I woke up this morning with a profound sense of gratitude. I heard our heat come on as the wind whipped furiously at our house. I snuggled deeper into the covers and praised God for our home, for food to eat and clothes to wear, for dear friends and family, and most of all for God’s saving, keeping love.

Kelly and I won’t be celebrating with our kids until Saturday. He’s wrapping up a project, so I’m taking the day off to read, walk, watch movies, plan, and eat the sweet little personal chocolate pie my friend dropped off this morning. I do not feel lonely; my heart is full!

However, like you, our family is having its difficulties—some down with a wicked flu; another struggling with debilitating pain that doctors can’t seem to diagnose, much less treat; relationship challenges; addictive behaviors; financial worries; and concerns about work, and the future. It’s tempting to let all those things get us down and lose hope.

That’s why I’m so glad we have this Day for feasting, family, and most of all, remembering to thank God, who is our Source of all blessings. If we know Jesus and His love, that is a great place to start with our praise list. And there’s something powerful we can do to encourage those around us, who may be having a hard time coming up with anything to be thankful for.

The other day I had a frustrating morning and was so worn out by lunch time, I had lost all desire to pursue the other things I’d planned that day.

My daughter and her kids stopped by to throw in a load of wash. Two-year-old Willow ran up to me and asked, “Back okay, Grandma?” her clear blue eyes full of concern. I had been out of action for about a week and they had been praying for me. She touched my back and gently rubbed it with her tiny hands and planted a kiss where it had been hurting to make it better. It did.

Ten-month-old Denver followed in an amazingly fast crawl. When he reached me, he stood up and hugged my legs. When he looked up into my eyes and gave me a dimpled grin, my heart melted all over again.

Although I wasn’t in the mood to entertain, I sat on the floor with my back against the wall while Launa got her load started, and the kids crawled around on me, inspecting my earrings and necklace, one of their favorite things to do. When Launa came out, she sat down next to me on the floor and held me in a long hug. She pulled Denver in to nurse and leaned against the wall as well, and the four of us savored the incredible healing of closeness and touch.

Today, and this holiday weekend, even if you and your family don’t agree politically, religiously, or whether it should have been turkey or ham at your feast. And even if your life or theirs is pretty tough right now—offer the gift of a hug, a meaningful touch, a listening ear. That’s what Jesus would do. It will bring healing, and refresh both their spirit and yours.

I pray you have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!