Giving Thanks, Out of Season?

The drive to school takes about 11 minutes for us. Last year, Dad always tried to remember to pray before the kids piled out. This year I’m doing carpool so I decided to mix things up a little.

“What are you thankful for this morning?” Since by this time of day they are finally starting to wake up, they have enough brain power to think of something (usually).

The pretty day… My teacher… That art class is today… The sunrise…That I’ll get to have recess outside today because the weather isn’t too cold… For my project being finished.

On the way home in the afternoon, I ask the question again.

The rain…Mrs. Dover picked me to be line leader… that my test is over…for my friends…that we had recess outside…for art class… our class won the spirit stick…

They are all in elementary school, can you tell?

As juvenile as their answers are, they reflect the simplicity of children. They truly are thankful for these things. They anticipate them with joy and reflect on them with pleasure. And by forcing them to verbalize their thankfulness, I’m hoping to instill the attitude of gratitude in their little hearts.

Specifically, I remind them to whom they are thankful–namely, that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights (James 1:17). We are not to be happy and self-satisfied that life is going our way. We must acknowledge that our heavenly Father is the source of every good thing, that we are blessed by a gracious God who has showered us with goodness.

Thanksgiving must be something God wants to emphasize in my own heart right now. A few weeks ago I read Ann Voskamp‘s One Thousand Gifts, which chronicles her project to write down 1,000 things for which she was grateful. During the several months it took her to complete that journal, she realized that her perspective on the world was changing. She had begun to see the mundane, everyday events of life in a different way–as gifts reflecting the grace of God. And as her eyes saw life in a new light, she herself began to change. Even her children noticed.

The book is fascinating and beautifully written. I highly recommend it. But only if you are willing to be challenged and changed.

Do you give credit where credit is due for all the good things in your life? Or do you, as I too often do, just think “awesome!” when something good happens? Do you ever correct someone who says you are lucky by saying, “No, it’s God’s blessing on me.”

I know it’s not the Thanksgiving season quite yet, but I think it’s biblical to make thanksgiving an all-year, everyday event. How are you doing on that? I’m glad my children make me think and act on these thoughts. I hope they notice a change in me as we focus on God, the giver of all good things.

Kelley Mathews (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) has written and edited for the Christian market for more than 20 years. Currently a writer for RightNow Media, she lives in North Texas with her husband and their four children. She has partnered with Sue Edwards to coauthor Mixed Ministry, Women’s Retreats, Leading Women Who Woundand Organic Ministry to Women. Find her books and blog at KelleyMathews.com.

One Comment

  • Kristy Marshall

    Hi Kelley! Love your blog

    Hi Kelley! Love your blog post! I just visited Abby this past weekend in Chicago. All she could talk about was the face that Ann Voskamp visited Wheaton recently and spoke in chapel. Everyone was raving about her book! We talked about being thankful for the little things. Hope you are well!