Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thankfulness 101

Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an expression in words, and a giving in return.
~ John Wanamaker ~

Connie was attending college in my sister’s hometown. When spring break came and Connie was unable to fly home to Montana to visit her family, Ray and Melodie quickly stepped in and opened their home for the week. Melodie is a hostess queen, and this week found her at her best. She designed each meal with the precision of a surgeon planning a delicate surgery. Along with cooking and baking, she used all her creative ideas for setting a beautiful table. Fresh flowers tucked in the napkin rings added elegance to one meal. Tiny flickering candles in salt dishes at every place setting seasoned another dining experience. Sparkling iced tea with mint leaves, cloth napkins folded like swans, and tiny hearts cut out of butter pats were only a few additional beautiful “blessings” she provided that week.

My namesake aka Pam
After the first couple meals, Ray noticed an obvious trend. Connie never said thank you—not for the beautifully set tables or for the delicious food. Determined to remind her that thanks were in order, Ray began an exaggerated plan of attack. “Thank you, Melodie, this is the best baked corn you’ve ever made.” “The table is beautiful, Melodie. I feel like we’re dining at the White House tonight.” On and on he praised without a single word of thanks from Connie. What DID happen was that two-year-old Pammy began lisping, “Tank-oo, mommy, thith ith good food!” and “I wike the pettie table.”

The Bible tells many wonderful stories of people who showed their gratitude by saying a simple “thank you.” David showed gratitude to his friend Jonathan’s memory by treating his son with kindness. Abigail showed gratitude to David in spite of her dysfunctional home life. Ruth thanked Boaz for allowing her to gather grain in his fields. And we all know how that turned out—she was rewarded with a

Giving thanks—what makes it so difficult for some and easy for others? Thanksgiving is a learned virtue. Without using words, my mother trained me to show thankfulness. Handing out appreciation seemed as natural to her as breathing—wrapping up cinnamon rolls for a teacher who spent extra time to teach me a concept, penning a thank-you note to someone who had given an effective presentation, or using her china at an “everyday” meal for an “I’m grateful for you” statement. She may not have sat me down for a lesson on thanksgiving, but her expressions of thankfulness to others as a daily discipline taught me invaluable lessons.

G. B. Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” You may feel thankful, but unshared thankfulness is useless to others.

Here are some easy ways to get started “speaking” your thanks.

Under Granddad's name is Philippians 1:3
I thank my God every time I remember you.
1.  According to an old Chinese proverb, “When you eat bamboo shoots, remember who planted them.” The same goes for, “When you eat a great steak, remember who grilled it.” Scribble a note of thanks on a napkin and send it to the chef via your server.

1.  You may or may not agree with the current war, but remember the soldiers who risk their lives daily to preserve our peace and freedom. Operation Gratitude is a volunteer, non-profit organization that wishes to show our soldiers gratitude. Through letter-writing and care packages you can show your appreciation and gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. Military. There are so many ways available to give: financial, knitting and crocheting scarfs, recycling cell phones and ink cartridges, etc.

3.  When praising others, let’s not forget the importance of praising God. Mary is our example in showing gratitude to Him.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant" (Luke 1:46-48).

Saint Teresa of Avila said, “In all things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks.”

Wonderful things transpire when we show gratitude to God. When Jehoshaphat heard that the people of Moab, Ammon, and a great multitude of others were coming to battle against Judah, he used praise as his weapon. Singers went before the army and praised him in the beauty of holiness. “Praise the Lord,” they sang. “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.” What happened? Judah’s enemies killed each other!

Have you heard the proverb, “Little pitchers have big ears?” The listening ability of your children is off the charts—they understand far more than you give them credit for. You may be guilty of holding conversations that you wish they had not overheard. But when you hand out thanks—whether to the receptionist at the pediatric care center or to the woman who slices your lunch meat at the local deli—your children are listening and learning. Here are a few ways you can include them and help them grow into a grateful way of life:

1. Begin a Family Gratitude Journal or Online Blog

Charles E. Jefferson said, “Gratitude is born in the hearts of those who take time to count up past mercies.” Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough conducted three studies and found that the participants who kept a gratitude journal had greater emotional energy and subjective well being. Keeping a journal is simple. Choose a time, once a week, after dinner as “Gratitude Time.” A simple notebook will do. Allow the children to print “thank you” in colored markers all over the cover. Or go to and translate “thank you” into different languages to print on the cover. Record your family’s gratitude list in the notebook. Once a month go back and read through the lists.

2. Start Your Day with a Praise Verse

The Psalms are full of praises to God. Read one to your family at breakfast. You’ll be amazed how starting the day with thankfulness will bring joy and peace all day long. It’s hard to grumble over top of, “I love you, O Lord, my strength" (Psalm 18:1/NAB).  Write the day’s praise verse on an index card to carry with you throughout the day, or place it in a prominent place where you can see it as you perform the day’s duties.

3. Use “Gratitude Baskets” for Each Member of the Family

Hang a basket on the door of each family member’s bedroom. These baskets are to hold “thank you jots” of family gratitude. Did your son take time to play a game with his younger sister? Take time to jot a quick thank you and place it in his basket. Did your daughter bring you a bouquet of fallen leaves?  Put a “thank you jot” in her basket—even if someone has to help her read it. Don’t forget to hang a basket for Mom and Dad—your children will soon be filling it with thanks—and you’ll be training a new generation of grateful adults-to-be.

How will you keep your heart thankful in this ungrateful world? William Ward said, "God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?" A heart dries up without thankfulness soon becomes hard with selfishness. There is a remedy to a hard heart. Verbalize one thankful gift each day. Soon your heart will begin to swell like a hard sponge put in water.

Don't be afraid of using too much thankfulness -- the sponge of your heart holds plenty.  And if it runs over?  That's okay, too.  A heart running over with thanksgiving spills into the hearts of others -- Thankfulness begets thankfulness.

* * * * *

Saying Thanks with a Pumpkin Roll

Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, God showed me a friend I needed to thank. Carisa is so unselfish in her giving.  And she does it in a totally unassuming way.  I've often sat under her sheltering tree. Within seconds, I knew how I might be able to bless Carisa.  While I cook in a rather haphazard kind of way (dumping and adding pinches), Carisa cooks recipes she has improved upon until perfect -- a rather intimidating factor contributing to why her food always tastes better than mine. A
pumpkin roll is one thing she doesn't make, but her family loves, so it was an easy choice.

When God was speaking to me, I actually responded out loud to Him to keep myself accountable -- and to help me remember. I often forget what I'm thinking as I drift off to sleep.  I've written brilliant books in my mind but in the morning don't even recall the topic.  God made sure I wouldn't forget.  I dreamed about Carisa last night and it wasn't good.  While backing out of a parking space, I couldn't get my foot on the brake.  As I struggled, I backed over one of their brand new pups.  Carisa was standing by the door sobbing.  I went into her house, only to find her grandmother lying on the couch, sobbing.  It was so horrible; no wonder I woke up shaking.  I was so afraid I would re-dream it that I struggled to stay awake the remainder of the night. Sure wish I could figure out a better way to retain my midnight thoughts!

Pumpkin Roll Recipe
This recipe looks a lot harder than it actually is.  Don't be afraid to try it.  


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle towel with 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
2.  Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.   
3.  Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel.  Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

6 ounces creamed cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1.  Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. 
2.  Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake.  


1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
Powdered sugar to make icing consistency. 
Chopped pecans

1.  Combine sugar and brown sugar.  Slowly heat to boiling. Cool.
2.  Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
3.  Pour over roll and sprinkle with pecans.
Linked to: 


Shoregirl said...

THANK YOU -- for this gentle reminder to be thankful!
I've had to "learn the hard way" at times by entertaining a few of those "ungrateful" guests....they don't know it but they served to strengthen my resolve to show gratitude whenever and wherever I can!
AND I can vouch for the "deliciousness" and easiness of the pumpkin's a favorite wherever I take it!

Stacie said...

I really like the G. B. Stern quote. I'll have to add that to my quote book.
I tend to be a glass half empty kind of person, so I've been keeping a gratitude journal as I work on that characteristic.
P.S. Pumpkin roll is a fave of mine. So good!

Shannon Phillips said...

I love how your sister stayed true to her commitment even though her efforts seemed unappreciated. She could've easily responded in kind by not inviting her back after a couple of days or resorted to serving canned soup and peanut butter sandwiches on paper plates. After all, who would know or even care? She had not "signed up" for the job or made her intentions public. Your sister was not fulfilling a duty, but rather a commitment. She portrayed the perfect example of a servant's heart. Oh that we could learn to serve and be faithful when it goes unnoticed, seems insignificant, or even unappreciated. Only then can we experience the blessings that come from being a blessing to others.

Relyn said...

Hi, Pamela. I am sorry it has taken me so long to come and visit. I am so very glad I did, though. What a beautiful, hopeful place you have here. It's so very nice to meet you. That's one thing I am thankful for today.

Wonder said...

this is my first time to visit, and thank YOU for the encouraging words :). happy day to you!

Elizabethd said...

Thank you...two little words that are so easily forgotten, and yet make such a difference.
Thank you for your post today.

Renee said...

Good reminder, good ideas, and good recipe!

SharonB said...

Wonderful post! I loved the G. B. Stern quote “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” You may feel thankful, but unshared thankfulness is useless to others.

A good reminder to share our (MY) thankfulness!

THANK YOU for stopping by my blog today! I see you live in Muncie Ind? I grew up in Pendleton...well the first 10 yrs of my life anyway. The majority of my relatives still live in and aroung the area.

Thanks again!!

Cyndi@Walking in His Grace said...

Pamela thank you for that wonderful post!! What a great reminder that we need to be thankful!
Thanks for linking it to my Encouraging Words Wednesday!

Sue said...

What a great post! Gratitude is so important. Your pumpkin roll sounds yummy!
Thanks for visiting my blog and for your sweet comment:)

Blue Cotton Memory said...

My oldest son loves pumpkin roles - and I have bunches of pumpkins I am going to freeze this weekend! I can't wait to try to recipe and spoil him.

I so want to know - did Connie every say thank you? Totally curious!

I must admit, it really bogs my mind when young people come over and I spoil them rotten and they don't say thank you:(

I love your examples. I'm like doing it at the dinner table - talking about what happened during the day that they are thankful for!

Thank you! For such a Lovely post on Hospitality and teaching thanks!

A multi-dimensional life said...

Well, this recipe sounds like great comfort food! ;) Thank YOU for your gentle reminders...
May we remember to let others know just how thankful we are for them and speak words of praise and appreciation even for the little things. I loved the thought of writing a word of thanks to the chef! Great quote too! xo

Jane said...

And Thank You, Pamela, for another thought provoking post! And a wonderful recipe too. A visit to your blog always gives me something to think about throughout the day. I really appreciate it!

tcsoko said...

Yummy - I'm grateful that you shared this yummy recipe! Will have to try it out this weekend. Thanks for the reminder to speak out our gratitude.

A Joyful Noise said...

I try to tell the cook thank you for the delicious meal, and it does encourage him to keep cooking. Gratitude and thankfulness is a learned response. It is good to show our children by example that there are many things in life to be thankful for. God's blessings continue to be poured out and we are greatful for His mercy and grace.

Aliene said...

The pumpkin roll brought memories back when my Mom made them.
sometimes she would make a strawberry roll.

Thanks for reminding us to be thankful. I love your blog. Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me.

Sharon said...

I know that I am grateful for you.

This was a wonderful post - both for encouraging the attitude of thankfulness that we should all have, and for all the very practical suggestions. I really liked the idea of the gratitude baskets. Even though my sons are grown and gone, I think I'm just going to practice telling them my "thank-you's" more often. Maybe send them a card or email from time to time...

I need to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness with God, too. Too often all He hears are my woes.

I can almost smell that pumpkin roll, Pamela. Mmmm...yummy.


Laura @ Beholding Glory said...

Awesome! What gret ideas. Thank you for sharing your creative thoughts.

Misty said...

Wonderful post! Thank you for the recipe too, I am going to try it a few times and then make some as a way of thanks for my friends.

Marisa Bernard said...

Such a beautiful post! Thank-you for the reminder to be grateful each and every day and for providing us methods for doing just that! I especially love the "gratitude basket." I saw something similar on Pinterest (gratitude jar). Each day for the month of November we are to write something for which we are thankful for another family member and place our little note in the gratitude jar. On Thanksgiving Day, we then read all of the special notes around the dinner table. So sweet!! Oh and of course... thank-you for the yummy recipe :D Be blessed!