Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I like that there are no expectations to give or to get. I like that there is an excuse to wear your "Thanksgiving pants" — my Aunt MaryLynn wears hers faithfully every year — so that you have room to eat plenty. I especially like that we are reminded to be grateful. (But, does it seem ironic to anyone else that we spend one day being grateful for all that we have in our life, yet get up with the chickens the next day to scratch and claw our way to a sale on all the things we think we must have?)
I hope that when my life is summed up, I am known for being grateful all year — not just on one day. I teach my children that even through annoying times, there is plenty to be grateful for. I was challenged greatly on this not too long ago when plumbing caused the floor through most of my house to be ripped up by a jackhammer. Yet even through that mess, there were so many opportunities to be thankful we couldn't really complain about a temporary inconvenience.
I believe that young children can learn to be grateful, but it must be modeled for them. Does "Oh, why does this ALWAYS happen to ME???" or "Well that didn't work out like I thought, but I'm glad we got through it" sound more familiar? As the parent, find the silver lining and point it out to remind us all — especially your children — to be grateful.
This summer, my 10 year old broke his foot for the 2nd time this year. He was very sad at the prospect of spending a few weeks in a cast, perhaps missing the camp he was so excited about, and being on crutches through the heat of the summer. He was allowed 5 minutes every evening to feel sorry for himself about it — but that was it. We know too many people that have had far worse than a broken bone for us to waste life bemoaning a break that will heal. After the third day, he really didn't feel like using his 5 minutes. Why waste time complaining about what is or could be, when there are new ways to have fun on crutches?
It doesn't take too much of a rosy point of view to be grateful, but it takes seeing beyond your own life and problems.
- Diet not working? Then you have plenty to eat — unlike entire countries on our planet.
- Grocery prices too high? Yes, they're painful, but have you seen the gas pump? Prices going down there!
- Drive a crummy car? If you have access to a car, you are very wealthy in the eyes of the world.
Our burdens and complaints would be blessings to many people.
Paul tells a little secret he has learned with his beloved friends in Philippi:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV).A thankful heart truly is a happy heart.
Many of us use this last sentence as our "go-to" verse when times are tough or trials press in on us. Yet it was originally written not to simply withstand a situation, but to be content in every circumstance.
A kid at heart, I love "Veggie Tales" shows. One of my all-time favorites is Madame Blueberry, who is always blue and grouchy. She tries to soothe her grouchiness with a trip to StuffMart, hoping that buying more and more stuff will comfort her. That doesn't work. She encounters Annie and Junior, singing this song:
I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground
For His love that's all around
That's why I say thanks everyday!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
'Cuz He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks everyday!
A thankful heart truly is a happy heart. May your happy heart find reasons to say thanks everyday!
Sarah is part of The Coffee Group, a varied group of women who express their love, faith, and praise for God with ladies they love. They do ladies' retreats and special speaking on God's work in their lives, as well as the importance of sharing your faith story.
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