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On gratitude

On gratitude
Photo by Laurens Glass, UM Communications

By Jessica Brodie

I remember it well, the soccer ball-sized gourd that sat on our dining room table for several weeks three or four years ago. We called it the “Gratitude Pumpkin,” and every member of our family was given a marker and instructed to write down anything they felt especially thankful for that year.

The pumpkin contained the names of various relatives and friends, our pets’ names, favorite family traditions like movie night and light saber battles, plus quite a few mentions of Jesus. But it also had inscriptions that surprised me: ice cream, for one. Sunshine. Hugs. My pillow.

The pumpkin eventually rotted, and out it went in the trash. We forgot about doing another the last few years.

But this year, as I’ve found myself feeling stressed after a big family move across town (including a house purchase and a house sale), not to mention two hurricanes and the death of my dear aunt, I keep thinking about that pumpkin. I picture the thick black letters representing all my husband, our kids and I cherish: faith, family, fun. I know those are the things that matter, not the fact that I feel disorganized or can’t find the toilet cleaner.

The cure for stress? Perspective, perhaps—remembering and having a heart for (and helping!) others who don’t have a place to sleep or clean water.

And gratitude—for all I have and all I am, a beloved child of our risen Lord.

Guess what’s on my shopping list this week? You’ve got it: another gratitude pumpkin.

In times of stress, it can be easy to get swarmed by the negative. Some days, I look at the pile of boxes or can’t find something I “need” and start to grumble.

And yet I’m so blessed! We all are, no matter what struggle we currently face and no matter how big or insurmountable it seems.

I’m blessed because I woke up this morning. I’m blessed to see the sunshine. I’m blessed because I know I have a future in heaven because of my savior’s sacrifice.

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he closes by urging fellow believers, “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Every day, every situation, is an opportunity to pause, rejoice and lift to heaven our praises and our thanks.

November is often dubbed thankfulness month. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks off, and the season of Advent on its heels, I encourage all of you—and myself—to take some time to bask in the simple things.

Get yourself a pumpkin (or a big poster board or other fun object) and challenge yourself and your family or friends to get in the practice of writing down at least one thing you are grateful for each day this month.

Feel free to snap a photo and send it to me, too: jbrodie@umcsc.org.

Let’s all reflect on gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

1 Comment

  • I always enjoy your column with much food for thought. Thanks for the needed reminder to write down our “thank you’s“ on something we can see.

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