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Last night I was editing my college son’s term paper when something so powerful jumped out and literally grabbed my heart. If there was ever a secret for unleashing God’s powerful peace in a situation, it’s developing a heart of true thanksgiving. My son, Jackson, knows this.

The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what to notice, pause and choose.

Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter what circumstance they’re in.

Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God’s presence.

Choosing to focus on God’s presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

Jackson’s paper was about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land- Liberia, Africa. He did a great job recounting the facts of the story. But the difference between Jackson and most other kids explaining a historical event, is before we adopted him- he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war.

During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown away food.

The treasure of thrown away food.

I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

And yet, despite the horrific conditions of His childhood there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God’s presence.

I doubt any of us will find our treasure in thrown away food today. But will we be a noticer, a pauser, a chooser- a person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we’re facing?

I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the Lion’s den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the Lion’s mouths? Thanksgiving.

After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah’s heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

How are we instructed to pray in Phil. 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace. Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

“And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:7).

One of Webster’s official definitions of thanksgiving is: “a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness.”

I wonder how we might celebrate God’s divine goodness today?

I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful…..

Lysa and her family adopted their sons Jackson and Mark from Liberia 7 years ago.  Their friends and community were skeptical at first.  But God moved in a powerful way and now families in their community have adopted over 45 kids from that same orphanage in Liberia.  You might have seen their story on Oprah last year.  To read more about Lysa, her family and their daily adventures with God, visit her blog at www.LysaTerKeurst.com.

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  • Amanda

    Wow. I don’t really know what to say. I know I take things for granted, but I do try to thank God for what I have. Sadly, I must admit that I grumble about what I don’t have more than I thank Him for what I do. Today I will try to remember to be grateful that I don’t have to dig in the trash for the treasure of food and I will try to remember tomorrow and the next day and the next…
    Thank you for this beautiful post.

  • http://www.angiewashington.com Angie Washington

    This is wonderful. I am going to pass the link along. Simply beautiful.

  • http://likeabubblingbrook.com Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook

    Beautiful and thought-provoking. Thanks for reminding to be be thankful, even when the circumstances look bleak.
    Both of our boys are adopted, too :o)

  • http://mylifeonthewildside.blogspot.com Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side

    Thank you, Lysa. I needed this reminder today, especially in the next couple of weeks which should be fairly stressful. I will be thankful that my daughter made it through high school and will be going to college next year. I will be thankful for the 20-some family who are coming into town to celebrate. I will be thankful for the 200-plus people my daughter invited to her graduation party without checking with me first. I will be thankful for all of this because it truly is a blessed time in our lives.

  • http://charsteyn.blogspot.com Charissa Steyn

    Awesome post!! Living in Africa I see these people everyday who are looking for the treasures in thrown away food.
    Lord teach me thanksgiving….

  • Olivia Jones

    Thanks You Lysa for sharing. Its so ironic how we often forget to thank God, even for the little things. He tells us in his word….in all things give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you. Yet, there are times when we complain or doubt God and his abilities. Lord, I just want to thank you this day for your everlasting love and mercy in my life.

  • http://tiffluvslife.typepad.com Tiffany

    Thank you Lysa for this beautiful post. What a reminder to have a heart of thankfulness. No matter our given circumstances, and some of us have truly seen the ugliness of life, it is so important to pause and give thanks to the Giver of good and perfect gifts for his mercy and grace. For another breath. For a drop of water. This is a post I especially needed for my weary and tired soul this morning.

  • Erin

    Today I will be thankful. What a wonderful post.

  • http://www.skyesofblue.blogspot.com/ Debby

    I did a post on being THANKFUL FOR ALL last year. This is a wonderful post and a powerful story. My God is an awesome God :)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/amykiane amykiane

    What a wonderful post. I have a friend from high school whose 13 yr old daughter is undergoing treatment for Lyme Disease. The Lyme grew during the time she was misdiagnosed with Lupus and now she suffers more pain than I could ever imagine. In her caring bridge site my friend always writes about the smallest details of life that she is thankful for. Even when her daughter can’t walk she praises God for the smallest details. Such a powerful reminder.

  • Dee

    Today…I am totally blessed. Gifts abound. I am filled to overflowing. Anxiety always lurks in the background, but in this moment, I feel blessed and filled.

  • Glenda

    Yes I have dug food out of the garbage dumpster to eat. When my roommate and I were poor college students we used to go to the local super market and take out some quite nice produce. It may have not been good to sell but was still good to eat.

  • http://therunamuck.com Amber@theRunaMuck

    Powerful, Lysa. Thank you.

  • http://kamrandolph.xanga.com/ Katie

    Thank you. This is very moving and thougth provoking.

  • LS

    Lysa,
    I cannot even begin to tell you how much I needed this today!!! I had a HORRIBLE day-I’m a first year, first grade teacher. Today I got 2 really nasty notes & phone calls. They have totally crushed my spirit, but I am going to choose to praise my God who is all-powerful. Thank you for the reminder to praise Him in all circumstances! “Oh praise the One who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead…”

  • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience

    Yes, Lysa! Can I join you in this refrain?
    Thanksgiving has changed my life, continues to change my life, and all those years I sang that Daniel was a man of prayer, and that he was but Scripture goes further and says how he prayed: “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10)… Daniel was a man of prayer — because He was a man of THANKS. He had to pray to God because his heart overflowed with gratitude to God!
    May I whisper thanksgiving tonight — for your son? For his mama loving him? For a faith in the goodness of God that can give thanks in the midst of hard, incomprehensible situations?
    Thank you, Lysa… I thank Jesus for you.

  • http://cormierclan.com/brandy Brandy

    What a great post! Very powerful and thought provoking!! Thank you for sharing!

  • http://starvingstudentsurvivor.blogspot.com/ Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor

    I’ve been reading through the book “What the World Eats” by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio. It’s really made me ponder about the value of food and how much of it is wasted. Such good things to remember.

  • http://imghanaadopt.blogspot.com Laurel

    Hi Lysa,
    Great post!
    Fun to run across you here. I met you 10 years ago when we were both speakers at the Hearts at Home conference. (I was 8.5 months pregnant with my 9th child.)
    I had heard that you adopted from Liberia. I, too, added a few more children … from Ghana.
    Blessings to you and your family!
    Laurel

  • http://ginameolablog.com Gina Meola

    Lysa, thank you SO much for sharing. What a powerful and beautiful reminder of God’s blessing to BE THANKFUL. I really appreciated hearing this. <3

  • http://pursuingtheoldpaths.blogspot.com Jamie

    I love this post! We recently had an ectopic pregnancy and even in the midst of the valley we are able to see the beauty of the mountaintops. We are so very grateful right now. Great article!