For several years now, I have kept a Blessing Book by the bed to write down things I’m thankful for. Some of my friends post something they are thankful for on FaceBook every day in November. Many Americans will share something they are thankful for around the table today before diving into their turkey dinner. (I understand the pilgrims probably ate venison, not turkey, that first Thanksgiving; if they ate pumpkin, it was a vegetable, not pie (sigh); and the Indians were probably there because they often hung around their strange new neighbors, especially when there was food involved, not because the pilgrims were gracious enough to see beyond cultural differences and thank them for their help in getting through the previous winter. Sigh. Have we learned anything in three hundred and fifty years?)
Several years ago I started the practice of writing down something I’m thankful for every day. It has to be something specific to the past twenty-four hours. I don’t allow myself to repeat the generic friends, family and food. Which friend and why? What about my family? Or what food brought me special pleasure today that I want to thank God for?
I emptied my change into the bell-ringer’s kettle—a practice my daughter taught me. As I crossed the parking lot, a little girl of seven or eight came skipping past, clinging to her mother with one hand. In the other a dollar bill fluttered. “I just love doing this,” she said as she headed for the kettle. I smiled to think that her parents are teaching her the joy of giving. (Hopefully that and not that a dollar bill is enough to make you feel good.)
I don’t usually go for coffee table books. My coffee table is for practical things like my tea mug and the book I am currently reading. I don’t believe in dusting around decorations. But when I attended the Zondervan reception at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing (ages ago, it seems, before I became a grandmother again), I was given a copy of their new release, Selections from One Thousand Gifts; Finding Joy in What Really Matters.
I have the habit of writing down something everyday that I am thankful for--a person God has put in my life, an event in which I see his hand (or maybe don't yet see it but want to), a special gift or an answer to prayer. Psalm 50 verse 23 (NIV) says, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." The practice of giving thanks makes me better able to see what God is doing.
Sharon Mangas, an old friend and emerging writer, recently e-mailed, asking for stories about giving thanks for the difficulties of life. Her article was intended for the Columbus, Indiana, Republic's Community Comment section, but got displaced by other news. It may be published there at some future date, but I liked it so much I wanted to feature it here. Thank you, Sharon, for this reminder.
A few thousand years ago the prophet Moses warned his people, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, …But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:10-11a, 18)
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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