I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Enough pumpkin pie for days, family laughter, and the one time in the year where everyone goes around in a circle and says what they are thankful for. The expectations are simple. Like making sure that Grandma makes her amazing stuffing and all of your cousins are there in one place. Growing up it was expected that we would all be there under one roof, stuffing our tummies with warm food and enjoying conversations. Now that my cousins and I are adults, we have all gone our separate ways with our new families. I miss them all during this time of year and think about how thankful I am to have such fond memories.
Another thing that has developed in my adulthood, is an awareness of tragedy and hard times. It is hard to think about being thankful when sickness takes lives, families are torn apart, and the sin of this world just seems to be getting worse.
I know what it is like to feel loss, struggle with depression, and see all of the destruction that is around me. Yet, while overcoming the darkness that this world only seems to offer, I have found a greater goodness. The one thing that God showed me, that changed my thinking and made me happier, was making me aware of blessings and expressing gratitude.
Most of the time it is easy for me to focus on the complications, annoyances, and road blocks. Yet that same energy that is used to get upset, God can funnel it into making a mental thankful list.
I have had to consciously make an effort to be thankful for the brightness of the sky on a cold brisk New England morning. Notice the way the light breaks through the greyness as I drive to work. Stop and listen to the birds outside the window singing their hearts out even though it's raining. Enjoy the opportunity of getting to meet someone new. Making someone else's life easier by knocking a to-do item off their list, for them. Being moved by a song about God's power. All of it consciously approached.
I could go on, but only because I have made a conscious effort to focus on God's promises, provision, and priorities. This Thanksgiving I won't be with my immediate family, but it will still feel like a holiday because of what I do have with me now. Ya, nothing is the same, but I have an awesome husband, a church family that has shown me Christian love, and so many challenges behind us that have made us tougher, wiser, and more focused on God.
My heart is more than full, it is stuffed.
What are some simple ways that God has shown His goodness towards you? What beautiful things have caught your eye? What are some ways that we can make someone's day?
Happy early Thanksgiving everyone!