Tag Archives: gratitude

The Blessing Box

Today, we are joining some other homeschooling families at the park to mark a milestone for one of our young friends. About a year and a half ago, our friend (age 6 at the time) began chemotherapy for a brain tumor. This spring, his finished his last treatment, much to the relief of all, and tomorrow we’re going to celebrate with him.

As I thought about our friend, I remembered a tradition another family shared with me long ago — the Blessing Box. At the end of every month, family members would write down the blessings received from God over the past few weeks, each one on a separate slip of paper. They might be small things, like an unexpected gift, or bigger things, like the end of our friend’s cancer treatment. They dated each entry, folded the paper, and put it in the box. Then, at the end of the year, the family would gather together to read the “blessings,” saving the papers from year to year. What a great reminder of all that God had done for them!

We had started our own Blessing Box years ago, when my oldest son was small. He helped me decorate it, and I began writing down the blessings and storing them in the box. Somewhere in the busyness of life, though, our Blessing Box was set aside, and we haven’t used it for a long, long time.

But our friend’s party presents the perfect time to start again. And instead of writing the blessings down once a month, once a week would better suit our schedules (and my memory!).  And as we’re writing, we can remember to praise God — for our friend, for health, for comfort, for His peace, for freedom, for His provision — for all the things we often let slip by without giving Him thanks.

A Heart Of Gratitude

img-0285This Thanksgiving, we’re spending time with family, enjoying each other’s company. My children will be playing with their cousins, enjoying lots of good meals, and taking a break from school. But it’s hard work getting ready for a trip: making the lists, running errands, washing the clothes and sorting through them, cleaning up the house, and getting the pets settled for someone to care for them. It often seems as if the kids don’t appreciate all the effort it takes to provide them with a nice holiday time. Rarely does anyone ever say, “Thanks, Mom, for getting us ready to go.”

Sometimes I wonder how my children will learn to be grateful. They need this, they want that, and they want it right now! But there must be a better way then giving them lecture…after lecture…after lecture.

Then I wondered, how often do I thank them? Did I thank Cassie for spending extra time cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the craft paint off the cabinet door of the sink? Did I thank Lillie for helping Luke choose which toys he wanted to bring along? Did I thank John for running to his Grandma’s house to borrow some eggs for breakfast? I thank my friends for favors they do for me, but I don’t often thank my husband or children. Perhaps the things we do around the house are expected or required, but it’s still nice when someone appreciates it.

Instead of just telling them to be thankful, I need to show them by example. They need to see me with a thankful attitude. I need to appreciate them not only for what they do, but for who they are. And they need to hear me thanking every day God for all He has given us, not fussing about the things we lack.

They need to see me with a heart of gratitude.

Contentment

contentmentRecently I reviewed the book Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham. This morning, as I was talking with my son John, I was reminded of a point Buckingham made. Buckingham contends that women are generally less happy now than 40 years ago because they have so many choices, and they’re afraid they’ll pick the wrong ones. While I’m not sure about the entire supposition, I think he’s right about the effect of having so many choices: it seems to naturally lead to discontentment.

As we were driving to co-op this morning, we passed by an elementary school; the school day had already started. John was sitting in the front seat, looked at the school, and commented on how it’s “too bad” for the kids who have to go to school. (I’ve been trying to make the point to my children lately that they have more free time than many of their peers).

I thought back, then, to my own school days. I remember complaining if I had a lot of homework or if I wasn’t ready for a test, but I never thought of myself as unfortunate. We went to school — that’s just what we did.

But now we have more choices. We choose to homeschool, and in doing so I choose the curriculum. We have more free time, so we choose from the many activities available. We do so many things during the year: music lessons, art lessons, scouts, library programs, roller skating, ice skating, PE classes, clubs, field trips, holiday parties, and meeting with friends. So why, then, do my children come to me with grumpy faces and say, “Why can’t we go bowling sometime?”

We aren’t limited in the foods we eat either; we can have pizza one night, chicken the next, then soup and sandwiches, then tacos, then spaghetti. Why then, after fixing a full meal each night, do my children come again with grumpy faces and say, “Don’t we have anything else to eat?”

I often feel like I should give my children every opportunity I can that comes along. That will ensure, I think, that they will have a well-rounded and productive childhood, helping them to grow into fine adults. Yet somewhere, among all those choices, we tend to lose our sense of gratitude and contentment. These, I believe,  are two of the key elements to a truly happy life — and a good lesson to learn.