IMG_7065[1]I was chatting with my neighbor, Joan, about how much we had to be thankful for when she said, “But don’t we often forget to thank God for an ordinary day?”

She was right. While I’m quick to offer up a “Thank you” when something in my life goes extraordinarily right—and to plead with God when it doesn’t—how often do I stop to thank him for an ordinary day? A day when the sun comes up, my husband drops off our older kids for school, I distract my little ones so I can sit down to work, and twelve hours later when we start winding down for bed nothing terribly tragic or unusually amazing has happened. Do I thank God for that?

I’m big on writing “Thank you” notes and encourage (read “threaten,” “cajole,” or “bribe”) my kids to write them too. Truthfully, when I don’t get a thank you note—or a phone call or email of acknowledgment—I wonder whether my gift was appreciated or noticed. Worse, I feel my relationship with that person doesn’t matter.

Does God feel the same way?

The apostle Paul says that even though we can’t see God, he has made his presence obvious to us through nature. He then warns that if we don’t honor God or “give thanks,” we are without excuse (Romans 1:21).

“Thanksgiving and blessing are the ways in which man acknowledges God’s works and His sovereign righteousness for the goodness of His creation, for His mercy upon them, and for His grace and gift of righteousness,” writes scholar Joseph Shulam in his Jewish commentary, Romans.

Gratitude journals were once the rage. The simple act of listing everything you’re thankful for is meant to make you happier. But true thankfulness is more than jotting down a random list of appreciation. God wants us to thank him personally. It’s the difference between receiving a generic letter addressed “To Whom it May Concern” and receiving an affectionate note specifically addressed to you.

The other day, I received just such a note from a board member at our church thanking me for leading prayer during the Sunday morning service. The prayer I’d offered was such a little thing, but when she thanked me for it, I felt noticed and loved.

The more time I take to notice and show my love to God, the more aware I become of his presence. As a result, I have more joy. And when misfortune strikes or I’m blessed with an unexpected joy, it’s simply another opportunity to share it with him because we already have a close connection.

Spring is a wonderful time to walk outside—to notice the patches of grass peeping through the snow, the soon-to-bud branches of the forsythia, the sunlight brightening the earth—and to thank God for his creation, mercy, grace, and gifts… even when they appear ordinary.