Some of you may have heard of Ann Voskamp’s best-selling book One Thousand Gifts. In that book, she explores the secret to a joyful life. Not surprisingly, she returns to a truth of Scripture : “in everything give thanks.” (I. Thess. 5:18) It is in gratitude that we learn the secret of joy. As we begin to truly see the nature of life – that all good gifts are from God, and that there are so many gifts! – our orientation turns from grumbling and gloom to delight and joy.
As the new year begins, finding joy in the aftermath of vacations and celebrations can be challenging. Math, spelling, and grammar aren’t usually considered joyful endeavors for most of us. While the year is still young, consider folding in a new habit for your school focus – thanksgiving. I’ve been challenged to take up Ann’s Joy Dare this year. (www.aholyexperience.com) She encourages me to look for three “gifts” each day and write them down while giving thanks. Having that idea before me each morning turns the day into a treasure hunt!
You can make this “gift hunt” as general or specific as you like. You could just keep a tablet somewhere handy to your daily focal point (that’s the dining room at my house) and ask the kids at lunch or dinner time to name three “gifts” that they’ve seen that day. Be sure you’re contributing as well! If you need the guidance of a more specific approach, you could consider Charlotte Mason’s recommendations for daily organization. She said that each day children need something or someone to love, something to do, and something to think about. These can provide good categories for thanksgiving. What evidences of love are you thankful for today? What activity or job are you glad you got to do? What idea, story, music, part of nature, or art was a gift or blessing today? With these categories in place at the beginning of the morning, you’ll be more aware of the gifts that come your way each day.
Ultimately, turning our hearts to thank God for these things creates deep and lasting joy. As we get older, we begin to realize that even difficult things hold hidden blessings, and we learn to give thanks for those things as well. The fact that we get to learn this supremely important lesson along with our children in our homeschool is a huge gift. It’s at the top of my thanksgiving list!