Nine times out of ten when our friend suffers, we ache to our core.
In response to that burden, we search for ways to alleviate their pain, to give them comfort.
I faced that kind of scenario recently.
My friend, Eliza Downer—a worn-out warrior battling for joy and strength amid the weariness that comes from chronic illness—was about to restart “one hundred days of thankfulness” and extended the invitation to join her.
That same day, I had whispered a prayer about discovering a way to be a good, supportive friend to Eliza like she’d been to me.
After learning about her gratitude project, God gave me the idea to use a hashtag #100daysofthankfulnesswitheliz
Eliza loved the idea. When she used the phrase thankfulness movement, I knew we were on the verge of something kind of big. “Eliza’s Thankfulness Movement” was born.
Less than a month in, and there are well over one hundred fifty posts under the hashtag.
“Live Thankfully” T-shirt Fundraiser
In addition to the hashtag, we’ve created a t-shirt fundraiser for Eliza’s favorite ministry, Joni and Friends.
An Interview with Eliza
Never heard of Joni and Friends? Don’t worry! You can get all “filled in” because I had the privilege of interviewing Eliza about her life, love of this ministry, and why she loves to give thanks:
1. Why are you passionate about Joni and Friends? What makes it your favorite ministry?
There are multiple reasons behind my passion for Joni and Friends. Firstly, they do everything with integrity and in a Christlike manner. I have personally been involved with their ministry at many different levels. I have seen them spread the gospel, wash the feet of the unloved, and provide the necessities for everyday life to the disabled community. From my experience, the disabled community is often the most forgotten and overlooked community in the world. Joni and Friends have taken large steps to address and providing for this large, unreached, minority group.
2. What inspired you to begin 100 days of thankfulness the first time?
The Bible frequently mentions the importance of thankfulness. I, at times, struggle to keep a thankful heart within the context of my life and struggles and wanted to practically battle my unthankfulness. Hence the 100 days of thankfulness was born. It was to be a time set apart, to seek God and to grow in giving thanks.
3. Who are your top two favorite authors and why?
Growing up, I could often be found, curled up on the couch reading any book that I could get my hands on. During that time in my life, C.S. Lewis and Chuck Black were some of my favorite authors. Their skill with words and the ability to present the truth in a fascinating way greatly impacted my understanding of God’s love. I still admire their writings and their skill as authors.
4. How many times have you been to China?
I have been to China twice. When I was fifteen, I traveled with my parents to China where we picked up two of my adopted siblings. I also traveled to China last summer. While I was there, I worked in an orphanage and helped to teach a group of the orphans. I am currently preparing to return to that orphanage next year and plan to live in China for three-four months.
5. As you’ve faced a chronic illness involving many surgeries and using a wheelchair, what’s sustained your soul? What truth have you learned in the heat of battle that is such a part of you know, you’ll never forget it?
The truth of God’s Word is the one thing that has sustained my soul. In the early stages of my illness, I struggled to believe that God was good and that He cared about what I was going through. Yet, with time, I began to trust my good Father and saw that He truly is good. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ” (James 1:17)
6. Are there any words you’d like to share with us about why we should participate in your thankfulness movement, #100daysofthankfulnesswitheliz
I have been extremely blessed to see how this movement has grown already. I truly believe that this movement holds to potential to give you a new perspective on your everyday life. Sometimes, something as simple as stopping to admire a flower or to enjoy a child’s laugh can give you a new appreciation of the gifts we have been given and of the life we live.
Ways to become involved:
- Make a commitment to doing one hundred days of thankfulness yourself—privately on your own or publicly on social media. Perhaps a mix of both? Just take one picture of something you’re thankful for and use the hashtag (#100daysofthankfulnesswitheli
za) and you’ll be good to go
Spread the word in your community. Maybe you can explore the option of letting this become a youth group or Sunday school project. Or something you do with your friends. We have some flyers you can print out and pass around—see website link below for resources.
Follow on social media:
Grateful for each team member on TheReb who are willing to take a stand with Eliza and offer up fragrant thanks to God for everything he has done and is doing for us!