Well, it’s not cash in hand, but since I stopped grousing around about depleting my checking account by paying off the dental bill of $314 (not to mention my eye exam at LensCrafters—that even with a 20% AARP membership discount that brought my fee down to $84) and decided to practice thanksgiving, we have refinanced our house, lowering our monthly payment by several hundred dollars. I renegotiated an invoice from a publisher who had not given us the 60% writer’s discount. The difference between what we were charged and what we should have been charged is some $240.
I have to remember when finances are tight (which they have often been in fifty-some years of marriage and ministry) that God is our Heavenly Provider. Often when we reactivate a practice in which we have grown lax, this wise Parent verifies our actions, sort of a kind of divine positive behavior reinforcement.
I bemoaned my shrinking checking account, wondering if I would have enough funds to get us through the holidays, remembered instead to be grateful that I had enough money to pay the medical bills, and a mortgage refinance came through that will save us hundreds of dollars each month and thousands in future years. An invoice was readjusted. Then, to really affirm my behavior, a friend dropped past the house, left us an envelope. Inside was a kind note and two crisp $100 bills; now, there was cash in hand.
There is something to be said about developing an attitude of gratitude.
Research on thankful people has shown that being thankful connects you with other people. It works wonders in a marriage. Some 65 couples were studied, and researchers discovered that those who were most committed and satisfied corresponded with couples who expressed gratitude to one another.
Several years ago, I put myself out and volunteered to manage our small church’s monthly potluck meal after our Sunday service. Since we met in a school gymnasium, everything had to be hauled in, set up, arranged, carted, then pulled apart, stacked, carried back to the car, then unloaded again, and stored in basement shelves and in attic corners. Frankly, this is a lot of work—most of the time it’s taken for granted because often the same people do this labor—month after month after month.
However, I was amazed that so many young adults (our church was mostly young adults) made a point of intentionally thanking me for organizing the potluck.
“Thank you for going to all this work.”
“Thank you for making it look so nice.”
“Thank you for having good, healthy food choices.”
I was totally surprised! Despite the anticipated labor, I volunteered to be on the list again for the next month. It is amazing what a word of appreciation (spoken some eight or ten times) did in making me feel like I could easily undertake future organizing a meal for the church family. I had exceedingly warm feelings toward this young Body of Christ (who also pitched in to help with cleanup—more warm feelings).
This is Thanksgiving Week. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. (And this year, I personally have been making the whole of November “Thanksgiving Month.”) My suggestion is that you say thank you to whomever is hosting your meal. Make a follow-up phone call the next day or sometime during the weekend: “We had such a wonderful time at your house. Just wanted to make sure you know you are greatly appreciated.”
You might even—even—sit down and resurrect the almost-forgotten art of writing a thank-you note. In fact, go to a card store and pick out some beautifully designed thank-you notes just to have them on hand. Spend Thanksgiving weekend writing a few lines to a few folk. An act of thankfulness might just reconnect you with some people who were once important in your life.
As long as we are at it, how about thanks to God as well?
“Great things are they that you have done Lord my God!
How great are your wonders and your plans for us!
There is none who can be compared with you.
Oh, that I could make them known and tell them,
but they are more than I can count.” —Psalm 40:5-6
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.