Just a “normal gift” was so much more.

Apparently, Oct. 10 was “Pastor Appreciation (PA) Day.” I wasn’t aware there was a specific Sunday for that, or if I knew, I blocked it out. This is not whining, but just stating facts. Trying to figure out how to lead and manage “church” in the post-Covid world has been daunting, so “appreciation” as a pastor was the last thing I expected or felt like I deserved.

Dawn presented me with this cool “bouquet.” The staff had gone in together and created a PA gift for me in honor of PA Day. It looked “cool” . . . all this “stuff” glued to plastic sticks, coming out of a glass vase. I really appreciated their remembering and going to the trouble to make sure they honored me on that day.

I knew the message for Sunday was on gratitude so I’d planned on sharing a “thank you” to them at the end of the message. The staff of West are “silent warriors” in my opinion. It may seem easy to work for a church, all we do is show up for a bit on Sundays, right? But truly, I believe working in ministry right now is daunting, often disappointing, and overwhelming at best. So I really wanted to say a “public” thank you to them, hoping they’d feel my gratitude.

What I didn’t count on was how “moved” I’d be in the act of saying “thank you”.

As we were filming the message for Sunday, Dawn and Josh were present in the room, listening. When I began the closing illustration, I realized that I was grateful for so much more than the gift cards and the candy.

Each gift card had been chosen intentionally FOR me. Ulta, Target, TJ Maxx, Amazon, and Ahlahara for a massage, all my favorite places, and things.

As I started the “thank you,” my thoughts went much deeper than just “I’m so grateful for their generosity.”

I found myself thinking, and ultimately saying, “Wow, not only did they go above and beyond with financial contributions to this gift for me . . . the gifts they gave me, they KNOW me! They truly, truly KNOW me! They’ve paid attention to me. They’ve seen me, what I love, what I need. What greater gift could I receive than to be seen and to be known? They see me AND they value me. WOW! How lucky I am to have that team in my life!”

My voice cracked, my nose got red (both signals that tears are forthcoming).

I didn’t literally cry, but truly I was so moved with emotion, knowing that I am valued and loved.

I couldn’t HELP but say “thank you” to them . . . and hopefully my actions will continue to convey gratitude.

That’s what prayer does when it is an act of gratitude and “thank you”.

Even when we feel we don’t have anything to be thankful for, we do. There is always something in life that isn’t falling apart. It just takes us a moment to see.

I encourage you to pause today and say “thank you for __________.” Those words are prayer and that prayer will be transformational to and for you. Gratitude opens up our hearts and gives God space and time to move within us. To change us. To heal us. To bring us ever closer to the power of Love.

Thank you . . . .

Try it today!

Grace and Peace,