By Crystal Miller
1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Dictionary definition of: thank
tr.v. thanked, thank•ing, thanks To express gratitude to; give thanks to: We thank God daily for His provisions
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. The thoughts going through the minds of my children and I have been a turkey dinner, making pumpkin pies, dinner rolls and sweet potatoes. We are all very excited. In all of this excitement I have not wanted to lose sight of why we celebrate this day. It is the desire to spend a day expressing our gratitude to God for his provisions in my life and His blessings.
I want to make sure my children understand the importance of this day. I want them to realize that each and every blessing they receive is from the Lord! I want to instill in them the need to be thankful on a daily basis even when this holiday has passed. I want them to learn the value of expressing gratitude.
I have been amazed at how much my attitude about my life and any difficulties I may be going through or discontentment I may be feeling can so dramatically change when I simply remember to stop and thank the Lord, no matter what.
Remember the Bible story where Christ healed 10 lepers and only one came back to thank Him? This story has made me stop and reassess myself and take a look at my life. Am I stopping and thanking or running ahead and moving on with my life? Often times, thankfulness is a concerted effort. Who can be thankful for things that don’t seem to help us at the moment? Or who stops to be thankful for all that we take for granted in our life?
Thankfulness of the heart will change your life. It can be a healing balm on situations that could be looked at with depression, gloom, hopelessness and discouragement. Looking at a situation and stopping and thanking God for it will result in surprising changes within you!
Instilling a thankful heart in ourselves is a work, but passing this onto our children is, for me, the motivation to press on! In light of my desire to always encourage my children to be thankful I have started a tradition with them at this time of year.
Each year I try and do something to give my family time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. I like to start a few days to a couple of weeks ahead of time. We begin by reading books on the first Thanksgiving. Learning about the hardships that our forefathers went through is important. They set the example for us, especially when it comes to being thankful when life is difficult. Then we examine our own lives and I ask them to share what they are thankful for this year.
My favorite method of doing this has been to make Thankful Tree. I cut out large leaves in fall colors and I leave these leaves in a basket with a pen next to them. As the days before the holiday approach everyone takes the leaves and writes down something they are thankful for and attaches it to the tree branches. As the tree fills up with leaves we have them trailing down to the ground (the base of the tree) and some years we have had big piles of leaves around the base of the tree.
What has been the best part of this process is that at first everyone one is thankful for the basic things in their life. I am thankful for my mother, father, good food to eat and so on. This is good as it is recognition in their own minds of what God has provided so that they will not take things for granted. But as the day’s progress they ponder this topic in detail and then more thought out and meaningful blessings begin to appear on the tree. One child is thankful that someone showed him how to tie his shoes, or someone is thankful for a hard working father, or someone is thankful for trees that provide wood and warmth for our home, someone is thankful for a quiet life that gives them time to think. The list goes on and on. Thankfulness is often a searching of the heart and this takes thought and time.
Every year that I have done this my family and I have found that when we do finally sit down to that wonderful turkey dinner our hearts and minds are overfilling with thankfulness to God for all the ways, big and small that He has touched our life.
I have kept many of these leaves from year to year as well. It is enjoyable to read them and remember those years, what was happening in our life and the blessings we were experiencing that year. Even in bad years or years filled with sorrow or disappointment we find that we have much to be thankful for. God is good all the time, His love never ending and His provisions for our life complete in all we need and for this we “Give thanks in ALL things for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning me”.
I pray you all have a blessed Thanksgiving Day and that your hearts are filled to overflowing with thankfulness to HIM!