Helping Children Be Thankful

Almost every parent has been there: pressuring their young child to write the obligatory thank-notes to Aunt Charlotte and the next-door neighbor after Christmas or their birthday. But does sending those notes under mild duress make your kids really feel grateful? The fact is: we cannot make children be thankful. We can only make them…

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A Cycle of Grace

Written for Voices and Silences, 2003 Grace, Giftedness, Giving and Growth – these four words, from Clif Christopher and Herb Mather’s book, Holy Smoke!, prompted me to reflect on these themes in my life. For me, they flow in a cycle, a deepening spiral, which begins and ends with God’s grace. From God’s side, it’s…

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Many Thanksgivings

In Mutuality and Thanksgiving I said, “Thanksgiving is not a season. It’s an orientation of our minds and hearts that naturally flows into a lifestyle of generosity, of mutual giving and receiving.” But the process of giving and receiving is not only a two-way affair. As science-of-generosity researchers have noted, people who know others involved…

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Growing Generous Souls Is Now Out!

I’m pleased to announce that my new book is now out: Growing Generous Souls: Becoming Grace-Filled Stewards! It invites church leaders and individuals to stop racing from one activity to another and instead to focus on being rather than on compulsive doing and consuming. The book includes reflection questions and resources to help people move…

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Rooted, Grounded, Grateful

A sense of belonging is essential. Even for our “I Did It My Way” culture, almost all of us need to have a feeling of connection with others, that we’re not out in life all alone. More than that, most of us need to know that we come from somewhere, that our personal history has…

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Grateful for Ordinary Days

            In our church service a while back, the worship leader said she had looked to see if that date was a special church day. Nope, apparently it was “just an ordinary day.” God knows there are times when things are going so badly, we wish it could be an ordinary day, she continued. But…

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Gratitude’s Three Foundation Stones

Gratitude is not just a feel-good approach to life. There I sat at a Greater Good Gratitude Summit, a gathering to promote the evidence-based practices of gratitude. Dr. Robert Emmons, coordinator of the event, said gratitude is “a heightened and focused intellectual appreciation” where we focus on the abundance of our lives instead of on…

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Breathing Our Gratitude

It’s a wonderful experience when people clap and celebrate the fact that you’re alive! I got to walk the Survivors’ Lap again this weekend during our county’s Relay for Life: something I plan to do annually for the rest of my life. While I celebrated 3½ years healed from cancer, there are cancer fighters, survivors…

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Gratitude and Resilience

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully,” said poet and activist Maya Angelou. “However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present . . . gratefully.” Citing this phrase, church historian, consultant and author, Diana Butler Bass wrote a marvelous article on…

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Recovery, Symbols, and Gratitude

It’s been two-plus weeks now since coming home from hip replacement surgery. Needless to say that’s major surgery. I was hugely grateful that my immensely popular surgeon (whose operations are routinely booked several months in advance) slipped me into a cancellation, after a year of increasing pain. Each day is an improvement in minor but…

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I Am Blessed!

Last week I got to hear Rev. Dr. Alex Awad, pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church, professor at Bethlehem Bible College, and retired missionary for the United Methodist Church. A Palestinian Christian who was born in Jerusalem, he is a direct descendant of those first disciples at Pentecost. But because he is a Palestinian, he…

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Gratitude at Work

Thanks in large part to University of California at Davis professor Robert Emmons, the field of “Positive Psychology” has grown by leaps and bounds since the early 2000s.1 Positive Psychology is the scientific study of gratitude and its benefits, in fields ranging from anatomy to sociology, affecting both the quality and the length of a…

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A Thank You Plan

Saying thank you is often a spontaneous thing. When someone does something for us, especially unasked for or at a cost to themselves, we naturally want to thank them, in words, by doing something for them, or by “paying it forward:” giving in some way to others. Most people don’t give in order to be…

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Assets and Liabilities

“Generosity is a spiritual disposition, not a quantifiable percentage of income,” said author James Hudnut-Beumler in Generous Saints. Generous people are grateful to God, affirming that “they know their worth comes from God, and not from money – not from money earned, hoarded, spent to purchase things, or used to exercise power.” 1 As I…

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Beauty and Gratitude

Looking up, I watch the high, bright clouds slide smoothly across e. e. cummings’ “blue, true dream of sky.” What beauty God makes with creation! Gratitude gives us solid ground to stand on, but as long-armed as it is, it can never reach as far as God’s grace extends. Like the clouds, I want to…

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