After enjoying the Living Thanksgiving Challenge with my friend Renee, I decided to catch up with her to see how she was "living Thanksgiving" Here's what she had to say...
"I would consider this feeling I am experiencing an afterglow. ✨
It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and I’m smiling inside and out. Not because of a grand meal excellently prepared and served (no fancy meals here). Not because of some grand event with a house full of friends and family entertained and fed (it was just the four of us). Not because we were all together the whole day (husband slipped out to work for a few hours).
But I’ll tell you why...
Because my 7 year old and 4 year old have been overflowing with an attitude of gratitude which poured out beautifully yesterday in a number of “gratitude breaks” throughout the day.
During these gratitude breaks we would do different activities to identify what we were grateful for-and that was all the prompting I had to do- “ooo oo ooo! Time for a gratitude break!”
And friends, the prayers from these little boys thanking God for His gifts towards them- left my heart bursting at the seams.
While I want my children to walk in the steps of Jesus, I also want them to learn to walk in the stops of Jesus.
Jesus walked all over preaching and teaching and when he stopped- he was serving and healing. Think of the stop for lunch of fishes and loaves, the stop under the sycamore tree, water break stop by Jacob’s well, or the stop to talk with the father of the epileptic boy.
These stops edified Him as much as they did the recipients of his mercy.
So I decided long ago that I had to be intentional about teaching my kids to be givers and thankful. They would be the “repairers of the breach.”
I wanted my kids to see giving and gratitude naturally woven throughout their lives just like I did- growing up following my mom around doing good to others.
Relieving the caretaker of a parapalegic from our church for a few hours
Feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen in Washington DC
Answering phones at a non-profit organization
Or as a teenager joining her and other medical professionals on short term missionary trips to provide much needed clinic services abroad.
Since my kids are still young and we move around more than the average bears, I had to find simple ways to teach them mercy, thankfulness and service.
There was one limitation however. People seemed cautious or skeptical about accepting random acts of kindness “out of the blue.”
BUT not at Thanksgiving!
Everyone was in the “mood” around the holidays. This was great because it provided my family with opportunities to connect with others (family, friends, neighbors and even strangers) that would have likely been little regarded, seen as weird, brushed off or rejected if done earlier in the year.
When I became a literacy advocate with Usborne Books and More in 2021, I knew I found a wonderful tool to help people build bonds in families and communities and help parents teach kids their values before, during and after thanksgiving...into the new year and frankly all year long.
The books we read together and share with others breathe practical life all over my efforts to teach them this lifestyle.
My four year old said to me Thursday night with great concern,
“Oh no mommy, we didn’t do anything for the garbage men yet!”
He then proceeded to mentally make a list of things we could to show gratitude to them for “taking care of us” all year long.
We came up with a game plan. He seemed satisfied. They are strangers but they are a part of our community.
I don’t think Jesus would have to ask my boys, “who is your neighbor?” They are learning to treat everyone the way Jesus would.
They are learning to stop and show mercy wherever they can and give thanks whenever they can.
Living Thanksgiving is actually a catalyst for a lifestyle shift. The “perfect storm” of willingness, support (media and society), opportunity and reception to encourage us all to do our part to be the hands and feet of Jesus…to walk in the stops of Jesus.
I invite you to join us to keep thanksgiving alive-all year long.