I've been thinking about my one little word for the year, now that we're half way through 2011. And what I've come to realize as I've been thinking about praise and how I've focused on it more intentionally, is that it all comes down to this:
My praise is in direct relation to the thankfulness in my heart. And my thankfulness in all things needs to be in equal measure.
Take, for instance, the day I walked out and saw the Extreme Home Makeover some of my family did to my new living space. That was pretty much joy smacking me right in the face and flipping me upside down and backward. Or when the people helped me to get this new bed that has made life so much more livable for me. I would have to have been dead not to have my heart beat double time in the happy department.
But just because those things were extraordinary and provided a rush, it doesn't make them more praise worthy than the every day moments of my life.
It's like walking into a restaurant and having dinner with 10 of your best friends. Now, picture yourself walking into the restaurant and being *surprised* by those 10 friends on your birthday. The first gives you a warm feeling of being surrounded by people you love, the second produces heart-stopping surprise and a rush of joy because of the unexpected. But at the end of the day they are the same 10 friends, and you have the same gratitude for who they are in your life.
I think we're sometimes stuck on the rush. We're stuck needing something to hit us over the head and scream "something good just happened!" for us to really stop and take notice. But the reality is, when I stop in my moments and give praise to God, my heart feels the same when I am thanking Him for my room as it does when I'm thanking Him for the sparrow that landed on my feeder.
Because both are results of His eye being on me as much as it is on that sparrow. God has given me loving and attentive people in my life who provided the bed and the room. He has given me the birds that sing to me in the morning and fly around to remind me that life exists beyond these walls.
He lets the thunder roll and reminds me of His magnitude. He gives me the ability to walk to the kitchen and reminds me I will always have the strength I need when I need it. Some of His gifts smack me upside the head and others I need to keep my eyes open to see. But in the end, all are gift. And all deserve my whole heart thanks. Every one of them deserves my praise.
So, on the days when things are supremely difficult and the pain takes all my energy, my eyes have to remain alert to see the blessings. Then there are days when His goodness is obvious and hits me upside the head like I've just had a V-8. And at the end of both of those days, when I think over the hours and my blessings and I stop to thank Him for all of it, do you know what the difference between them is?
Because in the end, love is love. Gift is gift. God is God and He is good.
All the time.
And that's why I praise Him through all of it, with the same amount of thanks in my heart. Because, whether obvious or subtle, He is always there with gifts.
You just have to be sure you're paying attention.