Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some Thanksgiving Thoughts

Just some brief Thanksgiving thoughts ...

As seen on a church sign recently -- "A life of Thanksgiving is Thanks-Living." Isn't that what we should strive for each day? Give thanks for something, anything.

In her devotion "Morning Jam Sessions" Betty Malz wrote that "there must be sprinkled a few disappointments here and there to make us thankful for the blessings." How true! Don't the blessings and good times become sweeter when given some perspective against some tough times? Don't we appreciate our health a little more after suffering a bug or seeing someone with health challenges?

And, "if we can't be thankful for what we receive, we should be thankful for what we escape," adds Malz. Given the problems that we currently have, consider what problems we could have. She goes on to remind us to be thankful for your car; be thankful for your food. There are certainly multitudes of people enduring some situation this very moment that is more dire than yours.

The great British preacher C. H. Spurgeon said "When we bless God for mercies we prolong them, and when we bless Him for miseries we usually end them." I don't know that he meant the problems would literally go away, but when you thank God for the trials and the lessons they bring, they may not seem so formidable. It's also in those dark times that we find out what we are made of and our blessings are illuminated. Remember that our God is bigger than any problem and He equips you to get through anything.

Thanksgiving -- it contains twelve letters -- six for thanks plus six for giving.
(Malz, again)

Ephesians 5:20 -- Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 -- Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus

Finally, I received an email this week that contained a special Thanksgiving message from Chick Moorman and Thomas Hollar, authors of "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose". Here are some excerpts. (Talk about finding the silver linings ... amen.)

Millions of parents will pause this Thanksgiving to do what the day was originally created for --- give thanks for the many blessings that exist in their lives. Turkey, pumpkin pie, and the presence of loved ones will receive their fair share of gratitude during this annual ritual of appreciation. Many parents will also give thanks for their children's health, the arrival of a newborn, or a recent marriage. The abundance provided by the universe, opportunities for meaningful work, and the laughter of children will be acknowledged with gratitude by loving parents as they thank the creator for their blessings. Indeed, this traditional day calls for a traditional thank-you.

But what if your appreciation this Thanksgiving took on a new look? What if the blessings you count this year included situations that aren't usually regarded as helpful, useful or valuable? Consider the following.

Why not be thankful that your child is two years behind grade level in his reading ability? This struggling reader is giving you the opportunity to read to him regularly at night. This evening ritual will help build connectedness between you and your child while at the same time modeling your love for the printed word. Great literature like The Little Engine That Could or The Diary of Anne Frank can be shared as you simultaneously bond with your child. This opportunity is an incredible blessing. Appreciate it.

Why not be thankful that your daughter's soccer team lost their last game? It is important that your children have experiences of both winning and losing. By losing, children have the opportunity to learn to handle defeat and bounce back next time. With your help, they can learn that winning or losing is not the measure of who and what they are as human beings. They can learn they are more than the score. They can learn that it's effort, energy, and playing up to potential with good sportsmanship that defines a winner, not the scoreboard. Appreciate the opportunity the loss brings and be grateful for it.

Why not be thankful that your teenager received a speeding ticked for going 45 mph in a 25 mph speed zone? Getting a ticket is not a bad thing. Not if your teen learns from it and slows her driving for the next year. If she takes personal responsibility, pays the ticket, and is more cautious about her driving, the ticket may well save her life or the life of someone else in the future. Bless the ticket and give thanks for its blessings.

Why not be thankful that your 8-year-old shoplifted in the grocery store? This is the perfect time to teach your child about shoplifting. Better now than when he helps himself to someone else's car when he is 18. Teach him how to make amends. Teach him what to say as he returns the candy bars to the storeowner. Help him learn to articulate what he learned and what he intends to do differently next time. Bless this perfect time to teach lessons about taking things that don't belong to you. Be grateful for the opportunity.

Why not be thankful that your youngsters track mud and sand into the garage and house? The next time you stand in the garage furiously sweeping sand and wishing that your children were better behaved, quietly remind yourself that one day you'll wish you had sand to sweep out of the garage. Love the mud. Love the sand. Be grateful for the signs of the presence of children in your life.

Why not be thankful for sibling rivalry? "He got more than I did" and "It isn't fair" are common childhood refrains. Hitting, poking and teasing your sister are typical childhood behaviors. Bless these opportunities to help your children learn how to get along with each other. Use them as times to teach interpersonal skills and the importance of touching each other gently. Sibling rivalry is a call for help, a signal that your children need lessons on how to interact positively with each other. Bless their unskillful way of asking for help. Be grateful that you recognize it and help them grow in working and playing cooperatively.

Why not be thankful that you got to stay home with a sick child last week? You didn't have to stay home. You got to stay home. You didn't have to take him to the doctor. You got to take him to the doctor. You got to make sure he received the health care he needed. You got to show him you care enough to drive all over town to the doctors, the pharmacists and back home again. You got to be with your boy while he was sick. Not everyone gets to be with their children when they are sick. You did. Chalk it up as a blessing. Celebrate it this Thanksgiving.

Why not be thankful that your 20-year-old has moved out of your home? Did you really want to raise a 30-year-old Nintendo player who sits around your house all day sucking up diet Pepsi and pizza? Hardly! Your goal was to raise a responsible, caring, confident child who would move away from home when the time was right for her. You have been successful. Pat yourself on the back. Yes, it would nice if she had chosen to spend this Thanksgiving with you rather than with her boyfriend's parents. Maybe next year. This year give thanks. Your child is an adult. That is a blessing.

Why not give thanks that your child is spilling milk, talking with his mouth full, wiping cranberry sauce on his new pants, refusing to eat his vegetables, and interrupting his grandmother at the dinner table this day? It means you have more work to do as a parent. It means your job is not yet done. This is a blessing. You are still needed to help your child learn to pour milk more carefully, improve his table manners, learn to eat nutritiously, and show respect for elders. Give thanks for these opportunities.

Why not be thankful for your special-needs child? Do you have a child with ADHD? Is your son autistic or dyslexic? Does your daughter have Down's syndrome? Is your child facing a serious health challenge? Your children are in your life for a reason. Perhaps they have come to help you learn patience, understanding, or commitment. Perhaps they are here to teach your family about tolerance, acceptance of differences, or unconditional love. Their presence is a blessing. Be thankful for the contribution they are making to the planet and to your family.

This Thanksgiving remember that parenting is a ministry. It is a sacred role that you are being called to perform. Give thanks that you have been called. Give thanks that you are willing to step forward and accept that call. Appreciate that you are being shown the way. Celebrate yourself and your contribution to healing the planet by helping your children evolve into the people they were meant to be. You are a blessing to the world. Give thanks that you are up to the task.

So, what do you have to be thankful for?

1 comment:

Jim said...

Tracey- I want to thank you for this article/post. Over the past year and a half I have been in some challenging "situations" that often have left me feeling quite second class. Not to get lengthy...Some of the people that I have associated with (forced I might add) tend to believe that their children are to be the perfect kids in the room. I normally do not speak out about other peoples parenting because Lord knows that I am still in training and understand that they are too! Finally after reading this I now feel as though I am doing/feeling/reading the right things to raise healthy, happy children. I am very thankful for ALL of the times that I have moments that my kids are not perfect! Thanks again..you have ignited my parenting ministry!

Jody Shafor