As you know, October and November are my season of gratitude, and each year I work to be intentional about creating gratitude practices that draw me into God’s presence and remind me of the many blessings in my life. I started my gratitude garden a few weeks ago and it provides a great focus for my morning meditations, but with American Thanksgiving approaching, I feel like I’m looking for something more. Most of all, I need practices that will make me feel a little more intentional this season of gratitude.
On Friday night, we painted thanksgiving pumpkins with community members. I originally planned paint the leaves. Unfortunately, fall is so late this year that I couldn’t collect enough leaves to paint. Hence the appreciation of the pumpkin. Although, to be honest, I think it was much more interesting for both children and adults. It really was a fun evening with some serious thoughts on gratitude as well. Part of it made me realize that I often need fun to fuel my gratitude.
Another practice I’ve picked up this year is a grateful scavenger hunt. This is adapted from the exercise at the end of the Acknowledgments section The gift of a miracle I will focus on a new area of my life every few days and look for new things to be grateful for. I think this is a great preparation for the end of the year and our Christmas celebration. Will you join me and celebrate this important season together?
This is what I invite you to do.
What will you need?
Keep a gratitude journal. I like this 8 x 11 1/2 sketchbook Wirebound, Pentalic Sketch Book, or if you want to do something more special, permanent and decorative, you can try this Vintage three-ring binding in hardcover.
Get a stack Post your notes or small cards to indicate what you are grateful for.
Grab some decorative pens, pencils, or chalk. i love paint pens which I think will be perfect for vintage hardback binding but colored markers will also work and are cheaper. Be aware that they may leak onto the sketchbook pages. The paint pens they seem expensive upfront, but I use them to paint rocks, leaves, and wood, so they’re a lot of fun to have around and seem like they’ll last for years. Make sure you buy ones that are not water based. I have learned from my own experience that their colors fade when they are sprayed Mod podge or similar acrylic glue.
Collect some magazines and photos that will help you make a collage of your weekly gratitudes.
Glue stick. If you like to do crafts or have a child, you probably already have this in your home. Otherwise buy the cheapest you can find as you will only need a little or if you belong to a group do not buy anything to see if anyone has one they no longer need.
What will you do?
Read the chapter on cultivating gratitude in The gift of a miracle. I just re-read this in preparation for my own season of thanksgiving, and I hope you don’t mind if I rant a little, but I really think it’s a great start to our season of thanksgiving.
Set aside time once a week to meditate with gratitude. This is part of the scavenger hunt. Over the next few weeks we will work through different parts of your life, looking for and in some cases discovering what you are grateful for. Quickly write down each item on a sticky note.
Write in your diary. Write in capital letters at the top of a fresh page Ten things I am grateful for in my ….. . (hints to follow) Make your list by writing each item in a different color and after it write a sentence that describes what your life would be like without that item. You may want to break this up into a week and do 2 tasks for each day of the week.
Set aside another time for creative activities. You can create a collage, write a prayer, make a wreath or write a song.
Sunday is my day of thanksgiving. I usually take half an hour or more to think about what I am grateful for, but in the next couple of months I plan to devote more time to gratitude gathering and writing exercises. I’m not sure how this will work with my busy travel schedule during this time period, but I’m sure I can do something.
Some of the tips are quite general and can be used every week, so choose from them and then apply the specific tips below. Or, if other ideas come to mind, use them (and share them with us in future seasons of gratitude).
- Name a person who makes your life better.
- Name something you are particularly proud of.
- What makes you laugh?
- What are you grateful for that you would like to share with someone?
- What are you grateful for?
- Find something that makes you feel safe.
- Find something that makes a beautiful sound.
- What is extraordinary that you are grateful for.
- Name one beautiful thing you are grateful for.
- What’s the last lesson you’re grateful for?
Week 1 – Gratitude for your life.
- Name an experience from your life that you are particularly proud of.
- What or who made you laugh this week?
- What talent are you grateful for?
- What are you grateful for in your body?
Week 2 – Thanksgiving for your family.
- Name your favorite childhood memory.
- Name a special quality of a family member that you are grateful for.
- One thing you recently learned about a family member that you are grateful for.
- One of the ways God has blessed your family is that you are thankful.
Week 3 – Thanks for friends
- Name one friend who makes you laugh.
- One thing you learn from your friends is that they make you feel special.
- One of the ways your friends have helped you grow
- Name friends who have been with you through good times and bad times.
Week 4 – Thank you for your home.
- Describe something that smells strange.
- Think about what you used today, what you tend to take for granted, what you are grateful for.
- One thing that represents your culture that you are grateful for.
- One thing with words you’re grateful for
Week 5 – Thank you for your workplace.
- Name a person who makes you smile.
- There is one aspect of your work that you are particularly grateful for
- Name one lesson you learned this week that you are grateful for.
- Name one feature of your workplace that you are grateful for.
Week 6 – Thank you for your community.
- Name one of your neighbors to whom you are grateful.
- Describe one aspect of your community that you are grateful for.
- What is your favorite community site that you are grateful for
- What is one thing about your community that makes you feel strong?
Week 7 – Thanksgiving for the place of worship.
- What are you thankful for in your place of worship?
- What encourages you in your faith community?
- Name one place in your place of worship that makes you feel close to God?
- Name one thing in your place of worship that displays a bright color that you like.
Week 8 – gratitude to nature
- What is your favorite beautiful place?
- What is one particularly good taste for you.
- What are you thankful for this season?
- What place in nature gives you relaxation?
After you’ve written your lists, take some time to think about what you’ve written. Allow the Holy Spirit to reach deep into your soul and bring the answer – decorate your list. Create a collage of matching magazine images and photos. Write a prayer or a song. Color the picture. Whatever comes to you, DO IT.
PS You can also check Ten tips for speaking up Thank you
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