I was at a women’s retreat this weekend. The weather was cold but fine. The attendees were fewer than normal, but the fellowship was sweet. The theme was thankfulness.

What does thankfulness look like? I voice my thank yous all the time. If one of my children receives a gift, the first words out of my mouth are, “What do you say?” I encourage thankfulness in my home. My prayers often begin with Thank you, Father. But do I really live a thankful life?

Lately I’d have to say I’ve lived more curmudgeonly than thankfully. The winter has been long. And cold. And snowy. We’ve spent a small fortune in snow removal just trying to keep our yard clear. I’ve done much more complaining and whining than thanking or praising.

I had a chance to revisit a friendship this past weekend at the retreat. If you are lucky enough to know my friend Vivian Dunn, then you know what thankfulness looks like.

Vivian has spent her life serving others. She was a well-loved school teacher for many years. Her family became Jesus lovers after Vivian’s daughter attended Western Christian College. I have heard Vivian tell the story of their journey to the Lord many times, and it is always told with gratitude and amazement. Vivian loves Jesus, and her love has been expressed over the years in the many, many ways she has reached out to others. She has been “mom” to countless kids over the years, particularly kids at Western who didn’t have family nearby.

I was thrilled and inspired to catch up with Vivian on the weekend. This almost eighty-year-old woman now lives in a suite in Weyburn. Her husband died a few years ago, and while Danny’s passing was and continues to be a great sorrow in her life, Vivian has turned sadness into victory. I prayed for God to give me something to do after Danny died, she said. And he gave me immigrants. Now, from her little suite, Vivian blesses, and blesses, and blesses. Like she has done her entire life.

Her kids have received meals and encouragement in equal portions. She has found them furniture, helped them with their english, and taken them to church. She loves them and they love her.

Vivian’s life is lived in thankfulness. I love this woman, and I am encouraged and, yes, thankful for her example in my life. She lives beautifully in her gratitude for what the Lord has done for her.

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