Posts Tagged ‘thankfulness’

My Favorite Thankful Song

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Having grown up in a third-world country, I sometimes saw people I loved living in houses with dirt floors, with a live chicken walking across the living room. We often had no running water, or the water would come out of the tap looking brown. It had amoebas, so we couldn’t drink it. There was mold on our walls where I grew up. The electricity would go off at any time and sometimes stayed off for hours. An earthquake demolished the entire city when I was six years old. A few years later a bullet almost killed my sister.  People begging in the streets had no arms and legs.

We truly don’t understand how good we have it in the United States. We covet the next shiny object and are never satisfied with our lives, even though we have a warm house and food on the table. This reminds me of the verse: “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:8)

In honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to share my favorite thankful song:

Thankful Cards

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

thankful-cards-1Why not write thankful cards to each member of your family this year, and hand them out at the Thanksgiving table? You can tell each person what you enjoy about them and why you are thankful for having them in your life.

My kids created some thankful cards by gluing pieces of textured paper, scrapbook paper or cloth onto a folded piece of card stock paper. Make sure you have envelopes that fit the card size. For me, it was easy to cut a card stock paper in half, creating two cards with each piece of paper. This fits the bulk envelopes I bought years ago for regular-sized cards. Then we arranged different shapes on the card. Make sure the colors go together—I used autumn-colored paper and cloth samples. We glued them to the card with white school glue.

For family members not coming for Thanksgiving, you can put the cards in the mailbox. Imagine the surprise people will get when they open the card to find how precious they are to you, and why they are important in your life. It reminds me of those old Hallmark greeting card ads on television, you know, the tear-jerker ones that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, those…

Thankfulness Tree (with Maple Leaf PDF)

Monday, November 5th, 2012

thankfulness-treeI’ve never actually done a thankfulness tree with my kids until this year. What inspired me was the dead tree on my landing that looked so pitiful that it was just begging for some gorgeous autumn-colored leaves to be artificially hung from it. Sure enough, it sprang to life, as if God’s design for this twig was to remind me of all that I have to be thankful for. My children actually thanked God for each other (which I found endearing), and for our warm house and their toys. Because we often forget to be thankful, this thankfulness tree will be a visual reminder during the month of November that I’m thankful for so many things.

I created the maple leaf PDF by drawing the outlines of four maple leaves. I then printed the PDF on card stock paper, two of each of the following colors: yellow, orange, red, and brown. You can cut out the maple leaves, punch a hole through the top of each with a thumb tack, and hang them up with Christmas ornament hooks. My children really enjoyed doing this activity.

Maple Leaf PDF

Thankful in the Small Things

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Recently one of my children got sick with a flu which was somewhat explosive. There was diarrhea everywhere in the bathroom. The first thing I thought to myself was that I was thankful that this child had never had a pooping problem. This was, to my knowledge, the first time I’ve cleaned up poop since this child was potty trained years ago. Secondly, as I went to get the wipes, I was grateful that we had wipes, because we went a lot of months without wipes. Our family decided to buy them again because they are great for cleaning counters and bathrooms and countless other things.

Oddly, this was just days after I had posted my “Anger and Potty Training” article, as if the enemy once again would accuse me before God of not having learned my lesson. I’m smiling because God boasted in me. He knew I would pass the test. That is why He granted permission for the trial to occur. I love reading the book of Job, because God only gives us trials that He knows we will pass. And we always pass them, sooner or later.

So I scrubbed the poop for probably half an hour, trying to breathe through my mouth. I wasn’t angry, which is what my reaction used to be toward cleaning this sort of thing. I just calmly endured. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. It had to be the Holy Spirit, because to have joy in the middle of a yucky circumstance is impossible, and yet there I was, feeling joy.

Two days later I had a high fever. I had not felt this bad in years. I couldn’t get up without feeling like I was going to crack my skull on the ground. I thought to myself, “I can’t function. I am completely helpless. I wonder if I should call Alan to come home from work, because there is no way I can take care of the kids.” But my husband had taken the previous day off to do a webinar on the Homeschool Channel with me, and if he has a day off, I would like it to count for something. I decided against it.

I told the children to pour their own cereal. Thankfully I had trained the older two kids, 10 and 11, how to pour their own cereal. So they helped their younger brother and sister to have breakfast. For lunch they were all able to make sandwiches. I was thankful that I had trained them how to make their own lunch. Off and on throughout the day, my daughter would come into my room and hug me. Oh, I forgot to say that all four of my children were also sick. But I was grateful for my daughter’s hugs, her checking in on me. One time I asked her to get her brother, who brought me a yogurt container so that I could eat breakfast. My children took care of me, and I got through the day. I was thankful for the fact that they didn’t fight that day, probably because they all had low-grade fevers and were mostly watching DVD’s.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can be thankful for something that looks like misery on the surface of it. It’s a tailor-made circumstance through which you can do the right thing. My greatest desire is to be transformed into the image of Christ, so if I can stop thrashing about and yield to God in my circumstance, the growth will happen at an accelerated pace. And then it becomes easier and easier, because the closer you are to Christ, the more joy you have in the midst of your circumstances.

The Secret of Contentment is Suffering

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Have you ever noticed that people who have never suffered take things for granted and aren’t thankful at all? They just keep wanting more, more, more. They think physical bits of junk will make them happy, and they don’t realize that the shopping high only lasts a day or two, and then the new items are thrown aside, and discontentment sets in again.

Most American women are like this about their homes, too. They are never satisfied. If they finish a renovation, instead of enjoying it, they look around for something else that they are not happy about, and they are never in a state where they can take a deep breath, relax, and be content.

I remember for years I had a large sliding door with a broken window. We nailed a board across the window on the outside, and on the inside we nailed a blanket so as to prevent a draft. It was super ugly. And yet I was content, and I relaxed, knowing that I wouldn’t fix it for years because we didn’t have the money.

Why was I so content, even with unfinished, ugly things? Because my heart isn’t there. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect before I relax. I used to be that way. When you’re pregnant especially, you have a strong nesting instinct where you want the house to be perfect before the baby arrives. I remember that strong urge; it was almost physical. It was a compulsion. And yet with the ugly broken window, I was content and didn’t have to think about how unhappy I was about the window. I WASN’T unhappy. I was sweetly content in my soul. I had peace. Why?

The secret of contentment is suffering.

I have a husband who loves me, and my children aren’t dead. Who cares that my house isn’t perfect if my children are alive? I love them. I have food and shelter. For 6 months in England, I lived in a room with no heat, with ice INSIDE the windows. My whole body hurt badly, and I could see my breath in the morning.

Who cares about the board nailed across the window when I have heat?

You know what I’m saying? The man who slammed the butt of his gun against my head, giving me a partial concussion, didn’t kill me. I’m still alive. I’m breathing. I got married and had babies. I LOVE my life! Who cares about the undone things, the ugly kitchen with the 70’s carpet, or the orange shag rug downstairs which is as ugly as it gets? Who cares? I don’t even care if my house burns to the ground. My heart isn’t here.

I love God. He is where my heart is. And I would scream and probably lose my mind if I lost my husband and children, but I would eventually be okay, because my God rules in the heavens, and He is a good God, and He will never allow anything to occur to me that will not result in the absolute greatest benefit to me. Yes, the horrors of my life have been transformed into immense treasure for me. So what have I to fear? What can man do to me when God is my anchor?

Meanwhile I will cling to and treasure my husband and children, because today they still breathe, and nothing else matters. I don’t feel a compulsion to buy more junk to wear, or more junk for my house, continuously unsatisfied. God is my satisfaction, because through suffering I was able to learn what really matters in this life.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

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