Last night we attended Wish Ball 2019, a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish Minnesota. It was an amazing evening filled with emotional stories of children battling health challenges and wishes being granted. In the midst of the evening, and on the drive home, the night moved me in an unexpected way…

One particular family shared their journey raising three of their children with a disease that kept them trapped inside their home, as it was a safe place where the outside world couldn’t make their children sicker. These three boys grew up without the opportunity to form friendships with other neighborhood kids or school classmates, as playing outside or attending school would require leaving the safety of their home. As a family, for the obvious health and additional financial reasons, they had not been on a trip together in twenty years.

As I listened and reflected on their story, I was stirred up by all of the “small” things I take for granted every day. It made me feel guilty inside. How could I be so blessed and protected, and not be more thankful? It’s easy to celebrate the big things and events we cherish, but how was I letting all of these “small” things slip past me every day without recognizing them?

Our two children are healthy. Even facing an occasional illness, the issues they are dealing with are few and far between, and they come and go quickly. Our kids attend school, hang out with friends, and participate in all the activities they want to without ever thinking about getting sick. They’re “normal” teens. We live in a comfortable home, drive reliable vehicles, and eat well every day. As a family, we’ve enjoyed trips and created amazing experiences together. We enjoy a life that I see as being simply normal, and yet there are so many who would trade places for the basics and blessings we have.

We have so much to be grateful for, and I take most of it for granted, specifically the “small” things.

Here are three ways to change that:

  1. Acknowledge It – Every day, set a few minutes aside as you’re starting your day in the morning to reflect on three things you’re grateful for. Or, if it works better for you, practice this at night as you are falling asleep. Think of the big things, but also push yourself a bit to dig deeper and consider something you’ve been taking for granted for a while. If you feel led, write it down and start creating a journal of everything you’re thankful for.
  2. Say It – It’s easy to remember to say thank you when a waiter brings your dinner or a cashier helps you at a store. But how about your spouse, children, friends, or co-workers? The simple act of saying thank you, whether it be in-person, in a handwritten note, on the phone, or by email or text, is a powerful way to celebrate your gratitude.
  3. Give It – Look around and find a place to volunteer and give back. There are organizations all around us that are focused on impacting those around us who are less fortunate or in need of a boost. Use your time and talents, and possibly get a little uncomfortable, to help someone. This will help shine a light on all the small things you have to be thankful for in your life.

I’ve been doing these three things off and on over the past handful of years. That said, Wish Ball was the reminder I needed to keep being grateful for the little things and be more intentional in these practices. My hope for you is that this gets you thinking about some of your “small” things as well.

The Takeaway

You’re blessed and have something to be grateful for that you’ve been taking for granted. Right now, or before today ends, take a moment to consider what you’re thankful for and acknowledge it. This week, reach out to someone and thank them for the impact they’re making in your life. And, when you feel led, find a place to give back. Love the small things!