The Practice of Thankfulness

My youngest son picked out the most beautiful pumpkin back in October. It’s been sitting on our hearth begging to be useful. Somewhere on the internet, I saw a cute idea for writing on your pumpkin your thankfulness. At the time, I just wasn’t feeling it. So there it sat – an orange gourd.

This week, determined to be thankful despite the state of our world, I found a Sharpie and plunked down in the middle of my living room floor with our big ole pumpkin in my lap. I wrote the words I know are true even when I struggle to feel them.

“We are thankful.”

And I began to write. My children wandered through and wanted to contribute. Our goal is to fill the pumpkin before Thanksgiving Day so it can sit on our dining room table as a centerpiece. One of my children spoke words that struck my heart and pierced it to the core.

“I am thankful for kind teachers.”

While this may seem simple and clear, the hard circumstances behind these words reveal a deeper truth. My son is being bullied at school. I emailed his teachers and asked for some assistance in the matter. Their responses were quick and kind. Even though the situation is not fully resolved, my son is comforted by the love and advocacy of the adults in his life. 

In the cauldron of suffering, thankfulness rose to the surface shining brightly.

I learned an important lesson from my son that day as I wrote on our pumpkin. Thankfulness is a choice, and when we have the eyes to see our circumstances through its lens, grace and hope fill our hearts.

Are you carrying the burden of difficult circumstances today? What about your children? 

As we count down the days toward Thanksgiving, start conversations with the members of your family. Talk through the challenges of the day and point one another to the beautiful gifts of grace woven into our hard places.

Here are some questions to help you get the conversations going.

  1. What are you learning about yourself through this difficulty?
  2. Who is helping you navigate your hard circumstances?
  3. How have you successfully made it through hard times before?
  4. In what ways is God providing for you and protecting you through this season?

As you acknowledge the hard aspects of life, you will also begin to see the good and the beautiful gifts threaded into the tapestry. Don’t be discouraged if these conversations don’t go smoothly at first! Learning the practice of thankfulness takes time! 

Here are some ways to make it fun for your children over the holidays.

  1. Create a Thankful Pumpkin.
  2. Buy a white tablecloth and markers. Let your children write what they are thankful for on the table! They will absolutely love this!
  3. Model thankfulness for your children by writing them a short note telling them what you love about them.

Today, I am thankful for you, the parents and teachers in the trenches. Your job is demanding and time-consuming. However, your investments are priceless. Keep up the good work, friends!

Written by: Melissa Smith

Melissa is living out her everyday adventures in the suburbs of Texas. She loves three things: God, beauty, and words. When she won her first camera in fourth grade, she began collecting beauty. Since then, she has captured snapshots of life: a quiet moment, a startled smile, simple joy. When she is not shuttling her teens to school or homeschooling her youngest, Melissa gathers beauty and writes on her blog, framing suffering in the context of joy with Christ. She hopes to bring a slice of loveliness to her readers and point them to her wonderful, loving Savior.