How many of us will sit around this Thanksgiving season and recite a small list of things we are thankful for?

    How many of us will start this list with . . .

    My faith

    My family

    My friends?

    Even if we only say it to ourselves in our heads, this time of year we tend to appropriately acknowledge all we’ve been given when we look around us and people stand out as the best of this challenging world. When it comes down to it, we don’t usually start our gratitude lists with things. Thanksgiving, more than any other time, makes us shockingly aware that we need one another. Stuff is just that, stuff.

    However, actually moving beyond a once-a-year acknowledgment of our great affection for those around us, particularly those dearest to us—our spouse, our children, our parents, our siblings—is no simple endeavor. How do we let those in our homes know how grateful we are in the midst of the dailiness of life, the frustrations of busy schedules, even in the heat of a stonewalled argument?

    There are many words each day in marriage and in making a household run. Some of the best are

    I love you.

    I’m sorry.

    You’re forgiven.

    But there are two other words that we rarely use that I think could make a huge difference in our marriages, with our children, and other places we want to build safety to allow the ones we love to be themselves, to mess up and receive grace, and to know they are valued:

    I noticed.

    I noticed can sound a lot like thank you:

    I noticed you took out the trash.

    I noticed you finished your homework.

    I noticed you heard what I said.

    It recognizes that tasks and words have not gone without recognition. “I noticed” expresses gratitude in a small way, but also acknowledges individual worth and value. We live in a world that is busy, hectic, and generally unconcerned with anything outside of self. We can use the words “I noticed” to reflect, in the midst of the dailiness of life, the value God gives each of us.

    I noticed you like mac and cheese.

    I noticed you are stressed.

    I noticed you were nice to your sister.

    I noticed you give good hugs.

    The Scripture says the Lord notices us. He enjoys relationship with us through Christ.

    For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
        He adorns the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

    God notices everything. He is not far from us, ever.

    He notices our triumphs, our relationships, our joys. He notices our sadness, our brokenness, and our need. He sent His Son into our world, to walk our sod, to eat our food with us, to suffer, to die, and to rise again . . . all because we have a God who notices from the beginning of time who we are and what we need.

    Because we are noticed by God, we know we have innate value, even when we go unnoticed by our spouse, our family, or our friends. We say “I noticed” when others do not, because our feet are firmly set in our value as God’s beloved children in Christ.

    See how many times you can use the phrase “I noticed” today. Watch what happens.

    Let God’s grace in noticing us pour out into the world around you, particularly in your marriage, in your home. See the difference “I noticed” makes.

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