ONE OF MY FAVORITE THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS is folding index cards in half and on one side writing:
I AM THANKFUL FOR…
Then as family and friends arrive, I ask them to write their answer to what they are thankful for on the inside of the index card, but they are NOT to sign the card. Then we put the completed cards into an empty bowl or little basket.
My favorite part is when we pass the container throughout dinner and one by one pull out a card and read the answer aloud. Then we all try to guess whose card it is. Those discussions can become lively as we try to guess who is the author of each card.
It is always a heartwarming and fun time together. Often we write specific things that we are thankful for that year. Other times we mention the gratitude we have for our relationships with God, loved ones, friends, or specific ones gathered at the table. There are always a few answers that surprise us and warm our hearts.
We can also count on a few funny responses like the year someone’s card said: I am thankful for Keith Urban. We smiled as we considered who wrote that card. Then we all laughed as we realized it was Gram’s thankful card. Even more humorous were the outrageous and hilarious reasons she gave for why she was thankful for the superstar Keith.
Here is another example from one of my older kids the year they graduated school:
I am thankful for my arms for always being by my side,
my legs for always supporting me,
and my fingers … because I can always count on them.
These funny or tender moments cause us all to grow closer together. Although I do not remember what was written on each card, this tradition helps me to fondly remember all those who have sat at our table during our Thanksgiving dinners.
Thanksgiving Is a Heart Issue
What we are thankful for is held gently in our heart. Being thankful is God’s will for us!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) (I added the bolding.)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
If being thankful is God’s will for us, then there may be a few areas we need to rethink. Our heart can reveal areas where we may not be thankful. This next story will show you a time God had to teach my unthankful heart.
Thankful for What We Have
I remember many years ago when I was praying for a bigger home. We had a two-bedroom house and a growing family. We prayed and searched for a bigger house, then prayed and searched some more. I was getting frustrated. We did not have a lot of money, so it was hard to find a home. This went on for three years. Somewhere in the process, I remember God put on my heart, “I will not give you another home until you are thankful for the one that you have.”
Wow! While that was hard to hear, I had to realize that I was getting frustrated with the lack of space in our home. With two little ones, I had off-season clothes stored behind dressers and under beds. I felt like we were bursting at the seams. I hadn’t realized until then that I had stopped being thankful for what I did have!
I Recognized how that was disrespectful to God, who had provided this home for us and had given us the means to afford it. My focus was diverted to what I did not have, which was enough room. God wanted to change my heart to be thankful rather than increasingly frustrated and ungrateful. From that day forward, I became appreciative for all that I did have! I genuinely thanked Him for everything. My thankfulness gave me the ability to really enjoy our home and make the most of it.
Being thankful was one of the ways that God began to transform my heart. When we can become thankful while frustrated, it leads the way to being thankful in all things.
Our Peace Remains as We Are Thankful
Our peace remains as we thank Him for all that we have. We can rejoice for the big and small blessings in life, being aware that everything good comes from God! We can be thankful even in the waiting seasons knowing His timing is perfect. We can be thankful in the challenging seasons discerning we can become more like Him. When we look, we will find many reasons to be thankful!
Here are a few things that we can be thankful for:
• Thankful for our growing relationship with our God
• Thankful for our salvation, our life blessed by Jesus now and for all eternity
• Thankful that in Christ He forgives all our sins and restores us
• Thankful for His comfort, especially during turmoil or trouble
• Thankful for our daily provisions—our food, our home, and our work
• Thankful for our loved ones—family, friends, neighbors, and community of believers
• Thankful for all we get to do
• Thankful for our purpose in this life
• Thankful for the sunshine that warms our face
• Thankful for the rain that will make things grow
• Thankful that God surrounds us with His splendor
• Thankful for His love, care, and covering
When we focus on all that we can be thankful for, we will be Reprogramming our mind to look for the good. Being thankful will transform our mind, soften our heart, and produce God’s peace and joy in our lives.
What are a few things that you are currently thankful for?
In what areas of your life do you want to be more thankful?
Take a few minutes today to write down some of the things you are thankful for. I encourage you to share what you are thankful for with a friend or a loved one. Having good relationships is an amazing reason to be thankful!
Friend, Let’s go into this Thanksgiving season with a thankful heart, even if our Thanksgiving will look different this year. May the Lord bless you with His perfect peace as you give thanks in all circumstances!