“Mom?” My seven year old approached me timidly, long past her bedtime. I was tempted to get upset, but something about her expression made me stop.
I asked what she needed. She held out a stuffed black dog, that she’d won at a raffle a few days earlier. “Remember when our church sent that big package to the home in Brazil where all the babies stay? Can we send my dog to them? I think the kids would like it. They probably don’t have many toys.”
It was so meaningful to me to hear her say that, and I hugged her and thanked her for her generous spirit. What a good thing it was to see my daughter recognizing the needs of others and trying to find a way to meet them. But it hadn’t always been this way…..
There were many Novembers past where I saw people participating in “thankfulness challenges” on social media. I honestly felt like they were silly….did it matter what days of the year I declared my thankfulness? I was thankful all the time! Wasn’t I?
Finally, the nagging feeling that an intentional period of giving thanks would be beneficial for my family took hold. So November of 2012, I printed out a little resource called Thanksgiving Heart and all five of us began a month of writing down a blessing that we were thankful for each day.
Looking back, I realize it was silly of ME not to start sooner, because my heart needed working on too. But sometimes it takes awhile for us to realize that we need to change!
But the most surprising discovery I made during that time of intentional thanksgiving? That there was a benefit of gratitude that I hadn’t ever clearly seen before.
It was this: When we as parents take time to show our kids how incredibly privileged they are, both in the spiritual realm as a child of God and the physical realm, when we look to the Lord and reflect on the blessings He pours on us (even the little ones), we in turn receive the gift of generosity.
The practice of meditating on our abundance, the discipline of reading the Scriptures to see what they say about thankfulness, the repetition of looking around us every morning and searching our hearts for something to praise God for (even if things don’t seem the greatest) teaches us a powerful lesson.
It equips us to move from receiver…..to giver.
That was the heart behind my daughter’s late night pondering, a desire to bless others as she herself has been blessed. And what an wonderful gesture, even though it may have seemed small to some.
My daughter (all of us, really) are poised to see our own needs first. It’s part of living in a fallen world. And it had taken much time for her and many arguments over toys with her siblings to see the benefit of giving first. She isn’t perfect, by any means. Neither are any of our kids.
But there is much to be said about purposefully finding reasons to be grateful, to stop ourselves when we feel like complaining or demanding that comforts fall into our laps without work.
To have our children know that we don’t just give if we’re already monetarily rich, but that sometimes we give despite a lack of money, to remind them that generosity can be practiced in many forms, to be examples ourselves of what it means to give with a cheerful heart, are key truths that I truly believe will stay with them as they grow.
This season, I want us all to practice a gratitude that leads to generosity. Our hearts need it. Our minds need it. The giving spirit that results not only transforms us, but truly reflects the love of Christ, both inside and outside our home.
Blessings to you today as you reflect on God’s generosity to you and seek to share it with others!
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17
“For this ministry of service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12
Are you looking for a simple way to encourage thankfulness in your kids (and yourself?)
Download this FREE printable devotional, 24 Days of Psalms of Thanks that I created to remind your of what God’s Word says about what He has done for us so that we can “tune our hearts to sing His praise!”
Inside you’ll find one Scripture passage along with a question and prayer prompt for each day leading up to Thanksgiving (update: 2017 Thanksgiving falls on the 23rd but you can just double up one day!). There are also 6 printable Bible verse notecards with the download!
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