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Reflecting on Your Blessings at Thanksgiving

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2022 5:00 am

Reflecting on Your Blessings at Thanksgiving

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 24, 2022 5:00 am

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the blessings God has given us and express our gratitude for His bountiful grace and mercy. Becky Kopitzke, will share fun ideas to incorporate gratitude into your family’s Thanksgiving traditions.


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I was really struggling as we walked through the aftermath. It just felt like every day was a struggle. It was hard to breathe sometimes. It was hard to just function day to day. And it was so lonely. When Kari learned of her husband's affair, she felt betrayed by God. She lost hope until she heard a Focus on the Family podcast. The reason why I listened to it over and over again is because it felt like I was sitting down with a friend who was telling me, like, I've been there and it's okay. And you can do this and I promise in the end it's going to be worth it. And it just broke me in a good way.

I'm Jim Daly. Working together we can heal more broken marriages like Kari's and give families hope. Please call 800 the letter A in the word family.

That's 800-AFAMILY. Or donate at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash hope. And your gift will be doubled. For my own kids, I try to teach them there are other kids around you. And just as you said, open your eyes. And the importance of doing that is when we open our eyes, it causes us to recognize beyond ourselves that there are people all around us. There are people that we can serve.

And it helps us to get out of our own head. That's Becky Kapitsky and she joins us today on Focus on the Family. Thank you for being with us. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. John, before we launch into our program today, let me say Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Focus on the Family to you.

Let me ask you, John, does Thanksgiving tradition, what do you guys do? Oh, it's usually a lot of people. And for many, many years, especially when the kids were younger, we had two or three families getting together, which meant 20 kids. There was always activity, lots of things. And then as the kids got older, they started inviting their friends over to our house. And so that meant we had 15 or 20 people in the house.

Yeah, that's for sure. We tease Jean. So funny because Jean wants to go around the table.

I think we're going to have 14 people this year. Big table. You got your kids table, the adult table, that whole thing. But she wants to hear why everybody is thankful. And we have done this every year. And we start laughing and we say, OK, let's go to why everybody's thankful. But it really ends up being the highlight of the Thanksgiving dinner right at the end when we're all done and kicking back. We just go around the table and talk about looking over the last year. What are we thankful for? That's a good practice.

Yeah. And so I hope that you in your heart or expressed after that big piece of pumpkin pie can think about what you're thankful for. You know, Paul writes in First Thessalonians 518, give thanks in all circumstances, not some all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So today we want to highlight ways you can bless your family and others during Thanksgiving, stemming from a heart of gratitude and Thanksgiving. Our friend Becky has some great thoughts on how to do that. And Becky Kupetsky has been here before. She's married to Chad.

They have two girls, Clara and Noel, and she coaches Christian writers and speakers, podcasters and creators and is an author herself. And we've talked about this book. We're coming back to it because it's so good. It's called Love Because How to Change the World One Blessing at a Time.

And of course, we have copies of that here. Click the link in the show notes. Becky, welcome back to Focus. Thank you. It's so fun to be here. It's always fun. It's you bring the fun. You're like the party in the box. It is a holiday today, so we ought to be having a party.

That's exactly right. You know, you're the mom. You know this, you're the mom of two girls. Did you know that?

Last I checked, I still am. How old are your girls? They are now 15 and 12. Oh, that is so, ours are 22 and 20 and I would love to go back there. It sounds funny, but it's just such a great time. It is really a fun time. So what is something at Thanksgiving that you guys have done as a tradition? Well, as a tradition, we do get together with all of the family and we.

You sound pretty excited about that. I love all of the family. Mom and dad, she didn't mean it that way. We have to get together with all the family.

Okay, so you're together. Yes, I love the extended family. But for us, our traditions largely surround food and just the idea of recognizing and counting our blessings. I am that mom. No, I'm with Jean here because I am that mom who says, let's really think about what are we thankful for? Where has God blessed us? And let's not be afraid to talk about it.

And I get the same jokes. Okay, mom says we have to talk about what we're thankful for. But it is good. We give them the opportunity to do that. And as we go around that table, people actually start to pipe up and say, well, I am thankful for this and this and this.

And maybe they haven't even thought about it all year round. So it just gives us an opportunity to do that. You know, Thanksgiving, just generally the attitude of Thanksgiving. Why do you think that would be important to God that his creation, you know, expresses Thanksgiving?

Kind of like where he's coming from. Absolutely. We owe it all to him. We owe everything to him. And so Thanksgiving is not just for the capital T, Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving should be something we do daily. The Bible is filled with verses and passages on the importance of gratitude, the importance of generosity, of God's generosity to us. And if we think that top of mind on a day to day basis, our outpouring ought to be thanks for everything he's given us. It's so good. Now, with kids, we all have, you know, children, you know, anywhere from your youngest girl to how old's your oldest child?

He's in his mid thirties. OK, there we go. That's well, you never stop that parenting relationship.

No, it's always good. But in that context, you know, younger kids today, there's so much, seemingly so much an attitude of entitlement that, you know, to be thankful when you're saying, well, of course, I deserve this trophy. I showed up, but that's not really how it works. So how how do we as Christian parents, how do we battle that attitude of entitlement with our teens and 20 somethings even? Yeah, well, I recognized a while back that the important step that all parents ought to take, I was not doing this well, is to model it for them.

There you go. Am I modeling gratitude for my kids when I think throughout a day what I'm complaining about or what I'm feeling like I deserve and I'm not getting? What am I teaching them? I'm not teaching them gratitude by my own actions. So that becomes key, especially as the kids get older and enter this age of a lot of people will joke that teenagers are all entitled, but maybe it's because they picked it up from us.

Are there practical things you do to cultivate a sense of gratitude in your life? Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, first of all, I recognize my own mouth.

What is coming out of my mouth? Right. And so it's it's things like stepping in front of the refrigerator and complaining there's nothing here to eat. Well, is that really true? Well, in fact, you had a story about that.

What happened? I opened up the refrigerator and got to feed these people again. It's dinnertime. It's dinnertime.

It's nearing dinnertime. And we hadn't been to the grocery store in a while. And so what we had were leftovers or a few scraps here and there. Our scraps is actually someone else's feast, if you think about it. There are people in this world, in our own communities who are not blessed with the same abundance of food that we have. I have a pantry that I can't even walk into because it's so filled with snacks from Costco.

Right. And so the fact that I thought I had nothing to make for dinner was really a perspective issue for me. I needed to step back and say, wait a minute, we are so blessed with this abundance of food. And the kids would probably be thrilled if I made pancakes for dinner because we can always make pancakes.

I would be thrilled. Right. And so it's that attitude that I don't have what I need or I'm focused on what I want and isn't right in front of me. Instead of counting all of these blessings and these opportunities that God has given us in our own families, because the kids are watching me. You know, I have to deal with that between the Lord and me.

Right. If I have an issue with my gratitude, that's between the Lord and me. But there are people in my household who are watching. Well, when Jean's out for the evening or something, if she's out with girlfriends, what I don't tell her is we used to have cereal night.

Of course you do. She of course planned a big meal. But I said, how about some cereal, boys? They were like, Dad, that's great.

You probably look forward to it, right? It became a special treat. I'm pretty sure that right now I am here in Colorado Springs and my family's back in Wisconsin. Pretty sure last night was a takeout night. You know, there were burgers involved or something that had nothing to do with mom's plan for nutritious meals.

Actually, because there was no food in the fridge. No. No. Right.

All we had were packs of chips. Yeah. I like that. Well, Becky, you had a moment where you realized that being thankful could really change your relationship with your husband. It sounds like it was kind of a mundane day, but something popped in your head. Some light bulb went off.

What happened? Absolutely. It was an average day as most of our lessons begin as an average day. But my husband had grilled some dinner for the family, especially in the summertime.

That's pretty standard. He'll grill something and then I'll handle the side dishes. And we're going through our routine.

This is just the division of labor in our family. And we all ate the dinner and I'm thinking ahead to the dishes that I've got to do. But instead I took a second and I looked up at him and I said, thank you for grilling. And it was as though the environment around us just softened a bit because I acknowledged that even though the assumption in our family is that he will grill and I will make the corn or the rice or I will do the dishes, that division of labor is more than just something we assume of each other.

It's a way that we're serving the family. And when I stopped for a second and told him thank you for that, I realized that this is something he does on a regular basis. And I've just not even been acknowledging it.

I've been taking for granted. Now, would you say that if the meat was burnt a little bit? Thank you for grilling. My meat's a little burnt. I'll tell you, I actually prefer it that way. Well, I'm kind of I think I'm offering my lack of skills here, but my beef skills are usually a little over the fried side. Because it's not the result that matters. Oh, good.

So you're off the hook here, Jeff. OK, that makes me feel better. Because, you know, I burn carrots for goodness sake. And it's the effort that we're taking on a day to day basis to care for the family, to care for the household. And when we acknowledge that, I think we just meet this inherent need that we all have to feel seen and to feel as though we've done something that has contributed. Right. And I like that idea of a thankful heart toward your spouse.

That's what you're saying. Find something to be thankful about. And it doesn't have to be something big. It can be the fact that he mowed the lawn. I try to make an effort if my husband has mowed the lawn.

I don't want to mow the lawn. So I'll say thank you for doing that, just to acknowledge that he has played that part in the family. And some people might say, well, my husband doesn't care about words of affirmation.

So he would just laugh at me. There are other ways to show gratitude. The whole idea is a heart attitude toward the people that we're doing life with day by day. Yeah, that's what's so important in the end. You had a dream that shook you back into a sense of gratitude.

The book talked about what happened. Yeah. Well, my husband had been gone for a weekend. He was gone hunting.

He's an avid hunter. And I support that. I make space for that in our household. And so in supporting his interests, especially when the kids were younger, I would take on the burden of what was left at home. And when the kids were small, that was a difficulty for me. But I was just fed up that weekend. My kids were bickering and I just felt overburdened. I wanted a break.

He got to go off to the woods to think, you know, happy thoughts for a couple of days with nobody chattering around him. And I was exhausted. And I really had just had it with my family. And my husband came home that night and I had a dream that I was single in my parents' basement, living in my parents' basement. And my mother was bugging me to get on to eHarmony and meet somebody. And I woke up with a start and I thought, wait a second. And I kind of tapped the side of the bed. My husband's here.

I'm married. I've, you know, fast forwarded from that part of my life. It was that real feeling dream. Like that wasn't that dream wasn't real and all of a sudden it came flooding back to me that I've always wanted this family life. I've always wanted the family life. I've always wanted my own washing machine and I've wanted children to raise and a husband. And God has blessed me with those things. But I recognized that they have become the very thing I was complaining about on a regular basis. Well, some women right now are saying, well, what do you get for your space?

So they're not mad at Chad. Do you get an opportunity to be with the girlfriends and do the things you want to do outside the home? I do because we are deliberate about finding that balance. Which is a good thing to do. It is a good thing to do. And he'll recognize he got his hunting weekend. So I'm going to take this evening out for dinner with girlfriends or I tell him I'm going shopping because it's my hunting trip. And everything that you spent on hunting gear, I will now spend at the mall. I think that is a good quid pro quo.

That's what I'm hearing. You mentioned the me weeds. Speak to the me weeds. This is our flesh.

This is our sinful nature. What are the me weeds? The me weeds are those it's those aspects of our heart that are wrapped up in being self-absorbed or being prideful. Anything that happens in our lives that chokes out our ability to recognize our blessings. And so, for example, one of them for me is self-absorption. If I am so focused on what I have to do in a day, what I've got to get done, and I'm not looking outside of myself to think of other people.

It's impossible to bless the people around you. It's impossible to be grateful for them when you don't even see them. Yeah, it's kind of like the list. The list is more important than the people.

Yes. I think a lot of women have lists. A lot of men do too. But Jean has a list or two or three or four.

On a daily basis. And there's something really therapeutic about checking off the list. But in doing so, what have we missed? Yeah, being thorough. I mean, I appreciate it because I'm not a list maker. So it actually saves my bacon.

If I didn't stick with that metaphor. I keep liking Jean better and better. I'm glad she's a list maker because we'd have a lot of chaos if she wasn't making a list.

But it is true. Sometimes I'm not happy about that list. Does she give you your own list? Oh, no, not too often. She'll just ask very kindly, could you do such and such? And then, of course, she puts the reminders on that tower thing in the kitchen. Oh, yes. So that thing then pops up an hour later, remind Jim to whatever, fill in the blank.

So it's all fun. You mentioned the four P's of blessing, presence, possessions, perspective, and prayer. Kind of fill those out. Yeah, sure. These are the four ways that we can bless the people around us.

I put them into these categories to make it easy to remember. But your presence is essentially, are you available for people? Do you look them in the eye when you talk to them? Are you looking outside of yourself and seeing that there are people all around you who could benefit from your attention and from your love?

I'm feeling convicted by that right now. You look them in the eye? When you're talking to them. And I think of this with my children. How often do I just do life alongside my children, but I'm not actually infusing life into my children by stopping to listen to what they're saying? Because I've got the to-do list, and I'm working hard, and I work from home, and my kids are there, and they're talking to me.

And I may listen with half an ear and then look up, and they'll look at me like, Mom, did you just hear what I said? So to look them in the eye is so important. And then blessing with our possessions is simply recognizing the abundance that we've been blessed with and being willing to share it with other people.

And so many of us, I should speak just for myself, but I in particular, I'm very focused on making sure that I'm operating with good stewardship in my business, in my work. But it's so important to look at the abundance God has given us and to share it with other people. It doesn't have to be big. I'm not talking about writing big checks. I like to say, I mean this kindly, but writing big checks can be easy.

But getting up and close and personal with someone who has a need that you can fulfill with your possessions, maybe it's just a cup of coffee that you hand to someone. That's so important. Hang on one second. If you'd like to write a check, please send it to Focus on the Family.

Right at the end of the year here. I just thought it was a good place to mention that, John. You don't know? I don't know. Those checks are an exception.

Sorry, keep moving. So important. Perspective is another one. How are we looking at people? Are we looking at people the way God looks at them? Are we walking into church and seeing somebody who looks different from us, acts different from us, and casting judgment on that person or presuming something about that person based on external appearances?

Or are we just open to the idea that our perspective of other people should be the same as God's perspective on people, which is that He created each of us for purpose, on purpose. So that alone, when we are open to the idea of getting to know other people, is important. And then finally, prayer. Prayer, I think, is the one thing we all can do. It should not be a last resort. It's the one thing we all can do, whether we have possessions, whether we have abundance of time or not.

Prayer is something that we all can do that directly invokes the action of God. Let me camp in some of these and ask you some questions to help fill that out a little bit, because we were moving pretty fast there. But you had a story about possessions in the book, something called the Agent Rusty Fish. What was that all about? Oh, I love this story, and I can take no credit for it because some friends of ours, Mike and Vicki, told us that when their daughter was in high school, their daughter Carly is now grown and she has kids of her own. But when she was in high school, they wanted to instill in her a sense of generosity toward others, to be aware of needs. So they asked her to intentionally look for kids in her school who had a need and then to come home and tell them about it. And they would pray over it and they would meet the need. And they called this, it was a covert operation, they called it Agent Rusty Fish.

And it was named after some rustic, silly lantern at their cottage, Rusty Fish. And so they would actually pray over these needs. And then they would write letters, anonymous letters, signed Agent Rusty Fish, and they would give whatever it is the student needed. Maybe if someone was short on funds to pay for lunch, they would get food cards.

There was another student who had needed some important ski equipment fixed. And so they would provide funds for these types of things or material blessings. But always, Vicki said it was the letter that made the big difference because she just loved to be able to speak into these kids' lives and show them that they were seen. That they were seen and that someone knew their need and was willing to meet it. And so now the cover is blown, you know, years later, everybody knows now it's Mike and Vicki, largely because Vicki let me tell the story. And it was Carly all along.

You blew the cover. I did, I did. But I just love that idea of teaching our kids to look for needs among other students. Yeah, I like the concept, though, of helping them pray that through as well, though, because it is easy to just and we don't do enough of it. I say it's easy, but we should do more of that material blessing with people. It's a great way to do it with your kids in school. That's awesome. But the prayer component is really critical, too, because you're teaching your children so many good habits and directionally really helping them understand the bigger spiritual battles that go on.

Absolutely. So describe that, you know, praying through some of those things. Well, when we bring it to the Lord in prayer, we're acknowledging that he's the source of all of our blessings. He's the one who gives us anything that we can use then to pay forward to other people.

And it's also being discerning. No, this is a need I saw. But, Lord, is it me that you want to fill it?

Do you have another plan, perhaps? Or am I stepping in on someone else's opportunity to bless? And so it just really brings the Lord into the conversation and helps our kids recognize that he ought to be a part of every conversation when we're talking about decisions on how to use our resources in particular. Yeah. It's important. The practical nature of that, too, just keeping your eyes open to opportunity. I mean, it seems like they kind of curtailed it or aimed it at those school interactions.

Yes. What are some other practical ways you can do that? Well, again, because what we say is teenagers are entitled, and so you battle against that entitlement by filling them with lessons on how to be aware of what else is going on. And so in my case, for my own kids, I try to teach them there are other kids around you. And just, as you said, open your eyes. And the importance of doing that is when we open our eyes, it causes us to recognize beyond ourselves that there are people all around us.

There are people that we can serve. And it helps us to get out of our own head. Because often, especially teenagers, I think, their world is small, and it's very much filled with angst. It's kind of the normal course of growth.

It is. I mean, that's why it's so common and why there's jokes about it. Because that's just like the normal development of human beings. We tend to be selfish early. Teen years, you're myopic.

You're developing connection with other people, which would be empathy. But it's just kind of coming around at that time, unless you have an exceptional child, which you might. Where that child just really is in tune with other people around him. But normally, that's blossoming during those years.

It is. And it's age-appropriate, right? It's age-appropriate behavior. So I don't want to disparage kids and say that they shouldn't be behaving this way. Because Scripture says, you know, folly is bound in the heart of a child. And so it's a natural part of growth. So we as parents have an opportunity to speak into that and help them open their eyes beyond themselves.

Kind of water them. Yes, exactly. Exactly. And when they do that, when they start to see that other kids have problems or needs, it also helps them in a way to feel better about their own.

Yeah. I'm thinking about how many times did we teach our kids to say please and thank you? I mean, I didn't count them, but I bet I said, hey, remember to say please or thank you 20,000 times?

I mean, it's probably close to that. And then there's this day. There's this wild, crazy day that all of a sudden you overhear your child say please or thank you. And you go, they got it. They got it. It only took 20 years.

Whether it's at 25 or 13 is kind of the battle. But it's awesome to hear your kids eventually absorbing those great ideas. Yes.

Right. That you knew all along were great ideas. OK, this is Thanksgiving. So let's think of some ways we can incorporate gratitude and blessing others.

What are some more suggestions you might have? Some of my favorite ideas are especially for those families who don't want to go around the room and talk about what they're thankful for. A little pressure there, actually.

Yeah, it feels like a lot of pressure. But I like the idea of a Thanksgiving tablecloth of paper, as they do at some super fancy Italian restaurants with a box of crayons and paper on the tablecloth. Oh, and write it. And write out, what am I thankful for?

The little kids can draw pictures. What are we thankful for this year? And if the family sits down to a table that is filled with notes and pictures of their blessings, that just makes the whole event more festive.

Absolutely. And then also I like the idea of sending Thanksgiving cards. A little late now, but next year. Think about this for next year. Instead of Christmas cards, why not Thanksgiving cards? Again, to acknowledge that God is a part of the Thanksgiving holiday and the attitude of gratitude. And so acknowledge what your blessings have been. Allow people to see into your life a little bit through a Thanksgiving card before the barrage of Christmas cards. And yours might even stand out a little bit.

Also, I like the idea of gratitude packages, which are bundles of treats that you can send to people in your life who serve you. That might be your orthodontist. It might be your mail carrier. Wait a minute. I don't have to go that far, do I? Oh, you know what? Because the orthodontist is already getting a whole lot of my gratitude.

I say that with air quotes. That's pretty funny. But sure, people who are serving your family on a day to day basis, you know, maybe it's a teacher. Maybe it's a neighbor, somebody who you want to bless. But come up with packages and just say thank you for what they've done for you that year. And then one of my favorites is a thank prank. Yeah, tell me about the thank prank. Because I was trying to think, OK, what could I do?

I would be drawn to this. It's part of who I am. The thank prank.

Yes, it's fun. So my family and I came up with this a few years ago. Essentially, you come up with a little bag of treats and there's a sheet of paper on the outside that says, you've been thank pranked. Essentially, thank you for who you are in our lives. Thank you for all that you've done for us. This bag of treats, you put it on their porch, ring the doorbell, run away.

And then inside of the bag is a replica of that same sheet of paper that they can then use to pass on to someone else. So it's a pay it forward kind of thing. Just thank you for who you are and what you've done. Our family is grateful for you.

Now pass this on to someone who has served your family. So it could be a gift card or anything. It doesn't have to be candy. Well, it always should be candy.

That's the part I'm missing here. No, I think it should be a doughnut. Whatever floats your boat, it better go in that bag. But absolutely, just some sort of a thank you gift and encourage the paying it forward.

Becky, this has been so good. And I appreciate the reminder that Thanksgiving can happen every day of the year. That's the attitude of getting God into Thanksgiving, right? This is a characteristic or an attribute of his character.

Being thankful and grateful for the things in your life, for the people in your life. And being able to express that on a consistent basis. And I'm so happy that Gene has been a great driver in our family in that regard. And I think the boys feel it.

And it's part of their personality now. And I love that. Thanks for being with us. Thank you for having me.

Let me turn to the listener. Focus on the family is here for you. We want to help your marriage and help you in that parenting journey. That's our mission.

So many people don't realize focus is just a huge treasure trove of information and help for you. I don't think after 45 years there's a question we can't answer and help you with. So call us.

Get in touch with us. Let us be part of that parenting or marriage journey with you. And help you do the best you can do. Because that really first and foremost honors the Lord in doing your marriage well and being a good parent.

And teaching your kids godly truth, right? That's what it's all about. And I want you to do that. So get in touch with us.

Nothing's going to be embarrassing. We will help you. And I'd also like to encourage you to give families hope this year. We're right at the end of the year now. The big drive goes on.

That was kind of a joke about writing the check, but no, that's how it works. And we would love to hear from you. Be part of the ministry.

That's as easy as I could say it. This accrues to your account with the Lord when you do ministry through Focus on the Family. I'll commit to running it effectively and efficiently so you and your family can do ministry through it.

So let's do that for this time and this season, but also for 2023. And when you get in touch and make that contribution, please know that our thank you for joining the support team as a copy of Becky's book, Love Because, How to Change the World One Blessing at a Time. Donate and learn more at our website.

The links are in the show notes. Or call 800, the letter A, and the word family. And coming up tomorrow, we'll hear from Chaplain Bill Goodrich about ministry to seniors. We have seen, based on the principles that we teach for nursing home ministry, we have seen about 85% of the residents take Jesus' hand for salvation and for strength to get them through their days. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Safe online community? The Adventures in Odyssey Club could be your best adventure yet. Learn more and start your free trial at adventuresinodyssey.com slash radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-27 13:18:59 / 2022-11-27 13:32:15 / 13

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