The other day, I caught myself complaining over a product I received in the mail that wasn't satisfactory. I let the disappointment frustrate me for the afternoon.
Meanwhile four little bodies were watching me. It really wasn't a big deal because I could return what I bought, but that was a hassle. Who has time for that? When you're so accustomed to two-day shipping, anything longer feels like an eternity. And I wanted to wear those new winter boots now.
That night, my daughters sat down at our kitchen table to color some trees they printed out on the computer.
"Mom, in the trees we are going to write out what we're thankful for," my oldest daughter Bekah said. We'd done this activity the last few years around Thanksgiving.
And there was my reminder again.
I nodded my head as I stared into her big sparkly green eyes, and I felt conviction. I was mad my boots didn't fit and hurt my feet when I walked in them.
Mama hadn't been so thankful. She then wrote these words on her tree:
Dad & Mom
Her thankfulness had everything to do with people, relationships, and precious fur ball creatures that bring delight.
It begins in the heart. It's a choice we can make every day in how we choose to live and teach our children.
Truth is, I'm not entitled to perfect products, quick lines at the grocery store, or anything for that matter. I live in America for crying out loud. I have all my needs met and then some. Everything else boils down to "wants." Everything we have in this country is a blessing. Everything I own has practically been given to me anyway.
If I want my kids to be grateful people and turn into the kind of adults people want to be around, then it starts with me as their mom in how I model gratefulness and live it out. If I'm selfish, entitled, rude, or constantly complaining, then I can't be surprised if my kids turn out to be unappreciative.
It starts with how I react when I don't get my way. How I speak to my children, my husband, and others. How I give to those in need. How I think and serve others before myself. How I remind my children that a warm bed, hot food on the table, and a roof over our heads is something to thank God for every single night.
I won't always get it right. Something else will probably make me complain this week, but I know better. When I look at my daughters' beautifully colored trees on the wall, I'll remember once again that raising grateful kids first starts with me.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. Her writing appears regularly on Her View From Home, TODAY Parenting, KirkCameron.com, and For the Family. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
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