#30ThankYous: Mom.

Mom,

You are irreplaceable and precious. I know I haven’t done a good job of consistently reminding you of this. There have been times and seasons where I have pushed you away or kept you at a distance as I tried to figure out how to stand on my own feet as an adult. I’m sorry for every time I ever made you think you didn’t matter to me. You always have. I just haven’t always known how best to demonstrate it.

Anyone who spends five minutes with you can tell that the thing you value and fight for above all else is family. There is nothing you wouldn’t do for your family, and especially for your children. And even when maintaining relationships with difficult family members can be a challenge (and a painful one), you still try to do so, because family is what matters to you. Family is what lasts. You don’t give up on it.

When I became a father, I began to understand just a bit of what you’ve been saying for so many years about how deeply you love us kids. I adore and delight in my daughter. I want to protect her and provide for her. I want her to grow up to be a wise and strong woman of God who loves and serves her family and her Lord. I know that Heidi and I won’t parent her perfectly, but we will do the best we can and trust that God is sovereign over our baby’s future. I dare not think of the day when she strikes off on her own; even though it seems so far away, I know it will be here in what feels like no time, and I already ache from the thought of it.

What I’m getting at is this: No matter what else was going on in your life, whatever challenges you and dad faced, you have loved your children deeply, and you have done your very best for us. I know it hasn’t been easy on you, either. We can be an ornery group, and difficult to know how to love. And these days, I know it can be challenging to¬† navigate how best to relate to us as adults. Like you say, we will always be “your babies.” I’m asking you not to give up when we’re frustrating, but to keep fighting to love us, as you always have. Because we really do appreciate it–all of us.

And I definitely know that as E. grows up, she will begin to beg for more visits to “Gramma and Grandpa’s house”! I look forward to watching your relationship with her continue to blossom and grow, along with any more kiddos God may choose to give us. (In case you were wondering, no, that’s not an announcement; we will let you know if/when the time comes!)

Thank you, mom, for your sacrifices, your love, and your desire to stay connected and be part of our lives.

I love you,

David

#30ThankYous

I’ve thought a lot about gratitude over the last few months.

Over the summer, I had a really surprising and moving interaction with an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen him in years, but I regularly listen to his podcast, and it was through the podcast that I learned he would soon be ending his show and moving on to a new phase of life.

It occurred to me one day that I really enjoyed his work but never stopped to tell him so. I sent him a quick email note of appreciation and wished him well on his upcoming marriage.

I was a bit shocked when he read my message “on air” on the next podcast episode and shared a bit about how we knew each other. He said some really kind things about me during those comments, and he indicated that my message came at an opportune time for him and gave him a boost.

I had no way of knowing how much a simple email would mean to him, though as I think about it now, I can understand it. I’ve been on the receiving end of unexpected kindnesses and have been moved deeply by simple gestures of gratitude.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how rarely gratitude is practiced these days, especially online. There are so many people who contribute little bits of light and truth and laughter to our lives, people whom we may or may not have met yet whose words and work and art mean so much to us, and we never let them know. We never take a moment to say thanks.

Well, I think it’s about time we change that, don’t you?

I hereby declare November 1st the start of “30 Days of Thanks.” (And yes, there is a hashtag: #30ThankYous.)

Every day during the month of November, I’ll post a “thank-you note” to or about a different person who has made an impact on my life. (No, not like Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes.” Sincere thanks, no punch-lines.) The list is wide-ranging: theologians, writers, family members, musicians, personal friends–people whose life and work have made a difference in mine. The person can be living or dead, and if they are alive, I’ll try to tag them directly when I post the note.

The goal of this project is two-fold:

  • It’s good for us to say “thank you.” By saying “thank you,” we are reminded that we are not the source of all the good in our lives; rather, we receive beauty and truth and joy and laughter as gifts, from the God who gives all good things and from the people around us who share what they’ve been given.
  • I want to highlight these people for you. Hopefully, there will be names on this list that you don’t recognize. Perhaps, through this project, I’ll be able to introduce some of you to the thinkers and writers and artists who bring me joy, so that you can learn about and appreciate their work as well.

While there’s a part of me that cringes at doing this publicly, rather than simply reaching out to these people directly, I think the greater benefit of telling others about these folks outweighs those concerns.

However, I don’t want to do this by myself. So I’m issuing a challenge to go along with this series of posts!

I’m challenging you to take part in this with me. Starting TOMORROW, post some thank-yous on your website or your social media feeds. Perhaps, get really crazy and send some emails or write some letters by hand! Tell your social (media) circle about 30 people who have been a blessing to you, and let those people know how much you appreciate them!

Tag your posts with #30ThankYous, and share links below in the comments. Let’s get the gratitude going early this year with 30 days of thankfulness for all we’ve been given!