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.

+++++++

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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