PHOTO CAPTION: This is my “kid-friendly” snack turkey – apple slices, a spoonful of carmel dip, chocolate chip eyes, a tiny tortilla chip beak and mozzarella sticks cut for the legs.
October is almost over. November is just around the corner. This is one of my favorite times of year. It’s time to give thanks. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because other than prepping and cooking the meal, there are no other expectations. I guess if your hosting, you may want to clean your house and of course invite your family or guests which may cause some stress especially if you have some “extra-grace-required” people in your group of family and friends. (Maybe your the “extra-grace-required” person. Hmm… might have to thing about that one.) Still, all in all, Thanksgiving is one of the holidays I feel has the least amount of stress. It’s simply a time to give thanks, enjoy your friends and family and remember how God has been faithful this past year. With that said, let’s not make it just a one day occurrence, but let’s give thanks all month long. If we make it a habit, we could carry it through our whole year. So lay aside whatever is stressing or worrying you, take a deep breath and give thanks!
I want to start my thanks giving, by praising God. God made us to praise Him and we have a lot to praise Him for. Get a piece of paper and start jotting down all the ways God has helped you and led you this year. If your not sure where to begin, read some of the psalms. I personally like Psalm 33, 34, 65, 92, 95, 100 and 139. Start reading and pick your own favorites.
I want to take my thanks giving a step further and live with a little more gratitude this month. How can I say, “Thank you!” to those around me, my family and friends, who help, encourage and simply serve me in various ways throughout the year. You might even want to thank that gruff person at work who never cracks a smile, after all he covered that meeting for you when you were home sick. Just maybe your sincere thanks will bring a smile to his face.
God, help me be more aware of the kindness and helpfulness that others show to me. Remind me to stop and give thanks.
What other ways can I cultivate gratitude in my life? I can stop to appreciate the beauty in the world around me. I can be thankful for the joy that comes my way and yes, often that joy does come in the midst of great sorrow. I can be thankful for the ways I have grown and learned this past year. I can be thankful for new opportunities that have come my way. I can be thankful for the glass that is “half-full “instead of “half-empty.”
Along with giving thanks, I also want to find reasons to praise this month. I can praise God for His love and faithfulness and I can praise others too. When someone does a good job, shows courage or learns something new, I want to applaud them and be happy for them. I find lots of reasons to praise my grandchildren. How many other people have I applauded recently? I think I need to start recognizing and applauding the achievements of others.
Opportunities to show gratitude and live with an attitude of gratitude abound if I am looking for them. I want to make time to look for those opportunities this month. How about you?
Speaking of praising and giving thanks, giving often flows from a heart of gratitude. One of the ways we can show gratitude and give into the lives of others is through Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a division of Samaritan’s Purse and it’s a simple way for the whole family to get involved in giving to others. Simply get a shoebox – often churches will have empty Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that you can fill. Pick whether you want to fill a box for a boy or girl and the age that you intend your shoebox to go to. Then go to the store and buy items to fit inside such as crayons, coloring book, pencils and pencil sharpeners, socks, toothbrushes, etc. Check out the Samaritan’s purse website for more information. Then bring the box back to a drop off location and these little boxes of joy will be sent to disadvantaged children around the world, along with the good news of Jesus. It’s one of my favorite things to do with my family every year.
PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER:
In the busy pace of life, I often get into planning and problem solving mode which focuses me on all the things that need to change instead of what is good, honest, praiseworthy. I forget to be thankful. Refocus my thoughts and my attention on the people and things around me for which I have to give thanks. Even in the midst of sorrow, there are reasons for joy and thankfulness if I look for them. Teach me to be more grateful. Thank you, Lord, for all the ways you have helped me. Your love is great and that alone would be enough, but you demonstrate your love in so many ways, the beauty of nature, that unexpected gift that I received in the mail, a hug from my grandchildren, encouragement from a friend. All my life you have been faithful, faithful to answer prayers, faithful to give guidance and help from your word, faithful to love me when I have been at my worst. Thank you God. You are so, so good! I love you. Amen
* Don’t forget to thank your family for all the things they do for you.We teach our children to say, “Thank you!” to people who give them something or help them whether it’s a sticker at the checkout counter or a friend who helps them tie their shoe. Why do we so often forget to thank those closest to us? So this week, pick someone in your family to say, “Thank you!” to and write a note or draw a picture to put on their pillow or mail to a grandparent, uncle or auntie.
* Write a note of thanks to someone who has helped or encouraged you.
* Yes, I know we are all busy, but how about giving a card or just making a point to say thanks to your favorite barista or your doctor or dentist.
WAYS TO SHOW GRATITUDE BY GIVING
* When we give, we are actually showing gratitude to God who gives us all things and in a way, I think we are also showing trust. When we give, we are trusting God to continue providing for us so that we can continue to care for our own needs and bless others. So give because it blesses you and it also blesses those around you.
* Samaritan’s Purse website -https://www.samaritanspurse.org
For more information on Operation Christmas Child.
* Look for ways to give in your community. Is there a food bank in your community or an organization that feeds the homeless? In the Seattle area there is the Union Gospel Mission, also in Tacoma too.
* How about giving to your church or serving somewhere. Serving is also giving.
* Look around your neighborhood – is there a neighbor who needs help? How can you serve them?
* And of course there are super simple ways of giving such as rounding up your purchase at a store or seeing if your workplace will match your contribution to a favorite cause. Be generous and see what happens
SHARE A STORY: Psalm 33 – Let’s Praise God
3 Sing a new song to Him – to God. –
What would you sing if you made up a new song for God? EX. Say some of the following phrases or things the kids suggest in a singsong way. “Thank you God for making me. I love you God. Thank you for loving me. You are amazing.”
Did you know that you can even shout with joy? Let’s shout, “Yeah God!” One, two, three – “Yeah God!”
5 God’s love fills the earth. –
That means that God’s love is really, really BIG. He loves you. Give yourself a hug and say, “Thank you God for loving me!
6 God spoke and the world was made. –
“Thank you God for all you made!”
9 When God speaks things happen.
11 God’s plans are good…. Great blessings belong to those who have the Lord as their God! – Say, “Yeah God!“
11 God chose us to belong to Him, to be His own special people. –
He wants you to be a part of His family and He has good plans for you. God has something special just for you to be and do. Wow! Say, “Yeah God!
15 He created your mind and He knows what you are doing. –
He knows what you’re thinking about. He made you so that you can think and make good choices. “Thank you God, that I can think, think, think!”
18 God watches over His followers –
God sees everyone. He watches over us, helps and protects us. “Thank you God, for your care.”
21 He makes us happy. –
He even helps us to be happy when we remember that He loves us.
God is amazing. He made you, He loves you and He has good plans for you. Let’s praise Him for all that He is and does.
MEMORIZE: Psalms 150:6 (Hold hands like holding a book.)
Let everything – (Spread hands out to the side.)
That has breath – (Take a deep breath.)
Praise the Lord – (Wave arms above head.)
It’s fun to sing this verse with a toy xylophone starting at C and going up the scale.
PRAYER:Dear God,Thank you that you made me and you love me. I want to love you and have your love shining in my heart so others will know that you love them too. Show me how I can let your light shine. Amen
KNOW: A psalm is a song of praise to God. God watches over me.
TALK ABOUT: Things we can praise God for.
ASK: Who made you? God made me. God made me to praise Him.What can you do? I can praise God.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
* Make up a song or cheer to say thank you to God.
- Depending on the age of your child, play “Peek-A-Boo” or “Hide & Seek.” When you find your child say, “I see you and God sees you too!”