Posted in faith, general education, homeschool, more seeds, parents, social-emotional, special education, spirit

Living a Life of Gratitude

Ungratefulness: The Price of a Hectic Life

The world we live in can be a real doozie…

Right now, my desk is littered with planning materials for summer school and the fall, a pile of mail to sort (most of it junk), bills to pay, to-do lists, my partially completed journal for the day, a coffee cup that wants more coffee, and several cans with markers and colored pencils for my Bible journaling that never seems to get done…

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life. Sometimes, the brain can be so full of things to do, worries and anxieties, appointments, and past conversations that there is no quiet, not even on the inside. The availability of information on a myriad of electronic devices only makes this worse.

Our kids feel the same pressure. And, in a paradox that hurts the hearts of people in my generation, they eschew the very things that ease the heart of a small child: sunshine, unstructured play, face-to-face time with friends, family outings.

It is not surprising that, in all that busy-ness, people of all ages become bitter and negative about things. We miss the good things that we have, because we are so focused on what we need to do and what we don’t have.

Building Gratitude

Fortunately, it is never too late to teach ourselves and our kids how to be grateful. Building gratitude starts with small steps, just like learning to read. These small steps cause us to pause in a hectic life, and consider the goodness that we already have. By simply changing the way we think about events, we can learn to be content in all things, as the Apostle Paul taught us.

Ten Ways to Practice Gratitude

Learning to be grateful is a process. Here are ten simple things anyone can do to begin a lifetime practice of gratitude.

  1. Say “thank you,” and say it often. Saying “thank you” isn’t just good manners. It lets the other person know that you appreciate him and what he’s done for you. My husband and children always says thank you to me after a meal, and we always say thank you to my husband when he cooks – we give thanks to God, and then honor the cook! Thank the postal carrier, thank the cashier at Stop and Shop… just say, “Thank you!”
  2. Recognize “stinking thinking” – and eliminate it. I once worked with an excellent teacher at a correctional facility.She had a poster in the front of the room entitled, “Accountable Speech.” On one side, she wrote negative self-statements her students made: “I’m so stupid” – “We’ll never get jobs” – “I can’t do that” – “That’s just how it is.” Next to each statement, she re-wrote it with a positive mindset: “I don’t understand that – can you explain it to me?” – “I need help finding a good job” – “I can’t do that YET” – “That’s how it was – but things can change.” Re-think the words you speak over yourself. Build yourself up with your own words.
  3. Share 3 good things that happen to you each day. When my kids were little, it was like pulling teeth to find out how their days were. So, during our afterschool snack, I asked them to tell me three good things and one not-so-good thing. This helped them focus on the good (even if it was “Jacob’s mom brought in cupcakes for his birthday”) and still honors thThee bumps in the road – in a balanced way. Try it with your kids.
  4. Make a “100 list.” I had a class once that included quite a few teens with depression and anxiety. I started this task when one of them was going through a rough patch. They grew to like it so much that they asked to be able to do it on days that weren’t going so well for the class – instead of the scheduled task. Simply start a list of things that you are thankful for. The idea is that the first 25 are rather concrete and often materialistic (new jewelry, a vacation, payday…). As you get to 75 and above, however, you get to the real things to be thankful for: still being alive, being clean and sober, being reunited with family…
  5. Start a gratitude journal. It can be devoting one day a week (maybe Sunday) to a gratitude entry in the journal or planner you already use. Or you can challenge yourself, for 30 days, to write down one thing you’re grateful for, each day. Just write it down!
  6. Complete a Gratitude Challenge. There are so many 30-day challenges online these days. Pick one and dedicate yourself to it for a month. If you’re really dedicated and committed, try working through Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy for an entire year.
  7. Think of the upside of things. My pastor used to say, “Don’t complain about the light bill. Thank God you have electricity. Some don’t.” For almost any trouble you have, you can take the “glass half full” viewpoint. When you catch yourself (or your kids) looking at a half-empty glass, rephrase the statement.
  8. Give up something you love for a week. A friend of mine used to have her kids each pick out 2-3 toys to keep in their rooms. The rest would be lovingly packed and put in the attic. Every month or so, they’d “shop” in the attic, swapping out their toys for ones they stored. They grew to better appreciate the ones they kept in their rooms, as well as the ones in storage. Try doing without something for a time – you’ll be more grateful for it when you return to it!
  9. Start and end your day with gratitude. My journal has space for me to write down 3 things that I am grateful for upon awaking, and 3 things I am grateful for before retiring for the evening. I made a word cloud of June’s entries – the bigger the word, the more times I mentioned it. This was a good reminder for me about what really matters.
  10. Read one prayer of thanksgiving from the Bible, each day. King David wrote many songs of thanksgiving in the book of Psalms. If you’re not sure what a prayer of thanksgiving is, All About Prayer has a good article to read.
gratitude word cloud
My June gratitude word cloud… The bigger the word, the more times I mentioned it in the month.

Find Peace in Gratitude

As a parting thought, I want to share with you a gospel song that gets me in the tear ducts and heart every time I sing it. Blessings to you, and God bless your journey toward a life of gratitude.

Posted in faith, spirit

Bible Memorization: Helpful Resources for Working with Kids

{Originally posted at “On Planting Seeds,”  October 2, 2012, This post contains affiliate links}

Memorizing Bible Scriptures

I discovered a great addition to our home Bible study tools on Pinterest.

Hubbard’s Cupboard has downloadable resources that can be used to help your kids (and you!) memorize important Scriptures:

  • Joyful Heart Tune Charts: Colorful drawings and key scriptures, set to familiar childhood tunes.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Charts: These look like the tune charts, without reference to the tune.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Copywork: Primary or regular ruled lines, with the Scripture at the top.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Strips: The words of the Scripture, to cut out and re-order to create the text.

Also included are ideas on how to create Scripture binder, “Go-Fish” style card games and other activities, using these four resources.

Our Bible Study Plan

We used Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt in Grade 6, then Joshua through Malachi and Ancient Greece in Grade 7,  by Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason. There are suggested readings and activities for the whole family, as well as grade-appropriate tasks — truly a one size fits all program. I love the way it intertwines Bible reading, the history of the lands and people of the Bible, and supportive reading from both historical fiction and non-fiction sources.

The core text is, of course, the Bible. We have used The Everyday Life Bible, by Joyce Meyer (click on the photo for ordering information), but use whatever bible you have at home. Some folks recommend a study bible, which includes explanations of the geographical, social and political background of the readings. Others say the Bible should stand true all by itself. It’s really up to your personal preference.

As we go through the Bible, I am printing out the associated resources (if any) from Hubbards’ Cupboard, or using my own narration activities.

Finally, we are creating a Child Training Bible.

See my Pinterest Board, Home Bible Studies, for more ideas.

{ This blog is featured in Top 100 Special Education Blogs}

Posted in faith, how-to, spirit

Four Bible Study Activities

Christ and The Pharisees
With these four Bible study tips, students can find meaning in even the most difficult passage.

Note: The following is a post I published several years ago. In it, I describe several ways you or your high school-aged student/child can conduct a personal Bible study. I hope you find it helpful.

~ With Blessings, from Kim (6/2/2019)

Sometimes, when I study a passage, I like to look carefully at the words that are used. If we believe that all Scripture is inspired by God and complete, then the various translations should contain patterns and trends within their covers, that reveal the underlying message from the Almighty, despite variations in the specific words used. In this article, I will share with you four different word study activities that I use sometimes as part of my Bible study. Any one of them brings me new insight. I hope they bless you, too.

Yesterday, I was reading from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9, verses 9-13, where Matthew joins Jesus, leaving his business as a tax collector without another thought:

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,”he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Activity #1: Counting the Words

There are 108 words in this passage, and the words “tax collectors” and “sinners” occur a total of 5 times, with the word “Jesus” appearing three times. The words “disciples” and “Pharisees” are present twice, each. No individual word, except the word “and,” occurs more than three times. The phrase “tax collector” meant more to the Jews of Jesus’ time than it does to us now. The tax collectors were local business people who were paid by the Roman government to collect local taxes. In addition to collecting the required taxes, they collected a fee, sometimes steep, from the citizens: in effect, they ripped them off through a form of graft. The taxpayers knew this, but had no choice but to patronize them. As a result, they were not at all well-liked by the citizens OR the Romans; hence, it is almost always associated with the word, “sinner” in the New Testament. We can see by the most mentioned characters (Jesus and the tax collectors/sinner), that this passage is mostly about sinners, and God’s view of the sinner.

Activity #2:  God’s Way/The World’s Way

The message of this scripture is the difference between the way that Jesus and the Pharisees treated the lesser members of society. So I decided, next, to examine each word phrase, to compare the godly way of perceiving the sinner (Jesus’ actions), versus the worldly way (those of the Pharisees). I read each phrase, then decided whether it was speaking of God’s view of things, or a world view, and sorted them. Here is the result:

God’s Way of Relating to the Sinner

  • “Jesus went on from there…” – God never ceases looking for those in need
  • “… he saw a man, Matthew…” – God actually notices us; as Miles McPherson says it, He sees the “saint within the sinner”
  • “Follow me…” – God calls us to Him and wants us to walk with Him
  • ” … having dinner at Matthew’s house…” – God fellowships with the sinner
  • … on hearing this… ”  God hears  the bad things that are said about the sinner
  • ” … It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” – God considers our sin a curable sickness
  • “Go and learn what this means … ” – God wants us to not just know the Word, but understand and live it
  • “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” – How we treat sinners is more important than gifts we give to God
  • “I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” – Jesus came to gather the sinners

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like you? But, more importantly, does it sound like me?

The World’s Way of Relating to the Sinner

  • When the Pharisees saw this…” – The world minds the sinner’s affairs from afar
  • ” … they asked His disciples…” – The world talks about sinners behind their backs
  • “Why does your teacher…” – The world does not claim Jesus as its teacher
  • “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – The world questions kindness toward sinners and  refuses to associate with sinners.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Does this sound like you? But, more importantly, does it sound like me?

At the tax collector
Matthew’s story of the tax collector reminds us that we are ALL sinners… and Jesus loves us just as we are!

Activity #3: How Does God See Me?

For a glimpse at how God sees me, I can also do this exercise: take the Scripture, and substitute my name, or the words, “me” or “I” wherever I see reference to either tax collectors or sinners. It would look a little like this —

As Jesus went on from there, he saw me sitting in my . “Follow me,” he told me, and I got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at my house, many [of my friends] came and ate with him and his disciples. When the [church folk] saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with Kim and her friends?”  On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but Kim [does]. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but Kim.”

Wow… Jesus came to my office and asked me to make a dinner party for Him! AND He told the church folk that He came to the neighborhood JUST FOR ME!

Activity #4: Where do I need to check myself?

Okay. Now for the moment of truth. Let’s do the same activity, except this time substitute my name, “me” or “I” wherever they mention the Pharisees. I can substitute, in the place of “tax collectors” or “sinners” any group of people that is in need in my community, or an individual person:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a drug addict sitting [at the street corner]. “Follow me,” he told him, and the drug addict got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner [with the addict] at [the shelter], many drug addicts and alcoholics came and ate with him and his disciples. When I saw this, I asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat [at the shelter] with drug addicts and alcoholics?” On hearing this, Jesus said [to me], “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I don’t know about you, but whenever I do this activity, substituting my own name wherever I see the name of someone who is living according to the flesh, there is always a particular line that gives me a “twinge.” When this happens, I have to stop and think about why.

I hope you found any of these study ideas helpful. Be well, and be blessed!