Count Your Blessings (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 20.7)


If we hope to achieve our goals and realize our dreams — despite obstacles, setbacks, disappointments, and other challenges in life — we must stay encouraged. Doing so takes effort and strategy.

Winnie the Pooh (left) and Piglet, too!

We previously discussed the importance of maintaining a can-do, giant-slayer, history-maker mindset, by keeping a divine perspective and choosing to focus on the solution to the challenges we face (and not the problems): the God of the impossible (Luke 1:37) “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV) Here are some additional strategies for staying encouraged.

1.  Develop an Attitude of Gratitude.

If you’re asking yourself, “What do I have to be thankful for?” then you really need to implement this. No matter what we’re facing, no matter what’s wrong in our lives, we can at least thank God for life itself. In fact, each new morning is a gift from God. So is the sun on a warm day. And for what it’s worth, so is the rain on a chilly day! Unfortunately, people seem to find it easier to keep track of the bad stuff: what we can’t be, what we can’t do, what we don’t have. In fact, some people lie awake at night taking inventory of every deficiency, failure, slight, and unfulfilled need.

In the 1954 musical White Christmas, Bing Crosby offers some sound advice when he croons a wonderful Irving Berlin song:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,

I count my blessings instead of sheep;

And I fall asleepCounting my blessings.

When my bankroll is getting small,

I think of when I had none at all;

And I fall asleepCounting my blessings.

  • Count your blessings. Like most of the strategies we’ve discussed, counting one’s blessings — and not one’s “curses” — is a matter of choice … fueled by one’s perspective in life. But it’s a choice God wants each of us to make. The Apostle Paul writes, “…In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP) Please note the first word of Paul’s advice: IN. The apostle is not asking us to thank God FOR adverse circumstances; however, he is, in essence, asking us to remember God’s faithfulness when we find ourselves in the midst of such circumstances.
  • Be thankful for the “little things” in life. Truly appreciating, and being thankful for, the simplest pleasures of life is a practical way to develop a grateful heart. The little things (which, in truth, are actually pretty tremendous) can include: a gorgeous sunset on a quiet beach … and the eyes to see it; a robin chirping cheerfully in the backyard … and the ears to hear it; finding a good parking spot, right in front of the store … and strong legs to hoof it, when we don’t!; the cordial conversation and comforting companionship of family and good friends; not to mention food on the table, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads.

King David writes, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good He has done: He is the One who forgives all your sins, the One who heals all your diseases, the One who rescues your life from the pit, the One who crowns you with mercy and compassion….” (Psalm 103:2-4 GW) David was a giant-slayer and history-maker, a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) The Psalmist was also a creator and a dreamer, who knew adversity. But he stayed encouraged because he remained grateful for all his Lord had done — and would do in the days and years to come.

David’s advice to us for staying encouraged: Don’t forget all the wondrous things wrought by the hand of God. Besides, no one — including God — wants to be taken for granted. We should appreciate and always remember to thank Him, not just when He meets a need or blesses us with the answer to a prayer, but also for the privilege of knowing the Creator of the Universe and being able to serve Him.

And speaking of developing a grateful heart, being appreciative and thankful should extend into our earthly relationships, as well — especially in marriage. We should be mindful of the “little things” our friends and family do, which make life more enjoyable. Did mom make breakfast for you — the way she has for years? Did you thank her and tell her how much you appreciate her? Did dad fix your bike or give you money to buy candy? Did you tell him he’s the greatest?

On the flip side: Hello, men. Nothing encourages a hard working gal like a thoughtful card or an inexpensive “fun bunch” of flowersfor no special reason!  Hello, ladies! Lovingly preparing a meal featuring his favorites can help lift his spirits. Any kind of “just because” deed or blessing goes a long way toward helping others stay encouraged. And we are called to “encourage one another daily.” (Hebrew 3:13 NIV)

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed? Here’s an additional strategy that goes hand-in-hand with counting your blessings and being grateful:

2.  REFOCUS.  Whenever you find yourself getting down and mopey, especially regarding your dreams and creative pursuits, it’s time to shift gears and refocus.

  • Consider how far you’ve come, not how far you’ve still to go; what you’ve accomplished, not what you’ve yet to achieve. Above all, start focusing on what you have, not what you want. Again, count your blessings:  if you enjoy good health, have running hot water, a roof that doesn’t leak, and something good to eat, then you are indeed successful and blessed.
  • Get outdoors and enjoy God’s creation. Go for a walk in the park or on the beach. Find a nature trail. Take in a sunset (or a sunrise)! Norman Vincent Peale once stated, “A walk a day keeps the gloomies away!”
  • Change your routine! When you find yourself constantly in “fight mode” — then you’re ready for some much needed R&R. Take a break from whatever it is that you’re constantly doing or pursuing. Get out and do something fun. Give your goals a rest and go shopping. Have an ice cream cone — with sprinkles!  Curl up with a good book or magazine … and even take a nap!
Take in the scenery. Enjoy the journey.

When it comes to the pursuit of dreams and aspirations, don’t overdo it. Stop once in awhile to smell the roses! (We mean this both literally and figuratively!) Continue to pursue your dreams but make frequent stops to take in all the wonderful sights, sounds, and people you encounter along the journey! Don’t let life pass you by as one big blur! Enjoy the little things that God has created, the loving things that people do, and be grateful.

Count your blessings. And please don’t forget to thank God for all He’s done and yet to do. Develop a genuine attitude of gratitude. To quote Houston Pastor Joel Osteen, one of the greatest encouragers of our time, “The seeds of discouragement cannot take root in the soil of a grateful heart.”

“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord. All the good things I have come from You.’” (Psalm 16:2 NLV)

Click here to all the Boot Camp lessons.


LOOK UP! (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 20.6)


Last session: Creators and dreamers, staying “encouraged in the Lord” is dependent on our perspective in life. But we can choose how we view the world, circumstances, problems, and other people. We have a decision to make, between the natural and the supernatural.

“Heyyyyy! I’m down here! Don’t step on me! Don’t step on me!”

The natural response to any problem is to focus on the difficulties involved. If we choose the natural response to problems, and hence, adopt a strictly natural perspective, we’ll go through life with a “grasshopper complex” — which is precisely how Moses’ “advance party” viewed the circumstances of their “promised land.”

Part II:

Moses sent a small group of men into Canaan, to reconnoiter and get the lay of the land. When the men returned, all but two of the scouts (Joshua and Caleb) were in despair. Why? The country God had promised the Hebrews was just as the Lord had described it, a “land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 31:20 NIV) — and grapes so big that it took two men to carry a single cluster. However, the men who saw these wondrous blessings with their own eyes, also saw huge obstacles. And unfortunately, it was the obstacles they chose to focus on: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there…. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers…!” (Numbers 13:23; 32-33 NLT)

Giants? Okay, that is an obstacle. But life, as well as the pursuit of every dream and creative endeavor, has its share of obstacles. When we continually focus on these obstacles, we eventually acquire a negative, pessimistic mindset. We get a victim mentality, a fatalistic attitude, and then we really start focusing on — and magnifying — every problem that comes our way. Suddenly every little difficulty, every little challenge seems way too big to cope with.

So, do we look down and dwell on the negative? Do we allow the problems and pitfalls of life to keep us from pursuing and receiving God’s blessings? Or do we look up, to the our Father in Heaven, who has made us “more than conquerors”? (Romans 8:37 NIV)

“Looking up” is the supernatural response to life’s problems and challenges. When we do, we begin to see ourselves as God sees us: as overcomers and achievers, who stay encouraged because we remain full of Love, Hope, and Faith. “…If we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death … despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37 NLT)

“Oh man, this is really high! Look up, look up — don’t look down!”

When we focus on God’s infinite love, mercy, and faithfulness, and His abilities and resources, we get a victor mentality: an optimistic, courageous, “I-can-do-all-things-though-Christ” mindset. In fact, we’ll actually begin to look for and welcome challenges, the way Caleb did! Remember Caleb? He was one of the two scouts who returned with a POSITIVE report: “Giants? Yeah, but we can take ’em down!”

Caleb chose to focus on God’s power and promises — not on the perils and problems — and as a result, he was still slaying giants well into his 80s! Read his testimony: “I was forty years old when Moses … sent me … to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God. …Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me … and I can still … fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found [giants] living there in great, walled towns. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out … just as the LORD said.” (Joshua 14:7-12 NLT)

Clearly, Caleb was looking up, to the power and promises of God, and not down at his problems. What’s your focus today? Are you magnifying your difficulties? Or are you magnifying the miracle-working God of the impossible? We hope it’s the latter: the supernatural choice of giant-slayers and history-makers. He is the solution to every problem, the answer to every challenge, the provider of every need — “the God who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT) — including our most cherished dreams and aspirations!

Fellow creators and dreamers, adjust your focus and get a divine perspective on life. Read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. Quote it and claim its promises. And LOOK UP!

“I look up toward the mountains. Where can I find help? My help comes from the Lord…. He will not let you fall. Your guardian will not fall asleep. Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps.” (Psalm 121:1-4 GW)

Click here to all the Boot Camp lessons.