Whatever Happened To Gratitude?

Thankful for my almost healthy snack!

Why is it that complaining seems to come so naturally and gratitude is often the last thing we think of? Often we forget to be grateful because we are in a hurry and we don’t want to take the time right then to be thankful. (That reminds me, I need to write out my thank you cards for some thoughtful gifts that I received on my birthday. I meant to write them last week. Oops!)

But laying that aside, why is it that gratitude seems so hard and complaining comes so naturally? Why is it that it seems we notice everything that’s wrong and not the good things in life? When we are out driving, my husband and I often laugh at how many times we make comments like, “Did you see that? He just cut in front of that guy and practically caused an accident?” or “Why can’t be people be more courteous, no one’s letting that other car in?” It’s so easy to notice the mistakes that people make or that we make, but how few times do we comment when someone is driving courteously or goes out of their way to help somebody.

I have decided this month to make gratitude a part of what I do everyday. I think I’ll start with my family. Instead of becoming frustrated with the very people that I love the most because something isn’t done or something was said that I didn’t appreciate, I want to look for ways to notice when they do something nice.

Maybe I can start by thanking my husband when he does the dishes. He does dishes almost every night for me. It’s one of his ways of helping. I wonder what else I could show thanks for? It could be quite an adventure finding things everyday that I am truly thankful for. When I stop to think about it, there is so much! Although complaining come quite naturally, I really have much more to be thankful for.

I could thank the checker at the grocery store, wave at the person who stops to make way for me in traffic, thank the person who opens the door for me when my hands are full, the child who gives me a hug and oh so many more people. I could send a letter or e-mail to a friend who’s been an encouragement to me. ‘Thanks-Living’ is something that I want to incorporate into my everyday life. Yes, there is a lot wrong with this world, but there is a lot right too and just maybe a smile and a little gratitude will be catching. I’m hoping that others will also catch the spirit of ‘Thanks-Living’ and ‘Thanks-Giving’.

With a little effort on my part and a lot of help from God, I’m going to start my ‘Thanks-Living and Giving’ by taking time to thank God for all He’s done in my life and by remembering when frustrations come that He’s the one who is in control, not me. As one of my friends so aptly put it recently, “He is God and I am not!” If I’ve placed my day in His hands, then perhaps those little interruptions that we all face won’t loom so large because I know that all that happens to me goes through His loving hands. 

Oh and one more thing, let’s show some gratitude by helping or giving to someone else. Helping our neighbors around the world is a good way of expressing gratitude for all that you have. This month one way of giving is by filling a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is a outreach of Samaritan’s Purse. When you fill a shoebox with small hygiene items, toys and other fun or needed items, you will bless a child that has never received a gift and often doesn’t have even a toothbrush to brush their teeth with. Samaritan’s Purse sends these shoeboxes around the world. When I help others, my own frustrations don’t loom quite so large. So start living gratefully and whatever comes your way this week, let me just say, “Happy Thanks Living and Giving!” Let’s make this whole month an adventure in gratitude.   

PARENT OR GRANDPARENT PRAYER
Father God,
Thank you for Jesus. Thank you Jesus for coming to earth, for dying on the cross and thank you that you are alive. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that is always with me wherever I go. Yes, I have become bogged down by so many things, living with the threat of Covid and trying to keep the “new norm” in mind, elections, unfairness, many who have lost jobs and racial injustice, storms and so many other things. It’s hard to keep a good perspective when there is so much happening that seems out of control and yet I know that you are the good shepherd. You lead and guide me in the right paths. You care for me, You give me rest and restore my strength when I am tired. You listen to my prayers – even when I am complaining. Even then, you comfort me and remind me of all that I do have to be grateful for. You are good, Lord and I want to do more “Thanks-living and Thanks-giving”. I want gratitude to become more of who I am and not just an afterthought. Teach us, Lord, to be grateful, to stop, look around and really notice all that you have blessed us with. Show me ways to remind my family to be grateful this month too. Amen

GRATITUDE MEANS
* “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”1 Thes. 5:18

* “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Col. 3:15

* Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness.

* Instead of just returning kindness, how about being the first to show it.

* Gratitude helps people feel more positive, deal with adversity and can improve your health.

WHO CAN YOU SHOW GRATITUDE TO?
* Start with God. Say or write a prayer of gratitude for all He has done.

* How about your family? Thank your 2-year-old when he picks up his blocks. Thank your teenager when he/she takes out the garbage without being asked. Thank your husband – Thankfulness is being aware, noticing the little things that other do for us. Yes, I know your family should help, but even if it is their usual family chore, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Thanks!” Include grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc.

* Thank a serviceman, policeman, firefighter.

* Thank your pastor or priest.

* Thank a teacher.

* Thank your boss.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR CHILD?

THE MAIN IDEA:
The Lord is my shepherd –  Psalm 23

 KNOW: God takes good care of me. Thank you God!

TALK ABOUT: Caring for sheep. How God cares for us.

MEMORIZE: Psalms 150:6 –  (Hold hands open as though 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.)

ASK: Who loves you? God loves me.
AND DO…..  Thank God for His care.

FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK

* Enjoy the fall weather – Take a walk. Play “Follow the Leader” as you walk. You can be the leader part of the time and your child can be the leader part of the time.

* Make a thankful list this week.

STORY: Based on Psalms 23 ERV – Simplified for Preschoolers
David wrote this Psalm. It tells about God’s love and care for us. He loves us just like a good shepherd loves his sheep. You are God’s little lamb. You are very special to Him. He wants to be your friend forever.

The Lord is my shepherd. – (He takes good care of me. – Give yourself a hug.)

I will always have everything that I need. – (Reach arms out wide and point to self.)

He gives me green pastures to lie in. – (Gives me a good place to rest. – Pretend to rest.)

He leads me by calm pools of water. – (Gives me good water to drink. – Pretend to drink.)

He restores my strength. – (When I’m tired, He makes me strong again. – Show muscles.)

He leads me on right paths. – (Shows me safe, good places to go because He loves me and He helps me to make right choices – Stand up and walk in place.)

To honor Him or show that He is good. – (When we make right choices, we honor God. – Rub tummy.)

I will not be afraid because you are with me. – (God will be with me no matter what. – Point to self.)

Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me. – (Help me not be afraid. – Hug self.)

You prepared a meal for me and welcomed me as an honored guest. – (Like a special celebration. – Pretend to eat and hold out hands as though welcoming someone.)

Your goodness will be with me all my life – (God is good. He will never stop loving you. – Rub tummy and give self a hug.)

With Jesus as our good shepherd, we have a lot to be thankful for. He is always with us.

PRAYER:
Dear God,
Thank you for your love and care. I’m glad to know you’re alway there. I can talk to you everyday and I know you hear me when I pray. Help me listen and follow you, wherever you may lead me. I love you, God. My friend forever, I ask you to be. Amen