Bedtime is a battle of the wills. Like with most toddlers, my oldest makes it a nightly challenge to see how long he can delay sleep. Water? Check. M&M’s after pee-peeing in the potty? Bribe – check. Cowabunga and Booyancey (this essentially is a game in which he jumps on our bed and we knock him over) — Check.
All of these are normal bedtime impediments, but recently new things have been added. He likes the taste of Motrin, so he’s been asking for some before he goes to bed. We do not oblige. (For a while I convinced him his water had Motrin in it. In hindsight that may not be the best mom move. I can see him in public one day saying, “Mom, did you put the special medicine in my water?” *Face palm* )
Before bed he eagerly volunteers to help me pick up the house and happily tells me all about his day. Once we actually make it to his room, we sing a medley of songs—currently “Jesus Loves Me”, “Oh, No! What We Gonna Do?” (From Veggie Tales), and “Mungu Yu Mwema” (“God is So Good” in Swahili). In between songs two and three he shares with me his two favorite parts of the day (which usually involve food). Then we pray, sing our last song, and tuck him into bed.
For a long time, prayer meant me praying out loud for him, but as he gets older he willingly prays more frequently. At the beginning of his prayers, he always thanks God for whatever his favorite part of day was, and then he thanks God for “Mama, Baba, and Baby Luke.” After that, the thankfulness train takes off with no sign of slowing.
“Thank you for my bed.”
“Thank you for my blanket.”
“Thank you for the window.”
“Thank you for Mickey Mouse.”
“Thank you for the carpet.”
At some point I have to stop his thankfulness parade and move the prayer along. The longer he rambles, the later he gets to go to bed.
But the last few times he has prayed in this way, the Holy Spirit has reminded me—there’s always something to be thankful for. I can honestly say I’ve never thanked God specifically for my carpet, but I should.
Scripture is clear—everything is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1). Every offering we give is His that we are giving back to him (1 Chron. 29:14). Paul tells Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Tim 6:6-7).
Nothing is mine, and yet too frequently I act as if I am in control of everything and own it all.
My kids are not mine.
My spouse is not mine.
My home is not mine.
My friends are not mine.
My job is not mine.
My carpet is not mine.
While God entrusts us with gifts to take care of and steward well, the minute I start taking these blessings for granted, I forget Whose they are. God loves to give good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11), but isn’t it more fun to give gifts to children who are excited and grateful for them?
November is quickly approaching, and soon social media feeds will be inundated with thankfulness challenges. While I believe people participate genuinely, they can frequently sound contrived. I have been guilty of sharing things publicly that I’m thankful for, but I occasionally neglect to spend time thanking God for them.
As we practice gratitude in the coming months (and hopefully year-round), let us remember the grandeur of the Giver: