Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Thanksgiving Special
Volume 6 No. 385 November 22, 2016

IV. Thanksgiving Features (Contd..)

The Gratitude Attitude
In 'A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul', Rev. John R. Ramsey tells how in one church a certain person provided him with a rose boutonniere for the lapel of his suit every Sunday. At first he really appreciated it but then it sort of became routine. Then one Sunday it became very special.

As he was leaving the Sunday Service a young boy walked up to him and said, "Sir, what are you going to do with your flower?" At first the preacher didn't know what the boy was talking about. When it sank in, he pointed to the rose on his lapel and asked the boy, "Do you mean this?"

The boy said, "Yes, sir. If you're just going to throw it away, I would like it."

The preacher smiled and told him he could have the flower and then casually asked what he was going to do with it. The boy, who was probably no more than 10 years old, looked up at the preacher and said, "Sir, I'm going to give it to my granny. My mother and father divorced last year. I was living with my mother, but she married again, and wanted me to live with my father. I lived with him for a while, but he said I couldn't stay, so he sent me to live with my grandmother. She is so good to me. She cooks for me and takes care of me. She has been so good to me that I wanted to give her that pretty flower for loving me."

When the little boy finished, the preacher could hardly speak. His eyes filled with tears and he knew he had been touched by God. He reached up and unpinned the rose. With the flower in his hand, he looked at the boy and said, "Son, that is the nicest thing that I've ever heard but you can't have this flower because it's not enough. If you'll look in front of the pulpit, you'll see a big bouquet of flowers. Different families buy them for the Church each week. Please take those flowers to your granny because she deserves the very best."

Then the boy made one last statement which Rev. Ramsey said he will always treasure. The boy said, "What a wonderful day! I asked for one flower but got a beautiful bouquet."

That's the thankful spirit. That's the gratitude attitude. And it's that attitude that should guide our giving and our lives. Like that boy's granny, God has blessed us so much. God has been so good to us that giving shouldn't even be a question. It should just flow from us naturally.

Source: John R. Ramsey, Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Adapted by Billy D. Strayhorn, "The Gratitude Attitude"

Giving Thanks before Thanksgiving
Greg Anderson, in Living Life on Purpose, tells a story about a man whose wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God--he found no joy in living. One rainy morning this man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon.

In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, "Momma, why don't we say our prayers here?" The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, "Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?" And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, "Bow your heads." Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen."

That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, "We should do that every morning."

"All of a sudden," said our friend, "my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl's example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn't have. I started to be grateful."

We all understand and appreciate the importance of gratitude. How it can radically change relationships. In fact, one of the first things we were taught and that we teach our children is to express their gratitude. Someone gives them some candy and we say: "Now what do you say?" And the child learns from an early age the answer "Thank you." And certainly we all know as adults that we appreciate being thanked. Yet, when it comes to giving thanks to our heavenly father, we so often miss the mark.


Gratitude Napkins

by Linda McLean

Frank's Diner was once an energized, thriving business, a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike in the scenic New England town of York Beach Maine. But when the economy hit a brick wall, Frank found it more and more difficult to hold onto his trademark, cheerful smile.

One day, Frank caught a glimpse in the mirror on the diner wall of a grumpy, scowling old man with frown lines embedded deeply in the corners of his mouth. He didn't recognize the man as himself. Looking around his desolate diner, he knew that it wasn't just the economy that had driven his customers away – it was his pessimistic attitude toward life. Frank had tried to remain optimistic but it seemed like the hits just kept coming, like a NorEaster pummeling the coastline. He often wondered what there was to look forward to each day.

His eyes met with a booth in the back corner of the diner where a frail elderly woman ate breakfast with a college age girl. Mrs. Sheridan and her caregiver Michelle had been coming in for breakfast every day for a couple of years. Frank would nod and force his face into a smile when they walked in the door each day. They were his best customers after all. Mrs. Sheridan would conclude each meal by scribbling something onto a diner napkin and placing the napkin in her purse with a contented smile.

One sunny fall day, even though the New England leaves painted a breathtaking landscape outside the diner windows, Frank was oblivious to the beauty that surrounded him. He was currently crouched under the counter, grumbling about how the dishwashers were always leaving spots on the coffee mugs. A feeble voice above interrupted his rant.

"Frank, I wonder if I could have a word with you."

Frank nearly smashed his head on the cash register as he jumped to his feet, looking at Mrs. Sheridan in surprise. Michelle held onto the old woman tight, obviously propping her up. All Frank could do was nod agreeably.

"I wanted to talk to you about these…"

She lifted her trembling arm, pointing toward the frown lines on Frank's face.

He opened his mouth to say something, to explain, to defend himself… but realized he had nothing to say, so Mrs. Sheridan continued.

"Young man, I learned a long time ago that life doesn't always go your way. Believe me, I have 90 plus years of my fair share of heartbreaks and challenges that I could easily carry around with me as baggage. Instead, I choose to carry these with me."

She reached into her purse and took out a stack of the napkins Frank had watched her scribble on every day. She had written things like: autumn leaves, Michelle's kindness, seashells from the beach, the beautiful sunrise today, another delicious breakfast at Frank's Diner.

"Frank I would like to challenge you to do the same; to stop carrying around your struggles and start carrying an attitude of gratitude instead."

After Mrs. Sheridan further described his daily "homework assignment," Frank didn't have the heart to refuse her request.

At first he did it to appease her. As she watched from her booth each day, Frank would dutifully take a napkin from a dispenser on the counter, scribble something he was grateful for on it and put it in his pocket. The process was mechanical in the beginning, mindless instead of mindful. But each time Mrs. Sheridan smiled over at him, wordlessly encouraging him to continue.

Frank barely noticed when things began to change, when the words of gratitude he jotted down on the napkin each morning began to sink into his thick, stubborn skull. The attitude of gratitude he had inadvertently adopted through the sheer routine of it, began to truly mean something. That was when Frank's life began to change…

A little over a month into his daily gratitude homework, Frank once again caught a glimpse of himself in the diner mirror. The reflection in the mirror was of a glowing, joyful man whom he hadn't seen for years. This man looked forward to each new day with hope and enthusiasm.

Still smiling almost uncontrollably at the realization of how much life had changed, Frank surveyed his now bustling business. Locals, staff, and tourists alike were cheerfully enjoying the revitalized space. Even though Frank hadn't made any physical renovations, the diner somehow looked brighter to him. His eyes automatically drifted to the corner, to share in the moment with Mrs. Sheridan. But for the first time in a few days, the booth was empty. Frank's heart sank…

A couple days later Michelle arrived and placed a box on the counter in front of Frank with a solemn smile, tears glistening in the young woman's eyes.

"Mrs. Sheridan wanted you to have these."

Looking at the floor so she couldn't see his own tearful eyes, Frank simply nodded his appreciation. He felt an overwhelming wave of gratitude wash over him that such a special lady had come into his life, and exactly when he needed her most.

By time the springtime leaves were blooming, Frank's Diner was more popular than ever in York Beach. There was one new feature in particular that was a huge customer draw. When a diner patron reached for a napkin from a dispenser, they also received a message of gratitude printed on it. Each message was word for word from Mrs. Sheridan's collection; along with a few from Frank's own personal stash. Beneath the message was the question – "What are you grateful for today?" with a blank line beneath. Frank would watch from the counter as customers of all ages and from all walks of life eagerly scribbled their answers on napkins, and almost always with a smile. Mrs. Sheridan's unwavering attitude of gratitude, it seemed, had transformed not only his own life, but the lives of those around him as well.

What steps will YOU take today and every day to adopt an attitude of gratitude in your life? Will you make the choice to focus on your burdens or your blessings? It is so easy to feel shortchanged when we focus on lack. But when we practice gratitude as a daily habit, life has a way of transforming positively around us. Whether you use something as simple as a napkin ora journal, when you write down the things you are grateful for each day you'll be changing your view of the world around you, just one day at a time.

About The Author:

Linda McLean, an International Best Selling Author and Certified Business and Life Coach, believes in the power of Gratitude and Planning. Linda has recently launched her new book "My Gratitude Journal – 7 Minutes Today Leads to an Abundant Life Tomorrow". It takes readers through a proven daily process of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" to produce big results in life.

Why You Should Be Thankful This Holiday Season

Mother Who Lost 3 Children In Plane Crash Explains Her Reasons For Gratitude

It's every parent's worst nightmare: going through the death of their young child.

On Thanksgiving eve 2011, Karen Perry lost all three of her children - Morgan, Logan and Luke - and their father, Shawn, when their plane crashed into Superstition Mountain in Arizona minutes after takeoff.

To this day, she still has questions for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which made airspace changes in the area not long before the tragedy occurred. Perry - a lifelong pilot, skilled aviator and longtime flight attendant - says there's no doubt the FAA's airspace design contributed to the crash, even though pilot error was blamed for the accident.

The Arizona Pilot's Association (APA) was a vocal opponent of the design change, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association (AOPA) sued the FAA for it - citing inevitable accidents - but the AOPA lost. While continuing to seek answers for the crash, Perry has been coping with her loss, in part, by appreciating what she had.

"Unexpectedly, I became pregnant at 38; I didn't know I could conceive," says Perry, whose story made national headlines and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

"We had another child when I was 40, and then again when I was 42. I lost them all - my children and their father - in an instant. My twin passions, my family and my work, collided into a million pieces on a mountain peak that I could see from my backyard."

Her story is told in "Angels Three: The Karen Perry Story," (, written by Landon J. Napoleon, a book Publishers Weekly calls "Haunting, yet inspirational."

"I am thankful." She explains why:

"How do I feel thankful in all that has happened? I am thankful to God for my life, I am thankful to have had these amazing little people in my life who have taught me so much. I am thankful for the outpouring of love, compassion, and human kindness that touched me very deeply. Beyond that, what can we all be thankful to God for? We can be thankful for fresh air, sunshine, for the people in our lives, for the things that we love, for being able to see, to hear, to feel. All things that God has made possible for us."

Even though it was never easy …

When Perry was age 4, she lost her 2-year-old sister to Leukemia, her first lesson of loss and heartache. Her parents, devastated, eventually divorced. Consumed by grief, Perry's mother couldn't properly care for her. Custody went to Perry's father, a 20-something who wasn't sure he could care for the girl. He openly considered adoption, but after many tears and heartfelt pleading from his daughter, he maintained custody of her. Later, as Perry thrived in her career in aviation, she felt the pull of wanting a family, but she and her first husband couldn't conceive. They divorced. After suffering a string of medical emergencies - involving Peritonitis, which is 99 percent fatal, and breast cancer - Perry eventually gave birth to three children with her second husband.

"That I was able to have my three angels was a blessing for which I'll always be grateful, even though my time with them on this Earth was brief," she says.

She embraces hope with her non-profit, 3 Wings of Life.

Recently, Perry has turned horrific tragedy into new hope as president and co-founder of the non-profit organization 3 Wings of Life. It is a faith-based, non-profit organization dedicated to embracing the unique needs of the children in her community. Among the organization's programs is an equine assisted therapy - cognitive therapy for kids with emotional and behavioral issues using friendly and accessible horses.

"Helping others with an open heart is very affirming, and it's one of the best things you can do for yourself to continue healing and better appreciate what you've been given in life," Perry says.

About Karen Perry

On Thanksgiving eve 2011, Karen Perry's life changed forever when her three young children and their father died in a plane that crashed into Superstition Mountain in Arizona. The story made national headlines and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Everyone wanted to know: How does Perry, a lifelong pilot, skilled aviator and longtime flight attendant comprehend, let alone process, such a loss? "Angels Three: The Karen Perry Story," (, written by Landon J. Napoleon, reveals a mother's journey after unimaginable loss.  

Give Thanks Today

by Ryan Duncan, Entertainment Editor

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
- 1 Chronicles 16:8

I have a system for writing devotionals. First I start with a funny or emotional story about some event in my past. Next, I'll usually drop in a Bible reference that loosely coincides with my experience. Finally, I'll finish off with how I learned more about God as a result. Simple, effective, and clean.

I'd like to try something a little different with today's devotional. Instead of telling a story, I'd simply like to give thanks. I don't thank God enough for the things He has given me; usually I'm too busy asking for more. So today, as awkward as it might be, I'd like to publicly thank Him for all He has done, starting with my family.

Thank you, God, for my family.
Thank you for my job.
Thank you for providing for me in more ways than one.
Thank you that I have food in my pantry.
Thank you that I have clean water to drink.
Thank you for giving me a place to sleep at night.
Thank you that I have clothes to wear.
Thank you that I have friends who care about me.
Thank you that I have a Church where I can freely worship.
Thank you that I have a copy of your Word available to read.
Thank you that I am healthy.
Thank you for the ability to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
Thank you for the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Thank you for the birds in the air.
Thank you for the fish in the sea.
Thank you for the animals all across the globe.
Thank you for your Grace, which I do not deserve.
Thank you for sending your Son, who died for my sins.

I could go on, there is so much more I'd like to list. Instead, I'd like to pass this spirit of gratitude on to you. Today, remember to give thanks for the ways God has blessed you, and think about all the things He has done. Big and small, meaningful or bizarre, write them out or say them aloud. I think the list will grow longer than you would believe.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Write out your blessings on a sheet of paper. See for yourself what God has done in your life.

Further Reading

Psalm 45

Source: - The Devotional

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