One day after a chapel speaker reflected on being thankful, my students said “thank you” for everything. “Thank you” when I handed out the worksheets. “Thank you” when I tied their shoes. “Thank you” for a compliment. That was very good, but only lasted about one day! We need to work at being grateful every day, and expressing that gratitude to God and to others.
I was thinking about being thankful after I heard a devotional on making our gratitude known to God and to the people in our lives. We send thank you notes or emails to people to say “thank you” for a gift or for someone’s help, or for thinking of us. Is God hearing “thank you” from us?
In first grade we’ve been discussing thankfulness and praise to God. We had some discussion around “in everything give thanks.” Can I find something for which to be thankful in everything? We did an Alphabet of Thanks as we went through the alphabet and chose something beginning with each letter. This class discussion was interesting and the children had some good ideas. Computers for C, Donuts for D, Eyes for E, Jesus for J, Music for M, School for S, and the United States for U. This is not a novel idea, but it was good to think of being thankful and listing things to be thankful for. We sang “I have much to thank God for” and named things we’re thankful for. Most of the children said, “family,” “home,” “the Bible,” or “food.” The “thinker” said, “the environment!”
Some years we’ve listed what we’re thankful for, writing this on a pumpkin, or making a long list on adding machine paper, and counting it up. We can number into the hundreds if we really think. I decided to list my gratitude that is connected to school.
- Thank you, Mr. Good, for supporting us, listening, advising, and keeping me accountable. I am working harder than before, but I am learning and applying more, and I feel supported in that. Thank you for visiting in my classroom and affirming my work. Thank you for doing the weekly reflections.
- Thank you, parents, for praying for us. Thank you to the many moms who come in to help and to those who grade papers at home for me.
- Thank you, co-teachers, for listening, for checking in on things, for asking how I’m doing, and for laughing at my first-grade stories.
- Thank you, support staff, for all the work you do. Thank you to my aide for cleaning up my desk Thursday!
- Thank you to God for protection. I pray daily for a hedge of protection around our school, and we see that protection when cars drive through the signal of the stopped school bus and the children are somehow prevented from being in the road at those times. Thank you to God for the daily strength and the mercies that are new every morning, and for the wisdom that is given liberally when I ask.
- Thank you to the Holy Spirit for those promptings and for bringing things to mind just when I need them.
- Thank you to God for a job that doesn’t seem like a job! Even when I spend five hours at school on a Saturday. Thank you for this calling and ministry. Thank you for the students you have entrusted to my care this year – all 28 of them.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt