Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days :: Prepare Your Heart by Expressing Thankfulness - Day 19

Yesterday we talked a little bit about preparing our hearts for thankfulness by keeping a gratitude journal. Opening our eyes to the blessings that surround us is the first step. Once we have hearts of thankfulness, it begins to naturally come out in our actions. Not only are we thinking thankful thoughts, but those thoughts then manifest in how we reach out to others.

Saying thank you may sound like a little thing to most of us...we were trained to say it because it was just good manners, but I've begun to notice that saying thank you has become a little bit of a lost art. As a matter of fact, I know several people who rarely say it all. If a gift is given or something is done, you don't hear "Thank you!" Instead you hear, "Oh, you don't have to do that!" After a while it becomes amusing to see what the next response will be because all attempts to use those two little words are avoided.

There are personalities who exude thankfulness (like my Mom and Grandmother). It just naturally comes out of their spirit no matter what, but for the majority of us, thankfulness is a habit we learn over time and therefore it should be practiced at every chance possible. Learn how to say thank you with reckless abandon (: Look for ways to show others how much you appreciate them and don't just focus on family and friends. Seek for ways to bless the cashier at the grocery store, the postman, your child's teacher, etc.

A couple of years ago our apartment was having roof work done. We were very impressed by the care and diligence given by each roofer. They were helpful, gracious, respectful and took great pride in their work. We wanted to thank them for all of their efforts and to let them know how much we appreciated all they were doing. The answer? Cupcake love - we decided to make cupcakes with thank you notes attached to be given to the workers during their afternoon break.

The foreman was so taken by our gesture that he took a group picture to show his boss, cupcakes and all. The sad part was what he said next..."Ma'am, no one has ever done this for us before. In the 15 years I've been in construction no one has ever said thank you. Thank you so much for thinking of us!" The simple act of baking cupcakes was a bright spot in their day...not only did it put a smile on their face, but it put a smile in our hearts to know it made them feel special.
Another way we like to reach out is to leave little seasonal "Thinking of You" gifts on our neighbors' doorsteps. For the fall season small pumpkins with notes of thankfulness make an appearance. They can be used for Halloween and then flow right into Thanksgiving...a frugal and versatile gift all in one (: It's a simple and inexpensive way to connect and break down barriers with those you might not know very well.

When we reach out in thankfulness, it not only changes how we see others, but it alters how we move through life. We begin to connect on a deeper level and move beyond the "surface living" of generic "Hi's" and "Hello's." This open heart of thankfulness also begins to release judgments, enabling us see the soul of others and to meet them in a place of authenticity. The surface level, "Hi, how are you --- I'm fine" dialogs, now become authentic conversations of substance. We really want to know the cares, hurts, happy moments and times of sorrow of those around us so we can minister accordingly.

So the next time you go to the grocery store, make sure to tell the gentleman in the parking lot who gathers the carts how much you appreciate what he does. Offer a note of thanks to your favorite dry cleaner. Leave a little pumpkin for that neighbor down the street who always takes such great care of their yard and tell them how much you appreciate the work they do to make the neighborhood beautiful. When your little one helps her siblings, do something special to let her know how thankful you are for her helpful heart. Leave love notes of gratitude for the hubs for the hard work he does each day.

Seek out ways to express appreciation for everyone in your life and soon you'll discover that thankfulness is the key to open the floodgates of abundant blessings (; I hope you'll continue to join us for our 31 Days of Preparation journey. Tomorrow we'll move from thankfulness to preparing our hearts with forgiveness. Enter your email below and each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox. Don't forget to stop by the many other 31 Dayers for additional inspiration!

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In Gratitude,

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