It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night. – Psalm 92:1-2
It’s 5:00 p.m. and the doorbell rings; that can only mean one thing, the play date is over.
I walked my friend through the house, out the back door, and into the yard where we heard the sound of laughter echo in the air. Leaves fell from the trees as our boys threw more into the sky. We watched as a flurry of red, yellow, and orange showered down on their little heads. I hated to interrupt the fun, but it was time.
“Can he stay just a little bit longer?”
“Can we have dinner together?”
“Can he come over tomorrow?”
After two hours of running and playing, our little guys were not ready to say goodbye. I walked our neighbors down the driveway despite the pleas for more time to spend together.
Clearly, we have not mastered the art of the graceful goodbye.
Back in the house, my son’s lips started to quiver and his shoulders tensed as tears fell from his eyes. He didn’t quite understand why he couldn’t have more time with his buddy. After crying for a little while, he dried his wet face and became angry. He screamed – apparently I am the mom who “NEVER lets him do anything”. In that moment there were no words that could convince him otherwise.
It seemed as though he had forgotten the play dates, sports practice, and the Autumn Festival we attended just last week. Instead of being thankful for what he was able to do, he focused on what he couldn’t. He held onto his fury and stomped upstairs.
Ungratefulness seeped in and distorted his perspective. It changed his joy into sorrow. This was starting to become a habit I didn’t like.
This isn’t the first time one of my children has been unhappy with what they have been afforded. Sometimes they don’t like what I cook for dinner, they complain about cleaning their room, or whine when it’s time for bed. Standing in my kitchen, I wondered, how can we become more grateful?
Later that evening, after I tucked my son into bed, I read to him Give Thanks to the Lord. Based on Psalm 92, it tells of one family’s Thanksgiving celebration woven with continuous praise to God.
“It’s good to give thanks to the Lord” is the refrain repeated throughout.
As we snuggled and let the rhythm of the words tickle our ears I was reminded that joy comes from thanksgiving and thanksgiving must be practiced.
We finished the book and shared with each other the things we are thankful for. And guess what? My son’s time spent with his friend that day was one of them. I had the opportunity to talk to him about his behavior earlier that day and share with him what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
November is the perfect time of year to cultivate a heart of gratitude. Some of the ways we can do that as we prepare our hearts for the holiday season is:
- Read the Book of Psalms together. These are great examples of what it’s like to praise God even things don’t go our way.
- Open our prayers with thankfulness.
- Pray a prayer of gratitude each morning and evening.
- Share one thing you are grateful when you gather around the table for meals.
- Slow down to observe the work of the Lord’s hand in our life.
- Read books about Thanksgiving with our children.
We usher in holiday cheer when we intentionally practice thankfulness.
As I turned off the light in my son’s room, I heard a little voice say, “Thank you Mommy.” I smiled as I said, “You’re welcome,” hoping this was the start of something new.
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As a parent, what are ways in which you have taught your children to be thankful? Have you ever struggled to remember God’s blessings and respond in gratefulness? Share your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!