Anticipating Thanksgiving

Anticipating Thanksgiving

Colossians 3:15-17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.   

In preparation to writing this post, I must confess I have shed many tears. You may ask how appreciation, joy, and tears fit together in the same post. I will attempt to take you my readers on a short journey.

It was a snowy, icy day in NE PA as my sister, sister-in-law, and I set off to Maryland. I had anticipated this day of celebration with my soon to be niece-in-law. 

Jess has fought a valiant battle the past year and I longed to see her and celebrate her upcoming marriage to my nephew. Joy levels were high as I anticipated 10 hours of driving time with my sister who was visiting from Colorado and my sister-in-law. I longed to connect with both.

Our drive to the venue was uneventful and conversation rich. We reflected on God’s protection and perfect timing as we arrived just minutes before the scheduled time for the shower to start. My joy bank was overflowing.

The shower was beautiful, and the time together cherished. We anticipated the 5-hour drive ahead of us as we departed for home shortly after 6 pm. Have you ever found your joy levels diminishing? 

Times of overwhelm and exhaustion can certainly steal our joy. Returning home shortly after 10 pm I experienced both emotions. My ability to reflect on the good times with my sister and sister-in-law and Jess and her beautiful family and friends helped to restore my joy as I allowed myself to feel the feelings of fatigue. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, so that the power of Christ might rest on me.

Appreciation transforms by training our brain to focus on the good things in the world around us and the people we interact with. 

Many of us have memories stored that affect the ways we view specific times. Often times of celebration are marred by past traumas that occurred during or before these highlighted events.

In his book Transforming Fellowship, Chapter six, Brain Skill 4-Create Appreciation, Chris Coursey, after asking God why this skill matters to Him, found himself thinking, “Skill 4 is the expression of My heart to and between my children. Here is another gift that helps my children know and remember me. Creating appreciation soothes a sick heart and paves the way for my Spirit to bring comfort. Here is a lubricant to keep all the parts of My Body moving in unison with me.”

Appreciation is packaged joy. With this in mind building, our appreciation bank is a great tool to build joy in our lives. 

I often create this bank when I notice my joy levels are low. Listing several memories, I appreciate, I give them names. For instance, Osprey visit, Beach walk, Mountain splendor. 

For 30-days, three-time a day I will take time to feel the appreciation in my body. If the appreciation begins to wear off or my mind begins to wander, I grab another joy-filled memory and sustain the feeling for five minutes. 

Turning on the appreciation circuit in our brain causes feel-good chemicals to be released. Increased levels of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin and endorphins help us feel alive. 

Pulling up appreciation memories triggers our brains as if we were living these joy-filled moments. Once again we reap all the benefits when our body releases these joy hormones.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  

My top five appreciation memories:

Osprey visit, Beach walk. Mountain splendor, New life, Majestic blue horizon

What are your top five appreciation memories? Have you given them names? How might this change your Thanksgiving Day if your brain’s default switch was appreciation/thankfulness?

6 thoughts on “Anticipating Thanksgiving

  1. My top five appreciation memories:
    1. Spending time in Santa Cruz, CA any time I have been there. That will always be “home” to me.
    2. My journey with Christ. I feel I am in my “infancy” with Him, but it’s completely okay. I believe, just like any other journey or season of life, timing is everything.
    3. My friends new and old and my husband’s family. They are a solid foundation for me as I have never been close with my own family.
    4. The beauty I see around me whenever I am looking out a window, spending time at the beach or anywhere outdoors that I can see trees, birds, squirrels, et al. God truly is amazing at what He creates/ed. There is nothing more perfect than time spent in His creation.
    5. My home church Salty. I enjoy so much volunteering there, attending services and being around such uplifting, caring and considerate Christians.
    Thank you for posting this Joanna, what better day than on Thanksgiving. Love you!

    1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful reflections. You are an amazing lady and we are so blessed to call you friend. We are thankful for the beautiful memories we have with you and Joe and we look forward to creating many more.

  2. Thank you Joanna for sharing a wonderful way to stay focused in Gods’
    Love for us through Gratitude for
    Our blessings.
    Lots of love
    Mimi

  3. My top 5 appreciation moments:
    1) Winter of 1964 when was able to recognize at such a young age that it was God who kept me alive when doctors gave me up for dead from pneumonia.
    2) 1977 Senior Prom that is my screen saver.
    3) 1984 when I realized it was my responsibility to raise my precious baby when he was only 1 day old and I would need every ounce of help Holy Spirit would give me.
    4) My amazing home births in 1996 and 1999 that were so filled with God’s presence, Jesus’ Love and Holy Spirit Power to dull pain and produce holy laughter and tears of joy when they popped out!
    5) 2019 seeing my youngest son realizing his goals of being a published author while he prays everyday for Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding in his life, making it through several years of joy and frustration, up and down, yet never losing his faith!

    1. Those are some amazing joy-filled moments. Thank you so much for sharing them with us all. I love how with appreciation we are connected relationally with our Father God and His Son Jesus Christ. Such a sweet place to be.

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