The Privileged Life: A Cascade of Gratitude…Starting with a Toothbrush

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)

While getting dressed this morning, I paused in front of my sink. My toothpaste tube was almost flat. No problem, I thought. I’ve got an extra tube in the cabinet.

Then I paused again, riveted by thoughts of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes—wonderful gifts collected by Samaritan’s Purse and sent around the world with the Gospel message.* 

If you’ve ever packed one of those shoeboxes, you know toothbrushes are important. I’ve always included several in each box after hearing reports that most children don’t have any. If a single toothbrush comes home with a child, often the entire family will use it…all year long.

I looked back at my own toothbrush, a “first-world privilege” I usually take for granted. I hadn’t really examined it in light of the shoeboxes. So, I thanked God for it. And I began to wonder…am I truly grateful to God for everything He gives me? 

What began as a quick little prayer of thanks began to multiply, almost out of control.

My “cascade of gratitude” began with a toothbrush…where will yours begin today?

Let’s see…I can add dental floss to my list of blessings. And not only do I have one toothbrush, but I have a spare, thanks to my dentist. 

Oh, wait…I have dental care! I get to go sit in a nice recliner chair, have my teeth scrubbed, and even be abundantly blessed by having the dentist drill down on bad spots…after I’ve been numbed up. (I always have to remind myself to be thankful during all of that.)

I was starting to crank up the engine of gratitude.

What else was lying around in plain sight, something I often breeze past in the busyness of my day? Hand soap. Not only a bar at my sink, but one in the shower, too…and it’s lavender-scented, my favorite! I even have one of those cute pump bottles of liquid hand soap, too.

To use these little lovelies, I have running water, right from a tap, in the shower and at the sink. I can have clean hands every hour, keeping me from getting surface-borne infections or illnesses.

Then I look at my hands. I currently have a Bandaid on one of them because I bumped it against the corner of my dishwasher door. Oh, I have Bandaids! And a dishwasher! Wow, what a huge luxury to load it up with dirty dishes every day. 

Which means we have pots and dishes. And a stovetop. And a refrigerator. And a grocery store about 15 minutes away…full of safe, ready-to-eat food.

Which means I can eat well. My tastebuds are somewhat back to normal, after temporarily losing that sense for several months to after-effects of Covid. Boy, I need to remember to be grateful for smell and taste again!

To chew my delicious food, I still have most of my teeth (minus the wisdom teeth…I probably could have used that extra wisdom to be a better writer). Which brings me back to the toothbrush.

Ah, I could have kept up the torrent of thankfulness, but I was starting to get overwhelmed and needed to get going on my day. 

It was a good way to start my week, and I encourage you to look for the same kinds of blessings in plain sight. When our hearts spill over with joy for what God has given us, we can rejoice despite the worries and inconveniences that come our way.

If you decide to join me in this effort of ongoing gratefulness, I need to warn you—the next step is thanking God for what we don’t like. 

On the heels of praising Him for His blessings, we must praise Him in our trials, small and big. God is sovereign over everything that enters our lives—from minor annoyances to cancer and loss. 

I still don’t know how to say, “It is well with my soul,” when sorrows “like sea billows roll.” But if I have the habit of gratitude in everyday tidbits of goodness, it’s much easier to thank God in the middle of the storms.

Maybe it begins with thanking Him for a nearby handkerchief or Kleenex when my eyes are filled with tears. Maybe it means gratitude for the hug of an understanding friend when I can’t cope with anxiety. Maybe I should lift up a little prayer of thanksgiving for a loving Savior who lifts me up when I continue to stumble.

Jesus is our ultimate, overwhelming blessing. Putting our faith only in Him—not trusting in anything we have or anything we’ve done—is our pathway to salvation, bringing us abundant life here on earth and after death. 

After all, toothbrushes won’t matter in heaven. We’ll enjoy a fabulous feast with Him there, teeth and all, in our redeemed bodies, in the beautiful home that awaits us. Let’s thank Him for that promise!

Lord Jesus, make me grateful every moment of every day for all that You’ve brought into my life—in material goods, abilities, and opportunities. Make me humble and content with my lot, and teach me to use those gifts for Your glory. Let my heart bloom with joy as I cultivate gratitude in cascading waves. In Your name, Amen.

Nancy C. Williams is a Christian wife/mom with a writing career spanning more than 40 years in business and journalism. Williams is the author of the novel To Love a Falcon and the devotional book A Crocus in the Desert: Devotions, Stories, and Prayers for Women Experiencing InfertilityHer weekly blogs are featured on Crossmap.com. To follow Nancy’s posts and news, go to her home page at http://lightbournecreative.com and subscribe at the bottom. 

© Copyright 2024 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography) Unless otherwise noted, Scripture verses are taken from the New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*Samaritan’s Purse collects shoeboxes in the fall, but right now is a great time to purchase summery items like flip-flops, inflatable beach balls, and other goodies. To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, go to https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ and get started building your own shoebox of blessings for a child across the world! Don’t forget the toothbrushes!

#toothbrush #toothpaste #dentalcare #firstworldprivilege #operationchristmaschild #samaritanspurse #gratitude #thankfulness #Jesus #loveofChrist #bandaids #shoeboxgifts


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Nancy C. Williams

Nancy C. Williams is a Christian wife/mom with a writing career spanning more than 40 years in business and journalism, including almost a decade at FedEx corporate headquarters. Nowadays, Nancy writes for the sheer joy of it, with blogs, devotions, and novels at the top of her “fun stuff to-do” list. She’s also an adventure enthusiast who loves snow-skiing, making biscotti, taking photos, digging into fascinating stories from the past, and sharing a good laugh. Nancy is serious, though, about serving Jesus Christ as a prayer warrior and writing for His glory—striving to encourage other Christian women on their spiritual journeys. When she isn’t writing, look for Nancy hiking the Appalachian Trail with her beloved husband and mini-schnauzer Heidi. Her weekly blogs are featured on Crossmap.com. ===== To follow Nancy’s posts and news, go to her home page at http://lightbournecreative.com and subscribe at the bottom. ===== Nancy C. Williams is the author of "A Crocus in the Desert: Devotions, Stories, and Prayers for Women Experiencing Infertility"—a devotional book offering hope and encouragement to women who are overwhelmed by anguish, guilt, and isolation as they cope with longing for motherhood. This book offers support and solace, life lessons from faithful women of the Bible, Scriptures of hope, and reassurance that God hears your prayers and has a good plan for your life. ===== Williams is also author of "To Love a Falcon," a novel that begins with a true top-secret World War II mission involving Nancy’s father-in-law and the “murder” of a Russian naval officer he befriended. The rest of the story, based on the Russian fairy tale “Finist the Falcon,” follows a fictional female mechanic who is swept up in Soviet intrigues along with a MiG jet test pilot. "To Love a Falcon" takes readers into the treachery of Russian operatives, the stark landscape of Siberian winters, and the courage of those who risk death for faith and love.