Research in the psychology of gratitude has found that being thankful has multiple benefits. One study found, people who practiced gratitude felt 25% happier; they felt more optimistic and better about their lives. Gratefulness inspires pro-social reciprocity; it is a form of love. “Gratitude is effective in increasing well-being as it builds psychological, social, and spiritual resources.” ¹ Gratitude In Action
Gratitude that translates into spiritual actions can actually change your brain. Leading Neuroscientists have studied changes that take place in people’s brains when they are having religious or spiritual experiences. They have concluded that active, positive spiritual beliefs and habits change the human brain for the better. ² In other words, God is good for you! One of the recommended ways of letting God change your brain is to develop a positive spiritual practice that expresses God’s love to humanity.
“God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them…we love because God first loved us.”- 1 John 4:16, 19
Several years ago I made a mission trip with my husband and a small group of Christians to an orphanage of children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. ³ Spending time with the kids from Lily of the Valley Children’s Village, loving them and receiving their love profoundly changed me. Despite the unspeakable sorrow most of them had to endure in their short, young lives, they were filled with joy.
During our visit, I had the opportunity to sing in a local talent show that was organized by the Heintz family, a family from our local church who were living and serving as missionaries at the orphanage. The youngest, Anika Heintz, the little blonde girl behind me in this photo, (left) ministered to the younger orphans with her two sisters, Siena and Nina.
It was a very eclectic group of talent presented that day. Tim Heintz played the keyboard and an array of local singing and dancing groups dazzled us.
The Heintz family opened their hearts to the local people in a very big way by building the amphitheater and giving the people of Mophela the opportunity to perform and gather together in celebration. Far too often, funerals for friends or relatives who died from the ravages of AIDS, were the occasions they got together.
After the talent show everyone was fed. Gigantic pots of stews were prepared. The food that was offered was also a very big attraction for most of the locals.
One of the other highlights of our trip was giving away Croc shoes we brought with us. Siena and Nina helped distribute the gifts, along with my husband, Steven, a Board member of the Lily of the Valley AIDS Foundation. There were enough for every child to have a pair.
Over 100 pairs of shoes were given away. It was a rainy afternoon; our heads were wet and our feet were caked with mud, but inside, the smiles of gratitude on the children’s faces were like sunshine.
The health care workers who volunteered at the orphanage entertained the children with face painting. It made for a very festive day!
The Heintz sisters are now young ladies. They continued to take time from their busy schedules to do good works in the mission field here at home, and abroad. Two of them just completed a mission trip to Nicaragua with their parents, Tim and Sharon.
Each person’s idea of God and showing gratitude can be hugely different. I think our understanding about God is very important because it shapes our lives.
My Nephew, Chris, shares his big heart!
Today, there is a great new generation of young people rising up to express God’s love. My nephew, Chris Kuz, just returned home from his second mission trip to Guatemala. He has a big heart for the children there. My daughter, Lindsay chose to go to Costa Rica to serve.
I am proud of my daughter and all my nieces and nephews who show gratitude from their heart, for what God has given them, in their own special way.
Life has beauty and purpose when it flows from gratitude for God’s majesty, mercy and love.
Not only is God good for you, I believe God is perfect goodness, perfect love, holiness and truth and He wants us to be with Him forever.
How can anyone dare to hope of ever being with such a perfect, holy God? The bible tells us, “there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus”.  I know this at the core of my being.
The God of this magnificent universe loves and cares about this world, and me, so much that He came to earth as the Son of Man to die for us so we could spend a glorious eternity with Him. He took the guilt and shame of mankind’s sin and paid the price we could not pay.
There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve His amazing grace but you will want to do something to show your gratitude. That’s where the living starts and the journey gets rewarding. When we apply our gifts and talents in Christ’s name, joy overflows, grace empowers and faith proves itself in selfless service.
At the foot of the cross, lasting legacies of love are created, beyond our wildest dreams.
From my heart to yours, Linda Eichberg
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13
3) Lily of the Valley Children’s Village – http://www.lilyofthevalley.org.za/ & http://www.LilyValleyusa.org
4) 1 Timothy 2:5
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