I originally posted this blog in 2014. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and survived three life-threatening episodes. I have so much more to be grateful for. Each day, each breath is a gift. I thought I would repost this for anyone interested in being intentional about their thanks during this Thanksgiving holiday….
We have so much to be thankful for, each one of us. We all live in this world that touches us with pain and sadness, but we are all given a choice. We can focus on the bad and live a life of bitterness and acrimony, or we can focus on Christ and the good that He is able to bring out of the bad and live a life of gratefulness and contentment. Paul says this, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:11-12.
We must learn how to be grateful in all things. Gratefulness is something that must be practiced. So many of us today live a life of entitlement, thinking that we have a right and deserve more than we get. It’s so easy to do this; I am one of those people. It is by taking our eyes off of ourselves and placing them on Christ that we are able to live a life of gratefulness. Having a Grateful tree is one way to really focus on those things that God, in His mercy, has blessed us with. We are not entitled to anything; all is a gift!
Because of Christ’s gift, we have hope and because we have hope, we can live with an attitude of gratefulness. There is nothing, nothing but ourselves that can keep us from living a life eternally with Christ; losing a job, being diagnosed with cancer, not even death. It is a daily choice, our choice, to turn our eyes to Him instead of the pain we live with. Using a Grateful tree can help us learn to live with this attitude of gratefulness. Place a tag on the tree everyday. This will soon train you to look at all the gifts you have to be grateful for.
For a few years now our family has been making a Grateful tree. In the past it has been in the library, but I have moved it this year to our dinner table. I love the reminder every time I walk by.
The end of each October the kids and I make 30 tags and each day we take turns filling out a card. I also have them write their name and age on the back of the card. At the end of November, I place the tags in a ziplock bag and save them. I like to be able to see the handwriting of the kids from the previous year and remember what they were thankful for.
This year, I thought we would also use it for Thanksgiving. I made extra tags so that at our Thanksgiving meal, we can each write out something we are thankful for and hang it on the tree. It will not only be a reminder for all we have to be thankful for, but it will also double as my Thanksgiving table decor.
I went to cut my branches this year and realized that I had planted a fern in the urn that I typically use for my tree. So I decided to use the wood that we had to make a birch wood vase. My husband’s amazing in so many ways,but one is his ability to make almost anything I ask. I am trying to be more intentional in learning how to do the project, but often times we do a project together. This was one of those times (the chainsaw he used was a little intimidating, I’m not gonna lie). I love how the vase turned out and how beautiful and natural the Grateful tree looks in it.
If you haven’t made one in the past, I encourage you to make one this year. It’s as easy as finding a pot, cutting some branches off your tree in your yard (I strip the leaves once they start dying so that all that are left are the branches), and using rocks to hold the tree branches in place if need be. You can print the tags for free from one of my favorite bloggers or you can make them yourself with your kids.
Making the tags are simple and fun.
- Cut the cardstock paper using a paper cutter or scissors to your desired size. We made our tags 2 inches in width by 2.5 inches in length.
- Then cut strips of paper to add little pops of fall color and glue those onto the tags. We made ours 2 inches in width and 0.5 inches in length. You can glue them onto the top and the bottom or just the top or just the bottom; make it however you like it.
- Punch a hole at the top using a hole punch.
- Insert twine through the hole and tie a knot at the top.
I am praying that on Thanksgiving day I will be able to hang on our Grateful tree a tag that says “David’s death“. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe Christ is asking me to be thankful that my brother is gone; I am not thankful for the tragic event and I will forever wish he was still with us. But when I am able to hang this tag on my Grateful tree, I know I am no longer focusing on his death, but instead on what Christ can do with it, in it. And that for me, is the difference. The Bible says “IN everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears…. I welcome your prayers.
Will you join me in this? Do you have a tragedy of your own that you need to surrender over to God and find gratefulness in? If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments section so that I may add you to my prayer list.