The Ordinary Life
Most of us live what is considered an ordinary life. We go through life each day with the typical routine of getting up, going to work, doing laundry, shuttling children to their events, and retiring for the evening. The days and months pass by and before we know it, November hits and we are reminded to be thankful.
The retail stores force images upon us, the commercials on television have us grabbing the tissue box, and the Hallmark channel releases heart-warming movies with happy endings. It is that time of the year when even the most ungrateful person finds a reason to be thankful. We look around and begin to be appreciative even in the small things.
A few years ago my husband and I decided as parents we wanted to begin to lay the foundations of thankfulness in our children. To be completely honest, instilling the practice of thankfulness in our children forces us, beckons us as parents to model for them an attitude of appreciation. Beyond Thanksgiving, we wanted our children to recognize how blessed they are and to be thankful for how God has provided for our family daily. We began by asking a simple question, “What are you thankful for?” Most responses seem so child like. “I am thankful I got to eat lunch at school today.” “I am thankful that I got to jump on the trampoline after school.” “I am thankful I got to stay up, watch a movie, and eat candy!”
As they have grown, their thankfulness focus has turned from “I am thankful I got to watch Veggie Tales today,” to “I am glad I met a new friend at school.” As I listen to my children express their thankfulness for what seems like the “mundane” things in life, I am reminded where Christ tells us to come to him as little children, with child-like faith. A childlike faith finds good in the simple things, gives the benefit of doubt, extends grace when there is hurt, and even can be thankful for getting to eat candy before bed!
Being thankful for the small things helps to provide us with eyes that see how blessed we truly are in our lives. We have opportunities to be thankful for something small like having a friend who can be your running buddy, finding a $5 bill in last year’s winter coat that has been packed away, folding laundry which means we have clothes to wear, or a friend sending a text saying that she is praying for you and thankful for your friendship. These are the things in life that swell our hearts with gladness. It is in the ordinary things of life that we find God moving and blessing us.
It seems this time of year more than any other we find ourselves evaluating, assessing our thankfuls in life. We contemplate because we want to have attitudes of gratitude. The challenge of thankfulness is not just being thankful during the Thanksgiving season but creating mind-set of being grateful in the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being thankful that God is in control no matter the circumstances. Being thankful that we woke up this morning with hands and feet that move and eyes that see. Being thankful we live in a country where we can freely worship. Creating a year around attitude of gratitude starts with a speck of gratefulness for the ordinary life so when the big blessings come we have no trouble recognizing them, but we also realize that the ordinary life is our biggest blessing.
Leslie Umstattd has been involved in women’s and children’s ministry areas for over 15 years. Before moving to Missouri in 2008, she was an elementary school teacher in both the public and private sector. She recently graduated from Midwestern Seminary with her Doctorate in Educational Ministry and currently serves as Adjunct Professor in the Christian Education department at Midwestern. She has been married for 12 years and has two daughters.