A Heart of Gratitude


After all of the masquerades and sensory experiences of Halloween, the month of November silently tiptoes in.  This year the trees are at their peak with the vibrant hues of the blushing, crimson maples and the golden, stately oaks adorning our skylines and our yards.  November is a month of contrasts for me.  Being the month of my birthday, it should be seen as my favorite month.  Nevertheless, the month has been a time where loved ones have passed away: my father-in-law and my grandson.  Therefore, those occurrences have made the month bittersweet.  Thankfully, the Lord in His loving kindness gave me another grandson and a niece whose birthdays are in November to celebrate, and many friends who share the same birth month.

We also celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving during the month of November, a time to be thankful to God for what He has done for us.  I have found that having a thankful heart, alters our attitude towards life.  When we become thankful for the things that we have, we become less grumpy about the things that we don’t possess.  Gratitude transforms the heart and brings happiness and contentedness.  It is a gift that we can present to ourselves that enables us to reach out to others with compassion and give to them in return.

In her blog, Creativehomekeeper,  Victoria Osborn states in her post 30 Days of Thanksgiving that:  “Gratitude and thanksgiving are essentially one in the same: having a thankful heart, giving thanks, and sharing our blessings.  It’s a discipline that has been around a long time.  Over and over in the Bible there are countless verses offering thanksgivings to God.”

  • “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.”  1 Chronicles 16:34
  • “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.”  Psalm 7:17
  • “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 100:4
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6
  • “Let the Message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”  Colossians 3:16

Victoria continues to share that:  “November is a month of Thanksgiving and celebration of the harvest, all of God’s blessings and the life He has freely given us.  Practicing gratitude and giving thanks should be something that we do every day.”  Victoria suggests that November is the perfect time to begin the spiritual discipline of counting our gifts.  We can spend the next 30 days really searching for all of the ways that we have been blessed.  What a fantastic idea!  Before all of the hubbub of the Christmas season where it is so easy to be overwhelmed by all of the unending gift lists.  November is a quiet and reflective time to focus on what we have been given.  Many times these items may be intangible, yet very real to us, indeed!

“From the big…where you were cured from cancer, reunited with estranged family, did you accept God’s gift of salvation?”

“To the small…the giggles of your children, holding hands with your husband, and inside joke with two friends, a good book.”

“Give it all to God.  When we spend time counting the gifts, we spend time in communion with Him.”

Victoria shares some simple ways to start the practice of daily Thanksgiving.

  1. Start a Thanksgiving journal–  Everyday spend a few minutes writing out as many gifts as you can think and don’t be afraid to include everyday things
  2. Write one thing you are thankful for each day- on a small sheet of paper and placer it in a jar.  At the end of the month, open the jar up and read through your gifts.
  3. Make a Thankful tree with your children- Grab a large stick or tree branch from outside and place it in a vase on the table.  Along with your children, each day adorn it with a small token of gratitude or have your young children draw a picture.
  4. Read a book on gratitude-My personal favorite one is Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  It also includes a 30 day devotional in the back.
  5. Do a word study. Using a concordance or Bible dictionary, spend the next 30 days looking up all of the verses in the Bible with the words thanks, thankful. blessing, gratitude, or thanksgiving in them.
  6. Complete a Bible study. Join the She Reads Truth gratitude online Bible Study. You don’t need to purchase the study pack to participate.  Or there are other online Bible study resource materials, such as: YouVersion Bible App, the First 5, Hello Morning Girls, just to name a few.
  7. Pick a few Bible verses on gratitude to memorize this month.   Write them out, journal through them, pray them, speak them and let the words marinate your heart.

As an educator for 25 years I have literally witnessed our society lose any sense of civility towards one another.  In its place has been a sense of entitlement.  “I am owed this.”   “You are supposed to do this for me…”  Common courtesy has appeared to fly out the window.  November is the perfect month, as we are focusing on showing gratitude and thankfulness to focus on common courtesy.  In my opinion, it is of utmost importance for parents and teachers to teach our children the basic rules of courtesy, which are:

  • Saying please and thank you.  “May I please have a drink?”  “Thank you for helping me.”
  • Helping others.  Holding the door open for mom.  Helping take in the groceries.  Children opening the door at the store for an elderly person.   Children giving their seat to an older person and sitting on the floor.  
  • Using the bathroom properly, putting the paper in the toilet and then flushing the toilet.  Putting the seat down.  Then  washing hands afterwards and turning off the water and lights.
  •  Pushing the chair under the table after they get up from dinner.  Taking their plate to the sink and helping with the dishes at dinner time.
  •  Greeting adults by saying “Hello” and looking them in the eyes when they are being spoken to.  Learning how to shake hands and introduce yourself to a new acquaintance.
  • Showing respect to parents and adults.  Children obey their parents and other adults.  They do not say disrespectful words to parents or other adults.
  • Children do chores at home as being part of a family.
  • The basic rule of thumb is The Golden Rule- “You treat others like you want to be treated.”

In the blog, Martysmusings, the author states in her post, Family Blessing Jar, Teach Your Children Gratitude,that you take one day at a time and try the following tips for instilling gratitude in your children.”

  • Start young.  Even small children  can be taught to say thank you to God through their prayers, songs, and words.
  • Reinforce.  Point out to your children the many ways you are thankful to God for His provision, His love and your family.
  • Model a thankful heart.  Tell your children and spouse thank you for the gift of their lives each day.
  • Encourage your children to say thank you and “catch” each other doing acts of service.
  • As the children get older, have them look up scriptures on Thanksgiving and write the verses out.  Use them in art projects or as special presents for friends or family members

November, a month where each one of us can fill our hearts to the brim with gratitude.  Isn’t that a marvelous manner in which to spend each day of this tranquil month before we begin the rapture of Advent in December?  Come join me in giving thanks.

Here are some resources to enrich your month of gratitude.

Count Your Blessings Tree

Family Blessings Jar

May you have a Thanksgiving filled with thankfulness and gratitude for all that you have been given.

In the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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