Something We Can All Be Thankful For

Each November, I watch friends and family complete the “’I’m thankful for _______’ Thanksgiving Challenge” on Facebook. Although I think the idea is genius, and truly believe that gratitude can change even the grimmest pessimist’s heart, this year, I’ve struggled with it.

You see, this year has been hard for a lot of people.

Just in my immediate circle, I’ve had one friend lose a 10 year+ battle with cancer, leaving behind a husband and her kids, while another friend got diagnosed with the disease. I’ve had friends find out they can’t have kids, while one of my other friends lost the baby she was carrying at full-term. Family members have passed, neighbors have lost jobs, and natural disasters have ripped the possessions away from entire communities.

It’s been a rough one – and writing about the “good” things in my life has felt insensitive at times.

Obviously, I know that we should never shy away from being thankful for the things we have, but making a public declaration of them while so many people are suffering…

I think you get my point.

The other day, however, I came across something we can all be thankful for – regardless of economic position, health, size of family, or location – and I want to share it with you.

In case you don’t know, the worship of God used to operate on a code of sacrifices. Now, for the sake of being less wordy than I could be, let me just explain it like this:

God is perfect. He created man and woman in a perfect place and asked them to follow Him, but they chose to sin. (In other words, they chose something they knew would lead them away from God.) Therefore, all of their children were born sinful, and their children after them. Sin (the inability to be perfect) was bred into the family tree of humanity – and no one was/is free of it. Now, fast-forward through multiple Patriarchs (founding fathers of sorts) and you land on the Israelites, a nation of people God set aside to represent him on earth. The Israelites, who were just led out of slavery in Egypt by God’s power through Moses, are wandering in the desert when God gives commands to Moses. The commands lined out the path to a full life and the way to have a relationship with God.

Now, because perfection cannot dwell with imperfection, God (perfection) created a way for man (imperfection) to have a relationship with him. He created the sacrificial system. Sacrifices were listed. Goats, sheep, and other animals were to be killed in order to atone for the sin of the people. Only blood would work – and only the blood of a perfect animal.

Ok…this brings me back to my point.

I was reading the other day, when I came across this verse, and it made me thankful:

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who were ceremonially unclean (too dirty to come before the Lord) sanctif[ied] them so that they [were] outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” – Hebrews 9:13&14

If you’re like me, you’ve felt the weightiness of sin.

You’ve said something you shouldn’t have said, done something you shouldn’t have done, and gone somewhere you didn’t need to be. You’ve hurt people, lied to people, and have pushed others aside. You’ve discounted life to follow your own desires and have felt the emptiness that follows.

Sin stinks – and it’s not a friend to any of us.

There was a time in my life when I tried to fix my issues with sin. I tried to force my sin into a box so that it didn’t affect anyone and didn’t cause harm like it had in the past. However, the stuffing didn’t work.

Hearts can never be changed by external things.

You see, the verse above mentions that the Old Testament rituals that the Israelites performed didn’t save them. The rituals didn’t cleanse their insides because, as the text says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls to take away sins” (10:4). By faith that God was who he said he was, the Israelites performed sacrifices, but it didn’t do the trick.

Externally, through the sacrifices, the Israelites were made clean, but only through faith in God (which eventually led to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) were they made, internally clean.

Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice (he was without sin), I am made clean. His death covered all of my imperfections making me internally clean before God. Even though I still sin, it doesn’t have to define me because when God sees me, he sees the blood of his Son – the only truly perfect sacrifice.

I can have fellowship with God because His blood covers me. A blood sacrifice has always been his standard.

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:14

Christ died for me – and he died for you, too. Christ’s death on the cross was enough…forever. No matter how many good things you do, without Christ, you are only cleaning up the outside.

I don’t know where you are or what you believe, but there is a God, He’s faithful, He loves you, and He wants you to know Him. I know Him – and because of that I’m forgiven and bound for Heaven.

In Him, there’s hope that never fades. It isn’t dependent upon anything this world has to offer. Rich, poor, with, or without, it’s available.

I’m thankful for the grace of God and his work on the cross. I’m thankful that he didn’t leave me to die in my sin, but by his compassion and grace (unmerited favor), He saved me.

I’m thankful – and that’s for sure.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” – Hebrews 3:15

Kacey Musgraves, Magazine Covers, and the Deception of Happiness


Anyone who knows me could tell you I am a genuine Country Music junkie.

Unfortunately, possibly because of my natural bent, I am attracted to the more rebellious songs within the genre. (For example: Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It,” Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw,” Garth Brooks’ unedited version of “The Thunder Rolls,” and Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine.”)

Recently, however, a song has emerged from a very talented – and pretty hip – young artist named Kacey Musgraves that has caused my head to spin.

The name of the song is “Follow Your Arrow,” and although it’s a catchy tune, the lyrics are quite controversial. Here’s a snapshot of the chorus:

“When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points.”

The song plays off of all of the hypocrisies we experience in life (which is pretty brilliant), but the application of the song is…um…well…I’ll get to that in a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, the Mister and I were in line at Wal-Mart, and, in efforts to waste time, I started checking out the front pages of the magazines stuffed in the display rack.

“Us Weekly” highlighted a Kardashian divorce and another Kardashian’s engagement. “People” advertised its interview with a musician about her recent separation, and the magazine next to it displayed Barbara Streisand and her, speculated, future ex-husband.

My heart broke – and I immediately started thinking about my own life.

You see, I haven’t always had a relationship with the Lord. There was a time when I did everything and anything that I wanted to (or tried to), and it left me with a since of emptiness deep down inside. It was dark, lonely, and depressing. Sure! I had friends – and I enjoyed some of the things I dabbled in, but my heart felt sick.

All I wanted was to be happy, but nothing seemed to satisfy.

When I TRULY trusted in the Lord (who He was, what He did, and what that meant for me) toward the end of high school, my life slowly started to change, and, by God’s grace, I began to find my definition in Him and how He created me to live. Today, I’m really different than I once was.

In this process, I found that happiness existed, and it was wonderful when it did, but because of its fleeting nature, it was not worth worshiping. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, the Lord promised peace and assurance that He knew what was going on and that He would provide for all of my needs. I didn’t have to strive to obtain all that I “wanted” in this life because in Christ I found a hope that went beyond circumstances.

I never had this kind of comfort before I got to really know God.

So, what’s my point?

As I stared at the people on the front of those magazines, I realized that I’m not much different than them. Even though I know the Lord, it’s easy for me to give into what this culture feeds me.

You see, we are told to seek what we want, and do what we want, as long as it makes us happy. Happiness is the goal – and anything you give up in pursuit of it is well worth it. Unfortunately, when I look at my own life, actions and thoughts, I see traces of where I’ve already sold myself out to the lie:

 “I know I really shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to because it’s going to make me feel better.” OR “If only I could land that job, then I would happy.”

Happiness seems like a cool concept. We seek it out in almost everything we do. We think if we do what we want, when we want to do it, life will be just the way we want it to be.

However, there are two flaws in this theory:

First, can we all get what we want when we want different things? (Meaning, we can’t all be happy at the same time.)

Often times, our belief in “happiness” takes away from the “happiness” of others. We hold the flag, yelling “HAPPINESS FOR ALL,” but it’s simply impossible.

People show off their middle finger to people in traffic because it makes them feel better about their current situation, even though it makes the recipient of the finger unhappy. Neighbors keep their yelping dogs outside because they want to be able to do what they want with the animals they bought, adopted, or brought in, but it causes others to lose sleep and, therefore, be unhappy.

I want to listen to my music louder than the person next to me at every red light – but it makes the person next to me mad.

Secondly, happiness isn’t permanent.

My cute clothes, which currently make me happy, are, more than likely, not going to fit in a few years. That race you’re training for, more than likely, won’t be a possibility when you’re 90. The car you drive, the house you’re building, the kids you live for, and the new diet you’re totally “crushing” are all awesome – they just won’t bring you happiness forever. They will all, at some point, disappoint you.

“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the house of Israel (a group of people who were set apart to worship the Lord) is disgraced – they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets. They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their face; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come save us!’ Where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!” – Jeremiah 2:26-28

You see, happiness can’t save us.

In fact, happiness flies out the window whenever the thing we want to be saved from happens. With the smallest bump in the road, it’s gone. Happiness is a roller coaster – some days it’s there and other days it’s not. Although we want to be happy all of the time, we simply cannot be.

We want happiness to be our emotional state all of the time. We want happiness to be our security – the thing we run to in efforts to find life. We want it to last forever.

We want to be what it was never intended to be – we want it to be God.

What does all of this mean? If happiness can’t be had by everyone at the same time, then what? If happiness isn’t constant and can easily crash to the ground, then what’s the point?

Perhaps, we weren’t made for happiness. Maybe, what we were created for is MUCH bigger.

Only God is certain. He created life, so we can trust Him when we need to know how to live it. Yes! He allows us to enjoy life, and experience feelings of happiness, but He also lets us know that there will be hard times:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to mourn and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 &4

He also says that He provides peace and joy – both of which can exist, even when life gets rough.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” – James 1:2 and 3

Sure. I can try to buy what I want to buy so that I feel happy. I can try to climb the corporate ladder to prove myself to others – and feel happy about it. The truth is, however, these things won’t last forever.

The promise that in Christ, I’m enough, and by his blood I’m saved is the truth. It’s worth banking on because it will never fail me.

There will be one day when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes – but that day doesn’t happen until heaven. And in heaven, the word “happiness” won’t even come close to describing what we will feel. It will be “happiness” off of the charts.

Today though, happiness is only temporary…and not universal.

The people on the front of the magazines at Wal-Mart got married because they wanted to be “happy,” but then they filed for divorce. Why? Because they wanted to be “happy” – even if the other person in the party is left in despair. (Please see the note at the bottom of this post.*)

Happiness is not permanent – so why do we worship it?

We have a purpose in this life, and it’s much bigger than what the world tells us.

Kacey, you say that my happiness, regardless of what it causes others, is what matters most, but I’m not buying it. Feel free to “follow your arrow wherever it points,” but I’m going a different direction.

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  – 1 John 2:17

(P.S. This post is IN NO WAY meant to bring down Kacey Musgraves. In fact, I think she is one of the most talented writers out there right now. I’m simply noting that we seem to have different approaches in the way we think through life.)

* Obviously, I don’t know why everyone gets divorced. At the same time, I know that I am fully capable of making decisions that would lead me down the same path. I also know that some people get divorced because their own life is in danger due to abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help. (

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