Cornelis Pietersz Bega
It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night,
"Mama, You know what one of my favorite memories was?"
"Meal time, tea time, reading time, Christmas, Birthdays?" I queried.
"No, mama--something much more profoundly marked in my heart. Almost every morning when I would walk up, I would come down the stairs and you would be drinking a cup of tea, there would be candles lit in the early morning darkness of the house, and you would be sitting in your chair, reading your Bible."
"I didn't even know I was taking it in, because it was so normal. But, this year, since I have been so far away, that picture has come to my mind so very often. As a little girl, I thought if you were having a quiet time, and seeking God for all of us, as each morning began, then all of life would be ok. And I think that is what made me have my own quiet times because I could see it always softened your heart to spend time with God. It wasn't anything you made us do, it was just the spiritual oxygen we breathed every day."
What we want our children to love must be a part of life that we cherish every day. Sometimes when Joy saw me, I was begging God to help me or sometimes I was sleepy or struggling--but she didn't always know what was going on between me and God--she just knew that every morning, He was my first companion to help me start my day. And His word would be the place my mind was taken as truth each day as I began to live one more day as faithfully as I knew how.
And so it is with the gift of giving our children the habit of being thankful. It is something that cannot just be commanded, but it is something that is felt, modeled, practiced through the heart attitudes of a mama every day.
Choose to be thankful, practice verbalizing gratefulness and your heart will follow.
Approaching Thanksgiving has given me much happiness this year. Though most of my children will be far away this year, I am so very grateful to have a home where I might serve some other sweet friends who do not have family here. We will celebrate each other together. Several are new friends that I do not know well, others are cherished, the kind you never have enough time with, but want to invest in.
I have realized that thanksgiving, a thankful, appreciative heart is also something, a treasure to be passed on, but it comes, too, through practicing it ourselves.
God has made His patience, His constant love, His beauty so very valuable to my heart this year. I am so very blessed, humbled and grateful to be His every day. And so the past week, I have been waking, taking time to tell Him, before I do anything else.
Then, there are the words of thanksgiving that transform hearts--to know someone is actually grateful for me makes my life feel worthwhile in spite of all of my flaws. But someone has to tell me for me to know.
"Thank you, Joel, for doing the dishes for all of my friends who were visiting here last night! That was quite a pile. You have always been such a gift of support, help and friendship in my life."
"I love you, sweet girls, my treasures, and I will miss you, but I am so very thankful you are flourishing and God is blessing your hearts. Your happy hearts make me so very content. You are my treasures."
"I love you, Rachael, and I am thankful that of all the young women in the world, God gave you to me, our family and to Nathan as a wife because you are one who blesses and loves so deeply from your heart."
"Clay, the partnership we share together in building our family, our ministry, our lives has been so very dear to me. Thank you for all of our years."
"Nathan, I love your passionate heart for God, and the man you are. It always encourages me to keep being faithful every time I hear your thoughts. I always know you will seek integrity--I am thankful for you."
When words are given thoughtfully, intentionally, and generously, our hearts follow our words and become even more grateful because we realize again how much God has given. But it also sets a standard for our children, our family, of how they will value and appreciate others in their lives.
Even as I am writing this, the very practice of writing thankful words has made me, again, so very grateful for my family. Your words can form and lead your attitude as you practice them. And then you will find your children becoming the grateful friends that you have needed to encourage you as they practice what they have lived in your home!
Passivity and isolation kills the soul, but love, gracious words, gratefulness brings life--to marriage, to friendship to children, to friends. But giving these words often requires a commitment of heart, a way of choosing to see others and a habit that needs to be practiced.
Though the food will be abundant, the feasting fun, the fellowship sweet, the true soul-filling gift of this holiday is that it leads our hearts and minds to gratefulness and thanksgiving practiced will shape our attitudes all year long.
I wish each of you a blessed holiday. I will be spending the rest of the week taking time to be away from the internet, enjoying real, personal and present relationships and hoping for a little peaceful few extra moments with the ONE who is my life and joy.