Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Q.  Thanksgiving seems to hold little meaning for most people today. It’s just a holiday from work, an excuse to eat too much and a chance to relax before the holiday shopping begins. Shouldn’t Thanksgiving mean more to us than this?

A.  Most of us know the story of the first Thanksgiving but we haven’t learned its meaningful lessons. The pilgrims were grateful for surviving a bitter winter though some of their number did not survive. They also were grateful for the religious freedom they enjoyed here. And they were thankful for the corn the Indians had given them. They had planted and harvested the corn and this enabled them to make it through the winter.

The pilgrims lived very primitively, faced many hardships, and had little materially, but they counted their blessings and thanked God for what they did have.

Our materialistic, cynical and fast-paced world has lost touch with the practice of giving thanks. The pilgrims, I suspect, gave thanks every day, not just on Thanksgiving. They had a habit of counting their blessings. They also weren’t in a big hurry all the time. They had fewer distractions. They could relax and enjoy the present moment.
We marvel at their ability to give thanks in the midst of great physical hardships.  Instead, we grumble and complain when we’re delayed by traffic or have to stand in line at the grocery store. The pilgrims were a hardier bunch. Or were they? Perhaps their ability to enjoy each moment and to withstand hardships stemmed from their constant prayerfulness. They were able to be positive and to rise above the difficulties because they gave thanks routinely.
If this is true, we need to take a lesson from the pilgrims and make a practice of giving thanks. They lived a simple but difficult life one day at a time. We, in contrast are so focused on getting ahead, making more money, buying a better house or a better car. Are we forgetting what’s really important? 
Gratitude helps us notice little kindnesses we take for granted. Gratitude helps us notice blue skies, sunny days, a beautiful sunset, autumn leaves. Gratitude helps us remember what’s right with our relationships, ourselves, our work, and our life.  Gratitude focuses us on positives. Gratitude focuses us on God.

To develop a habit of thanksgiving and make Thanksgiving Day more meaningful:
1. Read stories about the first Thanksgiving and notice the lessons we can learn from the Pilgrims.

2. Take time during or after Thanksgiving dinner for each person to tell the three things they are most thankful for. 

3. Give thanks to the “Indians” in your life; those unexpected people who have helped you. Invite them to dinner.

4. Make a habit of asking a blessing at meals every day. Teach your children a prayer or encourage them to make up one. Invite each member of the family to take turns offering the blessing.

5. Keep a daily Gratitude Journal in which you write down five things you’re thankful for. This practice will help you become a more positive person. It will make you aware of many blessings we take for granted. It will most importantly bring you closer to God.

6. When frustrations occur give thanks for what they can teach you. For example, having to wait in line can teach us patience, if we will let it. If we consistently count our blessings we will live happier and more positively in any circumstance. 

7. Read Thanksgiving Scripture on Thanksgiving Day.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 

Psalm 100
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
For the Lord is good;

His loving kindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
This Thanksgiving Day make plans to give thanks every day of the year.

Blessings, Dottie

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