Imagine yourself holding a small package of note cards. They cost around three dollars for a package of eight cards done with nice paper and with accompanying envelopes. The cost for each card is about thirty-five cents. When a postage stamp is attached, at around 40 cents, the total cost is 80 cents — not what I would call a big investment. These small cards, although inexpensive, are one of the most affirming and valuable things you can do to show your appreciation and delight to someone who has taken time to express love, or concern, or thoughtfulness, toward you as a friend!

As you have probably already guessed, the note cards I am writing about are "thank you" notes!

So often, we assume that our friends know our appreciation for their acts of kindness. That's why so many good deeds go un-thanked. Some folks say that they don't send (or expect) thank you cards and that people just need to get use to this in them. The truth of the matter is most folks don't send thank you cards unless it is expected of them. How sad to miss such a wonderful opportunity to bless others.

Ah, but this is where the Lord knocks on the door of our hearts to give us a little reminder. He uses the apostle Paul to remind us, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

He wants us to give thanks in everything? Even when things aren't gold plated or silver lined?

So often we forget that when things are tough in life for us, others are also suffering — sometimes in much worse ways than we ourselves are suffering. We get so caught up in our own agendas and personal struggling that we see no one but ourselves and our own disappointments. We even become blind to all of the blessings in our lives, and begin to focus only on the negative problems and difficulties.

When a friend brings by a loaf of warm banana bread and says, "I was baking today and thought that I would share a warm loaf with you," how often do we quickly accept it with a doleful, "Thank you," and then quickly devour the treat, never to think of our friend's thoughtfulness again? Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe we could say it, "Out of sight, out of thankfulness."

Perhaps a private, unnamed person sends money, or food, or clothing to you in a time of need and wishes to stay unknown? Does this mean also that they wish to remain un-thanked as well? Sending a thank you "through the grapevine" is not terribly difficult! Half the joy of giving is knowing that the item given was enjoyed by the person receiving it!

If God's will for us is to "give thanks in everything," I truly believe that he had a great reason for wanting to act on this principle.

Our human nature is often very negative and self-centered. We look for the big things in life to be taken care of rather than being aware of how many small, very important things have been given to us and provided for us. We complain about the color of our kitchen counter tops and the butcher block pattern, wishing for a new bright ivory ceramic tile. We forget to be thankful for having a place in which we can cook a hot meal or live in a country where foodstuffs are so readily available. We can complain about people touching our new carpet or furniture or messing up our house, forgetting to be thankful for the gift of friends with whom we can share the blessings God has given us!

"What?" you ask.

Even in times of great sorrow and grief, there are things to truly be thankful for! How about the ability to cry? Without it, we would never understand the joy of it's opposite. Laughter! When we struggle, we usually find that it drives us to a place of re-prioritizing our way of living and eventually, we find ourselves very thankful for the crisis or event that caused us to get our lives back on track! We receive the grace of friends who support us in our sorrow. Even our hardest grief is a reminder of the blessing of a person whose absence we will deeply miss. Yes! "In everything give thanks!"

Wow! Somebody cared!
How often have you been given a small gift or a word of encouragement by a friend or a fellow employee, but have taken for granted that your thanks was graciously expressed? It shows a tremendous amount of character in an individual when she is willing to invest a few moments and around, oh say, 80 cents to send loving words of thanks! (Big hint!)

In our society, the three words "I love you" can become shallow and empty. Often the statement "prove it" is the follow up reaction, spoken or unspoken, from the opposite party. I personally feel that the two words "thank you" can also be very "surfacy." They are often just two, quick, auto-programmed words that are just "thrown out there" due to socially expected etiquette. Underneath, in our hearts, the graciousness of what we've received escapes us.

Let's not let our lives get so busy and so self-absorbed, that we forget to communicate genuine thank you's to those who have blessed us. Let's not let our frantic lives rob us of the gift of saying "Thank you!" to others and to God.

When we take the time to quiet ourselves and write out our feelings of gratitude to someone, something truly wonderful happens — both for them and for us. As we remember the act of kindness or gift given, we get to re-live the moment. We get to taste the feeling we had all over again! It also causes us to realize that the giver of the gift truly invested some of her or his valuable time, money, talent and soul in our life!

"Wow! Somebody cared enough to take time out to show love and concern for my well-being! They proved it by their actions." So! If we really appreciate what someone has done, let's prove it by our words of thanks expressed in the form of written words they can read and keep.

I would like to challenge and encourage you to love and value those who have extended their love and friendship to you. Take time to clearly and sincerely express your thanks in written form. Friendships are deepened, relationships are strengthened, and above all the desire of God's heart for our lives is fulfilled by our giving thanks ... in everything!