Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thanksgiving Freedoms

Many years ago my husband kindly sat me down and gently reprimanded me. I had been complaining about all sorts of things and he lovingly pointed out that I was ungrateful. My complaints were not about him, mind you, but about the things I had or didn't have. I was taken by surprise, but knew that it was true and a change was made in my heart.

This year I have taken the dare to write down 1000 gifts and be thankful for them. Ann Voskamp, in her writings, has revealed the truth about thanksgiving and living minute to minute with a grateful heart. A new change is beginning in me and every day I see things and people more and more as gifts. My heart is full of gratitude for the gift of Ann and her words that seem so timely right now.

Yesterday, I read one of her blogs that listed 6 Reasons Why to Teach Kids to be Grateful the research can only support Scriptural Truth. (Froh, Sefick, Emmons, 2008) I was immediately aware that this is not only truth for children but for everyone. Here is what I read and how I see it work in my life.

1. Better Attitudes - Thanksgiving grows a positive attitude even in the hard soil of challenges, disappointments, or failure.

2. Better Achieve Personal Goals - The discipline of writing down our gifts spills over into life goals and the stream of grateful words becomes a river of life change.

3. Closer Relationships, Greater Happiness - We all need closer relationships and long for greater happiness. Seeing people through the lens of gratitude makes them a happy gift to us that gives joy to our days. People are lovelier and friendlier when we are thankful for their presence in our lives. Being surrounded by a beautiful crowd of people makes us smile, doesn't it?

4. Better Grades - Now it may seem that we as adults are not graded, but we are evaluated by many in our lives. The authority in our lives grade us on many things. Employers evaluate our work, banks and credit card companies watch our performance with money and treat us accordingly. Children watch us closely too.

5. Greater Energy, Attentiveness, Enthusiasm - The start of writing down gifts is like wading in mud, but soon the mud becomes a trickle and then a stream and a river flowing out into the ocean of gifts awaiting for our pleasure and filling our grateful hearts.

6 Greater Sensitivity - Gratitude opens our eyes to the world around us. We see clearly the needs of others and our hands are ready to reach out and help because we know it, too, will be a gift.

Finally the article ends with the consequence of not practicing gratitude. The young people studied showed less satisfaction with their lives. They were more aggressive and took more risks and the list went on. Similarly we adults live in a world of our making, good or bad, depending on our attitude of gratitude.

Today is July 4th and the U.S.A. is celebrating our independence and the blessings of our country. We are a nation that complains way too much, maybe because we have the freedom to do so. I wonder what changes we would see if we became a nation of gratitude? I think it would truly set us free!

Our Father in heaven, You are the author of freedom. You are the Giver of Good gifts! Forgive us for our murmuring and complaining. We fail to see Your good hand in so many things, but You are there working out the good for us. Thank You for my country, Lord. I am blessed to live here by Your choice. Thank You for all of the good people that live with us here. Help us to see the good and work hard to change the bad. Bless America, Father! Bless her with a revolution of thanksgiving!
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