How Will You Give Thanks?

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of the year. I love the food, the family, the parades, and the football. I love the production of the meal, the eating of it, and the long lingering at the table.

I love the way Thanksgiving gives us a chance to slow down the pace of our lives and breathe deeply.

I love how Thanksgiving calls me to think about everything I have and to give thanks.

I give thanks with a grateful heart.

When I was a child our extended family gathered in our tiny house for Thanksgiving. My dad had Multiple Sclerosis and was unable to get around very well so our family came to us. My memory of those Thanksgivings has twenty plus people packed into a small 1,200 square foot house.

My mom would cook for hours to have ham, turkey, homemade rolls, and pies and more pies. It was a feast of food and of family and it was a treasured time for which I am still thankful.

My Thanksgivings are smaller and usually just involve my wife and children because my life of ministry has moved me from place to place. I love them all the same, though.

When we sit down at the Thanksgiving meal our family ritual involves our taking turns sharing the things for which we are thankful. Since my oldest daughter, Meghan, lives in Lima, Peru, she will not be at the table tomorrow, but the rest of us will give thanks. We will make sure to Skype Meghan in at some point in the day so she can give thanks with us.

How will you give thanks tomorrow?

Here in this place, I give thanks.

I give thanks for my wife of thirty-one years, Donna, for her passion for fairness and for her dedication to others.

I give thanks for my daughter, Meghan, for her caring and missional spirit and the courage with which she lives her life.

I give thanks for my daughter, Jordan. for her creative and compassionate heart and for the way she sees the world so full of beauty.

I give thanks for my son, Trey, for his love of truth and commitment to justice and the way he seeks peace in his world.

I give thanks for my family back home who have cared for us over the years.

I give thanks for the opportunity to work at Belmont University  and for the many ways it gives me opportunities to serve others.

I give thanks for the privilege of working with such amazing students.

I give thanks for all the friends I have at churches like New Hope Baptist Church, Crievewood Baptist Church, King’s Cross Church, and Brentwood Baptist Church and for all the opportunities they have given me to serve in the last year.

I could, of course, continue with so many more things for which I am thankful, but I will pause here because I keep thinking about the words to “Give Thanks.” They have been in my head all day  . . .

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
Give thanks with a grateful heart
GIve thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given us Jesus Christ, His Son.

May this Thanksgiving be a day filled with grateful hearts for you and all your family! May you give thanks with a grateful heart!


  • Pam Brown

    Prior to our 4 p.m. meal with family, J.B. and I are going to deliver Meals on Wheels to senior adults who live alone. This will be our first year to do this. I look forward to hopefully bringing a smile to a few faces.

    • Darrell Gwaltney

      I hope your Meals on Wheels experience was good, Pam. That sounds like a great way to be grateful and to help others!