How An ‘Aisle of Shame’ Brought Me Closer to God’s Word

A supermarket’s ‘Aisle of Shame’ inspired me to create a scripture calendar to help encourage others to memorize, reflect and be transformed by scripture.

I love it when God plants a humble seed.

The seed He planted that turned into the Scott Ink Scripture Calendar started at Aldi of all places.

Yes, you read that right. 

Aldi, the supermarket chain.

I told you it was humble. 

‘Aisle of Shame’ Christmas Shopping

In December 2020, I was shamelessly shopping at Aldi’s infamous “Aisle of Shame” (AOS), and I came across these calendars — see the picture below. 

For those unfamiliar, there is a shopping aisle in Aldi that peddles every type of home goods, clothes, shoes, small appliances, rugs, seasonal decor, you name it. 

Christmas was around the corner, and I was looking for a cute and practical gift, and the price point was right. So I picked up several to give as presents to friends and family. I liked it so much that I even purchased one for myself!

Working from home, I thought the calendar would be a nice size for my dining/office table. I also liked that it was portable and could take it from room to room. It checked a lot of boxes. 

My favorite calendar – gone!

When I went back the following December to purchase some more calendars for 2022, they were nowhere to be found. I even went on an Aldi Facebook Group to ask if they were available elsewhere in the country but no one had seen them. Maybe it was a supply chain issue?

Having taken a visual design class from former graphic designer Pamela Wilson, and with several years of desktop publishing under my belt (as a journalism major), I decided to design my calendar for 2022 using Canva, a desktop publishing tool for those who are not professional designers. I printed it at the local Staples and recycled the wood base from the previous calendar. Here’s the one I designed for 2022.

out of sight, out of mind

For 2023, I once again scoured the AOS for the calendars but once again, they were nowhere to be found. So I decided to design another calendar but for this year, I wanted to add a verse to each month. For the past couple of years, my spiritual goal has been to memorize scripture more and be intentional with what I surround myself with. 

You’ve heard of the phrase out of sight, out of mind

This calendar – with the verse – would be in full view and top of mind. Since the calendar is right by my laptop, it’s in front of me for at least 8-10 hours a day or more. 

2023 Scott Ink Scripture Calendar

Being intentional about what I see regularly, and surrounding myself with God’s word, would help me in my spiritual goal of memorizing scripture. During the day, our mind gets cluttered with many worldly images, voices, words and influences, not to mention negativity. If we’re not careful and intentional, it’s easy to get discouraged by worldly thinking.

Having this simple, 6×4-inch calendar right in front of me allows me to focus on key verses from God’s manual for life – the Bible. 

Being intentional with spiritual goals

Over my lifetime, studying scripture, praying God’s word, and claiming the promises found in the Bible have allowed me to undergo transformations and metamorphoses like that of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Memorizing scripture transforms and renews my mind, allowing me to shed old ways of defeatist thinking and embrace a life lived with greater peace and clarity. Like that butterfly, I can break out of the chrysalis of sin, shame, doubt, fear and worry and take flight to experience true freedom in Christ.

What we think matters. Filling our minds with God’s word and meditating and reflecting on it change our thinking. You replace the old, destructive thinking patterns with new patterns that offer hope, promise and guidance for daily living. 

A humble seed germinates

I thought other friends and family might benefit from memorizing scripture, and I thought of offering the calendar to them so they could be inspired and encouraged, too.

I reached out to my friend, Christie Hayes, who works for a local printer to get a small batch of the calendars professionally printed. Next, I needed to get the wood stands made. That proved to be a more difficult task. When I went online to purchase the stands, the most affordable stands I could find were in China, and the earliest they could be here was at the end of January. The ones I found on Etsy and Amazon were at a much higher price point, boosting the price of the calendar beyond what I wanted to charge.

Freshly printed copies of the calendar turned a vision into reality.

With the clock ticking (this is a calendar after all!), I knew a late January arrival wouldn’t work as I didn’t want the calendar to become outdated. So I sprang into action and did what isn’t always a first and natural response – I prayed.

After praying, the Lord brought two men to mind from my church who were wood craftsmen. I reached out to them – one of whom was in my Connection class – and they got on board with my idea and agreed to help. A huge thanks to Brian Wilson and his dad, Don Wilson, a veteran! They are so kind and easy to work with and understood the project’s urgency.

The local Woodcraft store had these beautiful walnut blocks on clearance. We were able to make three stands from each block of wood.

The Lord continued to guide our path as we searched for affordably priced wood for the stands. We found some beautiful walnut wood blocks that had been marked down at the local Woodcraft store. After purchasing the wood, the Wilsons got to work and made a prototype of a walnut stand to hold the calendar. Christie gave me the paper sample to ensure the calendar fit into the stand. Everything fit perfectly (whew!) and off we went to get started on production.

Looking back on how quickly the calendar came together reminds me of this verse that encouraged me from Proverb 16:3: Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

We got the calendars printed within 10 days and the wood stands made.

Above, our girls, Ellie and Priya, helped stain the wood with Danish oil, while Jaia worked on address labels.

That’s how this very humble seed sprouted into the Scott Ink Scripture Calendar. I’m reminded of this passage:

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
— 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Why memorizing scripture is powerful

Thank you to my family and friends who have supported and believed in me as I turned this idea into a tangible product. A special thanks to Susy Eversull, my aunt-in-law/love who helped me to proof the calendar and has been my biggest sales gal! 😘

Whether you purchase the calendar or not, I hope you will intentionally decide to memorize God’s scripture more in 2023. 

Don’t know where to start? Select a few of your favorite short verses from the Bible. The Psalms are my go-to book of the Bible for finding encouraging, uplifting verses. You can also find some of my favorite verses in this blog post, Are You Spiritually Fat, But Not Faithful? God’s word never returns void meaning it produces good things as Isaiah tells us:

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
— Isaiah 55:11

Whether you read God’s word, memorize it, reflect on it or even apply it, why not let it prosper in your life? I look forward to hearing about the fruit it produces! 

VALENTINE’S DAY SPECIAL! From 1/23 to 2/15, with every calendar order, you will receive five free Valentine’s Day postcards and stamps to send to your Valentines (until I run out!) The postcard features the attributes of love as found in 1 Corinthians 13. Send them to your BFFs, family, grandkids, nieces, nephews, friends or whoever you want to show some love to this Valentine’s Day! CLICK TO ORDER

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Easter Hymn Story: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Learn about the writer of this beloved and powerful Easter hymn.

Christmas and Easter are always more meaningful to me as I take time to savor the worship music celebrating our Savior and King. Many years ago, my dear father-in-law loaned me a copy of 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck (I loved it so much he let me keep it!). It’s a wonderful book exploring the history and inspiration of all of the great hymns we love to sing today.

With Easter coming up in a few days, I’m listening to some of my favorite hymns, including When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Did you know it’s written by Isaac Watts? Here’s a little background on the very talented Mr. Watts:

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote this cherished and popular hymn in 1707 for a communion service that he conducted. It was published in a collection of hymns titled Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Watts began writing hymns after his father, a learned deacon of a Congregational church in England, challenged Watts to write a hymn after his son repeatedly disagreed with the dry, congregational singing of the Psalms that occurred in churches of that day.

The young poet wrote a hymn every Sunday for two years, which is why many refer to him as the father of English hymnody. Watts’ heart longed to “Christianize the Psalms with the New Testament message and style.” In his time, Watts’s approach to hymns was a radical departure from the establishment.

Watts longed to write hymns that reflected his personal feelings towards his faith and his love of our Savior. I’m thankful his courage, faith and conviction led him to write such a meaningful and powerful worship song that still inspires me to cherish the message of the cross hundreds of years later. I love this contemporary version of this traditional hymn by Tim Hughes.

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Sheila Puckett: A Champion for Hiding God’s Word in Hearts of All Ages

Sheila Puckett is making the Bible relevant, fun and exciting to the next generation of believers.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but at the beginning of 2022, when I reflected on some personal goals I have for my spiritual life, one of them is to be more intentional about memorizing scripture.

That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to a wonderful woman of faith who is very intentional about memorizing scripture. I’ve never met such a passionate, beautiful and faithful soul like Sheila Puckett. Sheila coordinates the Bible Drill program at our home church of Cross City Church in Euless, Texas

What is Bible Drill? Bible Drill is a program where children and youth memorize verses, locate key passages and learn the 66 books of the Bible in chronological order. Students also participate in regional and state competitions to demonstrate their knowledge and skills as Bible Drillers.

During the more than 20 years she has served as the Bible Drill coordinator, Sheila has taught hundreds of children scripture memorization and now teaches the kids of former students. She taught our middle daughter several years ago and now teaches our youngest daughter. We are in awe of her energy and commitment to sharing God’s word.

A teacher by training with a bachelor’s and master’s in education, Sheila is fueled by her calling, her love for God’s word and a commitment to raise up new generations of believers who prioritize studying God’s word and memorizing scripture. 

Sheila knows she is up against some troubling statistics. According to the Barna Group’s State of the Bible 2021 findings, only one in six U.S. adults (16%) reads the Bible most days during the week, up from 12 percent in 2020. Other stats from Statista show that only 11% of the U.S. population read the Bible daily in 2021. Not only is Bible reading becoming infrequent among adults, it’s not being studied or passed down like in previous generations, especially with church attendance declining.

Despite the statistics, she believes God can “turn things around” and is praying for a great awakening and revival.

Through my daughter’s involvement with Bible Drill, Sheila motivated me to memorize scripture more. Along with the interview below, check out the free download of verses I’ve compiled from Sheila and some other folks in my life who are passionate about God’s word and memorizing scripture.

I hope you enjoy this question-and-answer interview with Sheila Puckett, a passionate lover of God’s word and Bible teacher for the next generation. She talks about the importance of scripture memorization and how adults, as well as kids alike, can benefit. 

Leona: Sheila, you’ve been teaching Bible Drill for a really long time. Can you please tell me when you got started and what motivated you? 

SHEILA: I started teaching in the children’s area [at Cross City] more than 40 years ago. It had a Bible Drill program then, but I did not know that much about it at the time. Then, I saw the program in action and it blew me away. Having children hide God’s word in their heart is a passion of mine. Someone vested in my life, and I have a responsibility to do the same. I have been the coordinator of Bible Drill for more than 20 years and still have a passion for instilling a love for God’s word into children and adults as well.

Leona: What would you say to someone who is thinking about memorizing scripture but needs some motivation? Why memorize scripture?

Sheila: The two most powerful weapons to combat the enemy are God’s Word and prayer. Jesus used both during His time on earth. When He was being tempted, He used the Word. His Word is powerful. The enemy knows the Word so shouldn’t we? 

That way, we know how to fight for TRUTH, and be on guard when the enemy twists scripture. Memorizing scripture is important because we need the truth to guide us. We can use verses committed to memory to encourage, teach and comfort others. 

We don’t always have access to our Bibles, so when we have those verses in our heart/mind, we can recall them at any time. You never know when a situation will arise when you can call on or share scripture. 

A child told us that when he was fearful during a thunderstorm, he recited Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You, and it helped him to calm down.

Sheila Puckett
Sheila believes every parent has a responsibility to teach the next generation Gods word. Says Sheila, I read a passage [recently] in the Bible where it talked about a generation that didn’t know the Lord. Scripture is replete with examples of God telling His people to teach their kids when they walk by the way. It does take time and sacrifice, but we need to count the cost and teach the next generation. 

Leona: What’s at stake if we don’t make scripture memorization a priority?

SHEILA: What’s at stake is very serious. There are so many Biblically illiterate people who have no clue what is true and what isn’t. The world wants to fill our hearts and minds with things that are anti-God … they go against His word. 

For example, when cashiers are taught about fake money, they study and feel real money so that when counterfeit money comes across, it can easily be detected. How can people know if something is counterfeit unless they know what’s real? 

[In Acts 17:10-15], the Bereans were people who checked out the Apostle Paul’s message [instead of just taking his word.] It’s important for kids to know God’s word. They know the lyrics to songs…and God’s Word is far more valuable than that. 

Leona: How can we spark greater interest in scripture memorization among grown-ups and our kids?

SHEILA: We need to ask God to give us a passion for what pleases Him and our enthusiasm and passion will hopefully spill over to those who God brings across our path.  

Leona: How should you get started memorizing scripture? 

SHEILA: I would start on a small scale at first and make a list. John 3:16 is a classic one that should be memorized first. Then, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9 and Genesis 1:1. 


At the end of three years (grades 4-6) of Bible Drill, our Bible drillers will have learned 75 verses, 30 key passages and all 66 books of the Bible.

Leona: How can adults be more intentional about scripture memorization?

SHEILA: I would get an accountability partner and ask them to hold you accountable for scripture memorization … better yet, find someone to learn the verses with you. I realize we are really busy with families, work, etc., but scripture memorization should be a priority. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Leona: I know you’ve been teaching kids for many years, but do the same rules for scripture memorization apply to grown-ups as they do for students?

SHEILA: Yes, adults can use the same strategies we use in memorization, such as writing out verses and repeating them out loud. You can put them on a card and keep them in a location where you will see them often. The most important verses are those you would be able to share with someone who is seeking God. Bible Drill also has an App available at minimal cost. 

We had a student tell us she has the verses beside her bed and she reads one as the last thing before she goes to bed and reads it first thing when she gets up. Repetition is the key to retention. 

Leona: Bible Drill programs like the one at Cross City are rare. If a parent reading this wanted to start a program at their church, what would you recommend and where should they go to get started?

SHEILA: I would love to talk with them and give them the information they need to start a program at their church. Bible Drill is a Southern Baptist Program, and it’s a very unique and amazing program. We are funded through the offerings that come through the cooperative program. Churches that are giving to the cooperative program are certainly eligible to participate. (Note: You can email Sheila at

Leona: You have such a great love for the children in Bible Drill and implanting God’s word into their hearts. What else motivates you to do Bible Drill since you are so committed and you have been doing it consistently for so long? Do you ever get tired or run out of energy?

SHEILA: God placed in my heart years ago the desire to help children KNOW the Word of God and the God of the Word. Even if I am tired from working or have responsibilities at home, I am energized by the Holy Spirit to keep teaching the next generation about how crucial it is to hide God’s word in their hearts. 

I love this assignment and am so grateful for God’s calling in this ministry. It is my passion, and even if I am weary, I know that God will give me the strength to do what He has called me to do. 

Right now, we are doing Bible Drill on Sunday mornings for almost three hours and then we return in the afternoon for another hour to minister to those who don’t have Bible Drill at their church. I have Zoomed on Sunday afternoons with students … so some Sundays it is a 10-hour day but a very blessed day.

Leona: Sheila, I can’t do this interview without asking you what your favorite scripture verse is.

SHEILA: One of my favorites is a timeless verse, Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” 

Another one is my life verse, Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Leona: Anything else you’d like to add?

SHEILA: God will always honor His Word. It never returns void. He will enable and help us to learn His word. There is truly nothing more important than having His Word in us. God’s word is transforming … faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

Reminder: Make sure you download the scriptures and join me in memorizing the 12 verses for the year! Whichever month you start, join us in the Scott Ink – Facebook Group for some encouragement and also accountability as we memorize God’s word together!

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The Power of a Handwritten Note

Instead of sending a text or email, consider picking up your pen and sending someone an encouraging note (they will thank you).

Happy National Handwriting Day! The day is celebrated on January 23, which is John Hancock’s birthday. As you’ll recall from history class, John Hancock was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. Who can forget his flourishy and standout signature?!

When was the last time you wrote someone a personal note in your handwriting? 

If it’s been a while, then grab a pen, pencil or your favorite writing instrument, and get writing! 

It’s that simple.

I took a few minutes today to write some notes to my family because they are the first ones who came to mind.

Take a minute to think about people who you could encourage with a note. Can’t think of anyone? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind people who you want to recognize or thank. There are so many people who get overlooked because they simply serve in a role that we don’t pay attention to often. These are just a few folks who came to my mind:

  • Friend
  • Family member
  • Teacher
  • School cafeteria worker
  • Beloved pastor or minister
  • A person who inspires you
  • Mentor
  • Essential workers
  • A grocery clerk
  • School crossing guard

Writing comes naturally for me, but if it doesn’t to you, here are some writing prompts to get you started to inspire you to send a handwritten note:

What I love about you is ….

I love it when you …

My favorite memory of you was when …

Thank you for …

You are so special to me because …

One of my favorite things about you is …

I’ll never forget when you …

In a previous blog, I wrote about how we can use scripture to encourage others so consider including a favorite verse with your note to make it even more meaningful and special.

Several of my family members’ love language is words of affirmation so a hand-written note really speaks to their hearts.

Are you reading this after National Handwriting Day? Don’t worry! 

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner so you’ll have another opportunity to handwrite a note to a loved one.

This pencil cup holds some of my most favorite pens. Your writing instruments can make the whole process of writing a fun and happy activity.

To motivate me to write more, I have a variety of notecards, cool pens and stamps to make it more enjoyable. I even have a collection of some fun stickers that I like to use.

Think about the last time you received a hand-written note in the mail. Isn’t it such a wonderful feeling to know someone thought of you and took time to send you a special note?

Hand-written notes are such a personal and warm touch in a cold digital age.

And they last much longer than a text or email. I have some letters and cards from family and friends who are no longer living. Their notes are a piece of family history for me, and I cherish them all the more because it includes their handwriting.

Let’s get back to valuing penmanship and the written note!

Who will you send a note to today?

Happy Writing!

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Are You Spiritually Fat But Not Faithful?

Five simple ways to shed your spiritual fat and exercise your faith more.

One of the great joys in my life is studying God’s word through an in-depth Bible study called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). During a recent BSF lesson, we studied Matthew 13, which includes the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. As I read over my notes, a section stuck out that I starred and highlighted:

Feasting on God’s blessings but failing to pour out into others causes us to grow spiritually fat, but not faithful … Are you bringing out those treasures and sharing with others the rich investment God has deposited in you? … Do you realize how much treasure you have? What will you do with what you have learned …?”

Bible Study Fellowship, Notes from Lesson 14

One of the greatest treasures I have is God’s word. The Bible study lesson, along with my personal notes, challenged me to ask, “Am I growing ‘spiritually fat’ by feasting on God’s word but never exercising my faith and applying my knowledge and sharing it with others?”

As I pondered that question, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some of the recent ways I’ve been inspired to share my faith. I hope it will inspire you to explore your own ways as you are led by the Holy Spirit. 

1. Text a friend or family member an encouraging verse.

We’re surrounded by so much negativity and everyday trials can be burdensome. When I get discouraged, I turn to God’s word to uplift and encourage me. There are some go-to verses that remind me of God’s presence and power and I cling to His promise that He will never leave or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8). 

I put them in my “Notes” on my smartphone so I can access them easily when I’m going through a difficult time.

You can do the same thing when a friend or family member is having a bad day or has received some bad news. Look up some Bible verses to encourage them. Google “encouraging Bible verses,” and you’ll be surprised at how many you’ll find. 

Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God’s word never returns void so know that the word you share will be a blessing to the recipient. Both BibleGateway and Bible Hub are some wonderful resources to look up scripture, and their Apps make it even easier to share verses by text or email, for example.

Here are just a few of my go-to verses of encouragement.

What are some of your “lifeline” verses to remind you of God’s goodness, faithfulness and love to you? I encourage you to have them ready and recall them on your phone or even on a sticky note throughout your house or workplace (if appropriate) as a visual reminder. Visual cues can be powerful reminders in our distraction-filled world, especially if were trying to correct a bad habit or negative thinking.

2. Send a birthday gift of a Bible verse or a prayer.

Tuck a Bible verse or scripture reference into your birthday card. You can also do this digitally. I’ve found some great scriptures for birthdays from these websites HERE and HERE. Have you ever gifted someone with a written prayer? It’s such a powerful and thoughtful way to share your faith with them. 

What’s even more powerful is using the audio feature on your phone and recording a short prayer and sending it to them. Your audible voice is a wonderful way to connect personally with someone you want to encourage.

A good friend of mine blesses me with sweet prayer recordings, and it’s uplifting to hear them. I end up listening to them several times because her prayers are so beautiful!

3. Spend some time memorizing scripture.

To help me with Nos. 1-2 above, I’m trying to be better about memorizing scripture. When you commit to memorizing scripture, God’s word fills your mind and heart so that when you undergo a problem or trial in your life (or even something wonderful), the Holy Spirit will bring to mind more quickly those verses you’ve memorized. Don’t you think it’s funny that we’ll often recall countless trivial details of a celebrity’s life but when it comes to pouring our energy into memorizing God’s word, we struggle? I’ve been convicted of that lately. Memorizing God’s word is an eternal treasure. 

Along with the daily practice of writing out verses like the ones above, Ellie and I also use notecards or even the Bible Drill App to help us learn and memorize verses. Helping her has made me more intentional about memorizing scripture, key passages (did you know The Suffering Servant is found in Isaiah 53?) and reciting the books of the Bible in order.

Scripture memorization is something I’m not very good at, but I’ve challenged myself to get better as my youngest daughter recently joined the Bible Drill class at our church. Bible Drill is an amazing program taught by one of the most dedicated and faithful children’s leaders at our church (thank you Miss Sheila!). Even if we commit to learning one verse every couple of weeks for a year, that’s 26 verses that we didn’t know before. Scripture memorization is a wonderful way to hide God’s word in our heart so that we will not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

4. Pray scripture for prayer needs.

I’m involved in several prayer groups and sometimes when a prayer request is shared, I will search for a verse in the Bible that corresponds with the prayer request (a Bible concordance can make this easier). For example, if a friend is sick or recovering from a surgery, I’ll find a scripture or passage on healing in the Bible and either pray that verse for the person or claim that promise and blessing for them.

5. Invite people to your church or Bible study.

One of the best ways I’ve found to share God’s word with others is to invite them to my church or Bible study group. 

I know it can be intimidating to step out and invite others knowing they may say “No” or they are just not interested. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and bring people to mind who you can encourage or invite. You’ll be amazed at the courage and boldness the Holy Spirit provides (2 Timothy 1:7). The first time you do anything out of your comfort zone is scary, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 

As you can see, these are some simple yet effective ways that have worked for me to bless and encourage others so that we can shed our “spiritual fat” to exercise our faith more. 

I’m a big believer in taking baby steps when it comes to doing anything new. If you’re a believer who has feasted on God’s blessings but failed to pour out into others, what is a simple way you can shed your “spiritual fat” this week? I’m praying the Holy Spirit will reveal some ideas so that you can start exercising your faith more.

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Why “Thankfulness” Is My Word for 2022

As 2022 unfolds, I’m looking forward to what God is going to show me and my family through an unexpected word choice.

The wonderful Mary Whelchel of The Christian Working Woman ministry is a virtual spiritual mentor of mine. While I’ve never met her in person, I look forward to her Monday-Friday devotionals in my Inbox each week. I gobble them up like my favorite chocolate chip cookies.

When she asked her readers to think about choosing the word “thankfulness” as their word for the year, I knew I had to at least consider it.

It didn’t take me long to embrace her suggestion, and she pointed me to this verse: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

I love the part about “overflowing with thankfulness” because gratitude is one of my personal core values. So often we get caught up in what we don’t have that we overlook what we do have. A regular prayer is, “Lord give me eyes to see what your hand has provided.”

I first learned about selecting a word for the year from the book, My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen recommended by Mary Whelchel. It’s a terrific read worth your time. Mike is a senior pastor of a megachurch in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Rachel Olsen is a member of his congregation, author, and also serves as a national speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Mike first developed the process on how to choose your one word for the year to think, pray and meditate on for his church:

“Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. This single act will force clarity and concentrate your efforts. As you focus your word over an extended period of time, you position yourself for God to form your character at a deep, sustainable level. Growth and change will result.” The book walks you through a variety of steps and reflections to guide you in choosing your one word, along with selecting a key verse that corresponds with your word.

I never realized until recently the reason Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible is because it’s brimming with so many instances of David’s heart of thankfulness and praise.

One of the reasons I decided to focus on thankfulness as my word of the year is I wanted to cultivate a greater sense of gratitude in my life. When you’re in a state of thankfulness, you choose to focus on the good things rather than the negative things in your life. After the pandemic, and living through so many challenges that it brought – not to mention the everyday trials of life – it’s so easy to whine and complain about what’s not going right.

But choosing thankfulness forces us to focus our eyes on things that are going right, which is contrary to our normal thought life – at least for me. Without the Holy Spirit directing us, our minds automatically go to things that are negative, worst-case scenarios. We may often see the “giants” or problems in our lives bigger than God Himself like 10 of the 12 spies did in Numbers 13-14. Only two of the spies – Joshua and Caleb – saw God bigger than the giants, and as a result, they were the only two people from their generation to enter the Promised Land. 

By choosing thankfulness, I’m going to focus my mind on the charge from Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” 

There is irony in me choosing thankfulness at this time in my life. As I write this, every member of our family is walking through a personal trial as we’ve never encountered before. Thankfulness would probably be one of the last words I would choose to meditate on right now. But isn’t that just like God – to take our hand and challenge us to trust Him as He leads us through difficult valleys to reveal truths, lessons and insights we wouldn’t have learned other wise?

I know it’s hard to focus on being thankful amidst circumstances that test our faith. But in the few short days of 2022 that I’ve been practicing thankfulness and meditating on that word, God is showing up in ways that encourage and remind me He sees our family and what we’re walking through. When my autopilot mind races to the negative, the Holy Spirit counters to help me to focus on thankfulness. Almost immediately, my mind starts thanking God and praising Him for all of the good things in my life.

I look forward to God reframing my perspective in 2022 to focus on: 

  • Things that are true
  • Things that are noble
  • Things that are right
  • Things that are pure
  • Things that are lovely
  • Things that are admirable
  • Things that are excellent
  • Things that are praiseworthy

When you focus on all of those things Philippians 4:8 lists, suddenly a new mindset takes shape, allowing you to choose thankfulness

I Thessalonians 5:18 challenges us to be thankful – always: Whatever happens, it says, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 

Won’t you join me in choosing thankfulness this year?

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