Faith & Family | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 1:18 PM


Recent scientific studies point to a direct link between gratitude and a deep satisfaction with life. Not only is it good to give thanks, it is good for you to do so!


In a study at the University of California at Davis, Professor Robert Emmons came up with some very interesting and illuminating results from his research project on gratitude and thankfulness. Professor Emmons found that people who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. In addition, participants who kept the journals were more likely to make progress towards their personal goals in life.

The study also notes that people with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others. Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of wealthy persons; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.

If the practice of gratitude is so beneficial to our overall well-being, how can we learn to cultivate it more? My gut feeling is that the type of gratitude we normally experience when we see others that are less fortunate than ourselves is not enough. If it were, we would all be much happier as we are surrounded by evidence of the suffering of so many people in the world today. It seems that we need to look directly at our own lives in order to be truly grateful and thereby reap the benefits of gratitude.

The concept of gratitude is directly related to the idea of the power of positive thinking.

Concentrating on what we do have versus what we donít have seems to be the key. Reminding ourselves on a daily basis of all the things that come our way keeps us grounded in gratitude instead of want. At any given moment during the day we can stop in the moment and be thankful. Keeping a record of these moments, journaling, is what Professor Emmons recommends. When life becomes overwhelming we can look back at our musings and see just how lucky we really are.

Indeed, further results of the University of California study show that a daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.

As we are told not to sweat the small things so too can we be very grateful for the little joys in our lives. I just got back from running to school to drop-off something for my daughter. Upon entering the house, which is warm and toasty compared to the rainy, cold day outside, I was greeted by my three dogs with tons of kisses and love. They now lie by my feet as I type away. The house is peaceful and quiet like my own personal sanctuary. I glance out my windows and see nothing but the foliage that envelops my home. These are the little moments that that we can become attuned to in gratitude. There are hundreds of such moments in any given week if we are mindful of them. They add up and build upon one another to create a more centered, content and positive perspective on life.

Furthermore, the research reports that grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life. Again, my intuition tells me that given the perspective that gratitude gifts us, we are undoubtedly more equipped to handle lifeís challenges. Oneís attitude can determine how effective one is in coping with what life throws in our direction. Our perspective on life determines our reality. If we approach things with a perspective grounded in say the belief that life is unfair, everything that turns up will look unfair. But as we practice gratitude, we are endowed with its gifts of optimism and the necessary energy required to take on our lives.

How can you start to practice gratitude? Begin with the art of mindfulness, being totally present in the moment. Notice all the little things that surround you, things you might take for granted if you hadnít stopped to really look. Offer acknowledgement of these small gifts much like my moment in a warm and peaceful home with my dogs. Write them down in a gratitude journal. The little things make up the fabric of our days, our months, and our years. Oftentimes we hardly notice them because we are so caught up in the task of living. As they say, stop and smell the roses.

Stop and consider what you have been given in life. Are you blessed with financial security? Do you have loving children, a supportive family? A nice home? Are you in good health? Do you enjoy your work? Do you have wonderful friends? What does nature give to you? Do you have a supportive and loving mate? Concentrate on what you do have and not what you lack.

Research also tells us that the act of giving back to the world has much the same effect as gratitude. Interestingly enough, Emmons study also found that participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another. The act of gratitude and the act of giving back therefore reinforce each other and lead to the inevitable Ömore fulfilling, meaningful and happy lives.

These are things that we all know to be true in the abstract and yet we can take them from the abstract into the specifics of our own existence. Start practicing gratitude today. Pull out a notebook and write down just one thing. Commit to adding to this journal everyday. A good time might be before bedtime when you have time to reflect back on your day. Think of all the good things that occurred. Perhaps a brief but meaningful exchange with a child or a friend. Maybe a great cup of coffee. When you put down your pen and paper, you might just go to sleep easier. Thatís yet something else for which to be grateful.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Best Bible Verses to Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas

Share these verses with your loved ones this holiday season.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 3:51 AM



Christmas time is here
, let us celebrate the reason for the season! As we deck the halls, brave crowded shopping malls, attend company parties, host family gatherings, prepare delicious feasts, and so much more - it becomes challenging to slow down and ponder the miracle of Christmas.  As we celebrate the holiday season, may we turn to scripture and rejoice with gratitude for the greatest gift ever given.

Every birth is a miracle, and every child is a gift from God. But nearly 20 centuries ago, the miracle of miracles occurred. A baby was born, but He was the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

An Angel Appears to Joseph in a Dream

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to expose her to public disgrace, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded Him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and He called His name Jesus.


“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the King, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”
– Matthew 2:1-2

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” – Matthew 2:10

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

The Love of The Father

The entire gospel comes to focus in these next few verses. Here, God sets the pattern of true love. God's love is not static or self-centered; God's love is self-sacrificing and freely given. When we submit to God, we recognize the insufficiency of our own efforts to find salvation and let God work through us by asking Him to do His will. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." – John 3:16-20

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent me." – John 8:42

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– Romans 6:23

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." – Titus 3:4-5


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A Season of Giving

"In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive." – Acts 20:35

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." –Proverbs 11:25

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." – James 1:17





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Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Time of Thanksgiving

Grateful hearts today and everyday.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Today is Thanksgiving Day, the 331st day of 2019. It is the national holiday where individuals reflect and recognize the many blessings they've seen throughout the year. Families gather and enjoy prepared meals, give thanks, and spend treasured time together. There is good in all of our days. If we pause and take notice, we can immediately list so much good!

Let's begin with the gift of time we have with our families, with our friends. Our relationships are the treasures in life's journey. The experiences we have are priceless, and they will create the memories that tell our story for generations to come.

In society we have different ideals, we have a variety of values. However, I like to think that most individuals know instinctively what is important in life, what matters most. Our faith is monumental. It is our motivation, our inspiration, our strength, and where gratitude comes to life.

At this time of Thanksgiving, let us recognize and be thankful for the men and women in our Armed Forces, who leave the comfort of home and family to serve and protect our country. Let us be thankful for our men and women in Blue, yes Blue Lives do Matter. Our first responders, are selfless and sacrifice to serve and protect our towns, cities, and states.

Let each of us recognize the underserved populations. Individuals with disabilities, the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill, the single parents who work tirelessly and still struggle to feed their children. Also, our elected officials and leaders of our communities, educators, our rescue personnel, doctors and nurses, and others who serve us in countless ways. It may be in the drive-thru window, the grocery or department store checkout, the list is long and the list is valuable.

Let us always remember, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but throughout the year to give and always promote thankfulness. Our lives will be fuller and stronger, and we will be kinder and happier. The good in our days will be shared with all we encounter.

Let us be encouraged with Scripture on why we should give thanks and how to express our gratitude.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

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 4:6-7 

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.  Psalm 28:7

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Monday, July 15, 2019

7 Prayers For Our President

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 9:01 PM

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Praying for those in authority is a Biblical command. Together as faithful servants of Christ we must pray for God’s wisdom and His righteousness to be evident in our nation’s policies and leaders. We must pray for our leaders wisdom and well-being. Prayer changes things.

President Trump believes in the power of prayer.


1) Pray for an awareness that he is in office by God’s allowance, and that he therefore holds a sacred responsibility. (Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1)

2) Pray that our President’s family life would be strong, protected from the stresses and temptations he faces daily. (James 1:22; Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 6:4)

3) Ask God to move our President’s heart to make God-honoring decisions wholly based on His truth, particularly in the areas of abortion, marriage and the protection of religious liberty. (Proverbs 3:5-6; I Corinthians 10:31; Joshua 1:8)

4) Pray that our President seeks for God’s Glory to be made known in our country. Our hope is in the Lord, may His light shine through. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7; Psalm 96:3; Romans 8:31; Psalm 46:1-3; Deuteronomy 31:6)

5) Ask that our President would be surrounded by wise, God-fearing counselors. (Proverbs 11:14 ; Proverbs 20:18)

6) Pray that in all things, personal and official, our President would hate what is evil and forever cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

7) Ask that God would prompt more of His people to honor President Trump and to pray for him. (I Peter 2:17; I Timothy 2:1-2)

Pray for our leaders.

All need our prayers — even if they are not the candidates we voted for.


Father, together we pray for our nations leaders to find Your peace and direction, and for these men and women to act and lead according to Your Word. A house divided within cannot stand, therefore, I pray for them to be unified in righteousness for the sake of our nation.

Prayer is our greatest weapon in a world that seems to be coming apart around us. Together we pray to let the wounds of separation and division be healed by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides and reaffirm this country to live as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

5 Things You Should Say to Your Child Everyday

Posted By on Sun, Jul 7, 2019 at 10:00 AM

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In Motherhood we find ourselves always seeking to be bigger than life in ways that nurture, guide, inspire and motivate our precious children. We ourselves are empowered by the infinite love and unequivocal joy that our children evoke, simply by their reciprocating love.

The rhetorical saying – “The Power of Love” is immeasurable. Knowing how love should look and feel is what will honor motherhood. Seeking to have the wisdom and patience that lends to understanding, forgiveness, healing and growing, will form the fabric our children are made of. It will teach our children lessons in life that matter most. As we establish a learning perspective and that life is a “gift of time” that we should embrace and celebrate together, we build and strengthen our bonds. Consider these five things to say to your child/children each day:


1. You are smart!

2. You make me happy!

3. I believe in you!

4. I am proud of you!

5. I love you!


Modeling a positive attitude is not natural for all mothers. It is essential however for managing the delivery of what life oftentimes brings. Prioritizing promotes importance to the order of each day. Embracing humility gives perspective and ensures that you recognize individuals in meaningful ways. Modeling kindness serves to uplift others we encounter in our daily schedules. Encouraging thankfulness is recompense for the good we are blessed with in every day. Our motherhood should highlight faith, truth, optimism and perseverance. We know that life evokes challenges of many kinds, best practices of these values will strengthen our child’s/children’s moral code and their ability to cope well. Having expectations and assuring the support our children need to grow and learn are strengthened through our prayers and cheers for them in life. Join me and promote motherhood with honor and duty, highlighting the wisdom and responsibilities that we have been entrusted with and define who we are along our journey.

1 Corinthians 16:14 –“Let all that you do be done in LOVE.”

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