Tag Archives: gratitude challenge

Year of Gratitude, June: Week 4

When it comes to “sabbath” how many ways you can talk about it or practice it? In scripture it says, “Observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” (Deuteronomy 5) Sabbath wasn’t supposed to be a problem or burder, it was to be a joy!

Many people can still remember what it was like when everything was closed on Sundays (the Christian sabbath.) Usually the day was uncomfortable, kids were to stay quiet or play quietly. This was a far cry for the “gift” of Sabbath originally intended.

In antiquity, Judiasm had a holiday or vacation EVERY WEEK! Nobody else did that! Other traditions had rest days, but not nearly as often. The sabbath was to acknowledge God and God’s goodness and mercy. Each week, time was given to share worship, love and joy.

Now even though most people have “days off” they are often spent working, checking e-mail and returning text messages. Time off sounds lovely but kind of crazy.

I think we need not just a “sabbath” one day a week, but sabbath time every day. Moments of peace, of quiet when we are not driven by blinking cursers, or text messages or incoming phone calls or e-mails. Time when we push back from our desks, from the gardens, from the work in front of us and pause and remember that God is our God. That life is more than work and we are  blessed with every moment we are given.

So for our gratitude challenge this week, I want you in the next seven days to take a sabbath break every day. Perhaps it is time to take short walk, or sit outside with glass of iced tea, or getting in quiet place and being in the presence of God. I want you to write a thank you note to someone with whom you enjoy spending time, over a meal, exercising, visiting or enjoying a cup of coffee. Those moments alone and with people who matter to us, are bits of sabbath we are given every day. Then spend some time thanking God for time, for Sabbath.

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Year of Gratitude: March Week 2

This week there has been several things that have caused me to give thanks. At some point in the last week, someone has put additional chocolate on the conference table in my office. If you didn’t know it, that table is always covered with chocolate, individual bags of peanuts and cheese or peanut butter cracker snacks and usually some fresh fruit. As you might guess, the chocolate disappears more quickly than the other snacks. How sweet it was to see small bags of M&M’s and new little chocolate candies!

Then, yesterday, in the midst of the “bomb cyclone” that hit much of the midwest, a bright red cardinal appeared in my back yard. The rain was long past, the wind was terrible, but we sat for a few minutes outside, somewhat protected and there was that cardinal. Feathers being ruffled by the wind, but he was there, hanging on to the tree in all his glory. I paused and admired him. That beautiful cardinal had no intention of being moved by that wind.

On Tuesday night, I had my window cracked open all night long. It didn’t get below 58 degrees and having fresh air on my face for the first time since last fall was such a gift. I was grateful for the respite from unrelenting cold and winter we have had. These three experiences reminded me how easy it is to overlook the little things that occur each day.

So this week, I am adding to my gratitude jar these simple joys. Remember our gratitude jar? I wrote about this jar on my first blog post of 2019. This invitation was to write down one thing each week, an event, a surprise, something for which I am grateful for, so that in December, I have a whole year of wonderful memories to enjoy! What has gone in your gratitude jar? I have a few simple things, like what I listed above and a couple of big things, like my brother’s retirement party. I don’t even remember everything I have put in the jar, so I am really looking forward to seeing what I wrote in December.

Today I am grateful for my home. For the birds, the backyard, the place to put a gratitude jar. I am grateful for bed to sleep in, windows that open and close, a heater that works when it is cold, a kitchen to cook in and indoor plumbing! My home is place where my family comes to visit, where friends hang out, where I find refuge when the world seems a bit crazy and where I can entertain, or just be alone. What do you give thanks for where you live? How is your home a place of refuge and a place where you can be surrounded by those you?


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Year of Gratitude: February

We are finishing the second month of our Year of Gratitude. (We started in December with the beginning of the Christian year.) This month we focused on new things: New Year’s  resolutions, new paths and other choices to begin a new year and gave thanks for the new possibilities we are given. We created a gratitude jar so each week we could put one thing or event that made a difference and for which we were grateful. At the end of December, 2019 we will be able to look back over our year and remember.

For the month of February our gratitude focus will be:

Relationships: This month is filled with “Valentines” but love is more than hearts and flowers. There are many relationships which call for gratitude. This month we give thanks for all our relationships.

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her journal book The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude writes:  “Grace is available for each of us every day–our spiritual daily bread–but we’ve to to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.”

Grace is our daily bread as is gratitude. I would like to encourage you to think about the grace you have received through the month of January. Have you written three or four things to put in your jar? If not, take a few moments to so. Breath in grace, Breath in gratitude. What has touched you in January? What has surprised you in its grace, its beauty, its love?

Relationships are also part of our spiritual daily bread along with grace. Our relationships teach us many things. As we prepare for February and our thankfulness for our relationships, today I want you to write two thank you notes. One, I would like you to write a thank you note to God, for the blessings you have received in January. Put it in your jar, so that in December you might pull it out and re-read it with a prayer for God’s goodness.

Second, to begin our month focusing on relationships, I would like you to write a thank you note to yourself. We are so often hard ourselves, we call ourselves names, often have a running litany of what is wrong and why it is wrong and blame ourselves. Often the grace that is our daily bread is offered to others and we offer little to ourselves. Take some time and thank yourself, for getting up and out of bed, for taking care of others whether it be children or friends or a partner or parents. Thank your body for what it can do. In thanking yourself, you have a path to thank God for life, for love and grace.


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Year of Gratitude, December: Week 3


Just a few days from Christmas we continue with week 3 of our Year of Gratitude. Week one I invited us to write thank you notes to those who talents had blessed us and to share our talents with others. Week two we were thankful for the gift of time.

It was a real joy for me to write some thank you notes to people who had given the gift of time. Honoring their commitment and savoring the gift was a blessing to me. Giving of my time was another way to celebrate the joy and love and yes peace of the season. Giving time not out of obligation, but out of a sense of love and faith was joyous!

This week the challenge is to write a thank you note focusing on treasure. The first definition of treasure from Merriam-Webster focuses on money and wealth. It is the second definition that speaks of something or someone of great value. That can be, but isn’t necessarily based on monetary value.

Jesus once said, “that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Perhaps it begs the question, but what do you treasure? What do I treasure? What do I find most precious in my life? What do you find most precious in your life? What do we treasure above all else?

This week the challenge is to write a thank you note that honors what we treasure most. That thank you note might honor a relationship we might have, it might be to an organization that we are so grateful to be able to assist through our time and our donations. Honor what you treasure most with a thank note and through the gift of you: your time, your presence or a donation.

May what we treasure help us focus our faith this week as we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God-with-us.


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Year of Gratitude: December, Week 2

DECEMBER                                                                                                                                          We are now less than two weeks from Christmas day. For many of us, the crush of things to do, places to go and parties and events to attend seem relentless. Where does one find the time to give thanks? Like Straight No Chaser’s song, The  Christmas Can- Can, it can feel like a mad dash to get to the end of the season. Other than a quick thank you through a text or e-mail or phone sending a thank you note may feel like one more thing to do in an already ridiculously full calendar.

Yes, indeed, I am going to challenge you to write a thank you note this week. Our focus, will be on the gift of time. This one thing, seems to be the hardest to grasp with our culture overwhelming us with things to do. And there are so many wonderful places to go, performances to attend, special worship services and events in which to participate. Time is precious and a gift in and of itself.

So this weeks challenge is to write one thank note to someone who has given  you the gift of time. Maybe they went to coffee or lunch with you, or called you or stopped by and their presence and time spent with you was a special gift. I believe I often overlook the simpliest things because I get too busy, too focused; a simple hug, a “how are you, really?” and the time it takes is a gift beyone measure.

Write one thank note, at least for time shared and given. Then sometime this week offer a gift of time to someone else. Some one you love,  someone who you haven’t talked to for a while, or perhaps, just bring a cup of coffee to their desk and see how they are doing. This week, we give thanks for the gift of time.

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Year of Gratitude: December, Week 1

DECEMBER                                                                                                                                        Gifts: This month tends to be all about gifts. We receive and give them. There are many kinds of gifts, physical, spiritual and emotional. This month we give thanks for all the gifts we receive.

Advent begins our new year as Christians. This month the focus of our gratitude challenge is gifts. December is all about gifts. There is both the secular focus of Santa bringing gifts and the Christians focus of the Christ Child as a gift and the gifts we share out of that experience of the birth Jesus. Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights usually falls during December as well and includes gift giving as part of its ritual and tradition.

There are many kinds of gifts, and each brings its own joy. This first week, I’d like us to consider the gift of talents. Each one of us as beloved sons and daughters of God are gifted, talented in one way or another or in multiple ways. We are, using my favorite phrase, unique and unrepeatable.

This week, I would like to challenge each one of us to write a thank you note to at least one person whose talents have a made a difference in our lives. Perhaps that might be a musician whose music makes your soul soar. Perhaps its a writer, locally known or perhaps someone whose blog or book or an article has changed you or your changed your mind. Perhaps its a chef, or a friend who cooks or bakes and has gifted you their creations. Maybe you could consider thanking someone whose talent is often overlooked, a good listener, a good friend. Write a thank you note sharing your gratitude.

Then, share your talent with someone in the next few days. Bake some cookies, make a phone call, share a gift that only you can give. May the gratitude we share, be a source of light and love during this Advent season.

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