It’s been a while since my Balcony Girls and I met, so yesterday was an afternoon full of excitement and anticipation as we came together to learn a lesson on gratitude.

Gratitude: A feeling of being grateful or thankful. It comes from being content and it comes from our hearts.

Not only did we have a festive Valentine’s Day party, but we went to Hoppi’s house (a real treat), where she taught the girls a valuable lesson – how to write a thank you note*.

Keeping gratitude in mind, how do you pen your thoughts to someone, thanking them for a kind act or a gift? Hoppi read from an old etiquette book examples of how, many years ago, people would write long thank you notes, which were quite detailed.

I wonder how many times I have thanked someone today? It seems like sometimes we go days without saying, “thank you.” When we lose the ability to say “thanks,” we start to get self-centered and “me” oriented. That is a sad state to be in.

When we forget to say “thank you” (or express appreciation), is it because we are afraid that someone else is somehow better than us? And we are less? Or is it FEAR (false evidence appearing real), or insecurity or competitiveness that has gotten in the way? (Very common with girls!) Or is it sheer thoughtlessness, that we don’t think of how a person sacrificed or put out for us long enough to be grateful to them for their effort?

Saying, “thank you” makes the other person feel special and spreads love. It also increases the chance that that person will want to do more good! It’s give and take – appreciation and giving thanks. There’s no competition involved!! Hoppi shared with the girls that when she puts a lot of time and love into a gift, and she is not validated in return with a “thank you,” it makes her not want to send a gift to that person again!

After the girls had their snack of mini hamburgers, chips and juice, I shared with them a little secret of what I often do when I lie in bed and can’t go to sleep! I pray, and then I start making a list in my head for things that I am grateful for. And people I am thankful for. Instead of complaining about what I don’t have, I’m thankful for what I do have!

Life does not owe us personal fulfillment, happiness or contentment. These are the results of gratitude. It all starts with appreciating what we have.

The obvious things we are thankful for are what we have (home, food, family) and what others do for us (trips, laundry, gifts, care for us)! But for Balcony Girls who are focusing on friendships, what about being thankful for support, encouragement, trust, and being able to share with one another?

Ending with this very mature way of looking at gratitude, I am hoping that the girls would grasp this concept and be able to take gratitude one step further (outside of themselves – it’s not always about me!) That they will learn to take the opportunity to help the less fortunate, whether with health, financial or social needs – and find that it is a privilege to share the burdens or pains of others.

I was so grateful to Hoppi for sharing her home, food and time with us yesterday, such beautiful acts of kindness. Along with a crazy work week for me, a Talent Show (pictures below) and a Balcony Girls meeting back-to-back, I found myself on overload, but blessed by Hoppi’s willingness to help me out.

Yes, an attitude of gratitude was instilled in our hearts, a perfect lesson for the Valentine’s season. We learned that gratitude does not end with our private thanks to God, but overflows to those who touch our lives.

(* I must say I have an exceptional group of young ladies – and their parents have already taught them what I am teaching. I am just reinforcing it!)

Interested in Talent Show pictures? Here are a few of the “Singing Nuns” and the 5th grade “Mix the Beat,” act. Oh, and the feet … Paul always takes a picture of Abby’s feet when she is performing! :)

We have a new winner for my Valentine’s Day GIVEAWAY! Kathy did not come forward to claim her prize in time for me to mail it out. Melissa is my new winner. Melissa also lives in Oregon, she has a beautiful site, The Inspired Room, and also writes a monthly column with CWO!

Congrats Melissa!

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