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Give Thanks

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
I will give thanks to my LORD with my whole heart.
Psalm 111:1 ESV
Turkey, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Yummy! It is nearly time to pull out all of our favorite family recipes. A cup of this, a tablespoon of that, and a secret dash of the ingredient that make each recipe just right. At this time of the year, we are reflective about all of the blessings that the year has brought us and grateful for friends and family that bring us so much joy.

I will never forget a very dark time in my life when I struggled to be joyful and I certainly did not feel like being grateful during the holidays. Greg and I desperately wanted to start a family and, although we lifted our plea to God, we were in a time of waiting. With such an empty heart, it felt difficult to enjoy the holiday season and express joyfulness and gratitude. This time of waiting zapped my desire to do what was normally second nature to me. I needed God’s recipe for a grateful heart. In 1 Thessalonians, God instructs us to “be joyful always, pray continually, (and) give thanks in all circumstances.” Just like carefully following my Grandma’s recipe for egg noodles can make all of the difference in the tasty outcome, following God’s recipe for having a grateful heart and spirit is just as crucial. Especially when we do not feel like being grateful. If you find yourself with a heavy heart this holiday season, cling to the perfect reason to be grateful – Jesus.

This month our RiverBank Kids are discovering God’s recipe for thanks, and our grade school kids in Connect are learning about “Gratitudeletting others know you see how they’ve helped you.” This is the perfect time of the year for us to help our children to be grateful and to enjoy the holiday season with acts of kindness. It is easy for us, especially children, to pour over the catalogs that are flooding our mailboxes and to watch all of the toy commercials, starry-eyed, and be overcome with a case of the “gimmes.” As you and your family move into the Christmas season, I encourage you to be intentional about putting the focus on giving rather than receiving, and on demonstrating gratitude and kindness. Here are a few resources you may find helpful to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and initiate acts of kindness this holiday season:

Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent Calendar- https://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/random-acts-of-christmas-kindness-advent-calendar

25 Christ Centered Christmas Traditions- https://hittheriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/25-Christmas

Children’s Christmas Advent Ideas- https://hittheriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Childrens-Christmas-Advent-Calendar.pdf

Finally, I leave you with the four weekly devotional questions that we are asking our Connect kids this November:
What do you do when you don’t feel grateful?
What are creative ways to say thank you?
What are you grateful for?
What is keeping you from being thankful?
Take time to ponder each of these questions, and talk to your children about them, too. I am praying that you will have a blessed and thankful Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have every reason to be grateful because Jesus is indeed the reason for the season and reason for gratitude every day.

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