Shoe Gifts: A Lesson on Gratitude

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Enter our home and you will be eagerly greeted by a Labrador Retriever.  Greet her and she’ll trot off and return with a gift just for you- a shoe.

When Adi began bringing us shoes as a puppy, I would enthusiastically say “thank you” while prying her mouth open to remove it .  Inadvertently, I trained her to release her “gift” to the hand with the words “thank you.”

Funny thing, Adi knows the difference between a fake and genuine “thank you.”  It’s only for the later that she’ll hand over the shoe. For those who gratefully receive her gift, she’ll shower them with more Labby love.  If your “thank you” is insincere, you try to pull it from her mouth, or ignore the gift, she’ll walk away looking for someone else to give it to.  If she finds no grateful recipient, she’ll eventually drop the shoe in some random place.

A couple years ago, a statement in a sermon on gratitude made a lasting impact on my life. The pastor said, “By our silence our gratitude becomes ingratitude.”  It got me thinking a lot about my unspoken gratitude.  My reasons were horribly selfish and ranged from- in the moment I was distracted- to- I forgot – to – it’s something I took for granted  – to-  I wanted to say more than just “thank you” but just couldn’t piece together the words so I said nothing.  I obviously needed a refresher on expressing gratitude.   

In the days that followed, I found myself watching Adi and her shoe gifts and realized two things.  First, when gratitude is left unexpressed, the gift is given to someone else or worse laid aside ungiven.  Second, a gift can only be fully appreciated when it is graciously received.  

 Since then, I’ve sought to be mindful of giving gratitude in the moment for both the obvious and more subtle gifts people give like:

“Thank you for chatting with me,” I say to my daughter after she plops down next to me, shares her thoughts, and asks the questions she’s been mulling over.

“Thank you for working so hard to provide for our family,” I whisper into my husband’s ear as I give him a hug upon his return home from a 12-hour workday.

“Thank you for your kindness,” I tell the cashier after she has patiently helped the elderly woman ahead of me count out the exact change from her coin purse.

“Thank you for your service,” I express to the gentleman sitting next to me who is wearing a Vietnam veteran ball cap.

“Thank you for giving my Lab some love,” I state to the people who stop to spend time petting Adi.

Living out what I learned from this lesson has shown me that those two simple words of “thank you” encourage people to continue giving selflessly of themselves to others.

Lord Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to my ingratitude, for forgiving my selfishness, and for growing in me a heart of gratitude.  Thank you for all the people You’ve placed in my life  who give me the precious gifts of their presence, their words, their laughter, and their encouragement.  Amen

Devote yourselves to prayer. Being watchful and thankful.”

Colossians 4:2

© 2019-2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved

23 thoughts on “Shoe Gifts: A Lesson on Gratitude

  1. Thanks for sharing Beth!

    I reckon the practice of giving thanks should be one of the things that all new Christians should be taught, and all us old Christians need to be reminded.

    Really like your prayer as well.

    Peace to you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome. It’s very helpful to have a Lab who reminds me each day with her shoe gifts to be grateful for the many blessings that fill the day. May the peace of Christ rule in your heart as well. (Col. 3:15)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Alan. Your statement that thank you releases a “spirit of gentleness and love that can soothe any hurt” is a valuable addition to this lesson. Hope you have a lovely end to your week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post Beth, first my dog does the same thing, there is always a shoe in her bed, she will grab any footwear when one of us wakes up in the morning with the happiest tail wagging I ever did see. Yes, the simple words of , Thank You, can mean so much. I am forever saying that, because it means a lot to me that someone takes the time to speak with me, or to say hi. And I am so thankful to be in a place of learning with our Father, it is a wonderful gift He has given us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandra, “Learning with our Father” is truly a blessed gift given to us. I greatly appreciate your willingness to share what you are learning from Him on your blog. Thank you for sharing the tale of your sweet pup’s morning greeting. What a wonderful way to start each day. I had to laugh when you said there is always a shoe on her bed. Adi’s bed is one of the first places we go when searching for a missing shoe or pair of gloves.


  3. AMEN! We must speak up and share our gratitude in the moment—before the opportunity slips away. The rough and tumble world (especially right now) can suck the life right out of someone. A few words of thanks can make all the difference.
    Great post, as always! Virtual pets to Adi!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pat B

    What a wonderful lesson to us all – Thank You! – for your wonderful thoughts and God-given teachings. May I be more generous with my “thank yous” from now on!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous

    Thank you for these profound thoughts. You continue to amaze me years after time together as coach/athlete. Thank you for continuing to coach me and by being obedient to be used by God to bless others.

    Liked by 1 person

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