THANKSgiving leads to experiencing the nearness of JOY in our everyday living. It is the not-so-secret secret of boundless enjoyment and satisfaction. The season of Thanksgiving offers a reminder to practice the habits that inhabit our natural responses.
Transform the mood of a conversation or a gathering by sharing your gratitude and asking others to do the same. The ardor of joy leads to irresistible cheerfulness.
Recently, I spotted a pack of cards that can be shared with friends with the theme of gratitude and joy. I love to drop an unexpected note or a card. Notes are especially welcome when they are not anticipated. If you are searching for doorways toward a more joyful (or JOY full) everyday, here are a few inspiring thoughts from these beautiful cards.
1. “The root of JOY is gratefulness.” This quote by David Steindl-Rast tempts us to pause as we contemplate the power of pursuing delight. In these last few months, feelings of confusion, disappointment and fear threaten to eliminate sight of God’s gifts. This year represents loss in so many areas. For me, the most significant casualty is the home-going of my mom. As she approached the end of her life we carried on a light conversation. In a sudden flash, I froze, memorizing the moment. I told her that I would miss her so much when she had gone to heaven. Since I had been a little girl, I had spent so much time just talking to my mom. She laughed and said, “Don’t worry. You can still be close to me when you remember all of the life we have lived together.” In the moments when I am gasping suddenly for a breath as I remember that she is really forever gone from me on this earth, I hold tight to my gratitude. I am grateful that this great woman was my mother. I am grateful that she spent time teaching me how to study the Word of God and pray. I am grateful that she was with me on my wedding day and when all five of my babies were born. I am grateful for the long goodbye of this year. My heart is full of joy when I choose gratitude.
On the days when my mind jumps to a painful place, I aim to choose gratitude for forgiveness, gratitude for the simple gifts in nature available with just an upward glance and gratitude for arms full of family that I love.
2. “There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” This truth by Ralph Blum is easily proved in practice. Jumping back to the spring of this year, it seemed that everyday we woke up to cancellations. What that true? My response required choices. What were some of the losses? With a senior in college and another one completing high school, they found all celebratory events cancelled. Yes, their senior year was officially over. They completed the last ten weeks of academic work at home. A carefully planned and anticipated mission trip cancelled just three days before the planned departure. All 600 pounds of desperately needed supplies intended for Columbia, South America. The days continued with ongoing voided plans.
I could grieve ongoing for the cancellations in my children’s senior semester. So much loss. The disappointment mounted daily. Each day brought more cancelations of life. Even church closed. In the midst of this loss, we sat as a family to think about the current situation of others around us. After identifying needs, we began to cook food and make deliveries. Notes were written. Calls were made. The thought was to see a need and meet it. Together we spoke about the gratitude we felt for our blessings. Much of our everyday is about renewing our minds. This situation required a strong redirect.
In this massive puddle of gratitude, we found such overflowing joy.
Today, if you are overwhelmed with fear, uncertainty, disappointment, hurt and sadness… grab hold of gratitude. In its grip you will find joy.
3. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Lastly, this quote by William Arthur Ward is exactly what I am thinking these days. My gratitude must be expressed. To cognitively acknowledge my blessings without acting in appreciation toward the giver is just like Ward noted. Would I wrap a present and not give it? Never! I love giving presents. Giving gratitude in a deed, in a note or in spoken word is perhaps more gratifying to the giver than the receiver. Even the more difficult to love people can be thanked for some quality you recognize. Even more magnanimous is the gesture of speaking your gratitude about a person to others in their presence or in their absence. Believe me, if you say anything about a person it will get back to them.
I am a believer in Jesus Christ and His saving work through Calvary. For this I am daily grateful. Each day offers opportunities to tell someone that I am overflowing with appreciation for the life I have in Him. One of my oldest friends, Lenny Stein, went ahead to be with Jesus this summer right after I said my earthly goodbye to my mom. In his 87 years of living, he spent 77 years sinning in the extremes (his words). When he came to Jesus at age 77, his thoughts on Jesus were surprisingly simple, yet profound. His enormous love for Christ’s forgiveness were matched by his sincere appreciation for the glories of the day to day living with Jesus. He stated that if Jesus was just for the life we live here, it would be enough. The promise of eternal life offered an unfathomable bonus. He unwrapped his deepest gratitude to the Lord with whole hearted enthusiasm as he told his story to anyone that would listen.
When I am considering God’s goodness, I love to sing praises loudly. I know I am not the only person who likes music loud! At every opportunity, I share God’s blessings. I give him credit! Daily, I sit quietly and think. I train myself to notice the small blessings of the day. While I aim to be a blessing, the goodness God showers on me is noticeable. I don’t want to miss recognizing and acknowledging these gifts.
As we immerse ourselves in this Thanksgiving season, let’s be intentional about THANKSgiving. Remember it’s the little things that are really the big things. Be the tangible giver of thanks.