This afternoon I'll pack up the car and head to Laurel Ridge, the Moravian Church, Southern Province's camp, conference and retreat center. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Laurel Ridge has beautiful views, soaring pine trees, star-filled night skies, and so much more.

I'm already grateful for my time there even though I haven't yet arrived, as I know it will be joyful, relaxing, and inspirational. Do you have a place like Laurel Ridge, a place you long to go to to get away from life's daily routines and distractions? A place where you know you'll be fulfilled spiritually, mentally, and emotionally?

I'm going with the women from my church; we haven't had a women's retreat in several years and one of our members felt called to organize one. I've never been on a women's retreat, but I love being involved with women's fellowship, so I know I'll enjoy this weekend of living and learning in community. I'm thankful for my church family and the many ways they care for and support me.

One of my favorite activities at Laurel Ridge is to go for a hike by myself. I can already smell the air on the top of the mountain: a mixture of grass, mint, dirt, and something sweet. I can hear the wind blowing through the trees and feel the rocks under my feet as I head to my favorite overlook. I love spending time alone in nature as it’s there that I’m overwhelmed by God’s generosity and love for us through His beautiful creation. I take it for granted on most days, and need reminders to open my eyes and be grateful for feel the incredible blessing that is the natural world in which we live. It’s also during these times that I experience God’s grace in very powerful ways.

Grace, generosity and gratitude. Those are three words we spend a lot of time talking about here at the Foundation, and they’re three of my favorite words, just as Laurel Ridge is one of my favorite places. I am grateful to have a place in the mountains that feels like home, a group of women to go there with who feel like family, and a God whose grace and abundant love is never-ending. How can I show my gratitude for the blessings of Laurel Ridge and my church?

William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Clearly the presents are already wrapped as I’ve just written about the things I am thankful for. This weekend I hope to discover new ways to give those presents away, to hear God calling me to new expressions of gratitude.

How do you show thanks for the people and places that enrich your life? How is God calling you to new expressions of gratitude?