When to Say Thanks

Say Thanks

My friend Rachael is getting married this year. She was my wedding planner extraordinaire, and I am attempting to return the favor this year as I plan hers.

Although Robby and I were married just six years ago, I had already forgotten how many details go into a wedding.

No Thanks!

One of those details that many brides forget about is the thank-you cards.

I never knew this was an issue until after our wedding. As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started writing thank you notes to all our friends and family members who supported us in one way or another, whether they threw us a party, donated to the honeymoon fund, or gave us a traditional gift. We took great care to let everyone know how much we appreciated them.

Then, we started to hear it.

I can’t believe you actually sent me a thank-you card! I haven’t received one of these in years!

 I just can’t thank you enough for my thank-you card! I thought proper etiquette was dead.

I was flabbergasted! I had no idea that people were actually foregoing this most basic of common courtesies.

The Faux Pas

Reputable wedding sites (such as Brides.com) still dictate that thank-you cards be handwritten and mailed within three months of the wedding (or within two weeks for engagement and bridal shower gifts). Yet an online search will prove that there is a pervasive trend of thanklessness. It’s so bad that jilted guests are threatening to stop bestowing gifts because no one seems to appreciate them.

Some speculate this might be an issue today because young couples feel a lavish reception is thanks enough for those who attended the wedding or gave them gifts. Well, it’s not. We want our thank-you cards!

The Responsibility

Now, the man may be the head of the household, but the woman is the CEO of Hospitality. It’s ultimately our responsibility to keep up with social etiquette, from ensuring the thank-you cards get mailed to stocking toilet paper in the guest bathroom. Guys just don’t think of this stuff.

It’s true that social norms change with the times. However, if you want to keep your friends and earn the respect of your new family (especially your mother-in-law), you’re going to have to write those thank-you cards.

The Heart Behind It

As Christians, everything we do is important because we’re representatives of God’s kingdom. Paul even wrote that we should perform all our work “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:22-24 NAS).

Thankfulness, in particular, is something we should be ready to share because it’s rooted in love. Not only does love come from God, but Jesus commanded that we love one another as He loved us. Why? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NAS).

An Attitude of Gratitude

I’m so proud of my friend Rachael. She’s already purchased her thank-you cards, and she’s included the cost of stamps in her budget. Rachael is prepared to show her appreciation.

If you’re planning to get married soon, I encourage you to approach the thank-you list with an attitude of gratitude. Thank the Lord for your family and friends; thank Him for blessing you with a beautiful wedding, a great husband, and a new life together; thank Him for all the goodies that now fill your home. Then let that spirit of thankfulness overflow as you write to those who cared enough to support you. Your guests will thank you.

“I thank my God always concerning you…” (1 Corinthians 1:4a NAS).

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

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*image by Lindsay Osborne.



Ringing in the New Year

Ringing in the New Year

How many of you look at January 1st as a continuation of God’s blessings?  Or, do you find yourself in the opposing camp where you boldly shout from the roof tops, “Sayonara 2016! Adios! Good riddance to the last 365? Often times, so many of us focus on all the negative that the past year brought our way versus acknowledging the blessings we were able to experience. We lack gratitude. We tend to be laser focused on all the things that God did NOT do for us versus giving gratitude for all the things He did do.

It truly is amazing how powerful one little flip of a calendar page can be to so many of us.  The impending New Year carries fresh excitement, refreshment, energy and renewed hope. We are about half way through the first month of the New Year and for many of us who set out with high hopes, big, audacious goals and New Year’s resolutions, we are probably feeling some degree of regret or disappointment already.  How quickly the “newness” fades away. Chances are, whatever we set out to accomplish two weeks ago has already morphed into a different version of the original plan.

Now, hear me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals or tweaking things and course correcting to set us up for more success.  Even carrying a hopeful attitude into the New Year is a healthy posture as long as our HOPE is placed in the right person (Jesus Christ) versus in the right things. Do you see where I am going with this? The real problem ensues when we decide to only consult with ourselves when concocting these grandiose plans and fairytale endings. We tend to prioritize and overemphasize our own personal wants and hearts desires while relying too heavily on our own strength and abilities.  What do you think would happen if we began planning our New Year by having a good, honest conversation with the Lord before we hit January 1st?  We are so quick to blame God when things don’t go well or they don’t go the way WE think they should.  Do you find yourself approaching His throne humbly before you start making your own plans or do you delight in pointing the finger and throwing around blame when life does not live up to your expectations or plans do not unfold in your desired timing?

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”(Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

I’ll be honest, I have not always found myself to be a joyous member of the Gratitude camp.  I can remember many New Year’s Eves thinking “It’s all going to be better in the morning!” or “Tomorrow will be the first day of _________” fill in whatever phrase you like best.  I was living in a constant state of tension between the past, present and future.  I was constantly wrestling for control and trying to force my agenda on God and demanding He honor my requests, as if mine were better and more appropriate than His, the King of the World, Author and Perfector of our Faith. Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But how many of us do this EVERY…SINGLE…DAY? We invest so much time in our thoughts, goals, plans and strategies that we forget to include the most influential and powerful factor of all into our equation…the Will of God.

Nothing that I said thus far has been rocket science.  If you are a Believer and have grown up in the church, all of these words are familiar.  I like to call this our head knowledge.  But real, transformational change occurs when we begin making connections between what our head knows and what our heart truly believes.  Words become beliefs and beliefs evolve into action and action and obedience lead to true change.  Consulting with the Lord about His will for our lives sounds great, wonderful and even simplistic, right?  However, our humanness will try to get in the way.  Trusting ourselves and making our own plans is fallen human nature.  According to Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (NIV).   The Lord will never fail us or disappoint us.  Furthermore, He is waiting to blow your socks off!  However, it requires reckless abandon of self and stepping out of the safety boat and audaciously walking on water towards Christ.

It is never too late into the New Year to make another life changing goal.

Today, why don’t we decide together, to ask the Lord to give us less of ourselves and more of Him and His will for the next 300+ days and beyond?

What would happen if we fervently prayed the Lord’s Prayer and faithfully prayed, in full confidence and expectation, the phrase “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven?”

LeRyiah Arant

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