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It's Not Happy People Who Are Thankful, but Thankful People Who Are Happy!

“Full is as good as a feast!” she said beaming from ear to ear. The rare joy of spending the day with my mom had already harvested so many special moments, but of all of the things she said, I find myself continually contemplating this one phrase. As we approach Christmas, I invite you also to chew on this idiom!

During the holiday season, I often struggle to keep the correct focus. This effort becomes even more confusing when it comes to how I handle both the spiritual and physical sides of the holidays with my kids. On one hand, I want our children to remember the “reason for the season,” but on the other hand, I find myself getting caught up in the hoopla of parties, gifts and food. My intentions are right, until they get distracted, and distractions are…SQUIRREL!!!

With so many easy pitfalls, is there a simple way to navigate the holidays with the right focus?


Actually, I think GRATITUDE is the answer. By focusing on this one virtue, the rest fall into place! At Thanksgiving, it was easy to assume that gratitude was simply “giving thanks,” but after some research and much contemplation, I would like to suggest that Gratitude is more intentional than a “Thank You.” Gratitude is a complete change of heart. It does not end on the lips, but instead, continues past the head to the heart and in the process changes a person’s entire perspective.

When a heart is full of GRATITUDE:

  • Depression is replaced with JOY
  • Discontent is replaced with SATISFACTION
  • Rebellion is replaced with RESPECT
  • Entitlement is replaced with APPRECIATION
  • Fear is replaced with TRUST

Although most of us would not hesitate to say the words, “Thank You” when someone does a kind deed, we often do not allow the act of kindness to change the way we behave. Maybe this is why in Luke 17:11-19 we find the story of ten men who were healed from the terrifying physical disease of leprosy. In the story, all of the men are given a second chance at life, but only one man returns to Jesus with a heart full of gratitude. The Bible says that he returned shouting praises of joy. When he got to Jesus, he fell at His feet and thanked him. His thoughts changed his feelings, and his feelings changed his actions! Jesus’ response was that his faith had saved him. Jesus counted this man’s gratitude as FAITH! All ten men were healed physically, but Jesus makes it clear that there is something special about the healing of the one with gratitude. I believe that on that special day, the grateful leper was not only healed physically, but he was also healed spiritually! The posture of his heart changed, and in the process, God healed every part of his brokenness.

So, is your “FULL” as good as your “FEAST”? By focusing on the blessings we have, we find fullness. However, by focusing on what we need for a feast, we often find ourselves wanting. If you are God’s child, then you have EVERY reason to have a heart full of Gratitude. This holiday season, be intentional to keep your heart filled with gratitude and help your children understand how blessed we truly are. For only when our children experience true gratitude, will they also experience the joy of God’s healing to every part of their lives.


ACTION: To build gratitude in your family, try one of the following ideas:

  • Dollar Dinner: One night a week, eat only rice and beans. (Much of the world exists on a diet of much less than we are privileged to enjoy.)
  • Bed-less Bedtime: Try sleeping without your bed or pillows. (Many people would be grateful just to have a roof over their head as they sleep.)

If you have found other ways to cultivate the posture of a heart of gratitude in your family, we would love to hear your ideas. Please share them below.


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