By Stephanie Parker

I took my kids to the aquarium the other day and afterwards I let them each pick out a little something from the gift shop. They were so excited and showered me with all kind of praise and adoration. “I love you” and “you’re the best Mommy ever” bursted forth with such sincerity and enthusiasm that you would have thought they won the lottery! As much as I enjoyed hearing those sweet words, they pale in comparison to the “I love you’s” that I get that are unprompted by gifts. The ones that come when you least expect them and for no reason at all. Those are the “I love you’s,” I cherish most.

The other night, I had to discipline my daughter for a bad choice she made. As I was disciplining her, I reminded her that I love her. In her seven year old wisdom, she said to me, “Mommy thank you for telling me you love me even when you’re mad at me. I love you too Mommy and I’m sorry.” That “I love you” meant more to me than 100 “I love you’s” that had come in response to gifts I’d given.

Can you imagine how our Heavenly father must rejoice when he hears an “I love you” that has NOTHING to do with the blessings he graciously gives us? I’m sure he loves our appreciation, but how much more must his heart swell when the “I love you” comes for no reason at all. Just because. OR, when it comes in the midst of hardship, trial or discipline.

Today I challenged myself to write a psalm of thanks and praise that had nothing to do with “what God has done for me lately.” (you can find it at the end of this post) I challenge you to do the same!

As I read the Psalms today, it dawned on me one of the reasons why David was considered a “man after God’s own heart.” David’s “I love you’s” came in the middle of his despair, his darkest hour, or in the midst of being disciplined by God for sins he had committed. Some Bible scholars have speculated that David may have struggled with depression because of some of the desperation found in the Psalms. Regardless, he chose to say “I love you,” when his circumstances should have generated every response BUT “I love you.” When he lost his child, when enemies were chasing him on all sides seeking to end his life, when his own son had taken his throne by force, when he was thirsty and starving and living in a cave, THAT is when he chose to praise God.

Here are just a few of literally HUNDREDS of examples in the Psalms of this:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” -Psalm 42: 5-6,11

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
BUT I have trusted in your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me.” –Psalm 13: 1-2, 5-6

David resolved to seek, trust, obey, praise, glorify, rejoice in and LOVE God, even when the cards weren’t dealt in his favor.

Wherever you are in life right now, I challenge you sing your praises to God regardless of your circumstances, gifts or blessings (or lack thereof). Here’s my psalm… what’s yours?

Oh my God, how you have pursued me,
when I was busy pursuing everything BUT you.
Your love is tenacious in its pursuit of me.
Thank you for never giving up,
even when I had given up on you.
When my own sins burned a fire in my heart
You whispered, “It is finished.”
Your grace and mercy carried me to freedom.
When my own selfishness blinded me,
you gave your selfless love in abundance so that I could see.
Your discipline and your rebuke saved me from myself
I praise you for the trials, for the pain,
because through them, I’ve come to truly know and love you…
a God who comforts and heals a broken heart,
a God who tears away the sins and idols,
and makes a captive, free.
Now I know that your words are the path of life,
and I will seek them until I meet you in eternity one day.
Your wisdom and understanding are worth more than any material blessing you could give.
Thank you for sharing some of that wisdom with me
so that I may use it to bring glory and honor to your perfect, holy name!
I love you God, for all that you are.

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Stephanie Parker has three main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids!  When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business.  She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need.   Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development.  After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends.  Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family!  You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.