Expressing Gratitude

“I never want to miss an opportunity to express gratitude!” That statement became a caption that accompanied a picture of myself that was posted on social media the day after Thanksgiving this year. The occasion for the picture was a moment of reflection and prayer before the meal at my sister’s that day. I had read an article just a few days before about the need for specificity when expressing gratitude.

"May I have your attention, please!"

A surprising example was used in the article entitled, “Thank Outside the Box” by Jess Stillman, (Source: understandably.com, November 22, 2022). The article suggests that we need to be as specific in expressing our thanks as we would be in describing a good breakfast stack of pancakes! For example, we might tell someone about our experience and use words like “fresh golden pancakes drizzled with lovely, sweet, amber, Maple syrup.”

I have prayed general prayers all my life. These characteristically have an airy and less than satisfying nature to them and sound like “Dear Lord, bless the world and everyone in it. Amen, and dig in.” They are often casual, perfunctory, and noticeably short on specifics. While it is true that God knows everything, I still think it is more impactful to reflect and express our reasons for gratitude in ways that we consciously “count our blessings and name them one by one” with intent and specificity as the old hymn instructs.

This season I am thankful for my parents who did more to influence my life than I have time or space here to specifically enumerate. My mother passed five Thanksgivings ago. She was my most faithful encourager and cheerleader. She believed in me!  I missed her again this year! Over the years, our growing family watched her work tirelessly to prepare our holiday meals only to spend most of the mealtime on her feet making sure that everyone else was served and happy. Mom so enjoyed having her family gathered under one roof on such occasions! We miss her giggle of delight, those good meals, her hugs, and kisses, and at days end, how she would stand at the door until our car backed out of the driveway and turned the street corner for home! Those memories are etched firmly in my mind!

Eloise chatting up Grandpa Joe!
Our family is blessed and extremely thankful to still have Dad sitting with us around table. He is vigorous, fully engaged and shows up daily for work in the auto repair shop. This December 9th he will celebrate his 93rd birthday! These days, everyone wants to get “face time” visiting with him and if possible, have their picture taken alongside him! What a special gift to have him in our lives! I always look forward to our early morning breakfasts at the local eateries and to having that one-on-one with him during our Sunday evening phone conversations. I pray that God will give us many more holidays and special times together! We love those memorable occasions riding around the outskirts of town to "check his traps" and then coming back to the garage to sit together, and chat or “chew the fat” in the corner chairs (while uncle Kev does the heavy lifting these days!) How very special!

Brad Adams, a good friend of mine, has been an advocate for targeted prayers before mealtime for years. He cleverly quips that “Mealtime is not the time to catch up on our devotional life!” I agree! Therefore, let’s continue to offer focused prayers before our meals and yet, find many ways to cultivate a grateful attitude throughout the year. Gratitude is more than a short blessing or prayer on a certain occasion.  Paul reminds, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, NLT). Thankfulness is an attitude that should be evident in our lives at Thanksgiving time as well as every other day during the year.

Let’s affirm our loved ones with specific expressions of gratitude during this coming holiday season! By doing so, we will make memories for a lifetime!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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