This past weekend the wonderful Relevant sponsors blessed us with soooo many gifts (check the sponsors out here).

The last night of the conference I sat next to a Family Matters representative, Karis Murray. She and I had a great conversation about mothering and grace (hoping to have a review of “Grace Based Parenting” soon!). My take-away from what she taught me: remember to give my children the freedom to be different, freedom to be vulnerable, freedom to be candid AND (the kicker) the freedom to make mistakes.

During the dinner sponsored by Incourage (online community for Christian women, division of DaySpring), we discovered that one person from each table was going home with 2 beautiful glass hurricane vases etched with the words “Giving” on one and “Thanks” on the other.  I WON!! (thank you Karis for helping me find the sticky note under my seat…tricky for a preggo to reach!).

Determined to get these gorgeous vases home, I stuffed them with clothes, wrapped them in a blanket & gently placed them in my small carry-on. Sadly, I opened my bag in Dallas to discover one of the vases had broken.

Ironically, I didn’t stop to take a picture of my “broken thanks” vase. Immediately it was in the trash and I missed the lesson God had for me (thank you Craig for opening my eyes).

The moment Halloween is over (and even before!) Christmas items are available everywhere. Christmas music starts playing. Typically these celebrations aren’t focused on gratitude for the arrival of God on earth. We just love the warm & cozy feelings associated with a beloved holiday. Which I totally understand…

 A local radio station takes a counter-cultural stand and waits to play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, claiming to keep the “thanks in Thanksgiving.” I also think this is an admirable stance for them to take. For myself I want to go beyond gratitude in November.

The book “One Thousand Gifts” opened my eyes to the spiritual discipline of gratitude. True communion, joy & peace comes in thanking God for His gifts of grace…every day (not just Novemeber)… in the mundane tasks and trials.

Let’s not allow each other’s “thanks” to be broken. Let us challenge one another. Open our eyes to His gifts each day.

Some people write their gifts down in a list. For me saying out loud: “Thank you Lord for…” helps me be present in that moment with gratitude.  Verbalizing my gratitude has unintentionally become a model of contentment and joy for my children.

The sweetest sound to my ears is when my young boys stop to thank God for a gift in their day.

Imagine how sweet it sounds to our Father, the Ultimate “grace-based parent” and gift Giver, when we stop in the midst of the busyness to offer “thanks”?

He gives us freedom to decide if we will stop and thank Him. He gives us freedom to make the mistake of not thanking Him. Ultimately, it is ourselves that suffer when we chose to focus on what’s wrong in our day. It is to our detriment when we chose to be discontent instead of grateful.

In the freedom the Father has given you, what will you chose? Joy that comes from verbalizing “thanks”? or frustration that comes from a heart of discontentment, “broken thanks”?

{2 Corinthians 9:15} “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

{Ephesians 5:20} “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

{1 Chronicles 16:34} “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”