Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankfulness: Discipline for A Family's Heart

Be joyful always; 
pray continually; 
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  
1 Thessalonians 5:16  

I just love Fall! I love the season of Thanksgiving and the quiet evenings of tea by the fire. I love books and reading to my boys. Recently John and I started to dialog about ways we teach our children about gratitude; we soon discovered that gratitude in our house needed to be emphasized more. We felt Drew's excitement for Christmas & his Birthday, yet quickly picked up on his "I need, I want" attitude. So we went back to the basics and have been implementing some fresh ideas into our Fall fun, I'm so excited to see Drew's heart change from "I want" to "Lets give!"
Tonya Ruiz writes on her blog that,
"The Bible tells us that the wicked are not thankful, but that Christians are to give thanks always, for all people and things. I'll admit I don't always have a grateful heart and my kids are the first to pick up on my bad attitude and follow along. Remember the saying, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." We set the tone for our homes. We should concentrate on having hearts of gratitude."

You are wondering, How can I be grateful when my life is less than perfect?

The Bible does not say, "Give thanks only on good days," it says "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!" (I Chronicles 16:34) That means even when the toilet overflows, your teenager is begging for a tattoo, and you find a rat has taken up residence in the attic. Those are not necessarily good things (as a matter-of-fact, they are yucky things), but God is still good. Thanksgiving is not just a one-day event; it should be "an action" happening in our hearts all year long.".

Fun & Frugal Ideas for Teaching Children; and dare I say ourselves, How to Give Thanks Always:

  • Send a "Thank You note" (or pictures if they are too little to write) when they receive gifts from others. Make it a point to pray over the next few weeks for those who blessed them with gifts.
  • Make fall cookies and take them to your neighbors with notes stating why they are so special to your family and to God.
  • Teach children the importance of saying "thank you" all the time, also personally use affirming words before your children on a daily basis like "I'm proud of you" and "I'm so thankful to God for giving me such a kind son/daughter." It was interesting to watch Drew learn to pray, he always starts off with a list of thankfulness. Drew believes prayer is for thanksgiving, even when we tell him that he could petition God for things, he always goes back to thanksgiving. In his little world, there is so much to be thankful for! Hearing Drew pray makes my heart sing!
  • Make it a dinnertime tradition for everyone to share what he or she is thankful for that day.
  • A few years back, when life was especially challenging, dare I say even depressing; I was challenged to start writing down all that I was thankful for. It grew into quotes & verses about thanksgiving. My goal is to make it to 1,000 and I'm almost there! Through the process I've learned so much about being content and taking delight in the ordinary nuances of life. The process changed my thinking, so I am always on the lookout for things to write down that I'm thankful for.
  • In the month of November, make a Thanksgiving tree and use scraps of paper with "thankful thoughts to God" as the leaves.We placed ours in a jar, but I read about the tree idea on www.mypennypile.com and thought that was much better and way more visual.
  • Make a list each year of what your entire family is thankful for; I turned ours into a scrapbook, which we eagerly look forward to reading every year. The list covers things we are thankful for that entire year; it is a great way to look back and see God's hand of guidance and blessing!
  • Provide your children with a small allowance and teach them diligently, using the tool of an allowance to show how to work hard unto the Lord, save, and give generously. Over the next few months, instead of focusing on what your children will be receiving; stress the act of giving and blessings others in visual and sacrificial ways. We use Gospel for Asia as a tool to help our children learn to give www.gfa.org. Their allowance always includes giving 10% back to God. Recently we pulled out the Christmas catalog from GFA and spoke about children who do not have homes, clean water, food, etc. Then my son was able to pick out a reasonable gift to save for – Drew chose to save up for a pair of chickens!

    Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    1 Chronicles 16:34

1 comment:

katie said...

Of course we will see you in March. Can't wait to meet your new sweet heart then. oh and I love your blog. I read it all the time. It is very inspiring!