Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankfulness.....What do We do With It?????

2 of the greatest blessings of my life- from previous fall activities

As Thanksgiving week comes to an end, I am sure we have all either shared, discussed, posted on face book, or at least thought about what we are thankful for. If you're like me, there have been multiple meals, family gatherings, shopping, decorating, and football watching that has taken place over the past few days. To say I am blessed is an overstatement and a word used many times that we take for granted. Do we really know what being blessed means? This thought occurred to me when I read my sister-in-law's post on face book. Her pastor had asked their members to list things they are thankful for that they feel entitled to. That's when it hit me. Do we feel entitled to blessings? For most of us, the answer is yes. Entitled to blessings, we expect them to fall from the sky on angel wings and rainbows. Somehow in the midst of that thought and the splurges on food and shopping and the excesses that the holidays often bring, I have felt humbled and even a little guilty that I take these for granted.

When I rattle off what I am thankful for the obvious things come to mind: my family, their health, my salvation, church, friends, home, job, security, happiness. Many times when I am either praying or just thinking about these blessings, it is almost like a generic laundry list of things I am happy for in my life. I think if I try to develop a deeper, greater appreciation for these things, then I can say I really get what Thanksgiving should be about and to celebrate it everyday, every moment.

Instead of saying I am thankful for my home and health, I will be more specific- I am thankful for a warm bed, a solid roof over my head. That my children go to bed warm, safe, and fed and are clothed in clean cozy clothes. That we have ample, clean, good food and when we go to sleep at night we are not afraid and feel safe and secure. I will be thankful that my children are in their bed, not a hospital bed. I will be thankful that I am healthy enough to work and supply my family with everything we need and most of what we want. I am thankful for my church but more specifically that I can go there/or not go there without fear of persecution and that there are people there who love me and pray for me in spite of me. I say I am thankful for my Savior, but I need to focus on the fact that He loved me enough to send His Son to die for me-me-rotten, selfish, spoiled, irritable, me. This  was always hard for me to understand , but when I had my own children, the sacrifice became even more difficult to wrap my head around. I would easily die for my kids, but I cannot begin to imagine giving their lives for another person, but that's what God did for us! How can we not be thankful every minute of everyday? Really, truly, deeply thankful? What blessings do you feel entitled to? A tank of gas, a reliable car for transportation, days off, down time, rest, soldiers that defend our country, medicine when we are sick, money to see a doctor, a friend to make us laugh, everyday comforts? There's nothing wrong with having or desiring these things as long as we don't take them for granted, and as long as we remember those who are not as blessed and help them in some way.

Now, the challenge is to do something with our thankfulness. Donate to a food drive, give to a charity, volunteer at a nursing home, school, or hospital, lend a helping hand to an elderly neighbor, purchase something for an angel tree. There are so many avenues to put walk in our talk of how we can help others and be a blessing to them. Give time, money, and prayers to those who are without the basic needs in life that we assume will always be there for us. If anyone has more specific ways of giving or organizations that we can give to, please add to the comment page. One that is near to my heart is St. Jude Children's Hospital. November is their "Thanks for Giving" campaign where they remind us all to be thankful for the healthy children in our lives and to give to those who aren't. It costs approximately one million dollars per day for this facility to operate to care for children with terminal illnesses and research for cures. Patients' families are never billed and the hospital runs on donations. If you visit or call 1-800-276-8340 there are Christmas cards and ornaments you may purchase and directions on how to give an online donation.
It is a good life, so let's find a way to share that with others. Happy Thanksgiving-every day.


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