Choosing Gratitude

It arrived on a lazy Saturday afternoon, neatly tucked away towards the back of my mailbox. On a more hurried day, I might have missed it, but there it was: unassuming in a tidy, white envelope. No return address. The blustery fall day hastened the necessary trek to the far-off mailbox, so I secured the little note in my jacket and scurried back to the warmth of the farmhouse.

Cozy inside with a coffee at my desk, I filtered through the pile, most things of no consequence and there it was again. I neatly pried open the adhesive to find a simple token of gratitude from an unassuming acquaintance.

“Thank you for your kindness. It did not go unnoticed.”

It had merely been a meeting of happenstance and a heart willing to listen and pray. “Noticed.” To know that a gift was timely and meaningful, whether it be material, time, or heart, is a gift in itself.

On another sleepy weekend, the pile loomed before me, a hearty stack of my own thank-you cards to be written, sealed, and mailed. Although this was usually a weekly delight, it had been an especially busy season of life and there they had gathered a little dust. Addressed, stamped, and sorted, they needed only a handwritten note and a walk to the mailbox. A thoughtful friend. A gift from my mother. A helpful neighbor.

I reached for my favorite pen, sipped my coffee, and took the first card from the pile. Immediately, I was taken back by the name scribed across the front of the envelope. “Mable.” Oh, Sweet Woman. For just next to the unfinished note lay another paper article from that same afternoon’s engagement: the program from Mable’s “Celebration of Life” Service.

Too late!? My heart was broken. For two beautiful hours just earlier that day, I had mingled and reflected with genuine friends on the life of this dear soul. The woman who saw fit to bless my young family with an unexpected monetary gift. The woman who noticed. The woman who was now gone in flesh.

Did she know that at the moment her gift arrived was just the time that I had desperately prayed during a season of trial? Perhaps she did not realize that her thoughtfulness provoked hope in the heart of one who found it far-off? Did. She. Know? In that moment, it was my sincere hope that I had lived in such a way that a heart of gratitude was evident in me, beyond a note or gesture. And if not yet, then going forward.

Paul challenges us to always give thanks: For the great things and the seemingly insignificant. There is exceeding joy to be found flowing from a thankful heart. He further challenges us that this is indeed God’s will! To live thankful. To live joyful. To live prayerful. It is no coincidence that these three ideas are linked together. Have you ever met someone who truly exhibited just one of these qualities absent of the others?

For surely one who regularly communes with God is also one who is thankful for His greatest gift and experiences overflowing joy. And surely one who is thankful, is also one who finds joy in the God to whom they owe greatest thanks. And the one who drinks deep of joy? Surely this flows from a thankful heart in which God is communicating.

There are so many beautiful things for which to be thankful: The widow whose smile warms a cold disposition, the teacher investing in my children, the stranger who paid for my coffee…

Be thankful, Friends. Choose joy. And pray always.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

What are you most thankful for? Whom can you thank today that may have gone unnoticed? Take a moment to acknowledge people and kindnesses that you may take for granted.

Lord, Help us to be thankful in all situations.  Help us to find a reason to be thankful, despite the circumstances around us. Amen.

Kelly Havemeier

Kelly is a mother to four sweet girls, wife to Lee, and lover of Jesus. She lives on a little acreage, deep in the heart of Iowa, where she can often be found greeting the sunrise on the back porch with a fresh cup of coffee. Kelly is deeply passionate about speaking to the hearts of women in every season of life. She holds an Associate of Arts degree in Youth Development and Bachelor of Arts degree in Church Leadership. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

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