thanksgiving

Why Be Grateful?

I can appreciate that you might think it’s a stupid question to ask, “Why be grateful?”. Obviously, we’re in Thanksgiving week, so it’s season to be thankful and it’s our annual tradition. So Thanksgiving is when we’re supposed to be thankful and it’s easy to go through the customary gratitudes and “check the box” moving along into the Christmas frenzy. But I think we would be wise to pause and do some thinking about being grateful, not just because it’s Thanksgiving.

Why do we need to be thankful?

In one of my all-time favorite books, Man’s Search for Meaning, the author tells about one of his experiences in the Holocaust, in a Concentration Camp. Clearly, life in a Concentration Camp was nothing short of an hellacious existence that was inhumane and depraved beyond even animal existence. But in the midst of such depravity, death, deprivation and sheer degeneracy, the author describes an experience where a fellow inmate beckoned his bunkmates to come outside at the end of a torturous day to see the beautiful sky from a glorious sunset. There was gratitude in the author’s mind in this observation, no matter his daily hell. Every time I read this experience, it causes me to pause and reflect. It’s possible to be grateful even in the most barbaric existence.

Furthermore, I’m reminded about the ten lepers Jesus cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. In these verses, we see that this small and tragic community yelled to Jesus from a distance, asking that He’d heal them. These men weren’t allowed to mingle with regular society because leprosy was contagious and incurable at that time, hence the distance. Jesus yelled back to them, that they should go and show themselves to the priests and as they went they were cleansed, according to verse 14. This is a really cool story, even if we stop there. But we see the real gold when one of the ten lepers returns to Jesus and expresses his gratitude. It’s noteworthy that the only healed leper to express thanks was a Samaritan, the group who was looked down on by proper Jews. And Jesus’ reply shows us that He’s disappointed that the other nine lepers didn’t return be express gratitude. Based on Jesus’ response, I understand that God expects me to be grateful, full stop.

So what would hinder us from being grateful? Here are some gratitude obstacles that could be hindrances for you:

  • What I deserve: if you think you’re entitled, then gratitude is often overlooked
  • Negative outlook: if your glass is half full, then you’ll struggle to find things for which to be grateful
  • Too much: when we’re overwhelmed with pressure, demands, abundance, leisure, . . . it’s easy to forget to be grateful
  • Life season: we can grow through really tough seasons when it’s easy and natural to forget to be thankful

So how can we avoid these pitfalls and cultivate gratitude as a lifestyle and not just a season? Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful:

  • Make a “Thankful List” everyday with at least 3-5 different things from the preceding day
  • Real-time gratitude: say thank you when people do something nice (even if they can’t hear you) and thank you to God for the daily helps (avoiding a traffic accident, scheduling help, wisdom for a problem, unexpected money or a decrease in a bill, transportation to work, encouragement from a friend, an energy boost when you’re tired, grace in a tense situation, . . . .)
  • Seeing and hearing beauty around you in people, birds, trees, worship songs, Bible verse, clouds, snow, sunset, tasty food, . . . .
  • Thank people for who they are and not just what they do ☺

To that end, I have a great friend who frequently reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough! Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Abundance Factor

Little tweaks can make big impacts & I see evidence of this in lots of ways.  For example, I have a friend who regularly reminds me that gratitude makes everything enough.  She uses everyday examples of how she’s thankful & the impact this attitude makes on her thinking, conversations & decisions.  And she doesn’t just do this at Thanksgiving!

The same can also be true for a little tweak with treats we enjoy!  During this holiday season, I’m doing a #hungerstrike campaign with Saving Moses, asking everyone to forego one treat / indulgence & send that money to Saving Moses to help us feed a malnourished baby. A candy bar in America, or a pumpkin spice latte, or the extra pair of shoes that we forego, could make the difference between life and death for a baby in our malnourishment clinics.

Let’s remember that abundance can be a direct result of gratitude!

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Appetite Driven Consumption

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, there’s a good chance that you & I will be eating some tasty food, along with second’s & possibly third’s. It’s also likely that you’ll skip some food that’s not in your favorite list. For me, I’ll take a pass on the cranberry relish but maybe double up on my mom’s chorizo stuffing 🙂
With the quantity of food that’s available tomorrow, let’s consider that our flesh appetites, left unchecked, can be highly destructive.  As we are being thankful in this season, let’s also remember to cultivate or appetite for spiritual food, like daily Bible & prayer time!

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Too Much Gratitude

I don’t like cinnamon & this is only a recent development. Maybe I  don’t like cinnamon because at this time year, everything seems to have cinnamon: coffee, ice cream, apple cider, pies, smoothies, etc.
So it’s possible to overdose cinnamon, but I  don’t think it’s possible to overdo gratitude. Maybe we should think in terms of spreading thanksgiving throughout the year & not only a seasonal overdose. Feel free to leave a comment to express something or someone for which you’re grateful!

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What Do You Think?

I seriously want your feedback!!  Every Christmas season, I do a blog series about looking for Jesus & I post goofy pictures of baby Jesus in various settings, to reinforce the reminder to look for Jesus in the busy-ness of the Holidays.

So where would you like to see Jesus in the upcoming Holidays?  Please give me your suggestions in the comments below, on FB, twitter, etc.  Last year, I took Jesus to the ICU at a local hospital, He drove with me in my car (Jesus take the wheel), I perched Him on a park bench & did lots of other creative things.  So what would you suggest for me to do this year, in the theme of looking for Jesus?

Thanks LOADS for your input / help!!

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Let’s Practice

Since we are really close to Halloween, that means that Thanksgiving is fast approaching. So let’s get an early jump on being thankful. By starting to practice gratitude now, we’ll be certain to have maximum proficiency by the time Thanksgiving lands. Another benefit to practicing gratitude now is that we increase our chances of creating a lifestyle of thanksgiving rather than the seasonal experience. Finally, the Bible tells us to be thankful, not only for the obvious & good stuff, but also for things that are difficult. Let’s be sure to practice Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

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Micro & Massive Miracles

I’m so very happy that God does all sizes of miracles! The massive miracles, like healing from cancer or supernaturally providing a job or the forgiveness of a debt or the reconciliation of a long broken relationship. These kinds of massive miracles along with others seem to catch our attention & easily welcome our gratitude.
Let’s be mindful, as well, that the micro miracles are also magnificent! Let’s celebrate those times when the Holy Spirit gives us the self control to not shoot off our mouth. Perhaps you had a small miracle when your schedule went better than you planned. Or maybe it was miraculous that you bumped into someone coincidentally & it turned out to be a divine appointment.
Let’s be committed to give God praise for the micro & massive miracles that happen throughout each day!

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Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

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Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

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What Do You Like?

We are well into April & I was thinking this morning about things I like & stuff for which I’m grateful. It’s important to be grateful because this is how we enter God’s presence, according to Ps 100:4. So let’s practice being thankful together 🙂
Here are some things for which I’m thankful:

active children, clean water, phenomenal friends, a supportive husband, a drivable car and more than anything, God’s love for me. 

Your turn:

  • What is something good that has happened today?
  • Think of something nice someone has said to you in the last week
  • What is something better this year in comparison to last year?
  • What is something wonderfully unique about you – a talent or ability?

Let’s be grateful in April & not just at Thanksgiving 🙂

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