Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. Psalm 139:14, The Living Bible

One of the best gifts I ever gave my mother was also a gift to myself. I spoke at our home church’s sixty-third anniversary celebration, and my mother could not have been more proud.

I grew up Lutheran—Missouri Synod, which at this writing still does not ordain women. So, even though I was not speaking from “the pulpit,” it was still a proud moment because in my church’s history not many women had been invited to speak at a congregational event.

I remember one of the elders once saw something special in me that I had not seen in myself. He encouraged me by saying, “I can see you speaking to our congregation.” This was about ten years ago, before I was ordained and before I began speaking publicly. I could not fully receive the huge compliment that his words were then, so I simply smiled and gave him a hug. I had known him since I was a child. He and his wife were two of my favorite people, and I was one of theirs. Neither of us knew that ten years later I would indeed speak before the congregation—just not in the pulpit.

I offer this story because even as I write it, I am having trouble truly celebrating the honor I was given and the hard work and accomplishments it represents. I find it necessary to qualify it by saying  just not in the pulpit, as though I know it was special, but not that special. It’s hard to acknowledge that I had used God’s gifts in a way that brought honor to my family, my church family, and to God. (Sigh!) We teach what we need to learn ourselves. As I am learning to celebrate myself, I invite you to celebrate yourself more, too.

Since November is Thanksgiving month, I’ll bet you’ve been seeing a lot on the benefits of expressing gratitude, reminders to write gratitude lists in your gratitude journal, and having a grateful spirit even in the midst of challenging situations. But you may not see many stories or hear many sermons on the importance of taking time to affirm yourself and celebrate the unique contribution you bring to the planet. So use this season to also invest in your spiritual health and celebrate the marvelousness of YOU. In case you need some guidance, here are a few resources:

I hope you enjoy these affirmation memes to remind yourself how wonderful you are. Please feel free to use these images. Know that I’m grateful for you. Happy Thanksgiving!