CULTIVATE GRATEFULNESS PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families

 

COVENANTAL FAMILIES

 

Candy-How do we teach our children to be thankful? By showing them through our own humble and grateful attitude towards God for His abundant blessings. Our children must actually hear us praise God out loud—not once in a while, not sometimes, not frequently, but every day, for God says that we should “rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), as this sets a pattern to follow and helps our children develop eyes to see and ears to hear God’s magnificent handiwork.

 

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! … When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained.” Psalm 8:1,3 “My soul is satisfied … and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:5

 

Each and every day my heart is so full of appreciation for the splendid work of God’s hands that I could not contain the fullness thereof if I tried. For my gratefulness spills out of my heart, and from my lips pours loving adoration to my heavenly Father. How majestic is my Lord and worthy to be praised!

 

Consequently, my children are constantly hearing me say, “Oh, isn’t this a beautiful day? God gave us such a beautiful day. Isn’t it a perfect day?”

 

“Oh kids, listen to all those birds singing such glorious praises to their magnificent Creator. They are so happy for the warmth of the sunshine today.”

 

“Oh kids, look at how the trees are clapping their hands in praise to God.”

 

“Oh kids, look at those flowers and their gorgeous profusion of color. Can you imagine how great God is to create so many beautiful colors?”

 

“Oh, look at those lovely clouds, and to think they float so easily across the sky and bring rain when we need it.”

 

“Oh children, look at that gorgeous sunset. Look at those brilliant colors. Oh, how splendidly God paints our sky.”

 

“Isn’t that a beautiful baby? Oh, just look at those tiny little fingers and toes. What adorable little lips and beautiful eyes! Each baby is a miracle and a blessed gift from God.”

 

“Oh kids, smell that honeysuckle. Isn’t the aroma absolutely heavenly?”

 

“Children, come quick and listen to the geese as they fly a chartered course set by their Creator. Winter is surely on its way.”

 

“Oh kids, look, our daffodils are coming up. We will soon have fresh flowers in vases again as God dots our landscape with His superb touch.”

 

“Oh, kids, listen to the peepers; there isn’t an orchestra on earth that can play a sweeter sound than those little creatures singing praises to their Creator.”

 

“Quick. Look to the left at the beautiful hawk sitting in the tree. Oh, look at how he soars on the wings of the wind.”

 

“Wow, listen to that thunder. Let’s go look for the lightning—a testament of our God’s mighty power.”

 

“Oh, listen to the splendid sound of our horses’ hooves as they run to us. What a great God to create such powerful, yet beautiful, creatures?”

 

“Shh! Listen! It is the first whippoorwill of the season. Isn’t God thoughtful to give us such lovely sounds even at night?”

 

“Oh kids, smell the sweetness of the air. Breathe deeply as God pours His breath into our lungs.”

 

“Kids, do you see the groundhog sitting on its haunches up ahead along the road? Even he pays tribute to his Maker.”

 

“Oh kids, look at all those sweet faces God painted on the pansies. Aren’t they adorable?”

 

“Yummy! Smell those onions. There isn’t any smell cozier on a winter day than onions sautéing in butter, a roast cooking in the oven, and fresh baked bread. And oh, what about coffee brewing in the morning while bacon sizzles in the pan. Yum! Yum!”

 

“Oh kids, look at all these beautiful vegetables God created for us—the vibrant yellow and red peppers, the beautiful brown onions, and the deep purple eggplant.”

 

“Children, listen to the creek singing to the Lord. Isn’t that a beautiful sound?”

 

“Kids, look up at how the sun is coming through the trees. I love this time of year when we can appreciate how beautifully God created the branches. They are so strong, yet so graceful. Aren’t they lovely?”

 

“Children, wake up and get dressed. God has blanketed the earth with snow. Shhh! Listen to how quiet everything is. Isn’t it lovely?”

 

“Oh, isn’t that a beautifully soft sweater. It’s made from angora rabbits. To think God created them to keep us warm.”

 

“Doesn’t your bed feel good? Even rest is a blessing.”

 

“Oh, smell the warmth from the furnace. Oh, the first time it goes on, it smells so good. How comforting to know we have a furnace to keep us warm.”

 

“Oh kids, listen to the church bells ringing. How I love the sound of church bells, calling to everyone to remember to worship the Lord.”

 

“Oh children, look at how the sun is reflecting on the ripples of water, like sparkling jewels upon the earth.”

 

“Children, come out and see all the stars. ‘The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands’ (Ps. 19:1).”

 

Several weeks ago, my daughter held my hands in hers as she told me how much she loved me. Then she proceeded to tell me that every minute of each day in everything she sees, in the sounds she hears, in the delicious fragrances she smells, she thinks of me in loving adoration as she remembers all the things I taught her to appreciate, all the wonderful memories they bring, and how dear they are to her. Is this not our sentiments when we praise our heavenly Father?

 

God’s divine power, strength, wisdom, majesty, and His abundant love for us are revealed in everything we see, in everything we hear, in everything we smell, and in everything we feel. God is so good! God is so great! God is so wonderful! God is so magnificent! God is so worthy to be praised!

 

As I marvel at God’s majesty and all the magnificent works of His hands, to think that He cares for me makes me weep with deep reverence and gratitude.

 

“O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee … To see Thy power and Thy glory…. My lips will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name. My soul is satisfied … and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:1-5

 

Our gratefulness should extend to our family members as well. Do you share your gratefulness with your children? No matter what my children do, I praise them for it. When Sonia brings up clean wash, I tell her how wonderful it smells. When I see the socks all lined up neatly in the drawer, I tell her how neat the drawer looks. After Josiah cleans the bathroom or mops the floor, I commend him on the fine job he’s done and how nice it looks. When Jedidiah mows the lawn, I praise him for making our lawn look so pretty. When Sonia makes bread, I tell her how wonderful it smells and how great it tastes. My appreciation continues throughout the day, so no matter how little or how big the job, I tell them just how much I appreciate their work. This has paid off through the years because now they praise one another without any prompting from me and continually thank Jon and me for everything that we do for them. Do not neglect this most important lesson, for it sets the standard for their future homes, but most importantly gets them into the habit of praising God for all He does for them.

 

In like fashion, we must require them to thank others—those who wait on them at stores, doctor’s offices, and restaurants… and to show appreciation to those who provide for them—family and friends, hosts and hostesses, and especially to those who invest in their lives such as pastors, support group leaders, family or friends. “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction; and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13

           

Cultivating gratefulness in our children’s hearts, then, first begins in our own hearts, which will become evident in our overall outlook and temperament. Again, it boils down to being Christ conscious instead of self-conscious. If we as parents are teachable, if we accept correction from others and chastisement from the Lord, if we give thanks for all things, blessings and trials, children will be much more likely to follow suit.

 

Jon-Herein Candy is the gracious one, sees the glass half full instead of half empty and gives thanks for all things. This gratitude extends to everyone; from the janitor to the executive, Candy makes sure to extend her appreciation to everyone for their efforts. Thankfully, for me, my children have been imbued with her sweet, grateful spirit through the example she continually sets before my children each day.

 

Each member of the family, regardless of their age or ability, equally received encouragement through her praise, so that we all now habitually thank each other for everything including meals, clean clothes, clean rooms, mopped floors, vacuumed carpets, organized drawers, straightened closets, retrieved documents, replaced light bulbs, replaced towels, repaired lamps, watered plants, seeded lawns, mowed lawns, mulched paths, cleaned vehicles…whatever the contribution may be, we thank the person responsible.

 

Candy-Whining, complaining, criticizing, and quarrelling are sins that neither Jon nor I allowed. If however, these sins would arise, we required that the sinful comment be replaced with one of thankfulness and praise and reminded them of the following scriptures: Ephesians 4:31,32 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

 

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

 

This thankfulness also extends to those outside our family, so when the children were very young, we utilized role-playing to help them practice showing honor to others. When entering a room where adults were present, they were to seek out their elders first and foremost, before playmates, show the honor due them by extending their hands, greeting them by their last names, and making inquiries as to their well-being, all the while maintaining eye contact and a warm smile. The boys were to give firm handshakes to the men, gentle clasping of the gentler gender. The girls were to give gentle handshakes regardless of gender. This honor included responding with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” and “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am.”

 

Although we were in charge of most functions, when honored with an invitation to someone else’s function, the children were directed to immediately seek out the host and hostess, greet them, thank them for their kind invitation, and ask if they could be of any assistance. Throughout functions, they were to look for ways in which to help. Upon departure, they were to gratefully express their appreciation for the event, and more particularly, for other details like hospitality, food, entertainment, decorations, and such, for which they were thankful.

 

Throughout functions, they were to make others feel comfortable by introducing strangers to one another, while imparting some information that would help them connect with each other. For instance, living in close proximity to one another, sharing mutual friends, hobbies, interests, or profession are facts that help associate one person with another.

 

The bottom line is again, Christ. Deeply grateful to the Lord who gave His life for us, knowing full well that we are precious in His sight only because of His mercy and Divine grace alone gives us value, and liberates us from bondage to self, enabling us to notice others’ accomplishments, rejoice over others’ achievements, take pleasure in their gifts and blessings, compliment their success, and express gratitude for their contributions. For Jesus sets us free to give freely to all men.

 

If we realize that there is no good apart from God, and appreciate others because they are God’s creation, then no matter where we are, our focus will be on assisting others and building them up in the Lord. This includes telling absolute strangers how much we appreciate their kindness, their smile, their pretty dress, their lovely children, their nice yard…It means opening doors for them, picking up things they drop, helping them with their bundles, encouraging their downcast spirits, praying with them, and of course smiling to all who pass because of the joy His presence brings us.