The Blessing of GratitudeNovember 3, 2009
Do you know anyone who grumbles and complains? Today Barbara Rainey explains why our whining is so offensive to God. Hear what you can do to cultivate a heart of gratefulness.
Do you know anyone who grumbles and complains? Today Barbara Rainey explains why our whining is so offensive to God. Hear what you can do to cultivate a heart of gratefulness.
The Blessing of Gratitude
Bob: The year that Samuel Rainey turned 15 was a challenging year. It was the year he was diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. Barbara Rainey says that’s the kind of diagnosis that does not produce thankfulness in the heart of a teenager.
Barbara: That thanksgiving he wrote on his card, “I am thankful that Ashley, my sister, can come home from college. I am thankful for my family.” And then # 3 he wrote, “I am thankful for my disease and for Mayo Clinic.” You know when you hear a 15 year old child express gratitude for something that difficult, as a parent, I am so grateful that he is getting it. That God was in control and God had His reasons and God was still acting in good toward him as a 15 year old boy.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine. The only reason we can “give thanks in all things” is because God is in control of all things, “working them for our good and His glory.”
And welcome to FamilyLife Today! Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We are talking this week on the subject of gratitude and I brought in some thank you notes that we have received here at FamilyLife. As long as we are talking about gratitude we ought to hear how folks have expressed gratitude for you and for the ministry, Dennis.
Here is a listener who wrote and said, “Thank you for your ministry! Your ministry has guided my Christian walk and has helped me walk closer with God. You have been the spiritual parent I never had. Thank you and God bless you.”
Dennis: That’s cool!
Bob: Isn’t that nice? Here is a listener who wrote and said, “I came to the Lord at 40. You were so helpful in teaching me things about a family and about raising children that I never knew. Thank you and God bless!”
And then a listener wrote to say, “I hope you guys know how grateful people are, for people like you who live for God and exhort and enable others to. God bless you!”
You know it is just nice to hear notes like that. I mean, I read those and thought, “I am going to read them to you and share them with our listeners just because it is nice when people say ‘thank you.’
Dennis: I want to say two things in response. First of all, ‘Thank you for saying thank you, I mean for taking the time to write. I am on ‘Facebook’ and I get thank you‘s on Facebook. Barbara and I celebrated our 37th year of marriage together back in September. It was great to get so many Facebook friends who said, “Thank you for your marriage and your ministry and your model as imperfect as it is.” Because it isn’t perfect!
But the other thing I want to say thanks for are those of you who give financially to this ministry and to keep us going. Because I want to tell you something, in this environment, I don’t take any of that for granted that anyone would want to give to what we are doing here. I just want you to know we are squeezing every ounce of ministry out of every buck that you give.
I want to tell you something it is making a difference here in America and we are touching countries like Rwanda, all over South America, and Central America where FamilyLife Today is now being translated into Spanish. You are making a ton of ministry happen into the lives of marriages and families. And I just want to say, “Thank you.”
Bob: And how did he do? Did he express gratitude appropriately?
Barbara: Yes! He did a very good job! A +
Dennis: In this situation
Barbara: And I agree!
Bob: I asked you that because as was said we are talking about gratitude here this week and you have just created a devotional guide for parents to use especially during this time of the year, you could use this anytime couldn’t you?
Barbara: Oh sure you could! But we tend to think of being thankful in the month of November. So, it is just logical to focus on that character quality in this season of the year.
Dennis: And Bob, she has been talking about doing something in the month of November, in addition to her other book which is the story of Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving a Time to Remember. She has been talking about doing something for families to help them cultivate a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness and she finally did it. I want to tell you I am really impressed with this. It is seven stories all around a theme to help your children look at circumstances and see God in the mist of it and give thanks to Him.
Bob: Yes! The story of the Pilgrims coming to America is one story after another, where we see gratefulness and thanks and humility being expressed by these pilgrims. In this devotional guide for parents, you have seven stories that illustrate different aspects of gratitude so that a mom or a dad could read this around the dinner table and then talk with the kids, and hopefully some of it would sink in just a little bit, right?
Barbara: That’s right!
Bob: As a parent you wonder is any of this sinking in at all? But, it really does whether you see immediate response or not.
Barbara: Well, we know that repetition is one of the best teachers. My desire in doing this is to have a devotional for families, and hopefully dads and moms will learn along with their kids. But, non-the-less, the goal is to focus on the quality of ‘gratitude’ repeatedly for a week. With the hope that, perhaps by repeating it and reinforcing it over and over again, it will begin to sink in and some of these stories may take root. Some of the stories may be latched on to by a child and may be referred back to mentally. They may find themselves in a situation and think, “Gosh, if Corrie Ten Boon can give thanks, maybe I should, too. So, that is the idea, is that we would inspire our children with great stories of faith on a particular topic and in this case it is on gratitude.
Bob: You have the opportunity, I think it was last Thanksgiving; you talked to a number of moms about this subject of gratitude. You spent part of the time talking about grumbling and the sin of grumbling and how we need to address that in our own lives and in our kids’ lives. And then you turned the corner and said, “Okay, now let’s talk about how we cultivate gratitude.” And we are going to pick up your message right there. This is part two of Barbara Rainey speaking on the subject of gratitude to a number of young moms.
Barbara Rainey’s Message - How we Cultivate Gratitude:
So, how do we cultivate gratitude in our lives and in our kids and in our family? First of all choose to become a grateful woman first. It starts with you and it starts with me. You are your children’s example and model. When they see what you do they will imitate it don’t they? For good and for bad. It is kind of scary. I did not like that part about being a mom; when my kids would imitate what I did that was not so attractive.
If you complain about the weather when it doesn’t suit you, or you complain about your circumstances when they aren’t what you would like for them to be, and when you don’t like them or the people in your life, the people in your life..... Hmmmmmmmmmmm?
Maybe your in-laws that you don’t get along with, maybe neighbors that rub you the wrong way, or a child in the neighborhood who is really irritating to have around your house, or perhaps it is your husband, perhaps it is somebody you work with or your husband works with; there is always going to be people in our lives that are a little hard to get along with or that we may not enjoy being around as much. And if we complain about them, and our kids know we don’t like them, it is contagious. We need to be grateful women first before we can teach our children to be grateful children.
Secondly, make gratitude a habit in your family. Begin when your kids are little to help them memorize verses. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is so easy for children to remember; “Give thanks in all things for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” They can start with the first three or four words, “Give thanks in all things.” Begin to teach them God’s word on thanksgiving and gratitude. There are a lot of verses in the Bible about thanksgiving and gratitude and God really thinks it is important for us as His children to be grateful. So, begin to do that with your kids.
And then third, I want to challenge you this year the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday of great gratitude in your family. Read these stories to your children, or if they are too young, just begin to tell them; or do like I did when my kids were little and couldn’t listen to the stories for very long and I just had them color pictures that bring gratitude into your Thanksgiving Celebration and begin to train your children to give thanks for things in their lives.
In our family when we have our Thanksgiving meal together, every year, the first thing we do is we read this book. And depending on who is there, if it is just the adults, we read the whole book; it takes about 45 minutes is all to read it from beginning to end. Or if I have a lot of the grandkids around, we sometimes put a video in for the little grandkids, and the older ones who are 5, 6, 7, 8, will sit around the table, and they will interrupt, and they will squirm, and sometimes they color while doing this. But, we will have them sit there and listen; so start by reading stories to them and helping them do that.
After we read the book together as a family, we all go around the table, and everyone of us have a card of some kind, and I usually come up with a different card every year; and we each write down five things we are grateful for. It is sort of like what you were doing at your tables this morning with your three little kernels of corns, on that card.
We have 5 kernels of corn and we each have a card and we each write down 5 things that we are thankful for and we all put our name on it and date it. And then we go around the table after we read the story and we take turns sharing those five things we are grateful for, and we drop a kernel of corn in the basket each time.
It has been a wonderful tradition in our family to focus on what we are grateful for, before we do anything else on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And we keep that focus, no matter how large a group we have or how small a group we have, because it reminds us that gratitude is the reason for Thanksgiving.
I have brought my scrapbook. I have decided over the years, that this scrapbook is as important to me, or more important than my photo albums. And I have a bunch of photo albums! But, this is a scrapbook that has all the cards that we have kept through the years where we have written down what we are thankful for. And it is such a collection of the growth in my kids’ lives and for the work of God in our lives as a family.
There were several years, I don’t know what happened to them; I think they disappeared, but one of the very first ones I have is this one my youngest one did. And she did all the colors and scribbles on this white piece of paper. She was only about 2 ½ and I remember asking her, “Laura, what are you thankful for?” I wrote down what she said on this little scribble page that she had. She said, “I am thankful for John and Lori, I am thankful for daddy, I am thankful for Jesus, for Benjamin and Samuel, for my presents, for my home, and for my blankie.” And that was my favorite part, ‘my blankie.’
Then one of our kids when they were 10 wrote this on their card; this is a daughter, she wrote, “My teacher, my aunt, ‘A-N-T’ spelled aunt, uncle and cousins - ‘CUSINS’, Ashley college – ‘COLGE’, that is ‘college’ because my oldest had just left for college that year, my parents and my friends. So she was very brief and to the point that year.
Another one is from our son, and this was the year he was 15, this is our second son, Samuel, who we discovered that year, had developed a neuro-muscular disease. He was an avid tennis player; played tennis all over the state and was ranked in the state. We were thinking college scholarships, you know? We, as parents begin to think as your kids get older; and you will start doing that someday too. So, we are thinking college scholarships, we are thinking this kid has really got potential and then he developed this disease and he couldn’t run anymore; he couldn’t chase a tennis ball anymore. We found ourselves that summer at Mayo Clinic trying to find out what was wrong, what could we do, how can we fix this, surely there is a way we can fix this? Well, there is no way to fix it. And he still lives with it today as an adult.
That thanksgiving he wrote on his card, “I am thankful that Ashley, my sister, can come home from college. I am thankful for my family.” And then # 3 he wrote, “I am thankful for my disease and for Mayo Clinic.” You know when you hear a 15 year old child express gratitude for something that difficult and that hard, as a parent, you just go, I am so grateful that he is getting it. Now, was he thankful all the time? No! Did he like it? No! But, he expressed faith to God. That God was in control and God had His reasons and God was still acting in good toward him as a 15 year old boy.
And then, one more, this one is from our youngest the year she was 13. She said, “I am thankful for Rebecca and how she handled her surgery. I am glad her knee is better.” Rebecca tore her knee up cheerleading. She said, “I am thankful for Ashley and the little baby that is growing inside of her and that I finally get to be an Aunt.” And she spelled Aunt correctly, by then! “I am thankful that I have a wonderful family, I am thankful that I have a house and clothes and food on the table.” And see this came after we had read our story and she had heard about the Pilgrims again, for about the 10th time in her life. How they didn’t have food and they didn’t have clothes and how they just didn’t have much. She realized that she needed to be thankful for clothes and food and a warm house. And then she said, “I am thankful that I have Jesus in my heart and that I am going to heaven some day.”
So, this book has become a record of what God has done in our lives individually and what God has doing in our kids. It really has become a treasure. So, I encourage you to start this with your kids. Get whatever kind of paper you want to do. Be as creative as you want to be! But, start having them share and write down as soon as they are ably to write, what they are thankful for every year. Keep them and it will become a treasure for your family too.
One last story that I want to read you out of the book, is the story of the second year that the Pilgrims were in Plymouth colony. There conditions hadn’t improved very much, in fact I think in many ways they were probably worse. There was a ship in the summer of 1623 that had been reported lost at sea, but finally showed up and it arrived safely at Plymouth Harbor. The new comers however, were shocked and dismayed at the condition of their friends and relatives. Bradford wrote; William Bradford, who was the governor of the colony and kept a journal, which is where most of this information came from, by the way.
Bradford wrote, “That it was no wonder that the new comers were surprised. The Pilgrims were thin and gaunt wearing ragged clothes, some little better than half naked. The only food they could offer in welcome was a lobster or a piece of fish, with no bread and nothing else, but a cup of spring water.”
Bradford concluded by saying, “but God gave them health and strength in good measure and showed them by experience that the truth of the word in Deuteronomy 8:3, ‘That man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ That harvest season was an abundant one. There was even a surplus to trade with the Indians for what they needed that winter. They had much to celebrate!
Another day of Thanksgiving was planned that year, probably in August or in September. The Indians were again invited with their chief, Massasoit. As they expressed their gratitude and thanksgiving to God they had remembered the famine they had recently experienced. No one would soon forget the meager rations they had lived on for nearly two years. But, though they didn’t soon forget, we have. Nearly 400 years later, we who are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice, pause at the end of the harvest season to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving.
There are many lessons we can learn from this story, but they all come back to faith. The Pilgrims sailed to America because of their faith. They wrote the Mayflower Compact based on God’s word and signed it by faith. They persevered in the harsh climate because of their faith. They befriended the Native Americans because of their faith. Their uncompromising belief in God and His word became the cornerstone of the colony, and in turn the new nation.
May we as Americans remember every year what a rich legacy we have been given, so that we might express gratitude to God and not negligently lose what our fathers have obtained with so much hardship. And so I want to challenge you, as you head into the Thanksgiving season with your family to make it the beginning, it you aren’t already doing so, of an annual tradition of giving thanks as a family to God for all the blessings He has given us.
It would probably take pages and pages and pages if we really began to give thanks for everything that God has done in our lives. We could list way more than five things if we took the time, couldn’t we? We are abundantly blessed!
But the real temptation for us, I think, in our country, is to not be grateful, to slip into ingratitude, and to not be a people who express faith to God in thanksgiving. So, I want to challenge you to initiate that in your family and begin to do that with your children and your husband and your extended family and whomever God brings to you over the Thanksgiving holiday; that you might grow in your faith and grow in your gratitude to God as a family.
Bob: Well, again today, we have been listening to the second part of a message where Barbara Rainey was addressing the subject of gratitude. I was listening, Barbara, I was thinking of Philippians chapter 2, where Paul says really our witness for Christ in the world, is tied to whether we are grumblers or not.
He says, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning so that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” This is fascinating to me that Paul would say your grumbling or your complaining really reflects on the reality of your spiritual condition and sends a message to those who are watching you about what you believe is true about God.
Barbara: That is absolutely true! We are so oblivious to that I think as believers. We think we have rights and we think we should have what we want and we don’t realize that those who are watching are seeing us as no different than themselves. What is going to make the gospel attractive, what made the gospel attractive in the Pilgrims’ lives is that they gave thanks in all things and it was a remarkable witness.
Dennis: There is no question that in a family, it brings out the best in us and the worst in us. We can be discontent and gripe and grumble and complain and I think, Bob, it is why these stories are so important to really imbed vivid pictures of people struggling and suffering and undergoing hardship, but people who learned how to give thanks in all things, and not do as you read there from Philippians chapter 2, who these people weren’t grumbling, griping and complaining. As a result, you read their stories and their lights are shining. They really are a good witness and they do give credence to the gospel.
Bob: You shared that verse with your kids, didn’t you? Philippians 2:1?
Dennis and Barbara: Oh yes!
Barbara: We made them memorize it.
Dennis: They memorized it and nailed it immediately! Completely changed!
Barbara: It was miraculous!
Bob: As soon as they had it memorized their lives were just....
Barbara: Oh Yeah!
Dennis: I am going to tell you something, in our family,...
Dennis: .... it is like changing the course of the Mississippi River.
Bob: Are you saying there is a deep root of grumbling?
Dennis: I’m saying, this devotional has come out of great weakness. I wish I could tell people that this was one of the great strengths of our family. I think it has become more of that, but honestly, I am ashamed at myself, not my kids; me! At points, as the dad of this family, I didn’t demonstrate more of a grateful spirit for them to follow.
Bob: Well, maybe this year at Thanksgiving you can read some of these stories to Dennis?
Bob: See if we can get some change.....
Barbara: Get some change?
Dennis: I have read them, but I am going to tell you that the first story about Corrie Ten Boom, and being in a barracks that is infested with fleas, it is a vivid picture. And all of a sudden you start thinking about what you are complaining about, it brings it into perspective.
Bob: The stories we are talking about are in a devotional book that Barbara Rainey has put together called, Growing Together in Gratitude. In fact we are hoping that all of our listeners will get a copy of this devotional and use it with their family this month.
To help make that happen, here’s what we are doing; we want you to either go online or call us and request a copy of this devotional, Growing Together in Gratitude. All we ask is that you make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We are listener supported, so those donations are what keep us on this station and our network of stations all across the country. So we are just asking that you make a donation; do what you can do and feel free to request a copy of the brand new devotional, Growing Together in Gratitude.
If fact this is so new that we haven’t been able to get it out to anybody else. It is not in bookstores, it is not on Amazon, so if you want to get a copy the only place to get it is at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just click where is says to make a donation and as you fill out the form online there is a key code box, just type the word, “GRATITUDE” in that key code box and we will know to send you a copy of the Growing Together in Gratitude, devotional. Or simply call 1-800-FLTODAY; 1-800-358-6329 and make a donation over the phone and just ask for the Growing Together in Gratitude, devotional.
And let me say ‘Thanks’ for your financial support of the ministry. We really do appreciate your partnership with us and we hope this devotional is something that is a great encouragement to your family this year in November, as you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, we have got copies of Barbara’s book, Thanksgiving a Time to Remember, along with additional resources that we have put together to help your family have a more meaningful Thanksgiving celebration.
Details about Barbara’s book and those other resources can be found on our web site FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and we can explain what resources are available and we can get you set up for Thanksgiving this year. Again the web site FamilyLifeToday.com; the phone number 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.
Now tomorrow we are going to talk more about how we cultivate a heart of gratitude in our children and we are going to hear one of the stories from Barbara’s new, Growing Together in Gratitude devotional. I hope you can join us back for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I am Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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