It's November, and this is when we make our "Thanksgiving Tree". Our kids actually call it the "Thanks Tree". It's not my idea - it came from our former Family Minister, Cheryl Flaim. She used a tree branch and attached leaves to it that had things to be thankful for written on them. We didn't have room in our house for a branch that would most likely be knocked over and broken in our household, but we did have a space on the refrigerator! It's in a central location, and very visible because, after all, how many times do you visit the kitchen? Especially the refrigerator?
So what is the "ThanksTree?" First I draw a tree on a piece of paper and hang it up, then cut out leaves. Every day, each member in the family gets a leaf and writes something that he or she is thankful for. Then that leaf is glued to the tree. It causes us each day to stop and think of something that we are thankful for. By the time Thanksgiving comes, the tree is a beautiful array of different colored leaves, and it gives us a chance to really see how truly blessed we are.
Too often we are dissatisfied with what we have or what we don't have. Society tends to focus on the negative, and we can get caught up in that sea of negativity. It's a chance for us to stop and see the things we are thankful for, as well as an opportunity to help instill in the next generation an attitude of thankfulness. Did you notice the words on the tree? It says "Thank you Jesus". It says the same thing on the other side, only in Russian. Russian is our family's second language. It's important to not to have an attitude of thankfulness, but to direct that thanks to God.
It's important to be sure to thank God. Sometimes we hear people say "I am thankful." It doesn't mean that person is actually thanking God for anything. A Christian might say that and have the meaning that it is towards God, but for many people, it has nothing to do with God. One of my favorite songs is "You Won't Relent" by Jesus Culture. Part of the song says "I don't wanna talk about you, like you're not in the room. I wanna look right at you, wanna sing right to you." When we are "thankful" but don't direct our thanks directly to Him, then it becomes impersonal. God desires that we tell Him directly "thank you", and to be specific about what we are thanking Him for.
A "Thanks Tree" isn't necessary, but it's a good visual reminder about what God has done and what God is doing at this time. Then, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we stop and remember all the things we have been thankful for during the whole month, and take time to thank Him directly. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of life and not take that time to see the blessings - even the simple blessings. Today one of my kids wrote that he is thankful for cucumbers. It doesn't seem deep, and yet I think God desires to hear our heart felt thanks for even the simple things - like cucumbers!
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