St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church


St. Bart's Blog

Making Time for Faith at Home

Posted by Alex Howard on

You are my God—I will give thanks to you!
You are my God—I will lift you up high!

Give thanks to the LORD because he is good
because his faithful love lasts forever.
Psalm 118:28-29

It’s the busy season. The time of year where school has kicked us into high gear and Costco displays remind us that the holidays are around the corner. Meals on the fly, forgotten lunches, double booked sports events…the list could go on. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the culture of busy. It is easy in that hustle to lose sight of the things that draws closer to our family, our community, to God. Easy to forget that it isn’t a full calendar that makes life worth living, but a full heart that does. The most transformative practice that a person can engage in is the practice of gratitude. Gratitude for all things, tangible and otherwise. We live in a time where instant gratification is the norm. Need an answer to a question? Ask Google? See an item on social media that intrigues you? Bet you can have it on your doorstep in two days.

Gratitude is a practice that asks us to slow down and look around. To take note of how we feel, what truly matters in our lives. It needs to be taught and cultivated. How do we do that with our children? Do you have a practice at home that connects you to a consciousness of being thankful for what surrounds you, even when the world is overwhelming and you can handle just one more thing? Gratitude alleviates the stress and worry of these things. Gratitude heals us.

Teaching Gratitude - It Makes Us Healthier!

Practicing gratitude and thanks-giving makes you a happier person. What people of faith have known for generations now has the stamp of approval from therapists who heal with mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy. The researchers at Greater Good Science Center study emotional and emotional well-being – the science of a meaningful life. Their studies show that feeling grateful motivates students to help others and use their strengths to contribute to society. Gratitude does good!

It takes intentional modeling to teach thankfulness. Notice the thought behind an action or gift; appreciate the cost of an action and the value of other people in our lives. One way of modeling this last gratitude lesson is to notice how one person’s action influences those around them: “My day (or life) is better because…” Example: “My day is better when everyone says ‘hello’ when they walk in the door.”

Create a Space for Thanks

Designate a gratitude area in your home with a variety of paper, pens and markers, index cards, and tape. Use it as a place for some of the ideas in this list as well as a place to write quick thank you notes. Over time it can be decorated with a candle, items from nature, and other surprise blessings.

The "Best Thing" Game

Play the best thing about the game. Think of a person, a situation, a place, and take turns saying things like “The best thing about _____ is _____." Example: "The best thing about my church is the music we sing.” To help spark ideas, get a pack of wide, wooden sticks, and write down people’s names, places, pets, etc. Place the sticks in a decorative jar, and keep it in a place where the family or children gather. Draw one stick out each time you play the game.

Make a Thankfulness Window

Start a stained glass gratitude window each month or season. Tear up pieces of different colored tissue paper, and keep them in a basket or a box. Then have children write down something they are grateful for on each piece of paper. Tape the pieces to a window that gets lots of sun, and watch the window’s design evolve over time. (Tips: If the idea of scraping off all that tape is not something for which you’ll feel grateful – use wax paper over the window!)

Create a Gratitude Newspaper

Become the editor of your own paper: The Thanksgiving News. Write the date, draw a picture, and write down the news of the day from the point of view of being grateful. Post these news items and watch the gratitude grow over time. This could be done with scrap paper, large post-its, a magnet or chalkboard, or if you have space, with markers on a wall painted with whiteboard paint.

Say Goodbye to Some "Stuff"

Designate one day a month for the family to toss things which have served you well, but you don’t need anymore. Put them all together, and say a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing. Then list them on a site like Freecycle, put them on the street with a sign that says “Free", to drop off at St. Bartholomew's Thrift Shop.

Giving Thanks with Popcorn!

Put popcorn in the microwave and have children shout out something for which each child is grateful when you hear the sound of the kernels popping. Keep going until the popping stops!


Sharing the Good News of the love of Jesus Christ through kindness to all those around us. The kid at school who isn’t very nice, the kid alone on the playground? Could this be different if kindness is extended to those we least want to show kindness to? The one that society has told is better off alone? Kindness is something we all possess, but don’t always give away. The remarkable thing is, the more we give it away, the more we have. Just like gratitude.