In Colorado, we enjoy the predictably unpredictable and dramatic changes in the weather. Yesterday I was in the mountains and was perfectly comfortable in jeans and a tank top; today a few inches of slushy snow cover everything and a branch and dozens of leaves have fallen from my neighbors tree onto my car. (Don’t worry! It was a small branch!)
Simple things become magical when it snows. Enough writers have harped on it enough times, I’m sure I have. But have you ever heard anyone mention how wonderful it is, when you take out the recycling to the garage, and the nippiness of the garage makes you all the more thankful for the warm-cozy of where you live? It’s a little reminder to be thankful, that nippy garage.
Yesterday Miss Ellie woke up from her nap in less than an ideal mood. Nothing was good enough. Everything that happened or was said to her was met with harumphing and complaint. I so often completely lose my temper in these situations. But yesterday God gave me the wisdom to remember how I react, (or even how I had reacted that very afternoon) when things aren’t going perfectly my way.
So instead of completely losing it, by grace I asked her to sit in the chair and think of five things that she was thankful for. She was still fussing and having a hard time, so I helped her by starting with a few. She was fussing that she wanted me to sit with her, though I was in the kitchen trying to get dinner in the oven. So I asked,
“Are you thankful you have a Mommy who loves you? That you have good food to eat? That you have a nice house to live in, and a nice house to move into soon?”
Each question was met with a little “yeah”….and slowly the whining came to a stop. As she began to think in her head the things I knew she was thankful for…and then I asked her to come up with five of her own. She had started fussing again.
“The ones I helped with don’t count sweetie. You are going to need to sit in that chair and think of things to be thankful for, until you are cheered up and content!”
So she thought. And she said, “I’m thankful for our new house*. I’m thankful we got to have lunch with Daddy. I’m thankful for the wonderful toys I have to play with….”
And it worked. When she thought about and listed the thankful things in her heart, her heart shifted from discontented to joyful. And we had a wonderful evening together.
She and I both need to count these thankful things. Ann Voskamp was on to something as she taught us to count in One Thousand Gifts. “Eucharisteo precedes the miracle.”
And it keeps occurring to me, that God is not a parent telling us to go to our room and “fix our attitude” for his sake, when he tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18;
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
There are so many reasons why this would be “the will of God” for us. But I don’t think he’s saying this because he deserves our thanksgiving or our worship, even though he does. He’s not saying it because our whining annoys him, though I imagine it might. He’s not even saying it because our discontentment is a clear sign of distrust in his goodness and sovereignty in each and every moment of our days, although it is.
I think he tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances” because he knows its good for us. And he is our Heavenly Father, without equal, who loved us to the point of death. And gives us repeatedly in our sinfulness, good, good gifts that will teach us to lead lives of thankfulness, and joy; no matter the circumstances.
So today as I am doing the dishes and looking out the window, I am thankful for a warm place to be, and plenty of cocoa on the stove. I am thankful that my children get to play in the snow, and that we all have appropriate clothing to wear. I am thankful for the time we got to spend around the table, just eating and watching the snow fall. And I’ll try to take things slower, so I can count every single gift as it comes to me.
*Ellie still calls the house we moved to in May ‘new’ before anyone else sends me panicked texts that we are moving! Lol