What I Have Learned this Past Year

Just like many of you, I get really reflective this time of year. For many families, including ours, this year has been a difficult year in many ways.
However, I have to be honest,…

I’m really thankful for this past year. We’ve been stretched as a family, a ministry, and a business. We’ve dug deep and gone through some valleys. There’s been some fear and joy. And, there’s still a lot of uncertainty, but God has proven to be faithful over and over again. And, I’ve learned what the concept of thanksgiving truly means in the Bible.

We have a ton of teenagers at our house as I am writing this email. They’re in the next room laughing and having fun. In a sense they represent what I’ve learned this year. Relationships matter. God created us to engage with Him and with other people.

Consider King Solomon. He had many beautiful wives and concubines, riches and fame, and he was wise beyond our understanding. Yet, he wrote late in life that all was vanity (Ec. 1). He looked around at all he had accomplished and realized that it all had the value of wind. He couldn’t apply value to anything.

When I read this, I thought again of my studies this year regarding thanksgiving. There’s another word we often use for thanksgiving which means gratitude but also means to go up in value. That word is appreciation.

Appreciation is what you do every time you apply or recognize something with thanksgiving. You apply value to it. This means that every time you look at your wife and think about what you are thankful for connected to her that you are applying value to her. And, every time you look at your children and think of what you are thankful for connected to them that you are applying value to them. And, every time you pet your dog and think about what you are thankful for regarding them that you are applying value to them.

Whenever you apply thanksgiving to anything or anyone, you’re making their value go up in your perception.

Therefore, when Solomon looked at all his riches and wives and children and subjects, he was void of thanksgiving because he could not apply thanksgiving to any of them. He was rich; yet, he was impoverished because he failed to see everything and everyone in his life as a gift from God. This touches on one of the main concepts of thanksgiving in the Bible.

Thanksgiving leads to abundance and blessing because whatever you apply thanksgiving to becomes that much more valuable. A man or woman that lives a life with God will look around one day and realize how rich they are because they will have so much in their life that they are grateful for.

So, I am not trying to say that I enjoyed hardship this year. However, I am saying that I have learned just how important personal relationships and connection are. People are important.

So important that I’d say that value is derived from only two things in this world, taking your place in the kingdom of God and impacting and connecting with people (including family.)

For many of you, connecting and impacting people this year has been nearly impossible.

So, I want to encourage you to do something tonight,…

Take a moment tonight and write down as many things that you are thankful for. Be detailed! Write down every event, action, person, and anything else that you are thankful for. Write it because writing plants thoughts deep in your mind. There is something powerful about writing.
Then before New Year’s Day, tell as many people as you can how thankful you are for them. This action might seem uncomfortable at first, but I promise it will change you. And, it will get easy.

Thanksgiving is powerful! This is what this past year taught me. And, I am so grateful for it.

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