Psalm 30:12b

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

When I was a child in the Midwest, my family loved to travel. We loved to go and visit family members in the west coast, we went on mission trips to the south and the east, and we went on family vacations to explore new areas! But there was something special about our vacations – I never remember traveling by airplane as a family. When we traveled, we loaded up in our white Pontiac Trans Sport minivan and took our time, making a road trip full of adventures out of it. Looking back, this seems like a bold (maybe even foolhardy) move by my parents. Often along the way, we were bored and bickering. My mom had a solution for that, though – the “ABC Game.” We had to look out the window and find objects that began with each letter of the alphabet. After we had done that, she had one more special trick. We had to play the ABC Game again, but with things we were grateful for – specific and tangible things for which we could offer words of thanks. This proved to be a much harder task, especially when we got to the second half of the alphabet, with letters like X, U, V, and Z.

Life is full of things to be grateful for – small acts of kindness and generosity by strangers or friends, words of hope and encouragement shared in love, gifts of grace and caring. Yet too often, our lives become so busy that we forget to stop and let gratitude wash over us. We get out of the habit of being thankful, of feeling awe at all we have been blessed with.

Today, I invite you to make space for gratitude. Pause for a moment and think about what your day – what gifts have you experienced? Perhaps as you were driving, you passed a tree full of lovely blossoms. Or maybe a coworker brought you a cup of coffee. Maybe a neighbor smiled at you. Or perhaps your partner gave you a long embrace before leaving the house. It could be that you were kissed by a child, snuggled by a kitten, or uplifted by a joke.

A thankful heart takes time to notice those small, precious gifts. Today, I am grateful that my mom taught us that gratitude is critical to happiness. Today, I will play the ABC game of gratitude again.