The Thanksgiving holiday is this week—at least for those who live in the USA. I love this season. Not because it’s the precursor to Christmas. I love Thanksgiving because it reminds me to give thanks for my life.
As my daughter and I talked about this, she encouraged me to slow down, not stress about things, and take my time. Good advice! I love that my children speak into my life these days. What a blessing to learn from their wisdom.
Here are some reminders for this holiday season:
1. Be Present
It seems we’ve lost the ability to be present. Have you noticed how many stores went from fall clothing and decoration right to Christmas? I did. And it saddens me. We’re so busy getting prepped for the biggest holiday shopping season of the year that we miss the current day. We’ve lost the ability to be present today.
My daughter’s words reminded me, in my current busyness, it’s better to be present on this day. During that conversation, I also mentioned her to set aside unrealistic expectations. You and I often place expectations on an event, person, or day that couldn’t possibly be met—no matter how perfect we believe our world to be.
The same goes for our marriages. Expectations can heap a heavy weight on your spouse.
It’s time to free ourselves from those expectations. Therefore, I hope you and your family take time to pause, reflect, and recount what you’re thankful for.
Challenge: Go old-school and write it out. Jot down a list of all the things you have to be thankful for—the big and the tiny.
Here’s what I’m thankful for this year:
- A remade marriage
- A loving husband
- My family heritage
- A new grandchild on the way
- Our new home
- Longtime friends who opened their home to us for six months
- Financial provision
- Warm clothes to wear when the weather is cold
- Plenty of food
- Clean drinking water
- Running water in my home
- The ability to read and write
- Growth: personal, professional, spiritual, emotional, and mental
- Strength and encouragement to remove distractions
- Our recent trip overseas
- New friends
- Connections with extended family I had never met before
- And you
However, I’m most thankful for my relationship with God. Without Him, my life would be a disaster.
2. Be Eternally Grateful
When you’ve been in a dark place like depression, fighting through an addiction, or disruption of the most important relationship in your life, God is the only One who makes sense of the wounds and pain. God’s view of life flips our ideas. From His vantage point, He sees the whole gamut of my life. I’m so thankful that God revealed Himself to me. During that depression in the depths of despair, He met me where I was.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but as I look at Thanksgiving and think about the things that I’m thankful for, I’m most grateful for my salvation through Jesus Christ. Without him, I would not be alive today. Without Jesus, I have no hope. And most importantly, without Jesus, I have nothing to say. There is no message, nothing to share with you other than the miraculous grace of Jesus Christ.
So, this Thanksgiving, write down the things you’re thankful for.
Not just the big things—like a house, a car, a home, and your family. Set aside some time to look back over the year and be specific about the tangibles and intangibles.
Here are a few intangibles that come to mind:
- I’m alive today. Seriously, if you woke up today, it’s a great day! 🙂 Think about the alternative.
- My marriage is still intact after the havoc that both my husband and I brought into it.
- I learn and grow each day. When I listen, God meets me, and intimately speaks to me. How He communicates to me wouldn’t speak to you because we are unique. The fun thing is, He knows how to communicate with us individually.
- I’m not the same as I was a year ago. God stretched, challenged, moved me to do things I never thought possible. He expands my horizons.
- Learning to say I’m sorry and mean it. We say, “I’m sorry” a lot. However, are we sorry? Or, do we say that to get out of an awkward situation? I’ve had to ask myself this question too often over the last year. The Bible says that Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Repentance means turning away from what you’ve been doing. Not because you got caught, but because you abhor what you’ve done. You’re disgusted by your behavior. Next time you’re tempted to blurt out, I’m sorry, do a gut check. Are you sorry or dodging something? A good question to ask.
How does your Thanksgiving season look this year? Maybe you’re checking it off as another holiday before Christmas. However, I hope you’ll stop, reflect, and be present this Thanksgiving season instead. Don’t rush through it.
3. Recognize the Hard Times
If this is a hard season for you because of a loss, or perhaps a break in relationship with someone close to you or your extended family, I ache for your pain. It’s okay to grieve those losses. I hope you will take time to process through the associated emotions. Don’t grab what you can from the holiday and move on. Take time to explore and resolve the issues in your heart and mind.
If you plan time with friends or family, I pray this Thanksgiving will not just be a great meal before Black Friday shopping, but a time to pause, reflect, remember, and recount your blessings through the last year. Don’t miss it. Be present this year. Slow down and savor every moment of this wonderful holiday.
Yes, Christmas is coming. But don’t miss Thanksgiving.
4. Extend Forgiveness
Maybe this Thanksgiving, it’s time to extend forgiveness to someone who has wounded you. Forgiveness releases you from the pain. Whether that person accepts your forgiveness or not is not the issue. You choose to release the weight of that burden by bringing it to Jesus.
If you’re not at a place where you can extend forgiveness, I get it. It’s okay. But do take that burden, pain, or wound to Jesus and ask Him to help you process it. Ask Him to get you to the point where you can forgive. Not because the other person needs your forgiveness, although they might, but because you need to give that forgiveness for your own mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
5. Thank YOU
Before I close, thank you for reading my blog each week. Thank you for your comments, questions, challenges, and encouragement. I read each one. The Apostle Paul wrote this, and I whole-heartedly agree:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Slow down and savor the food while you remember your abundant blessings.
If you need help finding your blessings, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.