It's Thanksgiving 2016. Wow. Life is flying by and time seems to be speeding up as I get older. It seems like I blinked my eyes and all of a sudden I am 41 years old, my daughter is 21, and my mom is almost 60. How did this happen so fast? I have been reflecting a lot lately on aging; watching the kids grow and change into distinct personalities is amazing. Helping them gain their independence is my purpose as their mom, but is such an emotional experience for me. I wonder if I will be able to handle them leaving the nest one by one. Things already seem so different with both Lexi and Kacie gone. Before I know it, Hannah will leave also and then we will only have half of our kids at home. The more I reflect on these realities, the more it reminds me to be present in the moment and to be thankful for each day.
Many families will sit around a table today and give thanks. Like our family often does, some will take turns talking about the things and people for which they are thankful. It seems fitting to pause on this day in particular to express our gratitude for the many blessings in our lives; however, what if we stopped to give thanks every day? What if we acted thankful for even the craziest times? The smallest of blessings?
In a recent blog called "Good Morning, Lord," I talked about starting my day on a positive note by saying "Good Morning, Lord" instead of "Lord...it's morning." This habit is something I learned as a teenager at church camp and has stuck with me ever since. It immediately helps me have an attitude of thankfulness instead of dread. In an effort to pass this on to my kids, I started praying with them on the way to school a few years ago. Each day when we got in the car, we would say, "Good Morning, Lord" and then we would each take turns saying something that we were thankful for as well as anything we wanted to ask the Lord to help us with. Soon, the kids would race to see who could get their seat belts on first and be the first to start the prayer. It was so rewarding to watch them develop godly habits and to be excited to pray.
Eventually, we started to give our neighbor's daughter a ride to school each morning. When you are around our family often, we treat you like family. So, we did not change our morning routine but included her in it. She was an extremely shy six year old and for a long time, she wouldn't talk. When it would get to her turn, we would ask her if she wanted to pray and she would just shake her head. Every day for months, she would not say a word when we prayed but I would encourage her and tell her that there was always something to be thankful for. I told her that if you can't think of anything else, we can always be thankful for Jesus. Finally, one day when it was her turn she said, "Thank you Lord for my family." Each day, she would think of something simple to say like,"Thank you Lord for the sunshine." Eventually she began to say thank you for multiple things AND pray for concerns and needs as well. Some days, my mother-in-law would drive the kids to school and also would pray with them. We saw so much growth in her by the end of the school year that I hated to see it end. I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to teach her how to pray. What I didn't realize at the time were the things that she had been teaching me.
Sometimes it is scary to pray because we don't know the right words or it is overwhelming because there is so much to say. Other times, life is so hard and it seems like so many things are wrong that it is hard to be thankful. My precious tiny neighbor didn't have a perfect life. In fact, she has had to experience some very difficult things for her age...but, she started by finding the simplest things to be thankful for. The prayer that I will never forget happened one day when my mother-in-law was driving the kids to school. When it was her turn, the little girl said, "Thank you Lord for wheat...cause wheat makes bread." Every time I remember this, it makes me smile. What a thing for a young child to think about. It is something that most people would never stop to appreciate but to her, she could see the value in it. How sweet and how powerful was this lesson. I just had to share it today, a day of Thanksgiving (and bread).
I need to be more aware of the millions of small blessings that surround me. As my children get busier and time spent with them becomes less and less, I need to remind myself to be present in and grateful for every moment. Life is going by way too quickly; although it is sometimes tough to be thankful for every piece of laundry, every trip to the grocery store, and every mess to clean up, I am so thankful for the busy life God has blessed me with. My 6 year old neighbor taught me to remember and appreciate the things I take for granted. By slowing down to think about the "small things," we will never run out of things to be thankful for.
As we enter into the busiest season of the year, may you soak in every conversation, every taste, every moment. Be thankful for each and every blessing, small and great. And when the stress hits and the lines are long, when the lights burn out and the money is tight, remember there is always something to be thankful for. Focus on the "small stuff." I pray you all have a wonderful day and a year filled with peace, health, and laughter. And bread. Happy Thanksgiving! Until next time...
Hello and WELCOME to my site! My name is Amanda Yates and I am a 41 year-old mom of six children from a blended family. I am a middle school teacher and a passionate follower of Christ. In my "free" time, I love finding and decorating my home with country antiques, organizing, studying scripture, and making every attempt to get my life "just right." I am blessed beyond measure!
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Faith & Reflection Blog