Giving Thanks in the Little Things


Simon and I are practicing something new this Thanksgiving season, a variation of an idea I found here.

During the the entire month of November, we are paying closer attention to all the little things our kids are doing that are “praiseworthy” (like holding the door for someone, taking the garbage out unasked, remembering to use good manners, holding their tongue when treated harshly, or any number of other character qualities we want to encourage in our next generation). Each time we witness such an act, we are writing about it on a fall-colored sticky note and sticking it to their bedroom doors when they aren’t looking. (Example: “I was so thankful when I saw you offer to help the man in the wheelchair get a refill of his soda at Sam’s today.” True story. Cue Mom tears.)

Seems simple enough, I know, but I confess that I am too quick to point out the negative while being too slow to praise the positive. And a month focused on thankfulness seems like the proper place to change that pattern, don’t you think? After all, we are encouraged in Philippians 4:8 to do this very thing…

“whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable – if there is any moral excellence or if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”

How are you shifting your focus to one of thanksgiving for the little things this season? Please share your creative ideas (or links) in the comments.

Reluctant Learning

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

I have intentionally seldom prayed for patience. Additionally, I have been known to chastise people who have voiced a prayer in which they asked God for patience on my behalf. (Why would I pray for something that I know is gained only through opportunities to practice the thing I am lacking?!)

Cultivating patience also involves waiting and I want immediate results (instant gratification). Thankfully, God gives us what we need, not merely what we think we want.

Over the past twenty five years, in the midst of

  • cleaning up spills – again
  • sleepness nights – again
  • answering what’s for dinner for the third time since lunch – again
  • calling poison control – again
  • waiting in the ER with an adventuresome (or accident-prone) child – again
  • teaching little ones how to read – again
  • teaching high school Algebra – again
  • reading through the same books aloud – again
  • training new chores – again

God has given me daily opportunities to develop the very thing I’d been intentionally avoiding. He developed patience in me stealthily over the long haul of raising the next generation.

Norwegian Christian Krohg's "Sleeping Mother with Child," c. 1883
Norwegian Christian Krohg’s “Sleeping Mother with Child,” c. 1883

Patience, it turns out, is worth the years of practice it takes to cultivate it.

PONDER: Which of the qualities listed in Colossians does God most desire to develop in you? List the opportunities He has granted you to do just that…and thank Him for them.

PRAY: Father, I thank You for faithfully providing me with opportunities to grow. I want to be like Jesus, yet I am so reluctant to learn in some areas of my life. Thank You for being patient with me and that Your work in my heart includes the areas in which I am most resistant. Please continue to bring about in me the good work that you have begun.