[An apology to Eastern and Central time zone readers: this isn’t precisely posted on Tuesday. But the date hasn’t turned out on the West Coast, and I’ve had a busy day. So let’s just pretend I made it in for your Tuesday reading, okay?]
Gratitude may not be one of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5, but it is a gift nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but my own bent is certainly towards entitlement, dissatisfaction, and frustration. To inhabit a moment marked by nothing but gratitude – no striving, no analysis, no wondering how to make it even better – for me, it’s a rare and beautiful gift.
That said, it’s a gift to which we are more or less open. We can long for gratitude, and put ourselves in its way when it comes. Or we can so neglect it that we become the kind of people who don’t recognize grace even when it kicks us in the shins. (Or in the forehead with a book.) If you’ve read this blog before, you know that both Haley and I do a lot of parenting via books – and stories are one of the best ways I know of helping kids (and grownups!) understand and embrace gratitude. With my kids, at least, I find it much more fruitful to get inside of and identify with someone else’s gratitude than to simply force them to say “thank you!” all the time. I still force them, certainly. But I also think feeling it on someone else’s behalf can help us learn how to feel it, and desire it, for ourselves.
In that vein, for Thanksgiving, I combed through our past reviews and put together a short list of some books that can help us all practice gratitude. I plan on reading a few of them with my kids: I’ll probably mention that each is about something we can be thankful for, and talk with them afterwards about how each book helped them name something for which to give thanks. I’d love to hear if you use any of these, and how it goes — or if you have other practices that you use during this season (or year round!) to teach gratitude. Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving!
Books to Encourage Gratitude for God’s Goodness to Us
The Miracles of Jesus
Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love
At Your Baptism
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
Seeds Family Worship: Seeds of Faith, God’s Character
A journal, for recording daily mercies; things read and loved; and prayers