Why you need a thanksgiving chair

Thanksgiving table clothThis Thanksgiving as you gather ’round the table, I’ll bet there will be a time for reviewing your gratitude. There likely will be lists. Every year we write ours on the table cloth.

There are the usual entries: Our health, our families, our friends, our homes, our stuff. Do we remember to add our skills and abilities; our talents?

Everything is a gift.

Yes, everything.

Even the hard things.

I wonder how the third servant in the Parable of the Talents felt, after he’d been lambasted by his master? Did he consider that a gift?

I wonder how our experience of misfortune can be changed if we consider it a gift?

Watch this short video. It’s powerful. It’s a reminder to always give thanks, for everything.

And to teach our children to do likewise.

(If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

a blue line


Some of you have seen this before. Is it okay if I do a repeat? I’m using parts of a post I published two years ago… but this one is good. It’s worth the re-exposing. Thanks for grace.

~~ Carol

 


Video produced by Shift Worship.

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Purposeful Gratitude

In reading the story of Abraham and Sarah, have you noticed that Abraham has a habit?

He stacks stones.

A very balanced pile of rocks

No, Abraham wasn’t piling rocks in an artful manner such as the photo above. He built altars. He deliberately heaped soil and rock, forming a reminder. A physical stalwart to remind him of an encounter with God. He would use these altars in his worship to God and to remind himself of God’s promises of blessing.

In the season of Thanksgiving, how about we be as deliberate, and make our gratitude be purposeful. The key is to make this your new normal. Here are some ways to do this with your family:

  • Why not pile some rocks. Go out for a walk to collect stones. Once back at home, in a family gathering (perhaps at the dinner table), read about Abram’s altar building in Genesis 12:6-8 or Genesis 13:3-4 or Genesis 13:18. Make a pile of your rocks naming each one as a thanksgiving to God.
  • Take the next step and write thanksgivings on your rocks with a permanent marker, or use a glue and water mix (Modge Podge) to apply cut out pictures to your rocks.
  • Allow your rock pile to be re-built on a daily basis!
  • A "shrine" of things that invoke the memory of God's goodness

  • The Life Application Bible tells us that Abram built altars to “remember that God was at the center of his life.” Build a different sort of “altar.” Fill a space in your home with reminders of thankfuls. Allow touching and rearranging and additions and subtractions. (Photo on right is at the Nelson home around Easter time.)
  • With older children discuss ways people often build “monuments” to themselves or to their stuff. Why do you suppose we do this? How can we break into a new focus of being grateful?
  • A blessing box - a place to store your blessings!

  • Fill up your family blessing box!
    If your child didn’t get to make one in our Art Workshop for the story of Abraham & Sarah, you can view the lesson here and download the instructions here. Decorate any old box!

What are other ways your family makes gratitude purposeful?


Photo credits:
Balancing rocks by Viewminder, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. “Shrine” photo from the Nelson family. Used by permission. Blessing box photo from my archives.

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Thank God! The world is a place where one can encounter God. (If we notice.)

The altar last Thanksgiving

In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?

My gratitude list includes the usual sorts of thankfuls, such as:

  • Greg’s pizza-oven-roasted potatoes.
  • Hearing about Lara’s “Best.Day.Ever.”
  • A text from Scott: safe arrival.
  • Lunch with a friend.
  • …To name just a few.

My list also includes hard things that seem difficult to be thankful for.

  • Tears at saying goodbye.
  • Facing change.
  • Mistakes, and more mistakes.
  • Hard eucharisteo.

And then there are entries on my list of things that I should be thankful for every day… but I just forget.

  • That God has chosen me for my weaknesses. (My weakness amplifes my need for God.)
  • That God is always present with me! (Whether I sense him or not, he is a constant companion!)
  • …So easy to forget!

Perhaps we are all like Jacob who experiences God in his life and says,

Open quote markSurely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.
Genesis 28:16

Our Cool Disciples story about Jacob and Esau is such a large story that we’ve broken it into two parts (part one and part two). With such a big story it is easy to loose sight of the main point. We could become embroiled in the details — who are all of the characters, and what happens, and in what order — which is important to know, but is not the most critical. Here is the point which we hope stands out:

God makes his presence known in our lives.

The world is a place where one can encounter God, reaching out to us.
If we take notice.

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As we head into the crazy-busy days ahead, can we make time to notice God? God seeks an encounter with us; God endeavors to get your attention!

For this I can say:

Thanks God!
Happy Thanksgiving
— Carol


Photo credits:
Photo of the Thanksgiving altar at church is from my archives.

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An easy way to spend with God

Thanksgiving is on the horizon; followed by Christmas… yikes! ’Tis the season for parents to be busier than ever, stressed out, worried, and cranky. Unfortunately, this rubs off on our kids. (Hopefully my kids won’t comment with too many past details!)

It is appropriate that this month the Cool Disciples are talking about ways to balance our busy lives so as to make time to be with God. The kids are hearing that Jesus scheduled downtime into his life. He did lots of teaching and healing, but then he took time to pray to God. He also spent time with friends. Our Bible story for this Rotation is about Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s house (Luke 10: 38-42) where he taught an important lesson about our priorities. Here is a video of our story. (Created by the sixth graders in the Drama Workshop).

The story of Mary and Martha.

We’ve already talked about listening for God. But how do we make time to listen? How do we spend time with God?

Here’s an easy way: Start a gratitude journal.

Recording thankfuls opens the way to God.

Use this Thanksgiving holiday to start your list of thanks. Gather a notebook and a pen and set aside a time at least once a week to write at least five things the family is thankful for – gifts from God.

Might I suggest that you start off by setting a few family ground rules: Should the entries be numbered? Should the list be signed by whomever is making an entry? Are repeats okay?

Once your family practices daily gratitude you’ll find that it brings benefits such as:

  • Better health
  • Better sleep
  • Less anxiety and depression

Read more about the research in The New York Times.

Best of all: Marking gratitude brings you closer to God.

Is your family keeping a gratitude list?

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Thought you’d like to know about a free app for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android.

Button to access the free app for One Thousand Gifts


Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).