I remember having a talk with one of my children late at night and they told me they just wished they could experience God like I do. They couldn’t feel God’s love the way I seemed to and I did not know how to make God real to them in the moment. Unanswered prayer and discouragement from other things in life were flooding out all of the things that my child knew to be true of God. And in that moment the only answer I had was – “look at all we have to be thankful for.”
Yes, there are so many hurts and hard things in our lives – but there are so many blessings as well. And it seems that it is because of the blessings that I have experienced in my life – I feel closer to God.
As I give thanks to God…
I recognize that I have experienced God’s hand in my life.
And if you have a child who is struggling to feel the love of God in their life or is struggling with not experiencing God in an intimate way – one way we can show them is through opening their eyes to all of the things they can be thankful for.
The problem of entitlement is growing in our culture and an ungrateful and discontent child – is an unhappy child. I have struggled with this myself as I tend to find indulging my kids the path of least resistance. It’s easier to give them what they want than to withhold things and make them feel uncomfortable. But contentment is not something we naturally have… it is learned.
For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
One of the ways our kids learn is through mirroring their parents. They are watching us and taking in all that we say and do and even if they are not reflecting our attitudes right now in life – much of what we say and do is sinking in.
So the question for us is –
Have we learned contentment?
One way to learn contentment is to daily give thanks to God for our blessings. So let’s not keep our gratitude lists private. Let’s not keep our thankful hearts a secret. Let it be known and lived out exuberantly in our lives!
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! (Psalm 136:1)
Let’s role model thankful and content hearts so that others will be drawn to Christ, as they see how we have experienced God in our own lives.
Psalm 9:1 says:
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
Here’s 10 Fun & Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your Family
1. Start a Gratitude Jar. Put slips of paper beside an empty jar and invite your family to write out things they are thankful for throughout the month of November. Then on Thanksgiving Day, pull out all of the slips of paper and read them together and give thanks to God for his many blessings.
2. Share why you are thankful for each person around the table. Focus on each person. Have everyone go around the table and say one thing they are thankful for in that one person. Then focus on the next person and go around the table saying something encouraging about this person. Continue all the way around the table blessing each other!
3. Create a Thanksgiving Family Journal
We have a “Thanksgiving Journal”. Each family member writes a paragraph in the journal of things we are thankful for every year. I keep it in my bin with my Thanksgiving decorations. Every year it is so fun to read about the kid’s favorite toys, friends, teachers and trips from previous years! I know that in 20 years, this journal will be priceless!
4. Make a collage of pictures.
Have the kids go around and take pictures of things they are thankful for. Then print the pictures and make a big collage out of the pictures.
5. Make a Blessing Tree.
One year, my brother-in-law drew a huge Blessing Tree on cardboard. Then we created leaves and gave one leaf to each person in the family and they wrote one thing they were thankful for this year. Then we went around the room and shared what we wrote and stuck our leaves on the tree for all to see!
6. List 100 Blessings as a family.
Get out a piece of paper and see if you can list 100 blessings. Brainstorm together and have fun thinking of 100 blessings!
7. Make a Turkey.
When the kids were little we made multiple turkey bodies out of construction paper and I hung them on the kitchen wall. Then I gave each person in the family construction paper feathers and had them write out things they are thankful for. Then we stuck all the feathers on the turkeys – for all to see and rejoice! I saved those turkeys and just stumbled across them this year – and they made me smile. 🙂
8. Create a Thank You card to send to someone.
Consider who your family would like to say thank you to. Then together, create a beautiful thank you card and let each person write something special in the card.
9. Reflect on verses of thanksgiving from the Bible.
Here’s a place to start: Psalm 9:1, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 1o0:4, Jeremiah 33:11, Philippians 4:6, Revelations 7:12
10. Have an open time of a prayer and Thanksgiving to God. Bow your heads together and allow each person to pray out loud and give thanks to God for something they are thankful for.
While November is a month where we focus on Thanksgiving, it’s something we can do all year long.
So if you can’t get to some of these ideas now – save a few and do it in later months. We can never be too grateful for all that God has done!
Walk with the King,
Does your family have a creative way to practice thankfulness in your home? Share it with us!
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