The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

How The Habit of Gratitude Opens Our Eyes

Over at Proverbs 31 today, I’m sharing about that day I hid 1000 pennies in our house in a crazy attempt to squash some grumbles and grow some gratitude. Of course, I had no idea when I scattered those copper coins–in underwear drawers and on bookshelves, in closets and in cupboards–that those small pennies would give birth to giant joy. And I certainly never imagined that my unconventional quest for contentment would launch our family into a lifelong adventure that we’ve lovingly dubbed “Penny Praise.” If you stepped into our home today, you’d see a humble glass jar of copper coins sitting on a bookshelf in plain sight. It’s our daily reminder that thanksgiving isn’t just an American holiday, but a wonder-filled way to live.

If you haven’t read my “penny tale” over at Encouragement for Today, you can find it here. But before you go, I’d love to share how hunting for pennies had taught me some priceless lessons about gratitude. And I’d be delighted if you’d linger long enough to chime in on our Praise Party and enter to to win your very own penny praise package.It’s been many years since I first hid 1000 copper coins all through our our home and challenged my family to give thanks each time they found a penny. Those were the days when constant discontent rumbled in my heart and the ache of joylessness sapped my strength. Those were the days when I lived half-blind, stumbling through my hours without noticing the hand of God all around me. Little did I know that our silly little game called “Penny Praise” wouldn’t just change my cheer-less attitude; it would alter my visual aptitude.

These days, our home is no longer teeming with copper coins. Little ones don’t waddle around in diapers or sap my strength with midnight feedings. But after years of prowling for pennies, we still find ourselves spotting those little treasures wherever we go. We spy pennies lingering in parking lots and tucked under other people’s couch’s. We spot pennies mingling with dust bunnies and hiding in the crevices of car seats. We notice pennies planted on top of sand dunes and parked beneath playground benches. We find pennies on bleachers, in ice cream stores and on grocery store floors.

In fact, sometimes, this habit of penny praise can lead to embarrassing moments. I mean, there was that day when my son crawled under a friend’s dinner table (right in the middle of a meal) and offered up a loud and definitive shout of thanks as he plucked a rusted penny off of her dirty floor.

And then there was that moment in our small town bakery when my toddler found a penny and let out a whoop of pastry-praise: “Thank you Gawd for donuts!”

Of course that same toddler grew into the little girl who once payed for a piece of candy with a palm-full of pennies. And as she handed her copper coins to the unsuspecting cashier, she declared with a smile, “Now you have tell me twenty things you’re thankful for!”

Our penchant for penny hunting may lend to awkwardness now and then, but it’s also grown awareness. Thanks to our well-trained eyes, we see copper gleams that we once would have missed. And in the same way, giving thanks has opened the eyes of our hearts to see glimmers of God’s goodness and shimmers of His grace.

Perhaps that’s the most amazing thing about gratitude! It doesn’t just change our mood; it changes our vision as well.

In His powerful book, The Rest of God, Author and pastor Mark Buchanan writes: “You cannot practice thankfulness on a biblical scale without its altering the way you see.”

Perhaps that’s because when recognize a gift, we’re reminded of the giver.

When I look at the wedding ring on my finger, I think of my husband who gave it to me.

When I see the brightly colored picture hanging on my fridge, I think of my daughter who drew it for me.

When I slip into my fuzzy wool socks, I think of the friend who made them for me.

James 1:17 reminds us:“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”

The sustaining power of gratitude is this– Giving thanks doesn’t merely give light to our eyes; it shifts our eyes to the Father of lights.

When we acknowledge God’s good gifts, we become aware of our good Giver.

When we give thanks for the pink streaks of sunrise, we think of the One who paints the sky

When we express gratitude for our restored health, we acknowledge the One who heals.

When we rejoice in the sound of music, we are quick to remember the One who sings over us with delight.

This is what our grumbly souls seek. This is what our weary lives need: Praise gives us a glimpse of the One who satisfies our soul.

When we give thanks for His presents, we encounter His presence.

And we begin to realize that we don’t need to hunt far and wide for the greatest treasure of all.

Through the lens of gratitude we can clearly see that He is already right where we are.


If you like what you’ve found here at the Overflow, I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and I’ll send a splash of encouragement to your inbox now and then.  (You’ll find a subscription box on the top right sidebar on my home page.) Or, if you’d rather, we can stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, my favorite way to connect is the old fashioned way—face to face so I can see your smile.  I’m scheduling speaking engagements for 2018, and I’d be delighted to bring a message of encouragement to a ministry event near you! (Contact me at if you’d like to know more).

Finally, we’re giving away a “Penny Praise Package” today to help you practice the habit of thanksgiving wherever you are. We’ll send you this precious book and a penny jar to get you started on your own goofy and glorious adventure of penny praise. Just join our Praise Party and you’ll be entered to win. Tell us in the comments one thing for which you’re thankful today.


70 thoughts on “How The Habit of Gratitude Opens Our Eyes

  1. Diana Jeffery

    I am so thankful to be debt free after living for 45 years with a hefty mortgage and credit cards! It’s truly a miracle and I am so thankful for answered prayers and the blessings of God pouring over my life.

    November 14, 2017 at 2:36 am
  2. Mendy Iler

    Thankful for friendships that have encompassed a lifetime. After spending the weekend celebrating my husbands best friend from childhood daughter getting married, it makes you thankful for those who have walked this journey with you so many years… through both the good and bad times.

    November 14, 2017 at 3:47 am
  3. Cyndee Crout

    I am so very thankful for God’s amazing love!
    Thank you for sharing this message…years ago I heard a story of someone who everytime they found a penny, they would count it as a reminder that God was watching over them., I adopted that practice and would always say Thank you God. .. maybe I’ll extend that practice to offering an extra praise of thanksgiving. God’s blessings always!

    November 14, 2017 at 4:02 am
  4. Jami

    I’m so thankful for a loving husband!

    November 14, 2017 at 4:13 am
  5. Rochelle

    I am thankful for the blessing of true love in my life.

    November 14, 2017 at 4:30 am
  6. Megan

    I am thankful for the three little blessings that call me momma

    November 14, 2017 at 4:33 am
  7. Jamey

    I️ am thankful for my healthy, vibrant children who keep me on my toes every minute of every day.

    November 14, 2017 at 4:39 am
  8. Shirley

    I am truly thankful for God’s Word…the BIBLE. My sweet mother-in-law said it was Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

    November 14, 2017 at 4:43 am
  9. Lisa

    Wow!!! What a unique way to acknowledge God’s blessings. Even though I have one grown child and two in high school, I can still incorporate this idea into our family. I started a Gratitude Journal over two years ago and I am addicted to it. I just recently read everything I had written since I started it. It brought me to tears seeing what all God has done for me. I thank God for the simple things as well as thanking God for the huge things. I even thank God for the bad things too as it as brought me closer to him. Thank you so much Alicia for sharing your Penny Praise Project. ~Lisa~

    November 14, 2017 at 5:01 am
    1. SB

      I am thankful for God’s amazing grace!!

      November 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm
  10. Heidi Mitchell

    I’m so thankful for God’s grace. I need it everyday!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:08 am
  11. Amber Duncan

    Thank you for opening my eyes to my in gratitude.I was right where you were. Notice I say was.

    November 14, 2017 at 5:10 am
  12. Cindy

    Thankful I read this devotion today as it is a great reminder of what I haven’t been doing. Thankful for a patient husband, sons’ laughter when getting along, the little rain and cooler weather we have had.

    November 14, 2017 at 5:18 am
  13. Sarah

    I am thankful for the power of Christ in me.

    November 14, 2017 at 5:29 am
  14. Ann l

    I love this~ thank you!
    I’m so thankful for people who share and help me become a better Christian!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:30 am
  15. Misty twining

    I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy continueing to wash over me during a very difficult onset of deep depression. This morning I woke up with my 3 year old curled up between me and my husband and my dog at the foot of the bed. Bright sunlight coming through the drapes and hope for the day. God has truly blessed my life 💕💕💕💕

    November 14, 2017 at 5:42 am
  16. I am thankful for God’s grace and wisdom!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:48 am
  17. Kelly Journeay

    I am thankful for my root canal because my tooth no longer hurts. I am thankful for my sweet husband and 2 little girls. I am thankful that I can stay home with our youngest. I am eternally grateful for my Heavenly Father and for Jesus!!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:55 am
  18. Pamela

    Today I am thankful for this word of encouragement, reminding me that there is always something to be thankful for regardless of the circumstances because our God is a loving God, always at work! Thank you!!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:56 am
  19. Pam

    What a beautiful post, Alicia! I love the idea of hiding 1000 pennies. I am always tickled when I find a penny in a parking lot or on the floor of the grocery store! Just that small thing can bring a smile to my face. Your post now inspires me to give thanks when I find one, whether it is shining in the sunlight or buried in the snow!
    This week I am especially thankful because my daughter and grandsons are coming home for a week! We haven’t seen each other in 18 months! What a blessing God is giving all of us!
    Thanks again!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:59 am
  20. joanna kearns

    Thankful my father has not forsaken me and has defended me aganist others who are not treating me well and he is a good provider

    November 14, 2017 at 6:02 am
  21. Ana I Mendez

    I’m thankful for this devotional that has redirected my vision to Jesus during difficult trials. Thankful that I’m never alone and that he sustains me.

    November 14, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Thankful for this message today! I️ needed this reminder to look for the joy in everyday things no matter how small. God provides ample opportunities each day to praise him for his gifts to us! Thank you for this message🙂

    November 14, 2017 at 6:15 am
  23. April

    I am thankful for so much in our family of 6! But especially thankful for the very difficult season God is taking us through and the growth He is bringing in the midst of it. I know His miracles happen every second of every day, I am thankful for each one and for the big miracle He is working out for us now. I loved this post today and can’t wait to start our own penny praise project!

    November 14, 2017 at 6:20 am
  24. Elsie

    I am thankful for the simple things that God gives us, such as finding pennies which to me brings more joy since I say ” the pennies are kissed by an angel”.

    November 14, 2017 at 6:21 am
  25. Monica

    I am thankful for my family!

    November 14, 2017 at 6:24 am
  26. Jonatha

    I am thankful for my marriage. It has been a battle the last year, and even though it has been painful, the joy of it is there. It is a gift I never want to take for granted.

    November 14, 2017 at 6:24 am
  27. Wendy

    I’m thankful for this reminder that God gives good gifts in the midst of difficult times…I just need to seek them out and recognize them. I would love to do this with my five and one year old!

    November 14, 2017 at 6:27 am
  28. Rhea

    I am thankful that I teach in a school that allows me to teach and talk about God to my students.

    November 14, 2017 at 6:49 am
  29. Karen Dawson

    I am so thankful I read your story today. I was injured during surgery last July and almost died. I am thankful that he saved me and I want to find Joy again by giving Thanks to him and having his peace no matter what comes. Hugs to all who need one today. 🤗

    November 14, 2017 at 7:16 am
  30. Calene Johnson

    I am truly thankful for my eight children +1 (she adopted me) and my 2 grandchildren +2.

    November 14, 2017 at 7:27 am
  31. I am extremely grateful of God’s peace,grace,mercy and unconditional love. I thankful for His provision and the times He answered miraculously. He’s been and still is my Rock and a gentle reedemer. Thank you so much for this article I caused me to take inventory of His great love and many, many blessings.

    November 14, 2017 at 7:38 am
  32. Kimberly

    I’m thankful for so many blessings in my life. But most importantly that God captured my heart and has held on to me even when I have not held steadfast to him.

    November 14, 2017 at 7:42 am
  33. Kassandra Velasquez

    I am thankful for you writing this devotion…it never fails, God always uses your words to pierce into my heart. (I hope we’re. Ive a neighbors in heaven)ive always had habit of throwing away pennies when i clean and my nana would say dont do that that penny is worth something, i feel like those pennies sometimes who get lost under the bed filled with dirt and lost their shine but im reminded but your devotion that just how Jesus found me and saw my value – when i find pennies i must see their values because 1cent is not nothing, its not zero-it has value. Thank u Alicia☺

    November 14, 2017 at 8:10 am
  34. Leigh F

    I am thankful for God’s word that redirects me just when I need it…even when it hurts!

    November 14, 2017 at 8:13 am
  35. Pam Canup

    Even though I work in missions everyday. Sometimes it is hard to remember to be thankful for that opportunity to be where I am each day. It is hard to remember it is not a job.

    November 14, 2017 at 8:24 am
  36. Jennifer Doshier

    I am thankful for a loving Savior who saved a wretch like me and for His constant provisions for my family.

    November 14, 2017 at 8:26 am
  37. Rosemary

    I am so thankful for God’s guidance, provision, protection, and blessing during a difficult time in my family’s life.

    November 14, 2017 at 8:56 am
  38. Tracy I

    I am Thankful for a loving God who will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s a very difficult season right now, but every time I feel like giving up, God brings me comfort and encouragement and strength to keep going a little while longer.

    November 14, 2017 at 9:11 am
  39. Stephanie H

    Your devotion hit me this morning in that this. Is exactly where I find myself and I know something is missing! This will be a good day to start.
    I am thankful for a new day to begin again, for new mercy for today.

    November 14, 2017 at 9:24 am
  40. Wanda

    I am thankful for this post, this day and this beautiful season. I am thankful for my loving husband, my young adult children and a loving Heavenly Father who gave His Son so that I could receive his free gift of salvation and live daily in the abundance of His mercy and grace

    November 14, 2017 at 9:28 am
  41. Amanda Scalph

    I’m thankful for being able to go back to work after a bad day with my fibromyalgia yesterday and I’m thankful for my job that allows us to pay our bills. And I’m thankful for my sweet and understanding husband.

    November 14, 2017 at 9:31 am
  42. Penny

    I am thankful for the sunshine today!

    November 14, 2017 at 10:31 am
  43. Linda

    Thankful for my beautiful granddaughter who lights up my life….I will be seeing her in a few days time….

    November 14, 2017 at 10:42 am
  44. Lindsey Parker

    I am thankful for my faith in Jesus, knowing that our God is big enough to handle everything life throws at us. When it seems too much for me to bear, I know I can come to God through prayer and study of the Scriptures and truly leave my worries at His feet.

    November 14, 2017 at 10:44 am
  45. Susan Plowden

    I am thankful for the Proverbs 31 ministry and your contributions to it. I especially loved your current devotional about gratitude and thanksgiving.

    November 14, 2017 at 11:00 am
  46. Susan Elliott

    I’m thankful to know
    The Lord and for
    His love and Care for
    Me !!

    November 14, 2017 at 11:09 am
  47. Ali

    I have a gratitude journal, and love to look back and see the things God has done in my life. I am thankful that I am able to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Which makes it possible for me to volunteer my time for different things and available to help out.

    November 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm
  48. Courtney Parrish

    I am always thankful for my family, but at the current time I am especially thankful for my 2 year old daughter. She is so random, hilarious, & precious. Listening to her, watching her play, or getting a big hug & kiss can make you forget about anything unpleasant.

    November 14, 2017 at 12:53 pm
  49. Jen Lehr

    I’m thankful for my joyful and creative daughter! She makes me smile so many times each day!

    November 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm
  50. Lana Archer

    I am so thankful to be alive and have a wonderful husband who lives everyday lovingly lives his vows insickness and on health ..he lovingly takes care of me never complains just makes sure I have all I need and we know God is who guides us

    November 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm
  51. I’m so thankful for a place to call home! After years of saving, we are fortunate to have a house to call home.

    November 14, 2017 at 3:51 pm
  52. Danielle Currey

    I am thankful for my 2 healthy children

    November 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm
  53. lc

    I’m thankful for my family, my job, a place to live and bed to sleep in. I’m thankful for my adopted dog, Shelby, who is always happy to see me. I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.

    November 14, 2017 at 4:48 pm
  54. Terri

    I am thankful for a God who loves me unconditionally!

    November 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm
  55. Dottie Thomas

    I’m thankful for another chance of being a wife after my first one passed away from cancer. I never dreamed He would send me another awesome man!

    November 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm
  56. Kara Correale

    I have much to be thankful Family,my church family,a job,somewhere to live and something to eat.i am grateful that God has always pursued me,that Jesus died for me and that I can read His word and learn and grow.God is patient and loving with me and He is teaching me to be more like Him.

    November 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm
  57. Alicia Buratti

    I have been feeling this so much I’m always irritated and down lately and I bought a journal but haven’t used it positively yet

    November 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm
  58. Ruth Amaro

    I am thankful that God has blessed me with a beautiful granddaughter.

    November 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm
  59. Lori

    I am thankful for this devotion. This confirms what I’ve been conveying at my home with our sign that reads gratitude changes everything. I am definitely doing the pennies with my kids. I’m also going to put today’s verse in a journal for my mom as a gift and ask her to keep a list of blessings. When I get it back one day, I will enjoy looking back at what she was thankful for. She always looked for pennies everywhere and believed in picking them up because rhey add up! I’ll pass along the idea to think of something to be thankful for. I think this will help during a difficult season in her life. Thank you for these great ideas!!

    November 14, 2017 at 10:57 pm
  60. Martha Swenson

    I am thankful for the house I live in! It would be a great adventure to share penny praises with my grandkids!! Thank You for sharing & GOD Bless!!

    November 14, 2017 at 11:04 pm
  61. Jennifer

    I’m thankful for my husband and 2 boys, shelter clothing and food enough for us all.

    November 14, 2017 at 11:05 pm
  62. Jeanne

    I am so thankful for my family and our home!

    November 14, 2017 at 11:27 pm
  63. Angela

    I am thankful for this special article I randomly found. God always knows what my soul needs, even when I don’t.

    November 14, 2017 at 11:32 pm
  64. Cathy

    I am thankful for the way God always makes a way where there seems to be no way. We have a joy jar in our Church and Sunday mornings people put coins in and share what God has done for them, so I was quite chuffed when I read this. 🙂 God is good, all the time!! I am thankful today for this post that encouraged me.

    November 15, 2017 at 12:29 am
  65. Erin Davig

    Our family of five recently relocated two thousand miles away. We have moved quite a few times-this move after 5 years in one spot that my children would call home. As my husband & I were looking for a home to rent, I kept finding pennies. I took them as God’s way of letting me know he was near. Now that we have moved, it is so incredibly hard to build community again. It is lonely. My children, my husband, and I are all pretty weary. I don’t hear thankfulness coming from myself or my children. I love the penny idea. I hope I’m able to present it to my children in a way that they are excited about it (one is a teenager & a bit “Eyore-ish” so hoping this helps him too!). Thank you for being the “penny“ in my day – reminding me that God sees me and our family. Blessings to you & yours!

    November 15, 2017 at 8:30 am
  66. Gloria Gomez

    I am so thankful for God’s guidance in my life for his provision for me and my family,his protection, and daily blessings.I became a widow 9 yrs ago, and my journey since then has been of so many emotions.Left without an income,I faced a lot of challenges ,but with GOD by my side ,i conquered them all.I WANT to share this PENNY praise idea with my 4 kids and my 9 loving grandkids..I know for sure they are going to LOVE it…Thank you for sharing it with us all…GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS..

    November 15, 2017 at 9:55 am
  67. Jessica Reiche

    I’m so thankful for this post showing me how grateful I am for the little things in life

    November 16, 2017 at 6:13 am
  68. So thankful for the gift of salvation – John 3:16

    November 17, 2017 at 7:45 pm
  69. Glenda Hollis

    Thank you for this word. I have been picking up
    Pennies in odd places. I felt the Lord was saying every penny counts. Also every soul counts. I am thankful for the joy that comes in the morning and his peace that surpasses all understanding. I am truly blessed.

    November 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm

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