Simple Thanks: Here is your Reminder

Simple Thanks Reminders

Usually I wash, dry, and remake the bed all in the same day. Only occasionally do I pull spare sheets from the closet to rotate them. This means that when a sock gets caught in the fold of the fitted sheet, it could be months before it is rediscovered. Usually by then its mate has hopped off to parts unknown, but occasionally a gleeful reunion ensues.

There is a certain sense of satisfaction to a sock drawer of matched sets.

I’ve mentioned before I am often thankful for warm fuzzy socks, but I don’t usually pay much attention to the pairing. Until laundry day and one has gone missing.

Sometimes we don’t get the joy of reunion without the loneliness of disunion.

Simple Thanks From the Dustbowl

I recently read Kristen Hannah’s The Four Winds. The story follows a family through the dust bowl of the Texas panhandle and their struggle for survival among the millions who clawed their way westward. At one point the lead character notes she would never again take for granted… a floor.

Many scenes in this book arrested me in their description and continue to haunt me weeks after, but this comment settles about me like a shroud. So many things could have filled in that what-not-to-take-for-granted space. Clean water, healthy food, warm clothes, medical care…

How often do I thank God for my floor?

I need reminders to be thankful for the simple – and not so simple – blessings. Like those decks of exercise cards you can deal out to create a unique routine each day. Today it may be squats, crunches, lunges. Tomorrow: crunches, squats, jump rope.

I need to deal out socks, laundry, floor. Heat, water, stove.

Thanks for the Thorns?

Unfortunately, the things we have to be thankful for are often connected to things that we are not. (Laundry doesn’t clean itself.) Juxtaposition of hardship and blessing can bring into sharp relief the thankfulness we have neglected. But, if we aren’t careful, that juxtaposition can cause us to focus on the wrong thing entirely. As the old saying goes: I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Where we focus our attention matters.

Further, we sometimes only reach a point of deep thankfulness by going through a season of loss. I think of Caleb in Joshua 14 laying claim to his portion of the promised land, 45 years late. How much rejoicing there was that day! How much deeper their appreciation must have been to finally arrive home after living as nomads in a strange land for 40+ years. I bet they, too, never took for granted the floor of their own home.

Focus on Thanksgiving

Yet there is another twist to this story. Caleb should have been allowed to enter the promised land decades before, when God turned the Israelites back for their lack of faith. Caleb and Joshua alone lived through the entire exodus while all their comrades died in the desert. Caleb could have become embittered at the long delay, frustrated by his comrades that led to their wilderness years, defeated by the thoughts that must have come “We’re never going to get out of this desert place.”

Yet all those years later, he boasted to Joshua, “I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.”

This did not happen by chance. Proverbs 15:13 tells us what we already know from personal experience: heartache crushes the spirit. The fact that Caleb is as vigorous on the brink of his homeland as he was 45 years earlier tells us that his spirit was not defeated. He was still focused on God’s promise.

Generations later the Apostle Paul explained how someone – Caleb, us – can live with such focused peace. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” he said (Philippians 4:4). Pray and petition with thanksgiving, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds.

Our Reminder Today

Wherever we are – picking through dirty laundry or rejoicing over a found sock – we can cling to God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us. Like Caleb wandering in the wilderness, like the gardener pruning back thorns, we can find something to be thankful for now. We can cling to the hope of the roses yet to come.

Go ahead. Shuffle your blessings and deal a set for today. Remember what to be thankful for.

This post was first written for I am thankful you took the time to read it!

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Meet Janet!

Janet Beagle, PhD is the founder of The Mustard Patch. She divides her time between the Midwest and New England, and if she’s not writing, she’s probably out hiking with her 2-and 4-footed friends.