Happy Thanksgiving

Tim Van SoelenThe CACE Roundtable1 Comment

“It’s the little things that make the big things possible.”

J. Willard Marriot

As I pressed the elevator button at the Fairfield Inn in West Covina, CA, this quotation from J. Willard Marriott greeted me from the wall. Fairfield Farm was J. Willard Marriott’s favorite vacation home, known for its warm welcome to family and friends. He wanted to continue this tradition of personal hospitality with every guest and every member visiting the family of Marriott properties.

Big things that matter are obvious. They’re right there in front of you. But the little things matter, too, don’t they? Since I’m traveling, I’ll offer a quick example. A big thing would be getting an upgrade from a basic hotel room to a suite. A seemingly little thing is a bottle of water when checking in. While I love the rare occasion when the front desk employee shares that they have granted me an upgraded room, I’m also very thankful to get a bottle of water. I’m not expecting either, but thankful for both.

Both big things and little things should make our gratitude lists. In this week of American Thanksgiving, I encourage you to consider two short activities. First, read through Psalm 136 (my abbreviated version is below). One of the things I love about this Psalm is the itemized list the Psalmist shares. The list is powerful:

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good–

to him who alone does great wonders,
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
to him who spread out the earth above the water,
to him who made the great lights,
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
and brought Israel out from among them,
to him who struck down great kings.

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Second, make your own itemized list of what you are thankful for, the big things and the little things. Here are a few from my list:

  • those who intentionally take on the role of culture makers at our schools, creating a community of learners
  • those who lead collaboratively, recognizing the “wisdom of the crowd”
  • those who courageously make decisions, knowing those decisions will not be unanimous
  • supporters, who give generously of their time and treasures
  • alumni, who live out the mission of our school
  • custodians, who keep our schools clean in the wee hours of the morning and dark hours of the night
  • bus drivers, who provide safe passage for our students
  • those who unconditionally love students who struggle with behaviors
  • front office staff, who greet each student and family with a smile
  • teachers, who plan engaging learning experiences that invite the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of our children.
  • every day above 0 degrees when students go outside for recess

Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Happy Thanksgiving from the Center for the Advancement of Christian Education!


  • Tim Van Soelen

    Dr. Tim Van Soelen serves as the Director of CACE. Tim is also a professor of education at Dordt University. He has served as a principal, assistant principal, and middle school math and computer teacher at schools in South Dakota and California. Tim has his undergraduate degree from Dordt and advanced degrees from Azusa Pacific University and the University of South Dakota.

One Comment on “Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. Thank you for this powerful reminder! It’s also a great devotional for our Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!

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