Posts Tagged gratitude

3 Ways to Help Your Kids Live a Life of Gratitude – Christina Embree

Thanksgiving is a time to pause, take a deep breath, count our blessings and express our gratitude.

We spend time with family, eat delicious food, kick off the Christmas holiday season, watch football and engage in any number of personal family traditions.

Perhaps this year, more than in others in recent memory, I am more cognizant of the need to give thanks. However, I think something we need to consider as we are leading the next generation of citizens, is that gratitude is not limited to a spoken “thank you” or a special day. Gratitude is a way of life – a continual living into an awareness of the blessings we have and the grace we are given each and every moment of the day.

Simply put, gratitude is a life of awe. It’s a place where we are very aware of the incredible life we are given, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. It’s more than an attitude or a platitude – it’s a state of being.

Often, our children miss out on awe. Their lives are fast-paced and hurried. They shuffle from one activity to the next, one distraction to the next, one practice to the next and that sense of awe and wonder gets lost in the noise. I fear that a constant lack of awe leads to a lack of gratitude and a growth of entitlement. When we aren’t aware of the greatness of our blessings, we assume that our blessings are our rights and we behave in ways that are more greedy than gracious, more demanding than grateful.

Here are three ways that we can help our kids learn to live a life of awe:

  1. We can stop.

For a moment, for a breath, we can stop. Stop the car. Stop the conversation. Stop the running. Stop for just a moment and look up, look out and look around.

My kids love to make fun of me because I will pull the car off on the side of the road to get a picture of the sky. They make fun of me, but they also look up a lot – at stars, at clouds, at sunrises and sunsets – and they are in awe of our Creator. And that leads to thanksgiving. So, let’s stop for a just a moment, when our kids are watching, and live into awe.

  1. We can go.

One thing that hinders gratitude is an introspective life that is focused inward on self.

A.W. Tozer once shared, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.”

Showing and offering gratitude leads us to look not to self, but to others. When we are aware of our blessings, we want to extend those blessings to those around us.

There is something amazingly precious about our children watching us serve others and joining us in that work. It leads to a distinct awareness of just how blessed we really are.

  1. We can speak.

My favorite hashtag on social media is #speaklife. It is used to share all manner of uplifting and powerful messages of life-giving hope. Gratitude isn’t just about saying, “thank you,” it’s about speaking life into situations where hopelessness and darkness encroach and try to steal, kill and destroy hearts and lives. It’s the antithesis of grumbling and complaining. Gratitude says there is hope, and if our children need to hear anything today, it’s that there is hope – unending, never-failing hope.

As we look around at the world around us and see the things that hurt our hearts and weigh heavy on our spirit, let’s cultivate a new approach within ourselves – an approach that stops, goes and speaks with heartfelt gratefulness and genuine thanksgiving, an approach that leads to a sense of awe and wonder. To do so is to follow the imperative found in Colossians 3:17. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com Follow her on Twitter at EmbreeChristina. This first appeared on her website, www.refocusministry.org and is used with her permission.

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Spread Joy in this Season of Joy

This year during this season of joy, we are confronted as never before with the savage reality of terrorism. This reality has caused many to desert their basic beliefs in the goodness of people and freedom of religion. Some would cover the Statue of Liberty with a dark veil. Others would burn The Constitution in order to enjoy a false sense of security. Our security rests in our faith and in the great principles that have made us the envy of the world. Terrorism is by no means the only concerns that darkens the season for many people.

During this hectic holiday season many people are concerned and embarrassed that they cannot match their generosity of the past again this year. There are many people out of work and those that are working are often helping those who aren’t. There is a lot of anxiety in the land.

This year calls for an extra measure of consideration, patience and prayer. We should be careful about depicting those who are out of work as lazy or as just wanting a handout. There is a small number that fit that category, but no more than usual.  There are always those who cheat, but does that excuse my bad behavior? Many among us have lost family members and friends and are still grieving.

Our attitude needs to be one of graciousness and thankfulness. For many of us it is much harder to be a generous receiver rather than a generous giver. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude. Those of us who live in this great land are blessed beyond measure. Our leaders are men and women of great ability, great courage, and a love of country.

It is easy for nerves to become frayed and attitudes to become judgmental. Resist the temptation. Let’s make it a joyous time for everyone. Make an extra effort to be upbeat and uplifting. Let the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas fill the air. Say Something Nice to every person you meet. Try to lift the spirits of those around you. Hadn’t you rather be remembered for what you scattered than for what you gathered? Remember love is a verb.

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Bob Dylan Shows the Way. Express Gratitude.

At the NusicCares Person of the Year Event honoring him on Friday, February 6, Bob Dylan expressed gratitude to 9 groups that helped him along the way. He expressed great thanks to Peter, Paul and Mary who made “Blowing in the Wind,” a hit. He then mentioned The Byrds, the Turtles, Sonny and Cher, Pervis Staples and the Staple Singers, Nina Simone, Jimmy Hendrix, and Joan Baez. He lavished praise on Johnny Cash. Johnny saw that people were putting me down and he came to my defense. “I’ll always cherish the friendship we had until the day there is no more days.”

During this week of Valentine’s Day, we can follow his lead and thank those who have helped us along the way. If a great talent like Bob Dylan can express gratitude to those who made his career take flight, we can take the time to thank those who have helped us.

Think of your last accomplished whether it is big or small. Who helped you? Who was there to cheer you on? Who paved the way? Have you thanked any or all of them?

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Keep the Twelve Days of Christmas Going All Year

How do we make the generous joyful spirit of Christmas last throughout the year?  We can resolve that gratitude will be our guiding principle and that we will pay our gratitude forward with random acts of kindness. Why not spread The Twelve Days of Christmas across the entire year? Choose a number between one and thirty. I choose 17 because my wife’s birthday is on March 17th. But you select any date you want.  Go through your calendar for the New Year and mark each of your dates. Mine reads January 17, February 17, March 17, etc.

When each of your Twelve Days of Christmas rolls around that is your signal to perform a random act of kindness. You do not need a reason. You may not even know the person. Just do something nice for the person. It need not cost any money or it may involve a small amount. That is totally up to you.  Give a neighbor a ride to her or his doctor. Send a note to a long ago friend. Invite someone to lunch. Keep it simple. Make certain that the person understands that no payback is expected. You can encourage him or her to pay it forward to someone else. If you follow this method faithfully, by the time next Christmas rolls around you will have developed and adopted the practice. If you somehow miss a date, just do it another day. We can make the Christmas spirit last all year.

Keep a record of what happens in response to your acts of kindness. How did each act make you feel? Share your experiences with others as a way of spreading the participation. Never reveal the names of those involved in your acts. If you have trouble thinking of inexpensive acts of kindness, consult my little book, Random Acts Of Kindness. None of the suggestions costs any money at all.

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