With Grace and Gratitude

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.                     ~ Thomas Merton
~
It’s the day before Thanksgiving. Despite the name, I’m not sure there’s really that much thanks associated with Thanksgiving. It’s more about floats and food and family and football and that’s OK because Thanksgiving is a holiday.

There’s nothing in the definition of holiday that includes holiness or happiness. A holiday, according to Webster, is a day on which one is exempt from work. And even though 17% of US workers will spend Thanksgiving at work, most will find some way on some day to celebrate.

But because holidays receive a so much hype, it’s hard not to wrap them up in a glitzy mess of assumptions and expectations. On one hand, it’s easy to give way to the idea that everyone else is having a Norman Rockwell day. It’s equally easy to expect magic – to build in expectations that this day, this year, this time, will be different, will be perfect.

The reality is that holidays are intrinsically a celebration of life and love and blessings for some and a reminder of loss and loneliness and lack for others. Which they are for whom varies from year to year. But thankfulness, gratitude –  takes nothing for granted. It isn’t reserved for the 4th Thursday of November.

It’s not the state of Thanksgiving that concerns me, it’s the condition of my own heart on each and every day. Am I seeking to have a heart that’s rich with thankfulness and an awareness that God has already given me everything? Am I living a life so filled with grace that it spills out all over everywhere? Am I so steeped in gratitude that I take less and less for granted?

May this Thanksgiving and the day after and the day after that be days of grace and gratitude for each of us, simply because we know God is good, not by hearsay, but by experience.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

29 thoughts on “With Grace and Gratitude”

  1. Thank you for leading us on in grace and thanksgiving, all the time, everyday! Praying that your life is blessed just like you bless us. love and prayers!!

  2. Agreed! I must copy and share this. It’s not the state of Thanksgiving that concerns me, it’s the condition of my own heart on each and every day. Am I seeking to have a heart that’s rich with thankfulness and an awareness that God has already given me everything? Am I living a life so filled with grace that it spills out all over everywhere? Am I so steeped in gratitude that I take less and less for granted?

    Thanks! Debbie.. I’ll mention your site.

    1. Hello dear Jan –
      I’m having a great lack of internet access so I don’t “get around much anymore” but I was so pleased to see your face smiling up at me!
      Grace and gratitude – a tall order, isn’t it? One that can only be filled by our Father so that we can offer it back to Him. Invariably it comes back to Him doing the work and my willingness to yield (Potter and clay). 😀

  3. After writing what I just wrote, this was a great reminder that every day is a day to be thankful. After all, did we not kill all the Indians anyway? What a crazy thought to write on this day…..
    Thank you for the reminder.

  4. Debbie I’m always so grateful for your insight filled posts! I’m so thankful that I found your blog! I always get a gem and often share them with others in my life.

    You wrote, “The reality is that holidays are intrinsically a celebration of life and love and blessings for some and a reminder of loss and loneliness and lack for others. Which they are for whom varies from year to year.” I think they can also be a mixture of both, and the levels of each vary from year to year. My father died on Thanksgiving in 1991. Our relationship was complicated to say the least. Some years I’m able to be grateful for the blessings that I recieved and also for the peaceful way he passed away (after playing the piano at a community Thanksgiving dinner, he shared dinner with good friends, came home and called my brother and me and went to bed to wake up in Heaven.
    That’s the way I want to go!) Other years it is simply a painful memory of the loss of what was and what would never be.

    This year has been a year of much healing for me, and the first that I haven’t experienced a hint of dread leading up to this day, and the one that follows (the funeral was on my birthday in early Dec.)

    Thank you for the reminder that thanksgiving is a way of life, so much more than just a day on the calendar!

    1. Carol –
      What a touching story. I’m so glad this year was better.
      I hope your birthday will also be brighter..
      Grief and healing set their own course.
      I’m not implying that we have no role in it, but grieving is harder work than most want to do and healing never happens as quickly as we would hope.

      My Dad died on November 21st, 2006 – so the anniversary of his death fell on Thanksgiving day this year (although that year is was two days before).
      My Mom had died the previous Christmas – (two days after).
      Their deaths,11 months apart, and both at the ‘holidays’ took most of the joy out the this time of year for me for several years.
      Knowing that they were “home” didn’t make me not miss them.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. You’re in my prayers.

  5. Oh Yeah!! Not to brag, but I’m a grateful gal!! I’ll be alone for Thanksgiving, as in not going anywhere, not having any guests–besides JESUS, of course! But because of HIM–all that He’s done for me, all that He gives me daily, my heart is full to bursting with gratitude and praise everyday in the year. HE is the one from Whom ALL BLESSINGS flow–yay, God! Now I better get in the kitchen–being alone doesn’t exempt me from a good turkey dinner, etc etc etc–yummm! God bless you, SIs Debbie–have a wonderful (working) Thanksgiving! love, your sis Caddo Delighted

    1. Oh Caddo –
      No disclaimer necessary – you are one grateful gal!
      We were given an entire turkey (deep fat fried in peanut oil) the day before Thanksgiving) and then a catered traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Needless to say, there’s quite a lot of turkey in the freezer! 😀
      These Secret Agents have much to be thankful for!

  6. Love this thought, Debbie: “On one hand, it’s easy to give way to the idea that everyone else is having a Norman Rockwell day. It’s equally easy to expect magic – to build in expectations that this day, this year, this time, will be different, will be perfect.” Every time I paint that picture in my dreams I get disappointed. Am I seeking to have a heart you write about, “that’s rich with thankfulness and an awareness that God has already given me everything? I want to live this life you write about, “Am I living a life so filled with grace that it spills out all over everywhere? Thank you for these wonderful thoughts. You have given me fodder for meditation today. I hope you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving full of gratitude and wonder at our awesome God.

    1. Hello Steven –
      I’m quite late with my responses here but I hope your Thanksgiving was rich with thanksgiving!
      And thank you, Steven, for reading and being such an encouragement!

      1. Thank you, Debbie, and I hope and pray your Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are full of God’s blessings for you.

  7. I’m practically in tears, Debbie! You are Grace incarnate my friend! Each day is a gift .. and by and large Thanksgiving has become a prelude to Christmas shopping … at a time where our hearts should be full of love and joy (and i’m not talking about the “joy” of Black Friday and the opportunity to get a waffle iron for $10 at Walmart at 3:00 a.m., or 8:00 p.m., or 10:00 p.m.) … i will unwittingly keep you posted of the madness of Thursday/Black Friday.

    All kidding (and retail distress) aside … if we are blessed to be among friends or family there are strained emotions and usually too many cooks in the kitchen. We shall be gracious and grateful. Amen. (Talking to myself here) ;-).

    For those who are alone … that is incredibly painful, however being alone may be a better selection than being around family. Sometimes we can’t see beyond our pain … and i pray God reaches out, especially. 🙂

    As you so succinctly, beautifully and gently put:

    “May this Thanksgiving and the day after and the day after that be days of grace and gratitude for each of us, simply because we know God is good, not by hearsay, but by experience.”

    Thank you for the reminder … and i will do my best ;-). May my HEAD be quiet and grateful, and may our hearts be full of love and giving. Grace and gratitude is there to experience personally.

    Friend, you make me want to be hangin’ with you and Heidi. Love you both so much, MEL

    1. Hey Mel!
      I don’t know if you read my Fork post about Black Friday – but they announced on the local (San Antonio) news that people should leave their kids as home to protect them from being “trampled or bitten”. Amazing…
      I was and am praying that your head will be quiet and grateful – a perfect request as you stated it! Sometime I pray for myself for, too! 😀

  8. Well said. I’ve found the more we have the harder it is to thank but the less we have its all thanks. It’s a discipline I’m working on. Thanks so much for you and your heart.

    1. Debby –
      That’s so true. It’s not a truth I especially like (about myself).
      It’s a bit like having the flu – the first day after, I’m always so thankful for a calm stomach – but by the 3rd or 4th day, I’m generally back to taking good health for granted once again.
      It’s something I’m working on right along with you.
      I’m grateful for you, my friend!

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