Cultivating Gratitude at Home

While our first three children were still very young, my husband and I sold or gave away most of our stuff, packed the rest in a small attic room at the in-law's house and heeded the call to foreign missions. We moved to Kenscoff, Haiti in March 2000 with a bunch of Rubbermaid boxes that held all our belongings and needs for the field. Our mountain top retreat from the heat of the city, had no working refrigerator, a gas stove, infrequent electricity (meaning that it mostly came on in the dead of night), and the city was repairing the water pipes so we had to funnel rainwater from our roof. The kids all shared one room and my babies crib was one of the old Rubbermaid boxes with the lid removed. Bath water had to be heated and the toilet had to be flushed manually. Beans and rice or rice with beans sauce were our dinner choices. We went to sleep with the sun and woke up with it and the kids loved every minute. Every thing we did we did together, from visiting a village, hosting a mission team, was as a family.

When we came off the field I prayed that those experiences would stay with my kids even with their young ages and as time has gone by we continue to look for ways to serve as a family. Whether it is giving of our time or our talent to our local church, we encourage the kids to find ways to serve others. Feeding the homeless, praying for our city, saving up to give to missions, every opportunity counts. Each of our children needs to see life through the lens of someone else's situation and perspective.

Ways we are trying to cultivate gratitude in our home:

  • A Bible is a luxury for some people. Every morning my husband does devotions with the kids and we pray for an unreached people group. They discuss if the people has a Bible in their own language and how many Christians if any are present within the group. Our youngest son, in his own prayer time took it heart and when praying even for our family members always asks if they have a Bible...the concept is reaching home. 
  • Christmas is for giving. At Christmas time, our small group gathered items for deployed soldiers and packed them into stockings to be distributed by another ministry. The children made cards thanking the soldiers for their sacrifices to keep us free. My son's class also collected and packed items for children in a village in the Dominican Republic that burned. For a countdown to Christmas we always make a paper chain with the names of people we want to pray for over the season. Each night we remove one link of the chain and pray for a family member, teacher, pastor, friend, the President, whoever's name we have written on the link.
  • Make a change. I purchased a vintage metal globe bank similar to the one we used when I was a little girl in Sunday School. As we find change lying around the house, or in the car, we all put it in the bank and once a month our church does a collection and gives the proceeds to missions. Over the years our church has raised the funds to build numerous churches in Thailand.
These are just a few ideas that I've tried over the years. The possibilities are endless, the key is to do something and get your kids involved!

If you want some really great encouragement on how to cultivate gratitude in your own home, check out Kristen Welch's new book here.


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