"There is always, always, always something to be thankful for..." The sign cost me twenty bucks. I bought it at an after season clearance sale. It was intended to be hung during November. I decided that gratitude was in season year round. I hung it in our entryway and prayed that the sentiment would grace my heart and mind as well.
My husband and I just got home from a week long California Coast Cruise. We sailed on the Ruby Princess (cue the Love Boat theme song) and felt like royalty all week. It was our ten year wedding anniversary celebration and a much needed get away to reconnect and relax. We ate lobster, cactus, fresh pineapple, prime rib, cheese cake and creme brûlée. Someone else made the bed and turned it down every evening and there were little chocolates on our fluffy feather pillows every night. We soaked up the sun and watched seals, dolphins and pelicans splashing in the ocean. We slept late and laughed and played. We observed the stars and moon, and watched the waves. We watched people too.
We were encouraged to see so many couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, people in their 90's who were anything but elderly and multigenerational families making memories to last a life time. They were fun to be around. These fellow vacationers wore joy and gratitude like a garment- it fit on them naturally. They were full of laughter. They shined.
Then there were the complainers. Although they carried Coach purses, wore Maui Gem sunglasses and upscale name brand flip flops and were sailing to the same sun kissed destinations as the rest of us, they were miserable. Though they were being waited on hand and foot, they complained about the food, the service, the accommodations and more... It was hard to be near them. They smoldered.
Whenever I feel like complaining and getting a serious case of the "poor me's", I relive a common scene from my teen years when my mom would look at me with a raised eyebrow and would toss a book at me and expect me to read it...again. It was always the same book. It never changed. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
Corrie and her sister, both devout Christians, hid Jewish people in their home during WWII and later endured life in a concentration camp. At one point in the book she thanked God for lice. LICE! She was genuinely thankful for lice because they kept the guards away. They weren't raped or beat and were left alone to study the Bible they had miraculously smuggled into the camp because they were infested with lice. She literally praised God for lice. Corrie and her sister lived out the following verses;
"Never stop praying. Give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Instead of complaining, they prayed. Instead of giving up, they gave thanks!
The last few years threw some challenging curve balls our way. According to the "Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory" we were racking up the points. This vacation was what the doctor ordered. The Princess motto is "Come Back New". We felt like we pushed the "refresh button". We came back ready and eager to take on life again. Gratitude is like a "refresh button" for our hearts and minds. While we don't aways have the time or funds to hop a plane to a sunny destination, to clear the fog in our minds and stress from our systems, we always have the ability to say thank you. Gratitude is the antidote for a bad attitude and gives us a new perspective in even the hardest situations. This week I was reminded of how a thankful spirit causes a person to appear even more beautiful while a grumbly demeanor causes even the most attractive person to appear sullen and hard. The quickest and least costly make-over is one that comes through prayer, a new mind; a thankful one. And the best part is gratitude is contagious.
I challenge anyone who reads this to find more and more ways to express gratitude throughout this week. Below are a list of ideas to get you started:
- Make eye contact and thank the person behind the cashier counter. Quietly say a prayer for that person while they bag your things.
-Use a sharpie marker to write thank you on the bottom of your garbage can for the collector. Pray for the collector each time you drag your garbage can to the curb.
-Tell your kids thank you for any and every act of obedience or kindness. Tell them that they are a gift from God and you are thankful God put them in your family.
-Before you order your food when eating out thank the waitress for serving your family. When you bow your head to pray ask God to bless your server (and remember to leave a good tip!).
-Take the time to say thank you to the next fireman, police, military, paramedic personnel you see in uniform. Pray for their safety and wisdom every single day.
-Send a note to your child's teacher saying thank you. Pray for your children, their teachers and their classmates while you drive them to school or pack their lunch.
-Wave thank you to the person directing traffic in a construction zone. Say a quick prayer for them as you drive by.
-Most importantly, thank God for a million blessings and more. "Yes, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for."
Do you have more ideas? What helps you be thankful?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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