Grace Before

I admit that I struggle a bit with that one well-known story about Susannah Wesley, mother of 19, who would pull her apron over her head when she needed alone time to pray. She’d manage to find a moment of quiet amidst the chaos around her (I mean, can you imagine?) in order to commune with God.

I struggle with that because I forget to do that. When I’m filling the CrockPot in the morning for dinner because it’s one-of-those-days, I don’t remember to stop what I’m doing, close my eyes, and pray for those mouths that will later eat this food.

And I admit that when I’m reading evening devotions with my daughter just before I kiss her goodnight, my eyes fade and my mind checks out a bit. It’s not that I don’t want her to imbibe all these good words into her heart—it’s that I’m about to pass out, I’m so tired from the day’s work.

It’s times like these that I remember the necessity of thanking God as we work. Yes, we should be still and commune with God. But there are seasons in life—such as parenting little ones—that make it challenging to grab more than a few minutes of stillness before God.

I believe that a regular, thankful spirit of gratitude is communing with God. Being grateful for all the forks and spoons as I set them on the table, and that we have food to put on them. Remembering the small, simple ways I can weld my soul to God’s my filling my words, actions, and thoughts with gratitude:

• Choosing to not complain when the many things we own are strewn about our warm house that provides a roof over our heads.

• Taking my kids to the grocery store, so that they see me make food choices that are healthy for our bodies and our budget—gratitude by way of stewardship.

• Making a list of that for which we as a family are thankful, and displaying it as a reminder.

• Taking good care of our possessions, out of gratitude for our abundance. (Which reminds me, I need to clean out the car.)

• Stopping and snuggling with my kids, smelling their hair as they lob yet another book on the couch, because these days fly by far too fast.

• Taking time to write our Compassion kids, because it makes all the difference in their lives, and it reminds my kids that we have so very much.

Choosing to go with the flow during the hard days when nothing goes right (this happened last week)—and choosing to go to bed early that night, because His mercies are new every morning.

• Saying grace before almost everything—nothing poetic; just a simple breathing of “thank you” before I go running, before I write, before I wake up the kids for school, before I zip my debit card through the machine, before I fold the clothes. Thanking God for ALL THAT I HAVE and ALL THAT HE IS.

He is good. He is gracious. He is lavish. And He delights in us. There is much to thank Him for as we wash the dishes and wait in the carpool line.

What’s one way you whisper gratitude as you go about your day?

By Tsh, Simple Mom

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  1. 2

    For me, it has been a process of learning to attach Scripture to my everyday tasks and using them as a guide to pray and offer thanks…examples here:

    http://seamlessdays.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/how-a-momma-can-abide/

    Thank you for the timely reminder. I know that many years, I have been so caught up in the Thanksgiving rush that I forgot to actually give thanks!

    • 3

      Gina, what a lovely piece and colorful site!

      I’m encouraged to listen to the Lord and find scriptures just for us and our family.

      Outside of the bathroom, I have printed, “I will shower my blessings and my Spirit on your offspring.” It was printed with Niagara Falls in back of it and I just agree with the Lord’s future gifts as I see it when I’m washing my face. Yes, and Amen.

  2. 4

    Thanking Him for the hard things that stretch and scare me. When I remember where I am, that He has placed these opportunities in front of me for a purpose, I am both embarrassed for the whining and so grateful for the growth towards being more of who He wants me to be.

    • 5

      Kim, I totally agree. You worded this so very well. He places ALL opportunities (whether exciting or somewhat scary) in front of us for a reason, to fulfill His purpose. Some of my closest moments with God have come from being thankful for those uncertain/hard/stretching times.

  3. 7

    When I crawl into bed at the end of the day I fill in my thankful journal. Its not fancy , just a simple dollar store purse size appointment book, but filling it in helps me remember all that I have and be thankful for it.

  4. 8

    This is such a great reminder of how easy it can be to say thank you. I often catch myself “preparing” before I pray (as if God won’t hear me until I gather the right words. Silly me…) But, as you point out, it doesn’t have to be anything poetic…just sincere. Honest gratitude.

    I’m not perfect at this, but I try to thank God first thing in the mornings…before I turn on my laptop or check my phone, to lie in bed and remember a gift, remember to thank Him.

  5. 9

    I have such a hunger for day to day communion (Practicing His Presence) and the quick constant thanksgiving but as a discipline I get so frustrated. It comes only in waves and with focus.

    Thanksgiving spurts out most easily as I walk toward the lighthouse on my daily walk. I get triple the endorphins exercising, thanking and drinking in the endless horizon of the Lake!

    • 10

      “It comes only in waves and with focus.” I’m on the other side of a huge wave of experiencing the tangible presence of God. Came here this morning to refocus. Lonliness seems to come after sweet communion.

      Choosing to give thanks in the wake of the intimate….

  6. 11

    Point taken.

    I’m carrying this with me today – to the store, to my upside-down living room – to my school room.

    Needed this.

    Blessings and grace,
    Kate :)

  7. 12

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I also have trouble making time to pray and focusing when it is time, so I try to work small prayers in throughout my day.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  8. 13

    Thank you for the reminder that we each have different seasons in life … and we can be grateful for the chaos or the serenity of NOW. I love how our Lord provides treasures in each time, but we do have to search for them.

  9. 14

    That was wonderful…thankful in all seasons, moments because of His goodness & mercy. Thanks for sharing, esp on the cusp on Thanksgiving – so needed this morning!

  10. 15

    Great reminder – thank you for the post. Today I thank God for placing these words on your heart to speak to mines. Thank you for being the vessel.

  11. 16

    Thank you for this quote from Chesterton. Before I write blog posts I’m going to try to remember to “say grace before I dip the pen in the ink”.

    By the way, I go to church with the amazing Carly and Darren Banek! They talk about you all the time. :)

  12. 17

    I actually have that G.K. Chesterton quote on my wall behind my desk at work! Thank you!

  13. 18
    Treva Buchanan says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s so timely in a season that I’m going through. I have a lot of highs & a lot of lows. Today is a day I just want to crawl back in bed & pull the covers over my head & wish the day away! I’m so thankful for a God who helps me even through the littlest things. I don’t know where I’d be w/o Him in my life!

  14. 19

    Lovely thoughts and I like how you offer up a short prayer before everything. Because we should! I start my day with scriptures and thought and prayer. But quickly get busy and forget…I need to carry this spirit throughout the day. Thank you for this reminder.

  15. 20

    A little easy read book that changed the way I go about the day…
    “Practicing the Presence of God”
    The main theme is how we go about our day and include God in ‘all” we do.
    No task is too menial and we can acknowledge His presence no matter what we are doing.

  16. 21

    i love that chesterton quote. grace is indeed a way of Life, an awareness of our constant need for the Gospel in the here and now.

    thanks so much for sharing,
    tanya

  17. 22

    What great words, neede to hear this today.

  18. 23

    What great words, needed to hear this today.

  19. 24

    How true, whilst I say thank you for parking spaces and lovely post , but the is so more I should remember to say grace

  20. 25

    I did not know this quote until now. Thank you for it! I think gratitude has always come pretty naturally to me. I never realized it until different people observed it about me. I don’t know the “how” of it, but I do know I notice little things and I am thankful for all of them.

  21. 26

    This is the one I needed to hear today (and most days):
    “Choosing to not complain when the many things we own are strewn about our warm house that provides a roof over our heads.”

    I’ve been frustrated lately with the never ending picking up that we do in our house, and how I feel like it keeps me from being able to do bigger cleaning and organizing projects that also need to get done. Instead I need to be thankful for the things, and even more so the little people, in my life that need to be cleaned up after every day. Thanks for the reminder!

  22. 27

    So grateful for your words. This time of year it can be easy to fall into the comparison trap. Who has a nicer house, better decorations, is a better cook, etc. I really wish I could learn to in all things be content. My mantra for the week has been, whether I have little or much, it’s all for the kingdom.

  23. 28

    Yes, Tsh, grace before everything. I am trying to instill this into my children. There are so many little things that we think will always be there. Stopping and meditating in the midst of all the business is a gift I can pass on to my children.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  24. 29

    {Kathy} I try to pray for the kid whose stuff (all over the place) that I am handling at the time. If I’m in my son’s room, I pray for him. If I am folding my daughter’s school uniforms, I send up petitions for her.

  25. 30

    Throughout the week, I start the day with prayer and dip back into snippets throughout the day and then end it with prayer with hubby. But on most Fridays I have an hour drive each way to where I shop. I love to sing with worship music while in the car alone, and pray and think. Today, God showed me a couple ways He has provided for me as only He could do. I feel spoiled by a loving and personal God.

  26. 31

    I often find myself thanking God while I’m in the shower. I start by thanking Him for clean water when I know so many other people in the world don’t even have that much. As I go down the list of other things I’m blessed with, the gratitude keeps flowing. :)

  27. 32

    Needed just this message today as lately I’ve been beating myself self up about my lack of formal prayer time. In the past, I’ve managed to get that in before the kids wake up or once I get them to school. But in the last few months, it’s really become a catch-as-catch-can kind of conversation with the Lord and I’m really hard on myself about it. But I had a realization today that perhaps in those past days when I was loading up on Bible study and lengthy time in prayer, I was preparing myself for this season when it comes in drips and drabs. The funny thing is, I don’t feel like I’m far away from God, but the voice of condemnation whispers that I am, because I can’t count a full 30 minutes on the clock each morning as set aside for prayer. To hear that another busy mom is facing the same challenges is very easing to my spirit. Seasons come and go and it’s good to remember that, else we miss the purpose and beauty of the one we’re in.

  28. 33

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I’m on your mailing list and love receiving your emails every day :-) Part of the reason I found this post particularly beautiful is that my family and I are Muslim, and so much of what you wrote sounded like exactly what we try to do in our lives as well… As a community we’re encouraged to say ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of God) before everything we do… tying a shoelace, cooking dinner, opening a door :-) For me, this very much a form of grace, just as you described it… that we’re both thanking God at the same time as reminding ourselves that all we have comes from Him and all we do is made possible by a Being far greater than ourselves.

    As some of the earlier comments have mentioned, we also try to remember to thank God for the blessing of the challenges in our lives… I love trying to do this (when I remember and have the energy!), as it so often helps turn something I probably wouldn’t enjoy otherwise into something that suddenly transforms into a blessing I feel like I’m lucky to have.

    Thank you for reminding me of the importance of something so simple and yet so beautiful and also rewarding. We live in Australia, so we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I love the idea of reminding ourselves to be grateful :-)

    Look forward to reading many more of your posts to come! :-)

  29. 34

    Thank you for the encouraging thoughts. My simple way of giving thanks is as I am driving along (a lot of my day is spent on the road)

  30. 35

    Thank you… for reminding me how important it is remember that ALL is possible only because of our loving Heavenly Father… that there are no small miracles, that everything is important (especially when you’re five!)… that this time with my children is far too short and I will regret not taking more time with them and less with what (for the moment) seems to be more important… :)

  31. 36
    Beth Williams says:

    I haven’t always been thankful lately. Just yesterday I blew it badly–due to tiredness and feeling stressed. I prayed about it before bed and when I woke during the night.

    I keep a thankful journal on my computer. Each day I input a few things I’m thankful for that day. There is a big list that is added to daily. I want myself reminded of the good things that happened that day. I try to pray 7 times a day. It doesn’t always happen and sometimes I fall asleep, but still I try hard. Each time I fail in some way I pray about it.

    Blessings!

  32. 37

    I was so surprised when I saw this quote in my email! I love this quote and actually put it in an eBook I just finished up on cultivating gratitude in children!!

    I feel like the last ten years of my life have been spent learning and relearning to give thanks in all circumstances. Because of this, I’ve taken a much more mindful approach to actually training my children “gratitude habits”. As we go through our day, we write down a few things we are thankful for. We say thank you to each other often – even for very small things. When bad things happen, we look for ways to give thanks even in the midst of pain.

    I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person by nature, but I choose to give thanks and ask the Holy Spirit to empower me to live a life of thanksgiving every day!!

    Thanks for your post! You’re a blessing!

  33. 38

    Love the simple breath of prayer before almost anything. That’s a habit worth cultivating. One of the ways I practice gratitude is to read books like One Thousand Gifts…another is through using 4 Steps of Prayer I’ve learned through Moms In Prayer, which always includes the 3rd step of thanksgiving. And I’m going to make a Thanksgiving tree for our dining room for this next week so we can all share our thanks and keep them in front of us. Happy Thanksgiving!

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