Tag Archives: gratitude

5 Ways To Teach Kids Thankfulness

24 Oct

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Thank you

A simple phrase that we love to teach our kids or students. It is a respectful response that should be used often.

However, thankfulness goes beyond the words and phrases we use. Instead, a thankful posture grows out of a heart of gratitude. Below are 5 ways to help your students or children mature in gratitude and move beyond a simple phrase into a constant state of thankfulness.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Prayer is a simple yet powerful way to teach thankfulness. The next time you pray with children, lead them in a prayer of thanksgiving. The format for this style of prayer is to have the child list something or someone they are thankful for and say, “God, thank you for ______”. You continue the prayer until the child has run out of people or items for prayer. For concrete thinkers (elementary age) give them a goal to reach, such as to thank God for ten people or things in their life.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” – Psalm 9:1

Thankfulness Board

Grab a whiteboard or large sheet of paper and set it around your home, classroom, or church. Allow kids to write and draw pictures of what they are thankful for on this board. Incorporate the board in a weekly routine so that children are constantly engaging with their creative side while striving to grow in thankfulness.

Thank You Cards

Anytime your child receives presents for Christmas or their birthday, sit down with them and help them write thank you cards. As a Sunday school or classroom project, set aside some time to write thank you cards for police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, government officials and local businesses. Don’t have the budget to buy cards? You can print some for free on Greetings Island Thank You Cards

Gratitude Walk

The next time you take kids on a walk, go for a gratitude walk. As you stroll to your destination, have kids point toward objects around them and say “I am thankful for _____”. For kids that may have a harder time staying focused on this activity, make it into a Gratitude I Spy Game by stating, “I am thankful for something that is the color _____”. After a kid guesses the correct object, have everyone proclaim together “We are thankful for ______” (the object just guessed).

Local Thankfulness

Bake a tray of cookies and buy a simple box or bag from the dollar store that can be decorated by kids. Package up the cookies and take kids on a trip to a local business or government building. Go inside and have the children offer the gift of cookies to an employee by sharing how they are thankful for that person or business. It is a truly sweet moment when you can see the shock on an employee’s face at the practice of gratitude by a child. Several stores that have worked well for me in the past include: City Hall, YMCA, Recreation Centers, and Small Retail locations.

By putting some of the above activities into practice, you can teach children that thankfulness goes beyond a simple phrase and is a lifestyle that comes from a heart of gratitude.

Looking for another “No Mess” way to teach children about Gratitude? Check out our Gratitude Object Lesson Blog Post.

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When Gratitude Opens Our Eyes

16 Nov

It’s been 18 years ago today.

That day that we were able to meet our daughter, Victoria Rose, even though her soul had already been carried to heaven.

The truth is I don’t think about her every day. Not even every week. On the other hand there are times when the grief feels almost fresh and I surprise myself by breaking down crying at unexpected moments. Like when my son got married and my daughter-in-law’s mom helped her into her wedding dress and I realized I’d never get to do that with my daughter. Or that November when I recognized that she would have been getting her driver’s license. Or years ago when I would wander through the little girl dress section at the local department store around Easter and pick out the dress I would have put her in.

The thing about stillbirth is you don’t have a lot of memories. The ones you have are precious- feeling the baby move inside you, seeing the baby on the ultrasound, picking out all the things, the anticipation. Instead of being left with lots of memories and missing those things attached to the memories, you are left with “what if.”

What if she had lived? What would our life have been like with three boys and then a girl? What would she have been like?

This is what I think: She would have had long blonde hair. I think she would have been a princess but not in the pink and frilly dress type. No, she had three older brothers who weren’t really into babying anyone. So I think she would have been the princess superhero. She would have fought evil along side of those superheroes growing up. She would have tried to keep those three in line and I’d like to think that she might have succeeded a bit. She would have been strong- you have to with three older brothers. I’d like to think that she would have been compassionate and loving and adventurous. It would have been fun watching her blossom into whatever God made her to be.

This year it seems harder. That date. Nov. 16. Perhaps it is because we would have been about done with the growing up years. She would have been thinking about prom and graduation and college and dreaming of her life out in the world. We would have been getting ready to launch her praying with everything we had that she was ready. Today there is a bit more sadness as I realize that the little girl I mourn would not be so little anymore but would have been a young woman.

In Sojourn, a community women’s Bible study I lead, we’ve been talking about gratitude. Today the topic is “Gratitude Opens Our Eyes.” I believe that with all my heart. It opens our eyes to see God. I’ve experienced it over and over again.

Today let me count the gifts. Let me name the gifts with a heart full of gratitude for all Victoria’s life brought me:

  1. I learned how to have compassion at a deeper level especially for those experiencing loss.
  2. I was able to hold my daughter.
  3. God’s peace was so evident in the room that day.
  4. God’s peace followed us in the days after- literally feeling Him hold me at night as I wept.
  5. I have a daughter.
  6. Her life inspired others to turn to God. There are many stories surrounding that.
  7. Unfolding her little ear that was folded over.
  8. Her tiny perfect fingernails. Her tiny perfect fingers.
  9. I am filled with love when I think of her. . . not bitterness.
  10. Kind nurses and doctors that day.
  11. Two ornaments that hang on my Christmas tree made by women who understood loss.
  12. Her tiny perfect mouth.
  13. Those who cried with us, held us, brought us food, sent us cards. Who were present with us.
  14. The picture of my boys at church praying for us with their heads on each others shoulders while we were at the hospital. So glad someone took it and gave it to me. Precious.
  15. The reminder that I’m a sojourner here on earth. This isn’t forever.

As it happens over and over- that as I’ve listed these grateful things, a miracle occurs.

My eyes are opened to see God. In the midst He was there, He is here.

 

Life is a gift. Even if it only lasts a moment.

It’s Wedding Day

30 Jul

It was Christmas Eve. We had a surprise gift that year- a little guy coming 9 weeks early while we were out of town visiting family. I had a picture of him taped beside my bed while he fought for his life in NICU. I remember being scared to death. Would he make it? Would he have a future? Would I lose him?

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This 3 1/2 pound premie is now a  Children’s Pastor. He is funny and talented and energetic and thoughtful. He has brought us so much joy the last 22 years. I never imagined that day in the hospital bed that it would all turn out this way. But it did.  And today is his wedding day.

His fiance has been hanging around our home for almost five years now. They met in math class in high school- that first day he couldn’t take his eyes off her. So he pursued her like I’ve never seen anyone pursue someone. He was relentless. Somewhere along the way they fell in love.

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And our family fell in love with her.

Last September he drove her up to Duluth, Minnesota and along the North Shore stopping at Shovel Point. He led her out on a path overlooking Lake Superior, got down on one knee, and asked. She said yes. Some kind stranger recognized what was happening and quickly recorded the moment.

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Today they make it official but truthfully she has been a Goscha in our hearts for a long time.

It’s Wedding Day. The groom has left the house with his best men brothers and his groomsman cousin. My husband is upstairs- I can hear him moving around. And I’m sitting in a puddle of tears.

I’m overwhelmed with it all, I guess. How God has worked in our son’s life both physically and spiritually. I’m feeling like the most blessed mama in the world. I’m so full of gratitude for life and grace and love. I’m sad that our time with Zach in our home is closing but excited for the adventure he is beginning. I’m excited to welcome another daughter-in-law who has stolen our hearts. Sometimes it just feels like so much.

Today I will celebrate with incredible gratitude every single gift that God has given our family. It’s time to dry the tears. It’s time to move onto the next part of this great adventure of life and motherhood. It’s time to enter into this holy and sacred day with a full heart. engage city

Later today they will vow to serve God together. I’m not sure it gets any better than this.

 

Update: So this happened.

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Photo credit: Kallie Elizabeth Photography
Venue: Stillwater Historic Courthouse
Second shot with Jessica Stoe Photography

 

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