A Perspective of Gratitude,
by Angie Logan
The Thanksgiving season seems to make us all a bit more mindful of what we should be grateful for. It almost seems as if an attitude of thankfulness comes more easily in the month of November. And I agree, we should be extremely thankful for all the overflowing blessings that we each experience every day. (I just think we should work to maintain a grateful attitude every month of the year, not just in November.)

Recently I was reminded by a good friend of how exceedingly blessed I am, despite my struggles to make the budget stretch far enough each week, despite my perceived hardships. I was reminded that on my leanest days, my "wealth" is enviable to nearly half the world's population.

Seven years ago my friend and his wife flew to Ethiopia to bring home their fourth daughter. During their short stay there, they witnessed a depth of poverty that few of us in America can understand.

Here is what my friend wrote:

Whenever I think about this time of year, and how thankful we should all be, I wonder what the little boy whom I saw drinking from a muddy puddle along that dirt road is doing right now. I wonder what the mother of 2 who we gave a loaf of bread and 20 burr ($) to has today, or if her sick looking children got the help they so badly needed. I wonder if the children we saw running barefoot through the streets have enough of life's necessities to survive. I have so much to be thankful for that it would be difficult to list, but we, as Americans forget (and some never know) just how truly Blessed we are. Our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world are suffering. I don't mean that they have to pay more for health insurance today than they did yesterday, or they can't get good cell service, or they live paycheck to paycheck. I mean they fight everyday to stay alive.

One Sunday afternoon after my family came home from church, we sat around a table adorned with fall decorations and laden with delicious food. My kids thought we were having an early Thanksgiving until they saw we were eating ham instead of turkey! We ate until our bellies could hold no more and then all went to find places to snuggle in for a good Sunday afternoon nap.


But you know, we probably had more food at that table that day than some families in other parts of the world see in a week.

I remember a few years back when the earthquake decimated Haiti, I was made keenly aware of how privileged we are here in the U.S. I was in a grocery store and I just stopped and looked around at the shelves stacked high with food. And not just one or two shelves, but row after row after row. I couldn't help but think how the people of Haiti probably couldn't even imagine such a storehouse of food! And so many things to choose from! It took my breath away that afternoon.

We are truly blessed by that which we so often take for granted.

My friend goes on in his post to say that the people he met in Ethiopia, "although they seemingly have nothing, thank their merciful God everyday for what they DO have."
My family takes just a moment to give God thanks before each meal. In fact, my kids know well enough that they are not allowed to take even a single bite until we have said that quick prayer. But I wonder if our expression of thanks is truly heartfelt or if it has become a matter of habit.

As you sit down to dinner today, take time to be truly grateful for the meal that God has provided for you. Understand that you are eating a feast compared to what most of the world will sit down to. And then as Thanksgiving passes and Christmas approaches, look around in your community for people who may not have a bountiful table to sit down to with their family. Poverty is very real in our own country - in our own city - as well as overseas.

Ask God how YOU can be a blessing for someone who seemingly has little to be thankful for. In Acts 4:32, the early church is described like this: "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had." Let us purpose to be like those first followers of Jesus and make sure that EVERYONE has plenty to be thankful for. Not only will we get to share the gifts God has given us, but it will put our own needs in perspective as well.

We might even find that we have more to be thankful for than we first thought.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1)

*Thanks to my friend Chris Cook for allowing me to share his words and perspective.

Logan, Angie. November 2013. My Heart Ministry. Retrieved from:

Acts 4:32
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had."
Norman's Time

Once I found a ten dollar bill on the side of the road. I was just a child so I thought I’d found a real fortune. It was not like the new crisp ten dollar bill in my dad’s wallet, this one had dirt on it and was wrinkled and worn. But, I knew better than that! I knew that even though it was dirty, worn, wrinkled, and on the side of the road that the worth of that ten dollar bill was still ten dollars. It spent the same as my dad’s new clean and crisp bill. 

Sometimes, there are people who seem untouchable to us because they can be found on the side of the road, too.​​

I spent a summer in San Diego living in an old house on the panhandle of Golden Gate National Park. This was a special house in the eyes of some because it was owned by the sixties singer, Janis Joplin. Only now, the three story plus full basement house was not occupied by a super star; it was part of a three step homeless shelter. Riches to rags, I guess you could say.

The summer I stayed in the house was a summer of interns, there were no homeless living in the house at this point. Those that were there had just graduated out to the next house which included working at the program’s print shop so they could gain real life working skills and a reference to put on their future applications. Thinking back, I sure am glad I was a part of that because I learned so much about life while I was there. Right in the middle of my very own culture was a life of something I never knew about.

We served homeless people hot meals. We took them gray wool blankets to keep them warm from the cold San Diego nights. We held camps for children whose lives were directly affected by AIDS. We hosted youth groups in “Urban Plunge” weeks. And, all of a sudden, I was thrown in to a culture of people who lived different lifestyles and it pushed through my sheltered walls. Personally, I was stricken by the dichotomy of poverty and plenty. What a changing experience.

Shortly after arriving in San Diego we were shown a closet full of gray wool blankets. The very ones we were to give to the homeless- all of them.  We were not to leave one blanket behind. 

Norman was a homeless man a few of us spent one afternoon with and gave two blankets to. He sat on the front steps of the house and carefully rolled his blankets together to make them look like one. His reason was so that the other homeless didn’t steal one from him. I learned that theft, as well as the weather, is a real fear for the homeless who do not have the walls of a home to protect them.

At one point Norman lifted one side of his pants and pulled down his sock to show us his lower leg. As he pulled his sock down sickly white skin stuck to it. He was covered in large white oozing sores. I’d never seen anything like it. Apparently he’d worn out his welcome at the community health facility. The group of us pulled together to clean and bandage him up the best we could and gave him new socks. We also gave him food. These were just a few more fears a homeless person has to face. The fear of failing health with no means of taking care of it, including simple bandages, and that along with a lack of food.

As our time came to an end with Norman he commented on how much our time meant to him. Our time? We met all of his immediate physical needs of food, clothing, bandages, and blankets and what he was thankful for was our time.  That. Floored. Me.  Well, thank you, Norman, for your time because you taught me a life lesson I will never forget.

No matter what our station is in life, we need each other and it is God’s will that we be there for each other. He commands us to take care of the orphans, widows, and poor. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world,” James 1:27 (ESV). And, that means more than their physical needs. It means their need for human relationships, too. It is in the Spirit and by human relationship that God has commanded us to go out and tell the nations in His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20). 

Norman, and people like him, all of a sudden became touchable to me. All people are created by God and for God. All of us are to bring Him glory. We are all to follow His commands and walk in step with Him. We all are given His Son and the same plan of salvation because we are all equally valuable to Him. Our worth does not change based on our station in life or what we do or do not have. We are all just passing through this earth knowing it is not our permanent home.

Thank you, Norman, for being the one God used to teach me this lesson.

It is hard to say, but the reason I am thankful for this today is that in the past few months I have not been content; I have wanted more. A house that’s a little bigger, a bank account that’s a little fatter, and a retirement that is secure. Now, I will be thankful for so much more than the things I am usually thankful for and I will be thankful for what I have rather than discontent. All these years later I am thankful for Norman. I am thankful to God for how He reaches us in daily moments that change us and remind of us of His sovereignty.

Thank you, LORD, for your great and covering love. In all of my days, times of plenty and times of less, help me to recognize and obey your nudge to help those you put in my path. Teach me to look for the needs of those around me and how I was gifted to meet those needs. Thank you for putting me in a position to do your work and be used by you to further your kingdom. Keep me humble and keep me your servant, I do not want to be found disobeying your commands. You are a good and amazing God, in your great name I pray, amen.

by Andrea Simmons

James 1:27
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."