Romans 1:21

October 27, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve been taking my gratitude journal very seriously these past months. I may not write in it every single day, but it’s always out, always at hand so I can sit down to record in black and white the gifts God bestows on me. I number the things I’m saying thank you to God for too. I’m in the four thousands now, and I know that this spiritual practice is something I will do until I die, or until for some reason, I’m no longer able.

A dear friend asked me recently if I ever gave thanks for something twice and I said yes! I’m sure there are duplicates in amongst the four thousand gifts, because a chickadee at my window feeder doesn’t thrill me once, it thrills me again and again. And if my husband has a calm day in September and I thank God for that, I’m certainly going to thank Him again in October for another good day.

Being thankful for one thing
can lead to gratitude about other things.

A simple example is the way color affects me. I might be sitting in my bedroom chair with my feet up on the ottoman, wrapped in the prayer shawl Sharon dyed and knitted for me, and I might have my gratitude journal open on my lap. I might be sitting there quietly, pondering the ways God has blessed me in that moment, and my eyes might fall on one of my favorite pillows, a decorative, deep cardinal red pillow I sometimes put on my bed when I actually make it. That deep red arrests my eyes and I stare, so happy to see such a color. I might write down in my journal, 3941) thank you for the deep, gorgeous red on that pillow.

And then another thank you comes from that: 3942) You have given me sight today, Lord. Thank you.

And then the very basic senses might come to mind and from the gift of sight I think of the gift of the sense of smell, which I lost years ago and was told by an ENT physician would most certainly never come back, and I might write 3943) thank you that I can smell Lord! Thank you for restoring that to me!

And then the next one comes easily and I might write 3944) the smell of Miriam’s head, Lord! Oh you’ve outdone yourself there! Thank you. Deep, tearful thank you.

And after I ponder the smell of Miriam’s head for a while and think about what a lavish gift she is, I might think about how much her siblings love her already, how she has smiled little smiles for her family, how God has a plan for her precious life already, and so on.

Can you see what I mean by thanks begetting thanks? I sit and I write them down, one after the other, and I believe that each one is from God’s hand, given to me that day, because He loves me and is watching over me. (see James 1:17).

These Chinese lanterns are part of a fall arrangement Sara did in a dark blue Le Creuset pitcher that sits on our dining room table. I look at them every day and give thanks for their bright, unique beauty, and that God lets me see them.


Now, I believe the opposite is true as well. Ingratitude breeds more ingratitude. I have lived this also. And it’s not like I’ve got this thanksgiving thing all nailed down. Life still stuns me with its one-after-the-other hardships and tragedies. There are many times when yet another truly desperate thing seems to be added to my plate and my first inward response is a doubting, cynical, “Really? Seriously? This too? A very ill and increasingly demented husband isn’t enough? X, Y and Z isn’t enough sorrow?” I am sorry to say I have such snarky attitudes but I do. Maybe it’s for that very thing that I am so committed to the spiritual discipline of recording things for which to be grateful. Because I’m often truly blind to God and His ways, and need new lenses put on the eyes of my heart every single day.

And here is a sobering truth and an effective motivation for directing your heart and mind to be grateful every day:

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  

The twenty-first verse in the first chapter of Romans tells me what can happen to a person who knows the Lord, but refuses to give Him thanks:

They would become futile in their thinking, and their foolish heart would be darkened.

Shall I add futile thinking and a darkened heart to my life right now? No. I will not do that.

More than the strong warning in Romans 1:21, though, is a desire I have to bring some happiness or joy to the Lord. I have certainly caused Him some disappointment with the way I’ve lived the life He’s given me. I want to bring a smile to His beautiful face. What in the world can we give the One who made and owns everything? We can’t give him a bouquet of flowers or a new puppy or a treasure of gold and jewels, because those are already His.

But we can give Him something that would bring Him pleasure that not many people are willing to do, and that is our hearts of gratitude, pouring out thanks to Him for all He does for us and gives to us each day.

Is it sometimes a difficult thing to record little blessings when huge catastrophes are all around us? Without a doubt. But we can still do it. And it makes a huge difference in our lives. And I believe it matters to God and blesses Him.

I’m also thankful for a little spot on the web to share my thoughts, struggles, dreams and joys, thankful that a few readers take time in their day to stop in and read, thankful for so many of you who have extended the beautiful hand of friendship to me and have prayed for my family.

May God bless your day with a hundred things to record in your gratitude journal,


  1. Roberta Desalle says:

    And I am grateful for you, Julie, because you share your faith-filled mind and heart with as many as can hear you. I especially value how you remember to place God first, in every circumstance, rather than losing yourself in the details. I want to be as mindful as you when it comes to my awareness of God’s presence and the many, many gifts God gives each and all of us.

  2. Just Julie says:

    4597) Roberta D. and her many words of encouragement to me. God bless her, Lord! xoxo

  3. Mariah Ford says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s just what I needed at this moment. My emotions have been on the edge today. I blame menopause, or I blame too much sugar consumption, or I blame this or that or the other outward circumstance, but truthfully, giving over to those emotions is always a choice that is within my control! I thank you for the nudge back into the direction of gratitude…the right direction! Yes, Roberta Desalle, I too, hope to be as mindful and aware of God’s presence and His hand over our lives.

  4. Kay in Cornwall says:

    God bless you Julie. And you too, Mariah Ford, because your comment is almost word for word my experience at the moment. Things seem to be crashing in on us right now, but I KNOW that God is in charge and loves us so much and for these blessings I am so truly grateful. Even as I think about all the ‘little foxes’ in our lives, I am very (physically) aware of one of the wonderful blessings we’ve had this year – our dear little Archie is cuddling on my lap as I type this comment! Alan and I are so happy with this cute little dog and Archie makes us smile many times during the day. Thank you Lord for the wonders of your creation. xxoo

  5. Jeremy says:

    Thank you for this encouragement. For me this is really excellent to read right now (for reasons other than menopause) and I hope you will continue to write to us faithfully as you are pursued by Him.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Dear Mariah, Kay and Jeremy…. thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am so happy to see you all here. 🙂 xoxo

  7. Pat says:

    This might be one of my all time favorite posts of yours! We have so much to be thankful for and I can never be reminded of that too often! Thank you, Julie, for these words of truth. They sure made a difference in my day.

  8. Pat says:

    One more thing- what an incredibly stunning photo that is – amazing!

  9. Nancy says:

    365 days a year. We must have at least that number of things to be grateful to God for. Thank you for the reminder. A gratitude journal is a wonderful way to remember how many things we are thankful for.

  10. Just Julie says:

    Hi Pat and Nancy… thank you for your comments. I need the reminder probably more than anyone, which is why I harp to myself on this subject. 🙂 xoxo

  11. Dorothy Sooter says:

    Thank you Julie for a wonderful post. You always seem to know what we all need to hear. My desire to be with my daughter-in law today as I
    was yesterday after her surgery, was interrupted with my own health issues which had me in the hospital four days last week. I know everything happens for a reason and always seem to forget that we all have to heal. God bless each and everyone in your family.

  12. Just Julie says:

    Oh no Dorothy…I hope you didn’t miss your birthday party?! I pray you and your daughter in law (which one was it?) are healing… xoxo

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