I find it hard to believe that it is November. Parts of this year seemed decades long. The fact that we are finally at the end of the year seems like a miracle. But here we are, we have made it to the final two months of 2020. YAY!! That is something to celebrate!
November is often deemed as Thankful Month. It’s a time where we are thankful for family, friends, pilgrims, turkey and football. This year it might be a little harder to be in full “Thankful Mode”. We have had a year of many things being taken away and constant “No’s”. I don’t know about you, but this year doesn’t naturally bring out my thankful spirit.
In March I knew God would have to do something in my heart to help me survive and thrive during the shut down. After talking with the Lord, He made it clear what I was to do. He told me, “I need you to be grateful for what you do have.”
You see, I like to see myself as a “the glass is as full as it is” type of gal. I’m a straight shooter. My husband, on the other hand, is a “the glass is overflowing” type of person. He would probably say I am more of a “glass half empty” person, but who’s really looking at glasses anyways, right? So to be grateful for what I do have was a mind shift for me. It was a decision I had to make each and every day. I had to look for things to be grateful for instead of focusing on what was taken away.
Each time I chose to focus on the good, my spirit lifted a little. Each day in quarantine got slightly easier. Hope was beginning to be restored. We focused on the beautiful weather we had so that the kids could go outside. We thanked God for the extra family time to play a game or work on a house project together.
During the summer, I tried to make it a daily practice of noting things to be grateful about. And not only to notice them, but also to verbalize my thoughts. This got easier to do as things started opening back up. As a family we started to practice being thankful. This fall after each practice or game we thanked God for the opportunity to play. After each time spent with family or friends we talked about how thankful we were to hang out and spend time together. When we had unexpected financial blessings we made sure to share it with the kids and give God our thanksgiving for providing in creative ways. Being thankful helped us not only survive the constant ups and downs of COVID life, but to thrive. While we are not perfect and there have been stretches of days where we have forgotten, being grateful has become a natural part of our rhythm.
Mid October we had another test. My girls volleyball season abruptly came to an end due to a positive COVID test on the team. Hannah had to quickly move to online school instead of in person. Youth group was missed and appointments delayed. But in the midst of all the loss, my girls handled it with grace and joy. Why? I credit it to an attitude of gratefulness. We knew the reality was that at a moment’s notice everything could be taken away. Instead of being fearful of potential loss, we focused on daily practices of thankfulness. So when the loss occurred we listed all the reasons to be grateful. Instead of focusing on the 2 games and 1 tournament that was lost, they focused on the almost-completed volleyball season. Instead of focusing on the loss of in-person schooling, we focused on how grateful we were that this didn’t happen until October. My girls didn’t allow the abrupt stop to steal their joy. They chose to be thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
So as we head into the Thankful Month of November how can you purposefully be thankful as a family?
One of our favorite things to do as a family is to create a Thankful Box or jar. Each November we sit as a family and decorate a shoe box or glass vase and deem it our Thankful Box. Then each night, (or most nights) at supper we talk about the things we are thankful for that day. We write them on pieces of paper and place them in the box. Then after Thanksgiving we pull them all out and read them together. Some years we leave them in the box for the year and read the previous year’s list on November 1st.
When the kids were little we also did a tree craft. We drew the trunk and branches of a tree on a sheet of paper. Then the kids wrote what they were thankful for on leaves and glued them on to their tree.
It doesn’t matter how organized or spontaneous it is, the goal is to figure out a way to make thankfulness a natural part of your conversation.
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Comment below how you as a family practice thankfulness.