2010 Goal: Cultivating a Radically Thankful Heart

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“Gratitude is truly my life preserver. Even in the most turbulent waters, choosing gratitude rescues me from myself and my runaway emotions. It buoys me on the grace of God and keeps me from drowning in what otherwise would be my natural bent toward doubt, negativity, discouragement, and anxiety. Over time, choosing gratitude means choosing joy…” – Nancy Leigh Demoss

We live in the most prosperous nation on the earth. The average family is drowning in abundance, and yet we remain the unhappiest of people. A church leader was visiting the United States from India who had come to the States to study. A gentleman asked what he thought of Americans, to which his guest responded – in polite, Asian style – “Do you want me to be honest?” “Yes, I do,” responded the gentleman. But who could really be ready for this: “You have no idea how much you have,” the man said, “and yet you always complain.”

This has hit home to me as I have recently read it retold in Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh Demoss. Through my recent struggles with insomnia, God has been teaching me many lessons. This has been one of them. I confess…I am a whiner. I complain when I am tired, when the children don’t behave, when my husband doesn’t arrive on time from work and dinner gets cold. It is so easy to focus on the problems, the struggles, the challenges in our lives, rather than actively striving to choose gratitude. It does not happen by chance. It is not acquired in a moment. It is the fruit of a thousand choices.

Why is it important to cultivate an atmosphere of thankfulness in our families?

I love what Barbara Rainey shares: “Because God commands it and we need it. Gratitude takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back on the giver of all good things, even those things we perceive as bad or unpleasant. Most American families are drowning in abundance and as a result we have the most self absorbed culture ever. The gift of prosperity does not usher in the response of gratitude as one would imagine. Instead it feeds the roots of narcissism and entitlement. Children who tend to be selfish anyway must be trained in giving thanks. We as adults must discipline ourselves in gratitude. It is not natural. But it is necessary as believers if we are to please God and make any kind of impact on our culture. It is the antidote to insanity. It is the pathway to peace. It is the key to a gracious life. It is the doorway by which even unbelievers cope with the fragility of life because it acknowledges faith in the one who rules.”

Throughout Scripture we see the command issued again and again. “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Eph. 5:20-21). “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

In every situation...prayer + thanksgiving = peace. Thankfulness results in joy! When we wake up in the morning after a rough night of sleep, children that kept us up, or a long to-do list that bombards our minds for the day, we have one choice to make. We can whine or we can worship! Whining results in self-centered discouragement and depression. Worship results in finding true joy in our Savior!

My Goal:

My prayer and goal for my spiritual life this year: to become a radically thankful woman. I want to be known as a woman who is joyful, peacefully rested in my Savior, and always expressing thankfulness to others. I want to be filled every day with His joy, so that others who see me would have a glimpse of God – in my words, in my affection, in my writing, in disappointments and trials, and even in everyday tasks.

How will I make this a habit in my life?

  • Complete the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge each month (listed in the back of Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss or available for download here). You cannot have too much repetition when it comes to this!
  • Write 1-2 handwritten thank you notes each week. This is a means of cultivating thankfulness and ministering to others at the same time. Who in your family, church, or even your past have blessed your life for which you have never expressed thankfulness?
  • Begin each day by adding 5 things to my “Blessings” List (also could be two lists titled ‘Gifts from God’ and ‘Gifts from Others’), and thanking the Lord for them. I have this list in my journal to which I refer each day. Once you get started there is no end to the numerous blessings we are recipients of daily.
  • Memorize Psalms 103. Meditating on this passage has brought such encouragement to my life.

Will you join me in cultivating a thankful joyful heart? I believe this is key to strengthening and blessing our families and those around us. Can you see your marriage blossom when you express your thankfulness to your man giving him the respect he desperately needs? Can you see children that desire to follow hard after Christ because their mama has found her satisfaction in Him first? Can you see neighborhoods transformed because they see your joyful countenance and cannot help but ask what makes you smile?

Sally Clarkson, in her new book, Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy, says it so well in defining the goal: “I renewed my decision…that joy would be my goal, that I would look everywhere I go for God’s touch, his shadow, his signature. I would celebrate the inner reality of his spirit, rather than live as a victim of circumstances in my outward reality.”

Sally’s book is another great title on this subject that I am just diving into and loving already!

“Thankfulness puts us in God’s living room. It paves the way to His presence.” - Nancy Leigh Demoss

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

Things to Be Thankful For

Originally published at Revive Our Hearts

  • Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.
  • Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.
  • Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.
  • Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.
  • Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.
  • Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.
  • Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.
  • Be thankful for the lady who sings off-key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.
  • Be thankful when people complain about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means you’re alive.

Further Resources:

A Week of Thanksgiving – Developing the habit of thankfulness may require some practice! Here are some practical suggestions for devoting one week to practicing thankfulness.
Blessings of Thorns: Family Devotional Plan – This creative family devotional plan corresponds with the “Blessings of Thorns” radio series and CD drama, and will provide your family with an unforgettable Thanksgiving experience together.
Growing in Gratitude: A 30 Day Challenge – Cultivate a heart of gratitude through this 30 Day challenge. Awesome resource to accompany your devotions.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

46 Responses to 2010 Goal: Cultivating a Radically Thankful Heart

  1. prefinished hardwood floor September 22, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    always i used too read smaller articles or reviews that as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am readin now.

  2. Inspiration Breaks August 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Excellent post. Gratitude is vital, yet it is something that seems to escape us very easily. I find the best time to “circle back” and remember how grateful I am is to pray. Mornings are best, because my mind is the most uncluttered it can be.

  3. Raine Saunders February 22, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    Lindsay – this is a wonderful post and I am thankful that I was lead to come and read your blog today and gain some of these wonderful reminders and inspirations. I was talking to a friend yesterday about gratitude and being thankful. We were also talking about what would happen if the world ended tomorrow, would we be ready? We both agreed that as many people are scrambling to store food and keep weapons, and all of those protective things to save our physical bodies from harm, that none of it would be useful if we weren’t spiritually prepared for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. So I am genuinely thankful for this knowledge, and even though I do my fair share to whine and complain also (who among us is exempt?), I feel very blessed and thankful knowing that I am at ease and peace enough with my self and life that I would be ready if I was called to go home to God’s kingdom tomorrow, next week, or in a few years’ time. But it’s such a great reminder to have these messages out there to share with our fellow human beings, because it makes us realize just how fortunate and truly alive we are on God’s earth and experience our families, our trials, and our friends, and that this is all just in preparation for our final journey to our real home on our real birthdays.

  4. Emily February 19, 2010 at 11:56 pm #


    I wrote a note to you previously about how I also had struggled with insomnia, and how the Lord gave me a message about the importance of gratitude through a woman’s comment at church. Well, now tonight, I can say I am so grateful for your post. It was incredibly sweet and heartfelt. It has been a hard day for me, and I actually felt my body going to sleep tonight, but didn’t; then I could feel fear and despair entering in. The Lord gave me a prompting by the spirit to visit your blog, but it was on something trivial comparatively. You researched this so well, and I loved the quotes you used from different women, it gave me such a sense of community with Saints across this country, striving to live this Godly principle. Psalms 103 is amazing, and no easy feat to undertake memorizing. I recently have turned to memorization too, lately, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also, knowing tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, and experience hope. And hope maketh not ashamed because of the Love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us. Romans 4 maybe? Anyway, I loved most of all your invite for us to embrace gratitude in our lives, Mamas with empowerment through gratitude, husbands who desperately need the respect and gratitude, you put it so well, and the countenance that shines and invites the world to partake of Christ.

  5. kamille February 18, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Thanks for this! I have been reflecting on this subject tonight through Ash Wednesday and what I can actively give in this Lent season (not just take away). And I strongly felt a need to actively give words of praise & encouragement to my little girls, husband and everyone I meet.

  6. Natalie @ Thinking Christian Mama February 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    What a great post! I think this is such a great reminder to be grateful for all the countless blessings in our lives. I especially like your practical steps to living a more grateful life.

  7. Catherine R. February 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    This post certainly contains some words many of us need to hear.

    One more thing I would add to the things to be grateful for list… be grateful you are throwing up every day from morning sickness (I have been very prone to complain about this) because it means you are pregnant. It’s hard when you feel incredibly queasy everyday, but many women would be happy to be in my place.

  8. Candace February 15, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    I love this post – because cultivating gratitude is a recurring theme in our home. I have two girls and they love to complain and I wonder if this is a learned habit! How shameful if it is. I remember going to Cambodia about 10 years ago and the children there were the most destitute, yet the happiest I have ever seen. Sometimes I wish I could raise my girls somewhere besides the US so they could get a better perspective of the world and their place in it. But, we do work on gratitude a lot in our house. Oh, and I love the list toward the end of this post. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Nancy February 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Amen Sister! Your post was a gentle loving reminder to have an attitude of gratitude and contentment dying to self daily and squashing my pride and a feeling of entitlement. When it comes down to it, I deserve death and hell but because of God’s mercy and love he sent Jesus to die in my place and take the penalty of my sin on himself. God is so good and I am not worthy to be so blessed… this post will help remind me to keep track of all I have and praise The Giver of all good things.

  10. Kristy Howard February 13, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Lindsay, thank you SO much for this post! I, too, can be a whiner. The Lord has been working gratefulness and joy into my heart over the past few years, but it has been a slow process as I’ve had to work to replace bad habits with new ones (and old habits die hard!). Thank you for yet another gentle “push” in that direction.

    As a busy mommy of 3 littles (and one one the way), I’ve allowed the habit of writing thank you notes to slip. You’ve inspired me to pick up my pen and note cards again- bless you! ~Kristy @ Homemaker’s Cottage

  11. Melanie February 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    I really enjoyed this article. Recently our house was mostly destroyed when a 90 foot tree fell on it. Amazingly enough no one was hurt and most all of our possessions remained intact. However, moving into a rental home, I am utterly disgusted with all the ‘stuff’ we had accumulated in the 17 years we lived in that house. I have so much to be thankful for in that neither my husband or I, or our 4 children who were at home that night were hurt in anyway. This is what is important, it’s not the stuff at all. And I am so grateful to God for his protection over our family.

  12. Ana February 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    We are living in the Bahamas for the next three years. We knew coming here that we would be leaving behind a lot of luxuries. What we didn’t know was what an eye-opener it would be. I had a little Bahamaian boy enter our living quarters yesterday who was completely blown away by how many toys our kids have. And this is after I cleared out almost half their stuff for the move.

    Driving around the island, we see again and again how poor people are here. I appreciate so much more the things we have now. I also feel a much greater sense of satisfaction when I donate things to the local charity than when I gave it to the Salvation Army in the States. Here, I know where my things are going, and I work extra hard to put good things in the box because I know they are needed, yet I’m sure people would like things in good condition as much as we would.

    Most of our friends and family think we are crazy for choosing to come here, but I am overwhelmed with gratitude at how much we are learning.

  13. Lori February 12, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    THANK YOU! This post brought tears to my eyes.

  14. Joanna February 12, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    Wonderful, wonderful post! I just passed a link onto my friends and family – this spoke so deeply to my heart today. Thank you.

  15. Amy Lynne February 12, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    After a hard week this is a great reminder! Thank you!

  16. Lori February 12, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    Thanks Linsday

  17. Amanda February 12, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Lindsey, thank you so much for this! This is exactly the sort of thing I needed to read and think about. I am going through a rough bout with the Lord right now and have spent a lot of time complaining to Him about what He is “making” me experience, specifically insomnia that has lasted for about 2 months. So, I want to try this thankfulness challenge with you!

  18. Lindsay February 12, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    I love the “Things To Be Thankful For” list. What great thoughts. I am praying that the Lord would bring that to mind when I begin to get frustrated or disappointed in the day. There is ALWAYS a reason to be thankful: He is bringing about my sanctification.

  19. ali February 11, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Excellent post! This has been a topic on my heart for some many months now. I finally started participating in Ann Voskamp’s “Multitude Mondays” and it is such a good way for me to start my week.

    He is so good!

  20. tarena February 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    I’m in the middle of this book and love it! What a great reminder. I need to constantly be thankful! I can’t wait to start the 30 days of gratitude!

  21. Lindsey Knopg February 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    I have recently started reading your blog and am very inspired and encouraged by it! I feel as though I’m thinking/struggling through some similar thoughts and situations. Thank you for being so authentic and transparent. Know that God is using you in amazing ways!


  22. Sheri February 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    All I can say is a hearty “Amen sister!” And, thank you for this beautiful reminder!

  23. Colleen February 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Thanks for this post! I have just joined the Gratitude Community over at Ann Voskamp’s site http://www.aholyexperience.com Every Monday we count our thanks to God, and it has been wonderful to reflect on His goodness to us. I thought you or someone else might be interested… I have been blessed tremendously by her posts. Have a lovely day!

    • Ami February 15, 2010 at 5:50 am #

      I was just scanning through the comments to see if anyone had pointed you over to A Holy Experience. I’m so glad Colleen has! This site is so beautiful and artistic and peaceful, but it’s just regular life. When we are thankful, we can see God’s beauty and artwork in our lives!

      I usually get the winter doldroms, but all this past year I planned to embrace winter and be thankful, and it has made the biggest difference. I am so thankful for the natural rest of winter this year and I have not once wished it would be over. Thankfulness to God has made the difference.

  24. Janet Reynolds February 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    This is wonderful! I will be using this in my quiet time tomorrow.

  25. Sarah-Anne February 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    Oh thank you for this post! As many readers often say, you have no idea how perfect your timing is with what you’ve shared. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit and his prompting when you considered what to write about today.

    I’ve been quite frustrated with my children (more specifically, my toddler and knowing how to lovingly respond and discipline him), and angry that I need to finish my thesis and I am struggling to do so… yet oh my goodness, I am SO blessed that I HAVE children, let alone two, and I am so fortunate that I have been able to attend school. As you said, “Whining results in self-centered discouragement and depression. Worship results in finding true joy in our Savior!” I have been very discouraged and struggling with depression. Regardless my circumstances and in EVERYTHING, I must praise our God. That’s it.

    Once again, thank you so much for sharing this post. And, congrats on Aaron’s new job and your upcoming move, whenever it’ll be :)

  26. Alison @ Hospitality Haven February 11, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Thank YOU for the reminder!!

  27. Elizabetha February 11, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this! I too have recently been convicted afresh of my need to grow in gratitude. Milton Vincent has a great little blurb in his book, “A Gospel Primer for Christians” titled ‘Thankfulness Enriched by Relief’- I’m not sure if typing out several paragraphs is legit with it being copyrighted and all, however, I googled it and found an individual who already posted it on their blog (haven’t read the rest of the content on the blog so I can’t speak for that). The few paragraphs are definitely worth the read and remind us that preaching the gospel to ourselves everyday is the key to our thankfulness. You can find the selection here:


    May we always keep these things before us and may God bless you as you seek to grow in Christ-likeness!


  28. Stephanie February 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Thank you for your post. This is an area that I need to improve in my life. I took the time this morning to copy/paste the 30-day challenge into my calendar. Now, I will be reminded daily for the rest of the year to practice gratitude.

  29. Danielle February 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Perfect post for me today! I have been grouchy about having a cold this week and not at all focused on the wonderful blessings around me. Thank you so very much for the reminder that we choose our response.

  30. Ally February 11, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    My husband and I started a “thank you board”… basically it’s a piece of poster board hanging by to metal hooks in our kitchen. At the top it says “I Am Thankful…”, on it we write small “thank you’s” as they come up. i.e. “for my mother-in-law for watching our daughter tonight, she is so generous” or “for the snow, for helping us slow down” It can be big things or little things I try to write on everyother day at least! Its cool because we can look back and see all the wonderful things the Lord has done!! And when we fill it up, just put a new posterboard over top and save the others :)

  31. slawebb February 11, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    I am going to join you! I have been complaining way too much. I have been abundantly blessed and need to give thanks more. Thanks for the challenge!

  32. Mrs. Hewett February 11, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    Thanks Lindsay!

    I really appreciate this post. Living with an attitude of thankfulness is one of my goals this year as well – in fact, “Gratitude” is my word for 2010. I am looking forward to diving into “Choosing Gratitude” – received it for Christmas. Thanks again for sharing.


    Mrs. H

  33. Jessica February 11, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks for sharing. Being thankful and aware of God’s blessings is one of the things I want to be more conscious of this year and the rest of my life.

  34. Tara February 11, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I am a complainer too! Everytime I catch myself asking why something bad happened (and by bad I mean things like the computer crashing, someone spilling something sticky on the floor, the dogs tracking in dirt on my floor, etc) I try and then ask by all the good things happen as well. Why am I so blessed to own a computer, have two healthy kids, and nice floors in my home in the first place? It helps put things in perspective for me. Thanks for the challenge. I’m putting this on my book list for the year!

  35. Rachel Watters February 11, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Thanks for this encouraging and challenging post. I’m convicted that I get too busy to be thankful, let alone write someone a thank-you card (which I really love to do because they’re so thoughtful!). God is at work in our thankfulness, and that’s where I want to be- where He’s at work!

  36. Amanda February 11, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I received this book when I donated to Revive Our Hearts. Honestly, I wasn’t that excited about it. It truly was life changing! It is a book that I feel I need to re-read several times a year.

  37. julie February 11, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Good word. My husband’s 21 y.o truck was stolen 9 days ago (police found it: no engine, transmission or hood) and he is giving thanks. I am thankful for such a man.

  38. Kelly February 11, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Lindsay, this is just an amazingly thought provoking post! I cried when I read what the Indian pastor said about our culture…we have so much and STILL complain. I am so guilty of that, and I see it in my daughter especially when I am whining about trivial things. We also have three sons, and I would be grieved to think they would remember their mom as a complainer. I am internally so very thankful for my amazing Savior, adoring husband, four children and my wonderful life, but I allow myself to get caught up in details and complain about those with my words and body language. I will be printing out your post to reread and study. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  39. Amy February 11, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    This is so much truth in this post. We have been having the worst winter ever here as so many are. I almost do not want to go out anymore because how the people are whining about this winter. I have been taking a different approach of being thankful. I respond by saying, I am so thankful that it is allowing me to stay home “guilt-free” and accomplishing all those things that I never have enough time to get to. My daughters and I are are doing more sewing projects, reading books, and all kinds of odds and ends that I would never had time for if we were not snowed in. Also, we have been joking that just when the snow starts getting ugly (dirty) that God has been so kind to make it beautiful again with a new layer of snow. It truly is in your attitude.

  40. Tammy February 11, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Great post! And may I add…”Radical Gratitude” by Ellen Vaughn, awesome book!

  41. Becky C February 11, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    This is SO true!! And something I needed to hear today!! Thank you.

  42. Liz February 11, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    I finished this book in January and am still working through the 30-day devotional. It definitely has opened my eyes to my ingratitude and complaining. There are so many scriptures that say to give thanks and to do things with thanksgiving. I’ve been ignoring them all this time. Like you, I want to be radically different this year and to be known for praising God in all circumstances and out loud. Thanks for your testimony.

  43. Tara February 11, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    Thank you for this amazing post! I needed to be reminded. I, too, want to express my thankfulness. One of my new year goals was to do this more ~ just in small, simple ways like baking for neighbors, putting little notes in my husband and children’s lunches, texting uplifting messages to friends at unexpected times, sending handwritten notes and thank you notes, etc.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  44. Beth February 11, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    awesome word!

  45. Lydia February 11, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    Wonderful post! Gratitude is something that I definitely need to work on in my life. I spent this past summer in Italy and was surprised at how many of my program-mates complained about the lack of “American” material things in Italy. And while Americans tend to have more material possessions, the Italians’ sense of gratitude, community, and joy in simply being with loved ones was overwhelming, something I’ve never seen in the States. It taught me so much about gratitude and joy, and I’ve tried to maintain that sense since returning to the States.