Does being thankful ever feel like a forced obligation or duty? From a young age, our parents prodded us (as you likely prod your children), “Say thank you.” We’ve been regularly instructed to express rote gratitude for our entire lives. But have we been taught to let our hearts respond with joy and thanksgiving for the beauty of the good gifts God daily provides?
I tried to teach my children that. And I see my children teaching that to my grandchildren. But true gratitude is a heart response cultivated from an encounter with the One who created us to praise Him.
Thanksgiving then, really is a gift given to us by the good and loving nature of our heavenly Father. While it is a habit we can and should practice, it’s not something to speak mindlessly. We don’t have to be mindless about it, because no matter where you find yourself today—in plenty or in want, in sickness or in health, in suffering or in joy—God’s pure and loving nature is worth thanking Him for.
When we begin our days, prayers, worship, Bible reading, and encounters with one another with thanksgiving, we live out of a place of faith in the reality of the eternal kingdom of God in our here and now. As practice, and to help get you started, our team compiled a list of 30 things we are thankful for.
Laura Rainey Dries, Brand Manager
1. New friendships in a new city. Moving is never easy but the Lord has been kind to give me a few friends to connect with as I’ve started this new adventure in Memphis.
2. Our first house together in Memphis. It’s a little bit “tired,” so I’m thankful for the opportunity to fix it up and give it new life.
3. A delightful and adventurous first year of marriage with my husband. We’ve traveled together and with friends, visited several new churches in Memphis, and enjoyed this first year of just the two of us. I’m fully aware of how wonderfully different our lives will look someday when we introduce a little one so trying to soak up as much time with just “us” as we can. :)
4. Still so thankful for my wedding last year. It was magical, fun, and everything I hoped it would be as we started our new life together. Remember when my mom shared all the details?
5. Cooler days for sweaters, cozy blankets, and hot drinks. After several months of hot and humid, I’m always so thankful for the shift in temperature…which is supposed to hit this week!
Tracy Lane, Writer/Editor
1. Brightly colored mums. I bought the first batch of orange and yellow blooms on September 1. Loving my fall front porch now!
2. Routine days with my children. You might remember that my 3-year-old had open heart surgery on August 1. THANK YOU for your outpouring of prayers and support. I’m happy to tell you that last night she licked the pumpkin bread batter out of the bowl and slung a slimy beater at her big sister. (You can read an update on my personal blog here.)
3. Pumpkin season. I’m not even embarrassed that the Starbucks drive through girl recognizes my voice and has my pumpkin coffee waiting every weekday morning.
4. An earlier sunset. I never thought I’d say this, but the days darkening earlier bring everyone inside, all up close together. I’m not complaining about the increase in family snuggles.
5. The help of the Holy Spirit if I’ll just ask Him. And the chance to come back to ask Him for help when I’ve been out of touch for a while.
Laurie Spindler, Retail Consultant
1. Good health, especially for my son.
2. A nice nap on a cool, sunny day…after reading a good book with a cup of tea of course.
3. The Bible—I mean God, the Creator of the Universe left us an instruction manual and a love letter for goodness’ sake!
4. Alabama football: Roll Tide!
5. That it’s almost sweatshirt weather. I love nothing better than putting on a sweatshirt and lounge pants after work and on the weekends.
Felicia Johnson, Production Manager
T – Tetelestai. Jesus said it while dying on the cross and it means “it is finished.” Thankful He died for my sins and I get to hangout in heaven in the future.
H – Husband. Thankful that after 18 years of marriage, he still calls me “the wife of his youth” and lets me know I still got it.
A – Aerobics. Thankful for my local gym that has a dance class that makes working out fun. Get it, girl!
N – New Challenges. Thankful that I have the confidence to try new things, even if they make me vulnerable to criticism from others.
K – Kids. Mama, what’s on the agenda for today? Thankful that my two kids still like kicking it with their mama.
Kristi Kurtz, Designer
1. The incredible blessing of becoming parents in April! Can’t wait to meet our little one!
2. An amazing job getting to use the talents God gave me.
3. A great group of friends to do life with.
4. All the quality time I get with my sweet husband!
5. Our little home that we get to continually make our own.
Barbara Rainey, Founder
1. Seriously, I’m thankful for God’s Word more and more each year. I can’t imagine life without the hope of His promises.
2. The expectation of cooler weather, fires, snuggling in blankets is a happy, thankful hope of mine. And the scent of burning yummy-smelling candles!
3. I’m always grateful for a husband who loves me and never gives up on me in a marriage focused on the grace and forgiveness of Christ.
4. I’m especially grateful for the wellbeing of my children and grandchildren. I know that’s not true for everyone and may not be for us forever.
5. Last is a long list of underserved gifts: a warm house, plenty of food, freedom to come and go as we please in this land, good doctors, good friends, the beauty of creation (can’t wait for the leaves to change!), and hundreds more it would take too long to list.
May you focus daily on His abundant gifts!!!