We Americans will soon celebrate l'Action de grâce. I love the French translation of Thanksgiving, because in addition to gathering with family for food, this season is indeed founded on grace and gratitude. My favorite definition of grace is "unmerited favor." Sometimes it takes disasters like the recent super typhoon in the Philippines to remind us that we have far more than we deserve, and it's more than appropriate to pause in wonder at God's protection and provision.
Gratitude is rooted in remembrance, so here's a brief review of the Pilgrims' plight in 1620-1622: After a heartbreaking first winter of sickness and hunger, the colonists were able to grow a decent harvest the next spring and summer thanks to the instruction imparted by Squanto and other natives. But an unexpected ship of new colonists arrived in October--a joyful event--yet the newcomers nearly doubled the colony's population without bringing additional food or supplies. Governor Bradford's diary claims that at one point that winter, each individual's ration was a meager five kernels of corn. Thankfully, a merchant ship arrived later that same winter, allowing the colonists to purchase supplies (albeit at exorbitant prices) to trade to the natives for food. By the colonists' third autumn, the harvest was plentiful, and they celebrated once again, recalling the difficult first years behind them.
Here in America, our lives have continued to be characterized by increasing abundance. My "five kernels" of gratitude reveal the generosity that God has shown me:
1. As a wife, I'm grateful for my husband and the way he continually shares his talents with those around him. As a teacher, coach, drummer, and chef, he contributes so much to others. I'm proud of him and grateful for his love.
3. As a world citizen, I'm grateful for the time I've been able to spend living and traveling in other countries. From Sri Lanka to Syria, the people I've met have added so much to my understanding of human nature, and I feel fortunate for these experiences and how they've shaped my global perspective.
4. As a child of God, I'm grateful for the ways that mothering has brought ugly parts of my character to the forefront. It sounds strange to be thankful for this, I know, but there's nothing more humbling than seeing your flaws and failures made evident on a frequent basis. I have a prideful bent that needs to face the truth about how short I fall from grace, and how much I need a Savior.
5. As a writer, I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you through this blog. It's a blessing to be able to connect with familiar and new friends who can relate to experiences or challenge my ideas. For those of you who have responded to my posts in person or in a comment, thank you for making Intentional Mama more of a conversation.
Should the rest of my life encompass far more difficult circumstances, I pray for forbearance and continued gratitude for what I've already been given. What is one of your kernels of gratitude this Thanksgiving? Please share in a comment! I wish you moments of overwhelming gratitude this week.