I have truly enjoyed the beautiful weather this fall… although I will admit that the holidays catch me off-guard after such warm, sunny days!
As I flipped the calendar to November, I decided I wanted to do something intentional each day of the month to thank God. I also wanted to create a visual reminder in a prominent place in our home that would enable us to keep on praising and thanking our incomparably generous God.
I quickly cut out a tree trunk and branches with my oldest son. Next, my middle son and I took 150 coffee filters and dipped them in dyed water. We laid them on cookie sheets to dry. Finally, I cut out leaf shapes from the dried coffee filters. Each night (or morning) we share something we are thankful for with each other. I write the item on a leaf, and tape it to our tree.
Imagine my surprise when I walked into one of my best friend’s homes, and she was doing the same thing with her family! She had laminated leaves last year, and they kept their color wonderfully! Using these leaves, and traced handprints, Holly created a similar thankfulness tree.
I love encouraging the practice of thankfulness. Giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day is wonderful, but doing it for a whole month--or a whole year--tills the soil of of our hearts to trust God. There are many ways to teach and model thankfulness, and this time of year is carved out to do so. Let’s take advantage of it! We are even asking our kids to say three positive things about a situation whenever they complain! I think this one needs to stay well after November!
A few years ago I wrote a post about creating a family photo book recounting God’s faithfulness to your family. My children love our book, and they look at it frequently, so I wanted to share the post again.
One of my favorite ideas from the Entrusted class was to make a yearly Top 10 List at Christmas.
Betsy and her family always pause from the opening of gifts and the enjoying of food to recount God's faithfulness to them.
As a family they brainstorm the top blessings from the year. It is a tradition worthy of imitation. Months ago, I purchased a discount voucher from Picaboo, an online photo book retailer, and the expiration date was quickly approaching. I realized none of my normal "photo book creation milestones" were impending, so I asked God for what I should use the voucher for. (Don't you love the promise we have in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” ? As a mother I am sooo reliant upon this truth!) Anyway, He brought to mind his words to Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 4:1-7:
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 'Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”
Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
I knew He was calling me to set up "Stones of Remembrance" for my children. Right now it doesn't quite fit in our family's budget (or my “time budget”!) to do one of these books every year, so I decided to recount the 20 greatest blessings of the first five years of our family (we were established in 2009). As I sat down to write/type/create, thankfulness washed over me. You see, we've been going through some difficult trials as a family this year. At moments, my husband and I have even battled the lie that we've been overlooked by God. It was so good for my heart to remember some of the ways God has provided for and protected us. I'm thrilled to recount his blessings in a format my children are so excited about. I want them to know how faithful our God is, so when the storms of life come, their feet will be set on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. Here are a few excerpts from our book:
If this sounds like a tradition you’d like to recreate, consider collecting your "Family Top 10” at Thanksgiving, and presenting the book at Christmas. You could also collect the list at Christmas and create it the next year.
May recounting God’s blessings be ingrained in us all!