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Preparing for a Time of Thanksgiving

You may be looking forward to the upcoming holiday and planning to gather around a turkey with friends and family. You may not be looking forward to Thanksgiving because it brings up unpleasant memories or you won't be able to spend time with family who live far away this year. No matter how you feel about turkey day specifically, though, making November a time you grow in gratitude can help reduce stress and increase positive thoughts overall. Plus, it's an ideal time to explore gratitude toward God and how that can enrich your days in your senior living community.

Here are some steps to prepare for a time of thanksgiving this fall.

Make an Appreciation List

The apostle Paul certainly had enough to complain about. He was repeatedly persecuted and beaten, he was consistently imprisoned for sharing Christ, he was scoffed at by Jewish leaders and the early Christians at first mistrusted him because of his past. Yet he repeatedly writes words of thanksgiving in his letters to various persons and churches — he is thankful for the people who are coming to the gospel. He is thankful for the gift of Jesus in his life. He is thankful for his struggles, because the glory of God shines through them.

It's easy to get caught up in the things we can complain about, especially when we're facing struggles such as health issues or loneliness. But Paul shows us there's almost always something for which to be thankful.

Find those things in your life by making a list. Sit down and write a list of all the things you can be thankful for, even if they're small items such as the cup of coffee you enjoyed that morning. If the exercise is difficult for you, write just one thing. And then write a different thing the next day. By the end of the month, you'll have a list of 30 things you're thankful for.

Memorize Scriptures of Thanksgiving

Hiding Scripture in our heart is a great way to impact how we see ourselves, the world and our God. Memorizing Scriptures of thanksgiving and meditating on them helps us to remember to be thankful and mindful of all that God has actually done in our lives. Some favorite Scriptures of thankfulness you might consider include:

  • Psalm 9:1. I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
  • Philippians 4:6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
  • Psalm 95:2: Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

Express Your Gratitude to Others

Thanking God is important, but so is sharing gratitude with those around you. Start early and begin a thanksgiving habit of showing appreciation to those around you. It can be as simple as a verbal (and sincere) thank you to assisted living community staff who provide services to you or friends in the community with whom you enjoy spending time or who help you in little ways. Other people you might show gratitude to include spiritual leaders such as pastors, customer service workers, medical staff and even postal workers or delivery personnel.

By developing a habit of gratitude throughout November, you can appreciate the spirit of Thanksgiving, even if you're not personally excited by a day of feasting.