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One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving! While great food, friends, family, and football make for a wonderful day, taking time out of my fast-paced life to think through the many blessings we’ve experienced and to express gratitude to God and to others is really why I love this holiday so much. An attitude of gratitude shouldn't be a one-day-a-year proposition, and hopefully cultivating a thankful heart goes beyond that one special Thursday in November for all of us. Still, it doesn't hurt to start exercising our gratitude “muscles” before we get to Thanksgiving Day. Here, then, is a simple 30-day plan for you and your family to help cultivate thankful hearts!
Day #1 - Thursday, 11/1 – Thanks for Family. As you interact with your family today, take an opportunity to say a simple thank you to each family member for one thing you are grateful for. It might be something a family member has done for you, or it might be for a character quality you see in their lives.
Day #2 - Friday, 11/2 – Thank God for Silence. Due to the fast pace of our lives these days, most of us have forgotten the blessings of silence and reflection. Take a few minutes sometime today, find a quiet spot, and thank God for the gift of silence and solitude. Spend some time thinking of other reasons why you are grateful to God.
Day #3 - Saturday, 11/3 – Thanksgiving Invitation. Find someone you are thankful for and invite them to your family’s Thanksgiving Day celebration. If you’re not going to be home for Thanksgiving Day, invite them over for coffee and pie sometime around the holiday.
Day #4 - Sunday, 11/4 – Thank God for Today. The past is history. Tomorrow is uncertain. But, we have today. Thank God for giving us this day. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” —Psalm 118:24
Day #5 – Monday, 11/5 – E-Thanks. Express your thanks to someone in your life by sending them a brief e-mail or text message. Or, get fancy and send a free e-card that are offered on many websites. If you aren’t into technology, just give or send a hand-written note.
Day #6 - Tuesday, 11/6 – Thanks for Freedom! Thank God for allowing us to live in a country where we are allowed to vote. Sure, we don’t live in a “perfect” country, but we can certainly be thankful for the many freedoms we enjoy that many people around the world only dream of having.
Day #7 - Wednesday, 11/7 – Thanks for the Pain? We all experience hard times, but God is with us even in the worst circumstances. Thank God for His presence, comfort, and strength that has helped you get through a rough season in your life. If that painful season is now, take comfort in knowing God is with you. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” —Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)
Day #8 - Thursday, 11/8 – What I Like About You… Today, take a few minutes and make a list of the things you like about your immediate family members. Share your list with your family sometime during the day – and thank them for those things!
Day #9 - Friday, 11/9 - Thanks for Sharing Faith! Today, think of someone in your life who has helped you to know God better. Mail them a note, send them an email, or tell them in person that you are thankful for their help and example of faith along the way.
Day #10 - Saturday, 11/10 – Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Day. We all get so busy that we can ignore the wonders of life all around us – like the smell of coffee when we get up or a friend who drops by to say hello. Today, take time to notice your surroundings and thank God for the things we often take for granted.
Day #11 - Sunday, 11/11 – Give Thanks for God’s Word. Offer up thanks to God today, for giving us the Scriptures. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” —Psalm 119:105
Day #12 - Monday, 11/12 - Thank a Veteran Day. Brave men and women who have served their country with honor surround us. Find a veteran today, and say thank you. If you know of a World War 2 veteran, call one up to say thanks. Just five years ago, there were about 3 million WW2 vets still alive. This year, the number is expected to fall below 1.5 million. So, take advantage of saying thank you to these heroes while you still can!
Day #13 - Tuesday, 11/13 – Little Things Make a Difference. We often ignore the little things in life that make life easier and better for us. Today, make a list of ‘little things’ that you appreciate. For example, my list includes indoor plumbing, refrigerators, and my iPhone.
Day #14 - Wednesday, 11/14 – Thank You Call. Today, make a phone call to someone in your life whom you wish to thank for something they’ve done. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but a verbal expression of thanks often means a lot to the person you are thanking.
Day #15 – Thursday 11/15 – Thank God for Learning! Something often overlooked in our lives is that God created us with the ability to learn. So, whether you are in school now, are learning a new hobby, or have learned a lesson from a poor decision, thank God today for the capacity to learn.
Day #16 – Friday 11/16 – Prayer-Path Day. Today, say a quick prayer of thanks for everyone who crosses your path – like the cashier at the Burger King or the person delivering your morning paper. You get extra credit for saying thanks to these people, in person.
Day #17 - Saturday, 11/17 – Experience the Moment! Too often, we focus more on what we need to do tomorrow or next week than we do on what’s happening today. Today, live in the present and be thankful for it – from raking the leaves to planning your Thanksgiving dinner.
Day #18 - Sunday, 11/18 – Knowing Jesus. What can compare to knowing Jesus? We have been blessed beyond measure with the opportunity to know Jesus. The difference He’s made in our lives – through knowing Him as Savior and Lord – is a greater gift than silver and gold, or turkey and stuffing! Today, give thanks for knowing the Savior!
Day #19 - Monday, 11/19 – Your Top 10. Today, make a list of the 10 people in your life for who you are most thankful. Call, email, or text one or more of them and tell them they are on your top 10 list!
Day #20 - Tuesday, 11/20 – Food, Food, Food! As you begin to think about that great Thanksgiving Day meal you’ll be eating in a couple days, take some time to thank God for food and His gracious provisions. Pray for those who will go without this Thanksgiving Day. Do something for someone less fortunate than you, if you are able.
Day #21 - Wednesday, 11/21 – The Blessing of Family and Friends. Tomorrow is T-Day! Spend a few moments in prayer to thank God by name for each person you will be spending the holiday with. Tomorrow, make it your goal to tell each person why you are thankful for him or her.
Day #22 - Thursday, 11/22 – Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy your celebration! Take time to reflect on the meaning attached to this day. Perhaps you can read one of the ‘Thanksgiving Proclamations’ that were written by our past Presidents, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. They are easy to locate on the Internet, including on HomeWord.com.
Day #23 - Friday, 11/23 – Take a Trip Down Memory Lane. Take some time today with family to look at photos or videos of Thanksgiving celebrations from years gone-by. As you remember Thanksgivings of the past, thank God for the loved ones you’ve spent these holidays with.
Day #24 - Saturday, 11/24 – Exercise! After the past few days, you’re probably in need of burning off some calories. Enjoy a walk, take a hike, or do whatever you can do and like to do. Thank God for your physical abilities. We might not be in the best physical condition, but we can still give thanks for the capabilities we do have!
Day #25- Sunday, 11/25 – Heritage Sunday! Today, thank God for the long line of Christ-followers who have gone before us as well as those who share in and encourage our faith these days. Their faith and faithfulness to share it with us is a tremendous heritage!
Day #26 - Monday, 11/26 – Missed You, Thank You, Love You! Call, email, or text a relative or friend who was away from you on Thanksgiving Day. Thank them for their place and influence in your life.
Day #27 - Tuesday, 11/27 – Positive Thoughts Only! It’s not unusual to feel a bit melancholy the week after Thanksgiving. So, this one will take some work, but strive today to think only positive thoughts about other people and the situations you find yourself in. Be upbeat and thankful. You’ll be amazed at how this improves your day – and you’re likely to find how your positive attitude affects others as well!
Day #28 - Wednesday, 11/28 – Laughter Day. There’s just something about laughter that makes it easier for us to be grateful people. So, make today laughter day in your home. Tell funny stories, jokes, watch a good comedy together with your family, and thank God that He gave us the gift of humor.
Day #29 - Thursday, 11/29 – God’s Work in You. It’s not uncommon to overlook the difference God is making in your own life. Take a few moments to make a list of things you appreciate about yourself. Remember, God is at work in your life – so thank Him for it! “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, you will abound in every good work.”
—2 Corinthians 9:8
Day #30 - Friday, 11/30 – Thanks for the Service! Today, make a special effort to say thank you to anyone who provides you with a service. The barista at Starbucks, for example, might be pleasantly shocked when you tell him or her how great a job they’ve done preparing your peppermint latte.