For Christmas my mother gave all of us one of the best gifts ever. A new puppy. Just kidding (though that would always qualify as "the best gift ever" in my book). Her gift was much more unique and personalized than that; the proverbial gift that keeps on giving (rather than taking and begging like the little puppy might have).
On Christmas day after gifts had been given and wrapping wrestled in she called the family together. She had recently read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book shares a powerful testimony of the life-changing perspective that comes with intentional thanksgiving and offers a challenge to quite literally "count your blessings."
My mom is a rather compassionate person; she has a gift for sensitivity that few in this fallen world maintain. Through tears of love she implored us to take this challenge seriously believing it will change our lives. Even though she considered us to be thankful already, she knows there isn't one person on this earth who wouldn't benefit greatly from this spiritual discipline of thanksgiving.
Since we've arrived in Israel I have had many days where writing things I was thankful for was easy. 1)Thankful to walk where Jesus walked today when standing on the Southern steps; 2) Thankful to experience new cultures and learn how different and at the same time how much alike people are all around the world 3) Thankful for a big glass of fresh pomegranate juice, etc.
However, some days it is not as easy to practice this discipline of thanksgiving. At times my sarcastic side wants to say things like, "Thankful for the traffic and crazy drivers that tried to kill me," but that doesn’t seem ideal. Instead I am challenged to look deeper and these are the days when the discipline of thanksgiving is the most important.
Out of my own gratefulness for this challenge I am extending it here hoping that more find a way to incorporate the discipline of Thanksgiving into everyday life. The following post offers another wonderful perspective on this discipline and I encourage you to read it:
In the sixteenth century, Saint Ignatius wrote The Spiritual Exercises, instructing his readers in a series of activities to more deeply connect with God. The Examen was one of the most basic, and most important, in this series. The Examen is a simple way to reflect on your day and become aware of God’s presence in your life...