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By: Kendra Thompson

As the first semester of school is off to a rocketing start with all of the associated busyness of schedules, activities, and changes, it is easy to feel like we have been launched like a cannon ball from summer into fall.  Especially as parents and educators, we may find ourselves holding our breath as we wait to land on Christmas break in hopes of a small reprieve before the next ‘launch time.’  Thankfully, just past the mid-way point we are reminded to pause in the middle of the chaos and give thanks.  During this time, (around the first of November), I can’t help but be drawn to the spiritual practice of giving thanks. 

There are plenty of things to complain about; colder weather, shorter days, and I won’t even get into the constant gloomy news and political division that surrounds us. Yet, as people of faith, we are called to surrender our grudges to the Spirit of God who summons us to pause and be grateful. As we look for opportunities to be grateful rather than grouchy, we are able to live out what the apostle Paul exhorted the Philippians to do: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Gratitude doesn’t come naturally.  It must be taught.  When we are young, we learn to say ‘thank you’ for things we receive, and hopefully progress on to other avenues of gratefulness as we get older.  For many of us, we are still in the thick of teaching gratitude to our children as we endeavor to demonstrate it ourselves.  Often the month of November reminds us to rekindle this attitude in our hearts. 

You may have tools or traditions of your own to aid you in this endeavor. If you don’t, this month is a good time to begin some.   Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Gratitude prayer journal:  Keep a simple, daily log of everything you are grateful for; ask your kids for input too. They can write, doodle, or tell you what they want to say. 
  • Blessing box for your family or classroom:  Re-purpose and decorate a tissue box. Each day, write something you are grateful for on a small strip of paper and stick it in the box. At the end of November, read all of them and count your blessings together.
  • Blessing placemat (for younger grateful hearts):  Have your kids write or draw things they are thankful for on a large piece of construction paper. Laminate or cover their creation in packing tape. Incorporate these objects of gratitude into mealtime prayers. 

Whatever you decide to do, whether in your classroom, or in your home, remember to pause in this season of gratitude, take Paul’s words to heart to think on things that are excellent and praiseworthy, and give thanks.

Comments (1)

  1. Jeanetta Anderson:
    Nov 19, 2018 at 11:54 AM

    Great practical ideas for a very relevant topic!

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