Serving up words of gratitude at Thanksgiving and throughout the year can nourish souls and fill the heart and mind

©Joy Dunlap

They were conversations long forgotten. Words spoken that left my mouth and mind many years ago. By God’s grace and through His power, the words had implanted in others in such a way that impacted them for good.

I gathered that fall with a group of friends who hadn’t all been together since college. What a treat it was to visit with them, to laugh, to talk, to remember and to share about our current lives! But despite the upbeat vibe, the reality was I was feeling down on myself. I wasn’t in a good place about my health, my body image, or my accomplishments, and there was a battle in my mind and spirit about whether anything I was doing mattered. I’m not sure if they sensed that (they are super smart women though), but during our time together two of them brought up interactions with me they said had given them wisdom and counsel that impacted their lives.

Words I had forgotten until they recalled them decades later. One of them shared about how I’d encouraged her and provided guidance to pursue a college degree; the other recalled counsel I had given about trusting others and discerning their character. Both subsequently acted on that advice and shared how grateful they were.

I never knew what an impact those conversations had made. But, oh, how it sweetened my spirit to hear that encouragement shared years ago made a difference – one they still remembered. Those friends have blessed my life in different ways, but the specific gratitude they expressed that day refreshed my heart and allowed me to reflect and to see how God had used my words in their lives.

Their words touched me then, and they still do today.

Thanksgiving offers the perfect door to feed words of gratitude to nourish the hearts of those who have impacted us throughout our lives. 

They won’t all be gathered in our home, but they are firmly in our hearts!  And, we can serve up gratitude no matter where they are.

Who would be uplifted to know we are grateful for encouraging words they spoke, sage advice they gave, or helpful guidance they administered in the past?

A lifelong (or new) friend? Business associate? Social group acquaintance?

Teacher? Coach? Neighbor?

Spouse? Parent? A sibling?

Bible study or Sunday School teacher? Small group leader?  Preacher?

What if we specifically serve up gratitude this Thanksgiving and into the holy-day season? Perhaps our thankfulness – like those delicious favorites at the dinner table – will be passed to someone else, and someone else, filling their hearts and minds with sweetness.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 NIV

While we’re thanking others whose words and actions have impacted us, how about if we see who else we can boost with words of gratitude today?

The barista at the coffee shop?  The stylist or tech at the salon?  The waitress at a favorite restaurant?

Many we encounter on our daily paths could be encouraged by a kind word, a supportive statement, or genuine interest in them. They hunger to be seen and valued.

How blessed we are that God does that for each of us!  He sees us, loves us, cherishes us. He desires to be in fellowship with us, to have a close relationship with us!

Oh, we have so much to be grateful for to God!

And the words He’s given us are the most impactful and life-changing of all time.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 NIV

Now I do love the Thanksgiving meal – turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, corn casserole, well – practically everything casserole, and all those pies! Pecan, apple, pumpkin, cherry!

Yet, as wonderful as a Thanksgiving dinner may be, what nourishes us most is not the food we eat, it’s those with whom we share life! Jesus first, and then family and friends on the journey!  

So, let’s pile on the servings of gratitude this holiday. As we share gratitude with others, let’s serve UP gratitude to God!  

And, may our hearts – and our words – be full of thanksgiving throughout the year as we keep God at the head of the table and His words in our minds!

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5: 20 NIV

  • What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
  • Is there any specific conversation or encouraging words you remember from a Thanksgiving dinner?
  • Which words from the Bible are favorites of yours?  Or have had the most impact on you?
  • In what ways has advice or counsel from a friend influenced you or made a difference in your life?
  • What specifically will you thank God for this season?
  • Who are three people (or more) you want to express gratitude to this Thanksgiving week?

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™

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