Thankfulness Changes Lives

Thankfulness Changes Lives

January 28, 2014

01.28.14 Karen Thankfulness

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 (NIV)

A winter Saturday afternoon found me cleaning our basement storage room. There were boxes of papers to sort, bins of holiday decorations to shuffle and other assorted items to realign neatly on the shelves. I’d estimated it would take me an hour or so to tidy up the space. Except I hadn’t factored in one thing.


The items I straightened and stacked weren’t spectacular; they were common articles found in many basements and garages. But the fragrance of precious memories clung to them. Memories of events that changed my life. Memories of people who touched my heart. My pace slowed significantly.

I gently folded the ivory lace dress my daughter wore for her baby dedication at church over two decades ago. My mother bought it for her and continues to think of her grandchildren, picking up special trinkets and treats for them. She has a knack for making others feel loved.

I thank my God every time I remember my mom.

A hand-sewn stuffed bunny rabbit sat perched on a corner shelf. My college roommate Kelly lovingly crafted it for one of my children when they were young. For over 30 years, Kelly has been a thoughtful friend who never forgets my birthday and faithfully prays for my family.

I thank my God every time I remember my friend Kelly.

I found an old key on a greyed leather keychain. Turning the keychain over I saw a simple word scrawled across the back: pool. Our former neighbor, a widow and retired school teacher, had a built-in swimming pool and we did not. Without children or grandkids nearby, she gave us a key so our young family could take a dip any time we wished.

I thank my God every time I remember Mrs. B.

Memories surrounded me as I sorted through yearbooks and photo albums. Old friends. Precious relatives. Former church members and coworkers. Pieces of my past. So many of these dear folks played a part in my life. Remembering them brought a smile to my face and a few salty tears to my eyes.

I whispered a prayer of sincere thankfulness for all of those people who helped shape my life. Their encouragement, advice and sometimes mere presence were blessings to me. God even used the relationship bumps to help mold my character and teach me life lessons.

In today’s key verse, Paul writes to the believers at the church in Philippi declaring, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Just calling to mind the image of these loved ones gave the apostle reason to be grateful to God. But Paul didn’t only thank God, Paul also told his friends of his thankfulness.

Could we do the same today? To not only thank God for those in our lives but also let them know how grateful we are for them? Dare we divert from our daily routine to take a moment or two to shoot off an email, make a phone call, or even send a hand-written note to someone we thank God for each time we remember them?

Gratefulness brings contentment and contentment brings peace—peace in knowing all the pieces of our lives string together to make us who we are today.

Grab a pen or pick up your phone. Someone is waiting to hear how thankful you are for them. It might just make their day. And yours.

Dear Lord, help me to take time today to not only thank You for the many special people in my life but to joyfully tell them as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Want a go-to-guide for reaching out to and celebrating the special people in your life? Everyday Confetti, the new book by Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer, will give you tons of ideas and recipes for making your loved ones feel cherished. When you purchase it from Proverbs 31 Ministries, you’ll be eligible to receive a PDF on getting organized for the New Year.

Visit Karen’s blog where she is giving away a memory-making basket of thankfulness and a copy of Everyday Confetti.

Need a guest speaker for your women’s event? Invite Karen to be your presenter. Click here for a list of her topics.

Reflect and Respond:
Who in your life are you grateful for? Make a list. Then, after each name, mention a few reasons why.

Take time today to contact at least one of these people and let them know why you are thankful God placed them in your life.

Power Verse:
Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” (HCSB)

© 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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  1. My wonderful husband, Ron Smith is who I’m greatful for tonight- next to God, that is. My incredible husband loves me, and he’ll do anything for me- even if he’s under the weat…her like he is tonight. He’ll help me out in any way possible even if he’s not feeling like his self. You’d think being sick would keep him from helping me; however, he doesn’t allow anything to keep him away from me. ” I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 (NIV)
    This particular verse reminds us that we should thank God every day for all He’s already done for us. God needs to know that we’re grateful for the things He has already given us in our lives, even thanking Him for what He is going to do in the future for us.
    “Dear Lord, help me to take time today to not only thank You for the many special people in my life but to joyfully tell them as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”~Karen Ehman
    This is a good prayer to say before eating meals. I know my husband and I are so thankful to have one another. I don’t know what would happen if we weren’t in one another’s lives. I ♥ my husband so much that I thank him all the time for who he is. I think God, too, for giving me the very best husband in the universe.
    Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.” (HCSB)
    Jesus died on the cross for us, and we should definitely be thankful for that. Whether you believe or not, it’s good to thank God that you’re alive another day. I thank God that I have a wonderful husband, who loves me even though I have a disability. Ultimately, I think that there are a lot of things that we can all be thankful for tonight.See More

  2. Denise Darnielle says:

    Its 1am in the morning and I was unable to sleep tonight because I was pondering this very thing. How thankful I was for all the things, good and bad that has brought me to be this person God has molded me into. I am so thankful for smooth places in my life and for the bumps. It has all brought me to where I am today at 43 years of age. Not bragging but thankful for the wisdom that is noticeable in my life. I am thankful that I serve a God that loves me so much and has even more for me as I grow with Him. Thank You for sharing this.. God Bless You..

  3. Karen Ellis says:

    There are so many awesome women the Lord has put in my life that have taught me, carried me, corrected me, and through it all loved me. Thank You Lord for know what I needed and providing those who could give it to me.

  4. I’m going to name one person whom I am thankful for. I would say she has more impact on my life than anyone. She would not strike you as someone who would be a mentor but after a few years of us being friends, I realized that is exactly what she has been in my life. Sadie is not prominent in the church as a Bible teacher but she is always there when there is a practical need to be met in the church and community. She would be know for the words, ‘Why don’t you come for a cup of tea?’ which would actually be a full meal and then a game of dominoes or scrabble upwords. Her loving, gracious way has taught me much!

  5. Tammy Harrington says:

    What a beautiful devotion but an amazing verse that does remind us where we need to be spiritually. We will have bumps and bruises but the scripture tells us to Rejoice in The Lord and I am grateful for the reminder to keep in the forefront of my heart. I will begin a thankful journey to scribe in each evening. We started the thankful journey three years ago and I lost track to continue the good work.

  6. There are sooo many people that I am truly Thank Ful for but one of many and one I missed the most is my Grandmother. She was the first person that brought/ told me about of Jesus. Everytime I think about it she was like a Jesus. Thank You Lord for my Grandmother, who is now my Angel that follows me everywhere I go.

  7. Thankful that after a night of “deliberate disobedience” with my eating, God is merciful and gracious to wake me this morning, with no headache) and give me another chance to follow Him! I’ve confessed my sin so many times, but realized this morning that very few times have I actually repented (turned away). I’ve just been “sorry” not did not have the godly sorrow that leads to repentance. So, today I truly repent and will keep turning my thoughts to His mercies and love for me.

    • Praying for you today Debi. Thanks for sharing your heart. I can so relate, as I’m sure many readers can. God bless you in your quest to obey in your eating.

    • Karen, you are so right…I am one of the readers who can relate and needed to hear this articulation of what I was doing wrong–but couldn’t quite figure out or admit to. Debi, thank you soooo much for posting this. You nailed MY food problem on the head. “Deliberate disobedience” without true repentance that leads to turning away from the behavior! I was praying for help, yet choosing not to change. Thanks for loving little whack on the hand 🙂

  8. Erin Hoekstra says:

    I am thankful for my very good friend Jackie Land. We have known each other for 10 years and even though our children have grown apart and we don’t see each other as much as we would like, she is a constant support and prayer warrior. She is who I go to when I need Godly advice and prayer. God has touched me through her blessings.

  9. I am thankful to a beautiful woman that has overcome many trying times and is willing to share with me how she has over come that we might see God work through both of us.

  10. I thank God everytime I think of my mom. No, we did not have a picture perfect life while I was growing up but my mom taught me, by example, her faith, her servants heart and unconditonal love. She also taught me a love of cooking and sowing. She is a sweet, caring person and at 82 she is still doing for others with the love of Jesus.

  11. Cindi Mullinax says:

    I know that many people, most in fact are thankful for their mother. However, my mom, is the most amazing woman I know. She raised the 5 of us with basically no support at home from my dad. He was the disciplinarian, of course. My mom took the 5 of us (all born within 10 years) to church every Sunday and dad wouldn’t go. Occassionally he would if we were giving mom a hard time, just so he could get us back in line. My mom was not only mom to all of us, but she was the “Other Mother” to hundreds of children thru the years. She never was able to find anyone who took care of us to her liking while she worked, so she started keeping children for others. She would teach them cute little songs and songs about Jesus. She NEVER let them play too rough, or use ugly words like GAAH! or Poop! lol…. She had her in home daycare for years and ALWAYS had a waiting list. The kindergarden teachers would fight over the children that came through Miss Mozelle’s daycare, because they knew that these children already knew how to play well with others and not be selfish, how to line up and always knew their letter sounds. All of the kids called her grandma and even after she retired, now at 74 she is keeping one baby. She loved all of the kids and treated them as her own. My 2 grown and married daughters love their grandma and cherish her memories and things they did with her through the years. Even today, as my oldest daughter who just found out that she can’t have a child, wanted to go to “grandma” and sit down for a cup of coffee…which has come to mean I NEED TO HAVE GRANDMA TIME. My mother is an amazing lady and has touched so many lives through the years. She has 13 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren – All love and cherish her so much, but especially the older ones who stayed at grandmas daycare. This woman has always wanted to write a book and I now so wish that she would. She could really help young mothers learn the ropes. She is my rock.

  12. One lady in particular stands out in my mind was a faithful Sunday School teacher who showed love and attention to me at my little neighborhood church while growing up and after. I did not come from a Christian home and I give credit to her for loving me into the kingdom. She was a bright spot in my days.

    • Joyce,
      I love that you said ” loving me into the Kingdom”. There are so many times in our lives that we feel like we can not lead others towards the Lord or that we are not qualified to do anything that makes a difference in peoples lives and this is just not true. Our love, when given to others even in the simplest of ways can have a great effect on their lives. Thank you for sharing.

  13. I am thankful for a counselor friend of mine that always seems to know the right thing to say to me at the right time. I see God visibly working in her life on a daily basis and it gives me hope that God will work that way in my life as well.

  14. I am so thankful for my mom! I think most people are. Recently I have been without work because of the frigid weather and a water disaster. I have been paid for a total of 12 hrs this year! My mom and dad are both receiving disability benefits so their income is significantly lower than mine and most other people. Last week my mom tried to give my $30.00. I could never except that kind of money from my mom. Yesterday, both of my parents showed up at my back door with bags of groceries! Ground beef, hot dogs, buns, crackers, milk, cereal,and some bananas. She was thinking of me and my husband and our three boys. I only hope to be such a great mom to my boys!

  15. Each and every time I fold my sheets straight from my dryer I am thankful for my grandmother Doris, she loved to take time to fold them with such love…and so absolutely perfection! I think about and pray for the family members that will find sweet slumber on the sheets I fold…thank you Grandma for all the little things that you cause me to pause and think about and celebrate! I love and miss you!

  16. I am very thankful for my mother…. She cared for us kids for many years with the tasks of a stay at home mom… She was always there when I needed her, gave hugs, fixed us wonderful meals and provided that security that only a mom (or dad) can give… By doing this, she taught me how to be a mama, how to cook, clean and care for my children… She had a wonderful contagious humor and I inherited that from her… My kids knew I loved to have fun with them just like she did with us… I appreciate her so much now because she is no longer with me.. but passed from this life in 1994… Not a day goes by that I do not think of her in some way. and wish so hard we could have that cup of coffee together and just talk… She was my mom and best friend too!!! I loved he so much and thank our Lord for giving me to her.

  17. How important this lost treasure is to say thank you whether in a note, a phone call, face-to-face. My brother died a couple of weeks back. People spoke of what he did, how precious he was, or his interests that interested them to have him as a friend. It was probably said to him, but how important one feels valued by being appreciated or thanked. Thank you for encouraging all who read this to do so. Its really a lost art, but as believers we should be making a difference.

  18. I am thankful and so very blessed for my husband. He always is there for me and knows when I’m having bad days with my multiple sclerosis. He takes such great care of me. His love is sincere and we have such fun together. I truly do enjoy spending time with him.

  19. It blesses me so much to read all of your comments about those for whom you are thankful. Now, if they are still living, be sure to tell THEM!!!

  20. I am thankful that God has placed so many people in my life that I can be thankful for. God has placed a Godly mom that has led by example that even though life doesn’t always go the way you expect, you still praise and rejoice and keep trusting! God has placed many “sisters” and mentors in my life to encourage and strengthen my walk with the Lord! God has placed a loving husband in my life that we walk through full time ministry experiences together..even the tough ones trusting and believing God’s promises…even when we don’t always see eye to eye on things. Thankful for my 3 children! They are each so very different, but have a love for life and people that bring a smile to my face when I see them loving others and caring for them!
    Truly blessed beyond all measure by the people that God has brought into my life!

  21. Karen, I know I posted on here once in a reply, but I forgot to tell you how glad I am you wrote this. Not only will it help my husband realize why it takes me so long to clean, and why I keep mementos (though I confess, I could pare down the hoard) but mainly for the reminder to others know how much we cherish them. It is so easy to get too busy to do that. I thank God for Proverbs 31 ministry. It has enriched my spiritual life for many years.

  22. I’m thinking about Sis. Bush, who was my pastor’s wife in the church I grew up in. Sis. Bush always encouraged me (and all the youth) to memorize scripture to get God’s word planted deep in our hearts. She would even pay us a set $ amount when we could quote it back to her. She also encouraged me to use my talents for God’s glory. When I took piano lessons, she gave me a church hymnal to practice the hymns we sang, and then encouraged me to play the piano for church service. The song leader would choose songs from a printed list of what I was able to play. There are so many memories of how she has touched my life and that of my husband and children. Her focus was always to encourage us to give our best for Christ. Thank God for Sis. Bush!

  23. Our refrigerator went out on us last night (after 23 years but I thank God that it lasted that long!!). Hubby and I cleaned everything out and this morning, he got it ready to take to the appliance repair shop (hoping that it can be but if not, again, it has more than paid for itself). One of the men from our church came over to help him strap it up and then the two of them carted it down a flight of stairs and out the door and into my husband’s truck. An hour later, hubby came back with the small refrigerator that he use to have in his office. I am so thankful to the young man who got out of a warm bed and came to help his pastor (who also comes every week to wash our vehicles) and so thankful to my wonderful husband. Last Friday, we celebrated our 26 wedding anniversary and his birthday. I have had the pleasure of his kindness, faithfulness, goodness, love and humor and look forward to many more years of the same. Wow! There are so many others in my life, men, women, and even children who have filled my heart with thankfulness- for the words, the encouragement, the gifts, the corrections, their patience with me, the taking off from work to be with me not once but twice after two surgeries, the handwritten letters, handmade birthday cards, and so much more. My prayer is that God will bless them and continue giving me the chance to say, ‘thank you’ and show that I mean it from my heart!

  24. Juanita Hargrove says:

    A dear friend sent me today the devotional on friends and letting them know how much appreciated, one way or another. That was not the best part! For the devotional started with cleaning out a storage space in her garage, with memories attached in too many to progress as planned! Am going exactly the same thing right now, at the young, grateful age of just turned 74 a week ago, to do some re-organizing of our home, now content to stay and make it more enjoyable for my husband to live in all the “collectibles” I hold dear, to refresh my memory!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the good news I am not alone, in my actions, nor personality “quirks” (to some)! Such a blessing for my day! God is so good, in His timing, ways, and surprises! As a writer in progress, for a life time…it behooves me to keep trying and using gifts I share and see in others, to encourage and thank! Praise God for His mercies, everlasting!

  25. Karen Ginnard says:

    I am thankful beyond belief for my new grown-up bonus kids (aka ‘step-kids’), Scott and Nicole. Their loving and open hearts are building bridges in a family situation where dysfunction was at one time the norm. Despite their early childhood woundedness, they have shown great character and love by their actions, ministering healing to everyone around them by their willingness to open doors that were apparently closed tight long ago. I’ve only known them for a short time, but they are two of the joys in this wonderful new married life. I may be 57 years old, but God is still working miracles! He, and He alone, is in the life-changing business!

  26. I am thankful for Alice, who was already in her 70’s when she took on a Sunday School class of 7 teenaged girls and boys. Not only did she teach us practical application of the bible, she had us over to her house and taught us how to cook, how to clean, how to show sportsmanship during games etc. She died when I was in college. She was like a grandma to me.

  27. Lynn fincher says:

    I have so many to be thankful for # 1 is God He is the same always then my husband and my kids…
    There are special friends who have helped me with my walk with older mentor namedRuby showed me how to change my heart like in the song change my heart O Lord make it more like yours..
    Each day I think of different wants and thank God for all of them..
    I am also so glad to be doing the OBS with Proverbs 31
    Thank you also fir your words of encouragement to all.

  28. Heidi menges says:

    I’m most thankful for my sister! She loves me unconditionally, even when I’m bossy!

  29. I am thankful EVERY time I think of my husband’s grandmother. She “adopted” me as her own. While she was in no way perfect, she lived a godly life before me. Teaching, mostly through modeling, how to live as a daughter of Christ; and, yes, this sometimes meant gentle correction from her. I am a different person because of my time with her. Thanks be to God!

  30. Elizabeth Evans says:

    I’m very thankful for my mom, Elaine Clay. She has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. She has prayed for me for as long as I have been alive. How do I know? I’m still alive. I’m a successful pre-kindergarten teacher and I love the Lord! Praise God for allowing Elaine Clay to be my mother. She has always been in my court, and I can only pray that I will be the strong, godly woman that my mom has become.

  31. Arlene Clark says:

    I am so thankful for UPTV. Last Night they had the movie Courageous on. I had seen this once before. But, last night, as I heard the words from a pastor in the movie, tell the father who lost his daughter, he could chose to continue grieving over what he could not have in life with his daughter, or he could remember all the time he did have and cherish those memories. All I could say is thank you Jesus for this movie. I have been grieving the sudden loss of our son since Oct 5, 2001. It was as though Jesus was speaking to me through this movie. The tears may fall still but I am now living with a grateful heart of having my son for 23 years to love and watch grow into a great man. Thank you Karen for the opportunity to write this, it is helping to continue my process of healing. God Bless You!

  32. I thank God every day for my wonderful grandmothers. Each were beautiful in their own way;
    both loved me for who i am and both made me always feel very special. I have warm memories of my grandma T. baking homemade bread without a recipe and us grandchildren gobbling it down warm from the oven smothered with delicious homemade jelly. Grandma T. found the good in everyone and instilled the love of God in each of us grandchildren. She was very generous.
    Grandma G. treasured us grandchildren; I remember her knack for crocheting warm afghans for family members and always willing to help family and friends with kindness. Grandma G. truly had a sweet heart for giving.
    I learned so much from my two loving grandmothers.

  33. Hi there, everything is going well here and ofcourse
    every one is sharing data, that’s in fact excellent, keep up writing.

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