As I considered a topic with which to resume writing, after my three week holiday in the USA and Israel, it seemed quite clear what I needed to write about: Thankfulness. As I begin writing, the words of a well-known worship song come to mind… “Give thanks, with a grateful heart…”.

Have you ever stopped to wonder about that phrase? Let’s put it another way, a synonym for “grateful” is “thankful.” In fact, both words are synonyms of each other. Well talk about redundancy! Or is it possible there is a reason to think about what it really means, to give thanks with a grateful heart? The operative word here, I believe, is heart.

Reasons to be Thankful

Over the past three weeks I’ve had many reasons to be thankful. From a first time since 1969 get together with my first cousin’s on my father’s side, to an amazing conference in Ohio, meeting with my cousins on my mother’s side of the family, and old friends from high school and college, to being with family and friends in Michigan, and then a tour of Israel with my step-daughter Andrea and her husband Josh—I’ve had only reasons to be thankful.

My heart is full, and as sad as I am that the time is over, and I already miss everyone, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness to God for an amazing time.

But I’d be lying if I said that is the only feeling I’ve had. I’m also overwhelmed with all that is before me. I have a lot to do. A house to be set in order, cats to care for, work to do, lessons to prepare, websites to update and maintain, a course I’ve signed up for that I need to start listening to (it is online), and more… These things can all be soul crushing and drive the thankfulness right out of me.

Its my heart that is important. It is not lightly that we are told in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”

Woah, wait, I thought God is my source of life. He is. No argument there. But my heart, figuratively speaking, is where the essence of who I am resides—my emotions and choices. And choices are key to relationship, and a relationship with God is essential for me to be rooted in Him who is the source of my life.

Negative Thankfulness

As I ponder the idea of giving thanks with a grateful heart, I am reminded of negative thankfulness. I’m thankful a meal is over because the food was awful, or the company boring… I’m thankful the day is over because I’ve finished a job I hated… I’m thankful to be home because I was a nervous wreck on the roads driving…

I’m thankful (good) but not with a grateful heart, rather, a relieved heart—I’ve finished something I hated. It suddenly occurs to me that when I do that, a type of negative thankfulness, I’ve missed out on being thankful with a grateful heart and have not seen what God did for me in the day…

Let’s try it again…

Getting it Right

I’m thankful a meal is over because now I’m full and so many don’t have what I had, and I had an opportunity to get to know someone better… I’m thankful the day is over because I’ve seen how God helped me complete a challenging job—by His grace only… I’m thankful to be home and give thanks for how God protected myself and others on the road…

Yes, I think its time for me to start over with my thankfulness for the past three weeks. I’m thankful for all I did, all the people I met with, the lessons I’ve learned, the health and ability God gave to me, and for the challenges ahead in which God will remain God—leading and guiding me in His will at work, at home and at play.

Yes, I’m thankful!

P.S. I’ll try to another post soon with photos from my trip, for those of you who will enjoy them!