Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
—I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
See my new science experiment?  It’s a sourdough starter.  I like sourdough but I’ve never really taken the plunge because of the upkeep.  There was one failed attempt to culture a starter six months ago or so, but when it failed I didn’t rush to try again.  I always figured if I wanted something that needs fed, I’d buy a goldfish.  Lots prettier.

A sourdough starter is basically a culture of wild yeast and some harmless bacteria.  The different strains of wild yeast and bacteria combine to give the bread different flavors.

Occasionally when a starter is not well-established, undesirable bacteria get into the mix and give it a truly unpleasant (as opposed to just “sour”) smell.  The right conditions will encourage the right organisms, however, eventually pushing out the undesirables.

I have my starter under a light right now, because my house is a little cold and new starters take awhile to get going good.  They’re more prone to failure in the early stages.  Once a starter is established, it is very hardy and can be kept in the fridge, though it still requires periodic feeding and upkeep.

The world offers a pretty cold environment for gratitude sometimes.  We’re encouraged to envy, to be discontent with what we have, because consuming keeps the economy running.  The whole advertising industry relies heavily on our tendency to want what other people have, especially if those people are pretty and/or rich, and famous.

To culture gratitude, we have to feed it.  It takes a concentrated effort to look around and find what is good about what we have and to be content with it.  This applies not just to physical possessions but also the people in our lives.  It’s easy to think “I would be happier if he/she would just…”

We might have to shut out the drafts.  Sometimes I throw out catalogs without looking at them.  I really think it helps not to have television (we do watch movies, but don’t get network T.V. or cable).  People can be chilling influences to a budding sense of gratitude, as well.  Sarcasm and looking for the negatives in any situation are ingrained in our culture, and gratitude is often ridiculed.

I think it is a good start to take the time around Thanksgiving to encourage a spirit of thankfulness in ourselves, while the world around us encourages it as well.  By the time the season passes, perhaps our thankfulness will be so well established that it can withstand harsher conditions.

So. . .what am I thankful for this year?  I’m thankful for a healthy little boy who just said Da Da.  I’m thankful for adoption, which is how my older children came to our family.  I’m thankful for my adoption into God’s family.  And I’m thankful my little brother found a sweet girl to marry who is part of that same family.