Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:18
Christmas gets a lot of hype – but Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. I love that it’s a time to bring family together, to eat a meal and be thankful. That’s it. There’s no pressure of getting the perfect gift for all your loved ones (and the not-so-loved ones – let’s be real!) and that awkward feeling of what to do or say when you get an especially weird gift from Aunt Mildred.
I have a Thanksgiving throw pillow that says: “There’s always something to be thankful for.” This is a spiritual truth. God calls us to be thankful in ALL circumstances, no matter what’s happening in us or around us.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17
Sometimes, as I’m momming through the day, I find myself getting annoyed by the little things: having to pick up the socks and shoes that Finn threw on the ground (the ones filled to the brim with the sand that’s now covering my once-clean floors). Cleaning the toilet from pee splatters. Folding laundry after a really long day because my laundry room is so full I can’t even close the door anymore. I can find myself grumbling about these inconveniences. Anyone else with me?!
I’m going to try something new this week. When I find myself tempted to grumble, I’m going to turn that circumstance into an opportunity for gratitude.
For example, when there’s sand on my floors, I’m going to thank God that I have a sweet, healthy, playful boy who tracks that sand into the house. When I’m cleaning pee splatters, I’m going to thank God that my son is potty trained! (Can I get a Hallelujah?!) When I’m folding laundry, I’m going to thank God that I have a washer and dryer inside my home, that I’m physically healthy enough to do household chores, and that I have these boys in my life that fill my house with love.
As I write this, I’ve got a blinding headache and a sore throat. My youngest, Justus, was up most of the night because he’s sick, too. Last night was a long blur of suctioning nostrils, failed nursing attempts and pleas to just go to sleep. When my husband took the kids so I could get an extra hour of sleep this morning, I was tempted to begrudge him because when he’s sick he can sleep as long as he wants to because the kids don’t need him the way they need me right now.
So I’m fighting against that, mamas. I’m going to choose in this moment to be grateful for my health – that being sick isn’t a constant for me. I’m going to choose to be thankful for my beautiful boy who still gives me sweet, dimpled smiles even when he’s sick. And I’m going to choose to be insanely grateful for my husband, who is an INCREDIBLE husband and father and has bent over backwards trying to help me this weekend. (And I’m thankful for weekends! And writing! And waffles! See…once we start to be thankful, it’s infectious.)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.1 Chronicles 16:34
At the end of the day, if there’s nothing I can think of to be grateful for, I will be grateful that I have two children. When we were trying to get pregnant with my first son, Finn, it took us one month. So when it was time to try for our second, I thought I’d get pregnant right away again.
It took one full year.
It was an incredibly trying year. I struggled with my health, with chronic pain, and I knew that getting pregnant would help. (You can read more about my journey through pain here.) Each month that came and went, I’d battle with God – I couldn’t understand what His plan was, or if He would even allow me to get pregnant again at all.
Two of my closest friends became pregnant during that year – one of them got pregnant and had her baby all before we got pregnant, and she had started trying AFTER we did! At the birth of her baby boy (for which I was present) I cried – tears of joy mingled with tears of frustration for not understanding God’s will for me.
Now, fast forward one year and I have the happiest, chubbiest little baby boy! To be honest, it’s easy to forget that I struggled for so long to get pregnant with him. I can take it for granted that God allowed me to get pregnant. But when I shift my focus from entitlement to gratitude, I can’t help but thank God that he has allowed me to have these two beautiful boys – no matter how long I waited for the second one!
I know that there are women who have waited much, much longer than me and women who are still waiting. This fact makes my heart hurt, but it also prompts me to be grateful for the gifts of my children. And, as I look back on that year that we waited for Justus to be conceived, I can now see a glimpse of how God was working to prepare me to be just what he needed me to be. God is good. I will continually thank Him.
One of the wonderful things about gratitude is that when we are practicing gratitude, it teaches our children to be grateful, too. The opposite is also true: when we are grumbling, resentful and entitled, this will be reflected in our children as well!
Mamas, let’s lead the way in our families with our grateful hearts. Not only do we have beautiful children, but more than that, we have an incredible Heavenly Father who loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son for us so that we could have a chance at knowing Him. God is good and we should thank Him every moment!
Don’t forget to download your free printable Thankful Tree template to use for your next family devotional on gratitude.
Once you download and print out the thankful tree and leaves, you can choose which leaves you want to use. I’ve included two different leaf templates – one that’s a little harder to cut out but is arguably cuter and the other set is easier to cut out. For your family devotional, you can look at a scripture about being thankful. My personal favorite is 1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” This verse reminds me that the #1 reason to be thankful is that God is good and that He loves us! We are blessed to be His children. As a family, take turns saying or writing down things you’re thankful for and then stick the leaves on the tree with some glue or a folded piece of tape. Then you can display your thankful tree in a spot for everyone to see! Alternatively, you can add leaves regularly throughout the month. We did this a few years ago where each time we sat down for dinner, we added more leaves to our tree, so the tree grew throughout the month!
However you choose to use this thankful tree, I hope it helps foster gratitude in your home this month.
What’s something that you typically resent that you want to turn around and be grateful for this week?