Category Archives: Thanksgiving

In Everything Give Thanks

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I have a started a half dozen different posts in recent weeks and months that I can’t seem to complete for the simple reason that I can’t seem to express properly how much I am changed. A new woman. Never able to be 100% the same girl I used to be.

And I am grateful to the point of tears that God in His mercy renews us. Renews me. At some point in every day, He uses little things to remind me when I need a shift in perspective, but He loves us too much to only use the little things.

I am one who holds on tightly to the little things. I have spent years applauding anything and anyone who shined a light on the importance of people, moments, and things that don’t seem significant. This will always be a part of who I am, and I don’t want to completely rid myself of this mindset because it truly is the little things that make all the difference in the world.

Those five minutes extra I spend with my kids at bed time, sending that text to say hello to a friend, sharing an evening watching TV with my husband, a hug, a funny video, a clean sink – the little things are things to intentionally keep a part of our lives because they work together to complete our purpose on this earth.

But what about the big things?

They don’t come every day or even every year, but they will come. I’m not referring to the happy kind of big things. I’m talking about the daunting, overwhelming, oppressive, stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of big things. A devastating illness, death, a broken relationship – you’ve already filled in the blank if you’ve faced your big thing.

The truth is, big things will change you. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that they won’t. Anytime you lose the ability to live your life in the same way you were accustomed, something has to change.

The big things make you realize how many happy little things you took for granted before. The big things make you see the little habits that you’ve held onto that you should have purged long ago. The big things tempt you to take on one little negative thought and let your mind run with it until you have a million lies taking you captive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that God’s will for me is to give thanks in everything. That means my big, ugly things as well as my mundane little things. As much as we say that it’s hard to remember to give thanks for the little things, I’m going to propose that perhaps that’s not always the case. Those big things are big. They’re hard. They hurt. They won’t go away and let you go back to the way life was before.

In Everything Give Thanks

And yet, I’m more grateful for my big things than I ever was for the culmination of all the little things I took notice of before. It’s because of my big things that I became aware of my need to change. Before my big things, I took my gratitude for the little things a bit too far and never wanted to step outside the comfy little nest I’d built for myself. When the big things forced me out of my nest, however, I saw that I needed real freedom, genuine change.

For the first time, I have an understanding of what God meant when He said His will was for me to give thanks in everything. Even when I wasn’t able to give thanks for the tough stuff, I realized that I could at least be thankful to God in the middle of the worst days. Eventually, God conquered them, and I could get a peek into why I needed to go through the experience.

So this year, I’m thankful for the many gifts God has given me. Some of them are happy little things that kept me going in while I was grappling with the big things. Others have been beasts that threatened to destroy me. The great thing is, they succeeded in obliterating parts of me that needed to change, and as a result I have been made new because of God’s beautiful grace. They worked together for my good, for my freedom.

ap·pre·ci·a·tion

(uh-pree-shee-ey-shuh-n) noun

1. gratitude, thankful recognition
2. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value
3. clear perception or recognition

(Thanks to dictionary.com for these insightful definitions.)

The fact is, there just aren’t beautiful definitions for the precious words gratitude or thankfulness. The phrase, “the act of being thankful” just doesn’t inspire me or cause me to go into a state of soul searching. What it means to be thankful or grateful, however, is something far greater than the simple definition.

In my search for prettier ways of saying thankful or grateful, I came across a word that’s just not as pretty, but its definition is incredibly deep and challenges my soul to the core. Appreciation.

My eyes continually go back to the second definition: “the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.” This defines gratitude in such a rich way. The thing is, gratitude is a choice. It does not come naturally in all circumstances. However, when I choose to assess the true value of what I have instead of looking at its face value, then I can’t help but feel so incredibly grateful for what I have.

After going through a trying season, I inevitably come out on the other side with a far deeper appreciation for all that I have because I’ve gotten a glimpse of what it would be like without it.

As I look at all the cracks in my house’s walls and the marred places in the flooring with the idea of appreciation, I see that each flaw makes up part of my home. I can appreciate my home as a whole because it is what houses my family and the memories we make together each day. Additionally, I don’t have time to stress about the crumbs or fingerprints all over everything because when I look at the value of the culprits while I’m assessing their true value, I get a clearer view of what is worthy of my attention.

I’ve been working to make my view of thankfulness be one of sincere appreciation. Doing this takes more effort than simply listing off everything like I’ve done in the past. I appreciate the deliberate focus that it requires, and I pray that I never lose sight of this target.

 

Making Thanksgiving Count

Source

Do you ever feel like a holiday just comes and goes without you even realizing it? If you could just take another couple of days to prepare yourself for what it is and what it means, you’d feel much more fulfilled when it was over rather than remorseful that you just missed all of the specialness by a smidge? That’s how I usually feel about Thanksgiving.

I love the holiday, what it means, its heritage and overall purpose, but I always seem to miss the full benefits of it by just a little bit. Oh, I’ll picture the Pilgrims and the Indians sitting around their feast. I’ll list off all of the things for which I’m grateful on that fourth Thursday of November, but then the next thing I know I’ve moved on to pulling out my Christmas lights while finishing up my Christmas shopping. I’m beginning to wonder how much more meaningful Thanksgiving would be to me if I put as much thought into preparing for it as I do for Christmas Day.

What if I spent time focusing on empathizing with the originators of the holiday? We think times are tough in the days of a recession, but come on now. Those men in the goofy hats had far more to stress about than their 401Ks. Those mamas were feeling a level of grief and exhaustion few of us ever will. Meanwhile, I scan the ads for who has the cheapest turkey and try to narrow down my favorite fall desserts to add to the menu.

So I’m making an effort to move past the busyness that assaults our stores, streets, and planners for the remainder of the year. I’ve been praying that God will give me a new perspective on Thanksgiving and gratitude as this holiday approaches, and to be honest, I’ve been enlightened in some areas I never before considered.

Check in tomorrow for part of what I’ve been learning. Be sure to subscribe by email if you’d like to hear more about my journey into this Thanksgiving. Just add your email address to the box in the top right margin.