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In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.          Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS)
Here we are coming off the week of Thanksgiving.  Much has been written about being thankful and grateful and not going too all-out crazy on black Friday.  We have been chided and challenged to keep a heart of gratitude all year long, not just the last Thursday of November.  So, how’s that working out for you?

I’ll admit that until this year, I rarely gave it a second thought.  The busyness of the holidays blows by with the force of a hurricane most years, with me left at the end of it all with messy hair and feeling like I’ve missed it. Like there should be something more fulfilling about this season.

The past year has found me on a journey of being more spiritually aware, and I have slowly moved toward being increasingly deliberate about my daily walk.  It’s a slow process, but there have been many rewards.  Striving for a heart of gratitude is part of the territory.

And so, a friend’s post on Instagram on November 1st that she was accepting a challenge to share something she was thankful for every day struck a chord with me.  I accepted the challenge, too.

It’s simple, really – for the 30 days of November, name one thing each day that you are thankful for & post a photo about that thing.  So simple.  But as it turns out, not easy.

It’s not that I couldn’t think of many things every day I’m thankful for – so coming up with just one was not difficult.  It was the planning to post something deliberate every day that got me.  Consistency and discipline are not my strong points, and this exercise brought that home.  Most days I was making my daily thankful post from the bathroom while brushing my teeth.  At midnight.  Not exactly the disciplined soul I pretend to be.

I began my month with a list.  I added to it daily.  It turns out, when you are deliberate in naming what you are thankful for you are naturally more aware of those things, which in turn makes you more thankful for them.  It’s a beautiful circle, really.

And so, I began posting.  My family, my pets, the beauty of the earth, even my washer and dryer made the list.   What I discovered was that each thing I was thankful for could not be adequately described in a few short sentences on Instagram, but I posted anyway and began thinking about writing a gratitude diary where I could expand on each item and get into the meat of why its existence was so important.

30Days.sunset-168x300                     30days.water_-169x300

You know how they say it takes 21 days to form a new habit?  Try something for 30 days and it could even become a way of life.  What began as a fun way to post a new photo and clever phrase every day has become a daily exercise in gratitude awareness that I hope I can continue throughout the coming years.

I learned something about myself last month: it’s not that I am not thankful for these things all year long, it’s that I am just not deliberate in acknowledging them.  And so, I take them for granted.  I ignore their beauty and significance.  Worst of all, I was forgetting to thank God for those things, and I think maybe that makes Him a little sad.  I am surrounded by beauty and love and convenience.  Every. Single. Day.  It’s much too easy to take it all for granted.

I encourage you to try it.  Being thankful doesn’t end when the turkey leftovers are consumed and the Christmas decorations emerge from the attic.  It’s a daily exercise that will create in you a new outlook on the mundane.

If you are thankful for the technology that allows you to have clean clothes at home every day, you won’t think about the task of doing laundry in quite the same way again.  If you look at your family with eyes of gratitude for all the good they bring to your life instead of the annoying habits they possess, your love for them will grow.  Even the opportunity to have a fire in the fireplace on a cold night takes on new meaning.

So, what are you thankful for today?

 

(This post first appeared on the LifeWords Today blog on 12/01/2013 – it was my inspiration for the Gratitude Diaries…)