My youngest is learning how to count. So far, he has gotten up to about 14, and then it breaks down from there. Likewise, I am learning how to count as well. But instead of counting numbers, I am learning how to count the blessings in my life. Like Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts (book review here), I am praying that as I count, I am not merely taking inventory of what I have but growing a thankful heart in the process. It seems that it was in the process of counting, of looking, of recognizing, that God begins to change us.
Yesterday, I mentioned that our family is going to start sharing those blessings God has given us during dinner time together. We made it a rule that we could not repeat the same blessing every day (I could just see my older son saying "Legos" or "food" at every meal!) and we also needed to explain why we were thankful for that blessing. While we started with the usual everyday things, I can see that as the days go by, we (myself included) will need to really start paying attention to things beneath the surface.
I wanted a way to write those things down so that we can visually see the abundance that God has blessed us with. I am personally trying to write down those thoughts and capture it visually with a photo, but for my children, they may appreciate something more tangible. I'm not one for more busywork, but I am hoping that by making it visible, it will impress an image into my children's hearts that our God is indeed a good and generous God. A couple ideas came to mind.
Using a gift bag (any kind will do, any size) and paper strips or squares, write down the blessing and explanation and put it in the bag. In the course of a month, the bag will (obviously) begin to fill up. I have read of families who have kept up the practice over a year. Just imagine what the bag looked like then! In times of discouragement, that bag became a visual reminder of God's abundant goodness to them. Reading the contents of the bag and all the little notes brought back to mind all that God has done in the past and gave them hope for the future.
Another possibility takes a little more effort, but can be a wonderful way to decorate our thanksgiving table. I found this link to some beautiful printable links (remember making them to decorate the tree at Christmas?). I would like to write down these blessings as we share them each day and begin a chain to use as a decorative piece around our home. This is something that everyone can get involved in.
I printed them out on kraft cardstock as pictured, but I think colored construction paper in fall colors would also be very beautiful. As the creator mentioned on the blog post, you can also use these as napkin rings or you can cut out the word part and just use that as the beginning of a card to a friend.
What I am praying is that my family and I will begin to not only see the material blessings God has given us but the intangible things. My prayer is that as we keep sharing, our hearts will become more and more sensitized to the Lord's hand in our lives.