trying to push my fearful self to be a little more brave every day…) Here’s a slideshow of the day (that adorable blond lady in the first picture is my mom, Geri!):

And PS, speaking of speaking…I am booked up for travel this winter and spring (except for events in my home state of NC), but I still have some speaking dates available for fall 2018. If your church is looking to host a women’s event, I’d love to come spend time with your church! Find more information about topics here. You can also email me at elizabeth at lizzylife dot com.

Okay, on to the book and the giveaway!

Answering Skeptics by Dr. Douglas Jacoby

Have you ever spoken with someone who was skeptical about God, the Bible, and Christianity? You wanted to share with them, but when you searched your brain for brilliant and convincing reasons for faith, you came up short? Your friend mentioned some questions, you opened your mouth, and all you could come up with was, “Uhhhhh, yeah, I don’t know about that, but I like Jesus”? So then you ended up slinking away, frustrated with yourself that although you love God and your faith makes sense to you, you don’t know how to share that faith.

Last year, I had the honor of editing Answering Skeptics by Dr. Douglas Jacoby, and now I am thrilled to introduce you to this amazing resource—and to give you an opportunity to win a free copy signed by the author! Woot!

Not only will this book prepare you to answer faith-related questions of all kinds, it will also bolster and refresh your own faith. It will even provide answers to some of the faith questions that may have lingered in the back of your mind, questions like:

Does science contradict the Bible?

Can a Christian believe in evolution?

Has the Bible been changed?

If God is good, why does he allow evil and suffering?

What is the difference between agnosticism and atheism? How do I reach out to agnostics and atheists?

How can I connect with people of other faiths—Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more?

Douglas Jacoby is a master apologist and teacher. He uses his decades of experience teaching and ministering to people all over the world to educate and equip us as we share Christ in our own neighborhoods. Answering Skeptics is a quick, engaging read. Concise chapters offer understandable explanations and practical tips for communicating clearly with our friends. This book is an accessible resource for Christians who want to strengthen their own faith and better equip themselves to share with critics, doubters, and seekers. I can’t recommend it enough! You can buy your copy here.

And I’ve got a signed copy to give away!

You can enter the raffle here. It ends November 3. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 


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Spanx Your Mind


how to train your thoughts

Today I’m honored to introduce a guest post from Jeanie Shaw, of JeaniesJourneys.com—or as I like to call her, “Jeanie the Hilarious and Wise.” Jeanie is not only the mother of one of my dearest lifelong friends, but over the years she has become my friend too. Several times a year, Jeanie and I nearly kill ourselves together, working to usher her new books into the world—and somehow, we always have fun almost-dying at the hands of grammar and formatting. I know you’ll enjoy Jeanie’s words of wisdom as much as I do: 

Spanx Your Mind

Have you ever tried to put on Spanx (aka . . . a girdle)?

Spanx don’t just slide on quickly. It takes a bit of fight to get that tight, slippery garment into place so that it can do its job of tucking . . . “things” . . . in. I just tried it, and yes, it’s as difficult as I remember.

how to have godly thoughts

While getting our skin inside of Spanx can be a daunting task, containing our thoughts so they are pleasing to God can be an even greater battle.

Too often our plans to begin each day with Bible reading and prayer can be hijacked by stray thoughts and worries of all kinds. Our minds may further drift to all the “to dos” that cry out to be done. Even while we pray, our thoughts (or am I the only one?) can drift to places we never intended to visit. We may find ourselves planning our shopping list or our next blog before we say “amen.” We then catch ourselves and reel the thoughts back in, wondering how we managed to wander there in the first place.

As I read the Scriptures I am reminded of my need to prepare my mind for action instead of letting it just “flap in the breeze.” The old King James Version of 1 Peter 1:13 paints a vivid picture of one fighting to put a “spiritual girdle” around their brains. Our word for girdle comes from the root “gird.”

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13–16 KJV)

The New International Version says:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Colossians 3:1–2 gives us a similar charge:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


Want more posts like this? Click here to sign up for the quarterly Lizzy Life newsletter, with more ideas for wrestling Christ into the chaos of daily life. You’ll receive a free download: Seven two-minute family devotions to do with your kids! 


I must determine to have a spiritual mind that thinks more and more like Jesus. This involves putting a “spiritual girdle” around my thoughts. This includes “setting” my mind and heart rather than allowing them to roam aimlessly and carelessly. Even when I do manage to get that girdle around my thoughts, the “muffin tops” of my mind can still try to spill out. When that happens, I must tuck them in once again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If we begin each day spiritually preparing our minds for action and setting our minds on things above we will be available to be used by God—and will be much more keenly aware of his presence and power within us. This is only possible through Bible study, prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and encouragement from spiritual relationships.

When we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (as described in 2 Corinthians 10:5) we can overcome the fears, insecurities, doubts and sins that desire to creep into our thoughts. When we gird up our minds for action we will learn to live self-controlled and holy lives. When we set our minds on things above we can then be filled with a peace that passes human understanding, a purpose for which we are ready to live and die, a hope that doesn’t fade, and a joy that continually wells from within.

As you prepare for this day, don’t forget to put a spiritual girdle around your thoughts. Spanx your mind. God will be pleased that you did . . . and so will you.


Jeanie Shaw headshot

Jeanie Shaw has served in the full-time ministry for forty-two years, working alongside her husband, Wyndham. For eight years Jeanie served as a vice president of HOPE worldwide. She has taught workshops and classes on marriage, parenting, loss, and leadership in numerous countries. She has four grown children, seven grandchildren, and two dogs. Her books include Jacob’s Journey, My Morning Cup, Understanding Goose, There’s a Turkey at Your Door, Fruity Tunes and the Adventures of Rotten Apple, Prime Rib, Spiritual Leadership for Women, and An Aging Grace. Find her online at JeaniesJourneys.com, and on Facebook.


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Defeat Deceit: 7 Scriptures to Teach Kids to Be Honest


how to teach kids to be honest

The next Lizzy Life YouTube video is up: “Defeat Deceit: Teaching Children to Be Honest.” I absolutely believe parents can nip lying in the bud with young children—we can stop the habit before it ever gets started. Yep, I’m talking about three-, four- and five-year-olds! How is that possible? Check out the video where I explain the approach that’s worked with our kids. (I also address the issue for older kids—how to reset the family expectations when lying has become a problem.)

As a follow-up to the video, these seven scriptures are helpful tools in teaching kids of all ages the importance of telling the truth. With young children, we want to encourage a habit of honesty in all things. As kids mature, the emphasis moves beyond the simple “always tell the truth,” to the concept of embracing openness in our relationship—letting us in on their thoughts and feelings so we can guide them through life, and develop a truly close relationship.

1. Genesis 3:1–15

Adam and Eve disobeyed God, then they tried to hide it from him. But God came looking for them! God always knows what’s going on with us, and even when we make mistakes, he comes after us to try to make things right. Parents feel the same way about our children. All kids make mistakes and disobey. But even when kids mess up, parents want to make things right between us. We want our children to come to us and tell us what mistakes they make, rather than trying to hide from us. Even though kids might get in trouble for doing something wrong, they will get in much less trouble if they tell the truth about it! If they lie and get caught, the consequences are so much worse.

2. Exodus 20:16

Honesty is one of the Ten Commandments! From the very beginning, God has wanted his people to tell the truth.

3. Numbers 32:23

This scripture says, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” This scripture reveals a powerful principle: God makes sure that our sin “finds us out.” That means that the truth will always come out. Somehow, God will usually make sure Mom or Dad finds out what a kid is up to. It’s so much better to tell the truth yourself, rather than get caught!

4. Genesis 18:1–15

I love the so-honest-it’s-amusing story of Sarah, who lied to the messenger of God, because she was embarrassed and afraid. This story is a great example to use with older kids when we discuss reasons we are tempted to lie. The older we get, the more easily embarrassed we get. It’s tempting to say dishonest things in order to protect our reputation or image. You can draw your child out with questions like, “What embarrasses you? What would be some situations where you might be tempted to shade the truth to make yourself look better in front of your friends?” God still wants us to tell the truth, even if it makes us look bad. God didn’t punish Sarah, but he did call attention to her deceit. He wanted her to be honest.


Want more practical, Bible-based tools to help your family grow? Sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download: seven devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids! 


5. Psalm 32 (This one’s so great that I’ll quote parts of it here, for reference.)

Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin. . . .
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.

What a great passage describing the way deceit affects us emotionally, and what it does to our relationship with God. You can use this psalm to draw out several key lessons about deception: Verse two tells us that we are blessed (happy, at peace, walking in God’s favor) when we do not have deceit our spirit (our inner self, who we really are). This is a great scripture for kids who tend to have a deceitful or sneaky nature. They’ve got to change from the inside, at a heart level.

Verses three and four remind us of how terrible we feel when we are hiding sin in our hearts—when we are lying about something that we are too afraid or too stubborn to talk about. We feel like we are “wasting away” inside: we might feel sick to our stomach, or tired, or anxious. God gives us those physical feelings as warnings, to help us see that deceit is a terrible way to live. Remind children: Even if Mom or Dad doesn’t know you are lying, God always knows, and he will do everything he can do to help you tell the truth. And if you don’t tell the truth yourself, God will usually make sure you get caught!

Verses five and six have the good news: Once we decide to stop covering up our sin, we can find forgiveness! God can forgive us, and people can forgive us. We can make things right.

Verse nine is great for appealing to stubborn kids who don’t want to give in—who keep fighting the truth, their parents, or God. This verse basically says, “Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be! Don’t make me make you do right! Don’t make me punish you, or keep a close eye on you because I don’t trust you! Why make your own life miserable?”

And verse ten has the good news: God loves us, and his unfailing love never disappoints us or leaves us alone. When we do right, God is pleased.

6. John 8:43–45

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

This is a sobering scripture that Kevin and I have used when we need to impress upon our children how serious deceit is. Satan always lies—it’s his “native language.” He’s the one who invented lies. So when we are dishonest, we are doing exactly what the devil wants us to do. We are speaking the same language as Satan! Yikes! We want to be like Jesus, who only spoke the truth from God.

7. Acts 5:1–11

I wouldn’t use the cautionary tale of Ananias and Sapphira with a little one because it’s pretty scary, but for a mature older child, preteen, or teen who is really struggling with deceit, this story will make a memorable impression. It shows that God does not mess around with deliberate deceit. God made a dramatic point and issued an awful punishment on these two adults, who had willfully sinned not just against God, but against the entire church.

I hope these passages give you some tools you need to impress the importance of honesty onto your kids’ hearts!


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Don’t Forget Your “Easy” Kid


how to talk to quiet kids

Do you have an “easy kid”?

I hate to use that phrase, and yet there’s truth to it. You know the one I’m talking about: Pleasant. Easygoing. Content. Not demanding. Maybe a little on the quiet side. We enjoy them—especially if they are surrounded by more demanding siblings—but sometimes they get pushed aside by the other kids. We don’t mean to let it happen, of course—it’s just that the other kids take up so much space, and the “easy kids” seem happy to give it to them.

I usually put all of our kids to bed at the same time, but the other night it ended up going in stages, one kid at a time. So I got to give my “easy kid” some extra attention at bedtime. I was reminded of how much he enjoys—and needs—those moments alone in the spotlight. (And I enjoy times alone with him, too!) He may not push his way forward, clamoring for my attention the way his sisters do, and yet he’s back there, quietly being pleasant but still needing his mom in his own humble way.

That night was a good reminder for me: Don’t let the loud, insistent kids drown out the quiet, easygoing ones. Because they all need attention, they all need to be heard, and they all need doting and snuggling and time of their very own. Let’s not take our “easy kids” for granted.

Easy kid v2