I was raised by two parents, who had a consistent attitude of gratitude.
By the time they reached the end of their lives in their 90s, it was just first nature to thank and praise God for everything.
When my mother lay near death in the hospital after a car accident, my niece and I prayed at her bedside, begging God to heal her.
Right in the middle of our petitions, we were interrupted by a weak voice, that crescendoed with every word into a beautiful song of praise and Thanksgiving.
My mother thanked God for my father, my brother and me, our spouses, our children, their children, the care team in the hospital and on and on. She thanked God for the life He had allowed her to live. She thanked Him for His Provision and Protection. She thanked Him that He had a Plan and it was a good one.
Her prayers of thanksgiving carried her into a restful sleep and left my niece and I bathed in the oil of gladness.
As a child, when I awoke every morning, I would find my mother kneeling by her bed in prayer. My father would be kneeling by the chair in the living room. In thinking about the short prayers I knew, I once asked my father why it took him so long to pray.
He chuckled and said, “Carolyn, it would take more than 24 hours a day to thank God for our many blessings.”
My father’s heart overflowed with a love so great, it seemed the older he got, the more he felt the urge to fully express that love. He told us not only that he loved us, but he loved us “with all his heart.” Near the end of his life, he added, “And I really mean that!”
When he expressed thanks to God for even the smallest thing, he would say with great Joy, “Thank The Lord over and over and over again.” His Cup of Appreciation overflowed. He clearly received Joy in giving thanks.
My father also developed the interesting habit of thanking people three times. After he died, one of the nurses at the nursing home said, “The thing I will remember most about your father is how good he made me feel when he thanked me for doing anything for him.”
Another nurse added, “And he always did it three times.” Together they said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” And I repeated, “Thank you for taking such good care of my Daddy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I am sure Daddy smiled.
And what about things that were disastrous? How did they handle that? As I whined and complained about something negative that happened, my mother would say, “Isn’t God’s Timing wonderful? Aren’t you glad that didn’t happen at the same time as …?” And she would remember another difficult time. Somehow I did end up thanking God.
When I complained about something not happening on my time table, my parents would tell me to thank God for delays. They reminded me the world runs on God’s Time, not my time. Later, when I processed that by being delayed leaving home, I missed being in a place of danger, I thanked God.
If I complained about eating something I did not like, my parents simply countered with thanksgiving we had food to eat and that we had never gone hungry.
When my father planted a garden with many things he did not eat, I was puzzled. He simply said, “I thank God for letting me help Him provide for other people. It’s a Blessing to have something to share with others.”
When I lived far away from my parents and I missed them, I could tell they missed me too. But they said, “We are so thankful we can write letters and talk on the phone.”
When those we loved died, they grieved. But through their tears, they said, “Thank God they are at Home with The Lord. And we are with The Lord too. Thank God He keeps us connected.”
My parents lived lives of Thanks Giving and planted the seeds of gratitude within me. Their lives were a testimony to a great Truth. Thanksgiving is just a day. True Thanks Giving is a way of Life that gives Life!