Giving Thanks Beyond Thanksgiving Day

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How grateful I am for a day we set aside to remember the freedom the Pilgrims found in America. A time for us to reflect on the many blessings of the past year. We love the traditional food that is served and the many memories that go with this special day. Years ago I became convinced that giving thanks every day and in all things was the key to finding joy and contentment in the midst of daily circumstances, the good and the not so good, and especially my parenting.

One of the most important parenting tools I discovered.

I shared how giving thanks was one of the most important parenting tools I had ever learned. Here is my story and I trust it will encourage you on your life’s journey.

I heard the break. It sounded like a tree limb cracking from the weight of a storm. But there was no rain, no thunder, and no lightning.

I saw everyone rush to our son’s side. David was really hurting…writhing in pain. Excruciating pain!!! The umpire called “timeout” and the ambulance soon arrived. Every parent’s nightmare.

A life long discipline.

As I look back on that day, I now realize that was when I learned one of the most important parenting tools I would ever possess. In fact it has become a discipline in my life that hopefully will be on my tombstone! It’s how I want to live life to the very end.

But back to my story…

David severely broke his leg that day in the 8th grade. His heart also broke over the loss of a dream. He loved baseball. He had made the varsity team before high school. David had dreams of the big leagues like many young men do. I had dreamed with him.

With the realization I could not fix his leg or his dream, my heart broke!

I knew it was God’s will that I give thanks in ALL things, but this didn’t feel like something for which to be thankful.

That’s when I learned about a sacrifice of praise!

We don’t always know what to do “in the moment” in situations that life brings our way. It could be a child’s suffering like in David’s situation, a more serious illness like cancer, or a simple act of disobedience.

But the one constant that I wish I had learned sooner and practiced in these moments was “giving thanks in all things.”

Even when I didn't feel like it!!

And that’s why it is called a sacrifice. It’s not the natural thing to do. I don’t want to give thanks when I am not feeling thankful.

When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son on the altar, do you think it was something he wanted to do?

What’s in it for me?

So besides it being God’s will which is about obedience and pretty important, why should I offer a sacrifice of praise or give thanks? What are the benefits?

  • It fixes my mind on God, the solution to any problem, big or small.

  • Giving thanks acknowledges God is in control which gives me peace.

  • Psalm 50:23 says it honors God. As simple and as profound as that!

Beyond mothering

We cannot fix our kids and we cannot fix every situation they get themselves in.

But we can start by keeping our hearts fixed on being thankful that God is in control, because giving thanks goes beyond mothering.

When the milk spills, the kids are fighting, the window gets broken, or a relationship is strained, the one thing I can do is say things like:

“God thank you for how you will work this out for good!”

“Thank you, God that you will give me wisdom and peace.”

“Thank you, God  - you are growing me up through this.”

“Thank you, God for continuing to love me when I fail!”

Baseball and breast cancer

Ten years passed between David’s broken leg and me receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. I now had the opportunity to give thanks or give up and quit the game! This was beyond mothering...this was now life or death.

Upon the news of my diagnosis, David asked me how I was doing and my answer was, “I have spent the last 10 years learning to give thanks as a mother and that will see me through this unexpected journey.”

I had praised God when I didn’t feel like it more times than I could count as a mother. Each time I offered a sacrifice of praise, I knew I was honoring God, even though my circumstances did not always change.

Give thanks in ALL things

What I didn't know was how much my kids were watching and listening to me through these years of giving thanks in all things.

For example, my daughter Joy had heard me challenge her time and time again to give thanks when seemingly bad things happened. When she was so scared that I might die but saw me living it out during this time, she too decided to begin practicing giving thanks. It now has become a part of her life story.

What if every time you don’t feel thankful this week, you give thanks?

And especially during this time of giving thanks when the stress of preparation or travel can take our minds off of the true meaning of the season.

You might be surprised what happens in your heart and God’s!

Happy Thanksgiving from my heart,

Sarah