Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Glad in God Game-Teaching Kids to be Grateful in Every Circumstance

Did you ever notice that it is pretty easy to teach children to be thankful when we have abundance and easy times in our lives? Think of a birthday party when your child was fortunate enough receive multiple gifts. Perhaps you had distributed a wish list and every gift turned out to be something that he or she desperately wanted. After opening each item, you heard the child exclaim, "Thank you, thank you so much! Its exactly what I wished for!" As the mom, you felt a wave of pride, having observed an appropriate outpouring of gratefulness on your child's part. "I have instilled a thankful heart!" you thought to yourself, "Praise the Lord". Easy as 1-2-3 right?

Now lets turn to that time when life took a difficult turn, the time that everything that you wished for seemed so far out of reach. Feeling thankful and teaching your children to feel thankful became so much harder didn't it? In those harder times, it became even more important to remember the loving character of God, keeping in mind that He will provide us with everything that we need. Phillipians 4:19 promises:

And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

As His children, we find comfort in His promises and can always find something to be grateful for!

When I was 16 years old, my mother was called home to the Lord after a prolonged battle with diabetes and other health issues. That year for Thanksgiving, I was confronted with the daunting task of making a Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time ever. Now one thing that has to be considered in this story, is that I was a terrible cook! It was somewhat of a joke in the family that I could burn anything (though my father was pretty bad too!)! I remember the anxiety, fear, loss and sense of inadequacy that overwhelmed my whole being when faced with this seemingly impossible task. On one occasion, several weeks before Thanksgiving, as tears rolled down my face, I told my father,"I can't do it! I just want mom back! She could make a great dinner that we would all love."

In that moment, my father said to me, "Amber, you can do it! God has given us the means to have food on our table! He has also blessed us with a wonderful church family that is full of many experienced cooks. I know that they would be happy to give you some guidance. Let's be thankful for all that, mom would want us to." When he said that, I felt so comforted. Though I did not see it right away, God had provided me with the resources that I needed to get the job done. I was truly thankful!

That year several women from the church took me "under their wings" and taught me how to make a turkey and several side dishes. I ended up making a great Thanksgiving Dinner! As we sat down to eat, my father thanked the Lord for the food that He had provided, the cook that had prepared it, the blessing of our church family, the opportunity for togetherness. I will never forget that Thanksgiving and the example of thankfulness that my father helped me to see.

As parents, it is our example that teaches our children to have an spirit of thankfulness. Do we bless the Lord even when the road of our lives gets a bit bumpy? Do we thank God, even for less than perfect circumstances?

We can learn from the old, familiar story of Pollyanna, a young girl who liked to play the "Glad Game". When she wished for a doll to come in the missionary barrels, she received a pair of crutches instead. Her father, who was a minister, then taught her the "Glad Game". He explained that the object of the game was to try and find something to be glad about in every situation. Pollyanna then decided that even though the crutches were not the doll that she wanted, she was glad that she did not have to use them! This "Glad Game" eventually helped Pollyanna through much more difficult times as an orphan, even transforming the attitude of a whole town from discontentment to gratefulness!

As Christian parents, we can take "Glad Game" a step further. The next time something doesn't go quite how our children wanted it to, ask them to find reasons to be "Glad in God". Look for the blessings that the Lord provides, the silver lining that is always there for us as His children. Teach them to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

For instance, when it becomes dark outside and the kids are sad to see the day come to a close, you could say to them, "Let's play the Glad In God Game! I'm glad that God made the stars. Did you know that the darker it gets, the easier it is to see them?" This thankful attitude will be contagious. Encourage the kids to be creative in what they are thankful for. You will be surprised at the things they will come up with!

I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
--Psalm 69:30

This post is part of the No Place Like Home Thanksgiving Celebration! See What that's About Here!


Susie Homemaker said...

Beautiful post...thanks so much for sharing your memory of that first Thanksgiving meal, and for the reminder that we all have so much to be thankful for...


"Dove" said...

This is sweet, and a good lesson for us all. Next time I am feeling crabby I need to play the "Glad in God" game with myself! :)

Wanda said...

Your post really touched my heart. I have teenagers right now and it seems that with my middle daughter I have been having some "issues". She has always been so sweet...but lately seems like a meany! We have had some rotten arguments and I feel so sad because of them.
I can't help but think...what if?
I don't want her to ever regret being a toot if God were to call me home. Sounds crazy, I know...but your story makes me realize....cherish every moment.
and yes. Be thankful even in the midst of tough times.

It's All Good! said...

What a great reminder. I think I'll start that game with my 7 yr. old. Thanks for sharing.
Brenda :)

Marianna said...

I love your simple idea of The Glad in God Game...what a great way to get children to notice and be thankful for the little things in life.

Daisy said...

I remember that meal. I was so proud of you and angry at you for not asking for my help at the same time. But more importantly, I was so grateful that you wanted to be the one to cook that year. That was the one thing I didn't want to think about, the hardest thing for me to face that rough year. Mama and I always cooked the holiday meals together, and that year she wasn't gonna be there. No matter how much she had to delegate to me because of her health, dressing the turkey was always the one thing she refused to pass on. (Aside from lifting it into the oven.)

As relieved as I was that you were cooking, at the same time I was so worried and felt so guilty for going away to college. After I left, I promise you I would stay awake at night worrying about you guys and who was cooking for you. But that was the point at which I learned to view you not as just my little sister, but as the young lady you were growing into.

Daddy was right. We had a lot to be grateful for that year. He and I were so very grateful to have you. We did a lot of things those first few months together that without you, we wouldn't have. I love you, Amber. Thank you!

Linda C said...

What a touching story of your Thanksgiving memory. From your writing I can tell you are a very special person. The Glad Game lesson was just wonderful. Thank you.
Linda C

Tammy said...

HI Amber,

That was a beautiful story and memory. Thank you for sharing it.

It's all the little things we all should be thankful for.


Lora said...

A great post....and a good reminder!

Jenni Saake said...

Thank you for such beautiful and every-day useable ideas. :)

Jenni Saake (InfertilityMom)
Mommy to 3 long-awaited miracles