Thanksgiving is just a week away and Christmas is around the corner! In this season, where our kids are expecting presents and their lists are growing by the day, we must be intentional in helping them learn to be thankful and content for all the blessings God has given us. Today’s blog is a faithful everyday mom interview on how to tackle the discontentment monster!
First, I want to welcome my friend, Laurie Christine!
Laurie is a wife and mom of four, loud, fun and adventurous boys, as well as an author, a bible teacher and a podcast host herself. She hosts a great podcast called Redeeming the Chaos, so be sure to check that out!
She’s passionate about writing devotions so that kids can understand the truth of God’s word, and she’s recently written a book called Rise of the Enemy that is the first of a Dragon Slayer Bible series. Very cool. Great for preteen boys. I want to get a copy for Jake, my 10-year-old, for Christmas for sure! And the good news is I can and you can, because starting this month on Amazon, it’s available!
Now, let’s get to know Laurie a little bit better with some fun questions!
1. Laurie, with four boys, I’m sure that many things come to your mind when I ask this question, but what is something that makes you just an everyday mom that any mom listening to right now could relate to?
Laurie: Mallory, there are certainly a lot of things that come to mind, but the one thing that jumped to my head was LAUNDRY! Yuck. I don’t love laundry, as I’m sure many of you don’t. But one of the things that just kind of made me chuckle, is a lot of times I leave the clean laundry sitting in the laundry basket for so long that it conforms to the shape of the basket. So that’s one thing that makes me an everyday mom, for sure!
Mallory: I don’t love laundry either. Most either prefer dishes or laundry more, and mine is definitely the dishes!
2. Next Question: In this season of life, you having ALL of your boys in school, what does spending time with Jesus look like for you now in this stage of motherhood?
Laurie: Well, I will say, it’s been lovely having my boys all in school. My oldest is 13 and he’s in seventh grade and my youngest is 7 and in second grade. So I’ve had a couple years now that they’ve all been in school, and it’s really nice that I have the flexibility to spend more time in God’s Word. But I will say I still need to be very intentional about making it a priority in my day because the kids get on the bus and if I go straight to my computer or to my office without spending time in God’s Word, then it doesn’t happen. I never circle around to it again. So I try to make sure I’m intentional as soon as the kids leave for school, I get out my Bible and journal, and I sit down and I spend time in God’s Word.
A couple things that I’ve been doing lately in my quiet time over the last couple of years:
One is the Bible Recap by Tara-Leigh Cobble, and highly recommend it along with her podcast. I listen to the reading on the YouVersion Bible app and then I listen to the podcast. If you’re a busy mom and you don’t have time to just sit down uninterrupted, this is something you can do while you’re driving the kids somewhere or you’re putting laundry away or you’re doing the dishes, because it is all things you can listen to.
Another thing I really love to do is journal, mainly to copy Scripture and then meditate on it. Right now I’m going through the Psalms, and I’ll read and copy portions of the Psalm into my journal each day. Sometimes I’ll make it look pretty with gel pens or whatever, which I’m not very good at, but I’m practicing, and other times I just write the verse normal when I don’t have as much time. Wither way I like to do this to further meditate on God’s Word at the start of my day.
Mallory: Thanks for those practical ideas! I’ve had several moms recommend the Bible Recap app and podcast, so that’s definitely something to check out, especially if you are a listener or a lover of podcasts.
Now today, we’re talking about how to help our kids tackle the discontent monster, and that’s a very good subject for this time of year with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner..
Laurie, when we first talked about this topic, you told me something that I thought was so good! You said, “Contentment is a heart issue, it’s not a stuff issue.”
3. I think that’s so true! So Laurie, can you help explain this a little further and unpack this statement more for us?
Laurie: Yeah, absolutely! Many Christians think that in order to be content, we just need less stuff in our lives. Minimalism has become very trendy in our culture and sometimes it gets elevated to a level of godliness. The less stuff you have, the more righteous you are. And I’m not bashing minimalism. There are many benefits, I’m sure, having less clutter to organize or things to trip over, etc. but I really don’t know anything about that in my house with four boys!
But the Bible says in Psalm 62, “If riches increase, set not your heart on them.” That’s from the ESV version, and the New Living Translation says, “If your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.“
So stuff is not evil, it’s neutral. It’s our attitude towards that stuff, or often lack of stuff, that gets us into trouble. God is more concerned about the condition of our hearts than the condition of our house.Laurie Christine
Today, we live in a consumer-minded society, and we’d like to blame Amazon for that discontent in our hearts, with everything just a two day shipping away. But discontent was a problem long before the days of Amazon…It started way back in the Garden of Eden, with the very first sin of Adam and Eve. They were not content with what God had provided for them. God gave them this beautiful garden. He gave them a perfect relationship with Himself, but they wanted MORE! They were tempted by that fruit and they believed the devil when he told them God was holding out on them. They believed that God hadn’t given them everything they needed to be fully satisfied.
So from the very beginning, contentment was a heart issue…We could even say a faith issue, because Adam and Eve didn’t trust God knew what was best. And I think we often fall into that same trap. We often believe that same lie that Adam and Eve believed, that God is not enough…That we need just one more thing, one more taste of that delicious fruit and then we will be complete, satisfied and content. So when we end up seeking fulfillment in our stuff, we’ll never be content, no matter how much or how little stuff we have!
Mallory: I totally agree with that! And I think as moms, there’s probably one reading right now…She’s stressed and irritated because she wished her kids would be more content and thankful for the MANY toys and things her kids already have…I know I’ve been there! I found myself there THIS week actually with my youngest, wanting more stuff and more stuff without thankfulness, but instead entitlement. And with Christmas around the corner, that can all be really overwhelming!
4. So what would you tell just some practical advice to a mom that’s listening how to maybe take some practical steps to teach our kids about contentment?
Laurie: Well, I have some good news for you! The Bible actually tells us the secret to being content..
In Philippians 4:11-13, the apostle Paul says, "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I've learned, the secret of living in every situation, whether it's with a full stomach or empty with plenty or little." And then he says, "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."
Well, guess what? The context of this verse is contentment. God is teaching us to be content. And Paul says that the secret of being content is the strength of Jesus Christ gives to us.
And interestingly, that very first part of the verse, it says he “LEARNED” to be content. So if something can be learned, that’s good news, because that means we can teach our kids to learn contentment.
There are 4 things that I think are really practical for helping to teach your kids to be content and how to be have a grateful heart, because gratitude really is the solution to discontentment.
Those four things are to pray for gratitude, model gratitude, practice gratitude, and experience gratitude.
First, pray for gratitude.
Thessalonians 5:16-18 says that we should, "Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances. For this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
So if it’s God’s will for us to be thankful, then we can pray according to God’s will and know that He hears us. We can pray for both our kids and ourselves to have thankful hearts and let our kids hear us pray those prayers.
Secondly, model gratitude.
As moms, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate gratitude to our kids by modeling it in our own lives. Ask yourself, “Am I content with what I have? Do I make statements a lot about wanting things? Like, I wish I had a bigger kitchen, or I wish we had a nicer car.”
Then our kids see that our unthankfulness and not the blessings that God has given us. That’s just a challenge in my heart as well, just to think about how am I demonstrating gratitude and thankfulness to my kids? And the good news is that God can give you that gratitude in your heart.
Philippians 2:13 says that God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. So we can ask God to give us that desire to change our hearts and to be thankful.
The third thing is to practice gratitude.
So I just have a couple practical things here that you can do with your kids, especially leading up to Thanksgiving…
One of the things that you can do to practice gratitude in your family is a thankful jar. So in this activity, everyone in the family would write or draw something that they’re thankful for around thanksgiving. (Or you can be thankful in February if you’re reading this later down the road!) We don’t just have to be thankful in November. We can be thankful all year round.
After everyone has written or drawn something they are thankful for, put it in the jar and on the day of your choosing, take out all of those papers and read them together. Take some time as a family to thank God for his blessings.
Another idea is a thankful banner. This is similar to the thankful jar, but instead of putting the pieces of paper into a jar, you would hang them up on a rope or a ribbon across a window somewhere that everyone in the family can see them. Then you can write down things that you’re thankful for and clip them onto that ribbon as a reminder to everyone in the family.
I have several other activities available on my website (CLICK HERE) for a special link with these activities above and a FREE printable I created especially for this episode, and it’s called The Gift of Gratitude, and it includes some thankful journal pages you can print out and use with your kids! The FREE bundle also includes 12 printable verse cards about contentment and gratitude that you can print out and read one a day with your family. So lots of good things to check out! (CLICK HERE)
Mallory: That’s awesome! Thank you for doing that for my readers and listeners. I can’t wait to check that out myself!
Laurie: Yes, you’re welcome! And then the very last practical tip is to help your kids experience gratitude.
We want to help our kids understand what it means to have a thankful heart and to have a gracious heart. We live in a culture of immediate gratification. Our kids tend to be a little bit entitled. My kids will often say, “Oh, well, I need this. Can you order it on Amazon so it can be here tomorrow?” And that’s just our culture of ordering things, and I’m guilty of it too. But one of the things that we can do to help our kids experience thankfulness is to practice delayed gratification.
So if your kids are wanting to purchase a specific toy or a game, even if they have their own money to buy it with, maybe make them wait a little while. You could say, “I know you have the money, but we’re going to wait until I see some improvement in your attitude with contentment (or whatever it is they need to work on) before we order that.”
And just that act of waiting will make them more thankful and more grateful for the thing they are wanting in the end. Along the same lines, encouraging your kids to earn money in order to purchase something that they want is also a great idea…don’t just always buy it for them. When you work hard towards a goal, that also helps to build character and to build gratitude in our kids.
The last thing I suggest is to learn together about other cultures and people around the world who don’t have as much stuff as we do, and yet they are content living in a house with a dirt floor without a TV. If you’re even able to visit some of those places, that is an amazing experience for your kids. I would love to do that sometime. My goal is to take my kids to Kenya someday, but if you are not able to go to another country, which we are not able to do at the moment, just learning about other other people groups around the world is a great start!
Mallory: Thanks for all of these practical ideas for ways to teach our kids gratefulness! And circling back around to the quote that we started out with in the beginning…
“Contentment is not a stuff issue, it’s a heart issue.”
You’ve explained this to us so well today! And we aren’t suggesting for moms reading this to go through your kid’s Christmas list with a red pen, because we all WANT to give our kids good gifts and that is perfectly fine! But we just need to make sure we are teaching our kids to have the right heart, the right posture towards thankfulness and contentment. This starts with us, moms! They see us in our Bible (or not). They hear our prayers. They see our attitude towards the stuff we have.
5. So Laurie, how can we model contentment in our lives as moms, so that our kids can see that posture of thankfulness?
Laurie: Well, first of all, I’m glad you mentioned Christmas because yes, we’re absolutely not saying go throw out the Christmas list and donate all of your Christmas presents to a homeless shelter. I mean, you can give presents to a homeless shelter. That’s a great idea. But like we said, it’s not about the stuff… And giving presents to our kids is a great way to demonstrate God’s grace to them. We give our kids gifts because we love them and because we want to bless them, not because they’ve earned it or deserve it. I have to remind myself of that every year at Christmas when I’m tempted to be like, “you’re not getting any Christmas presents if you don’t shape up your attitude…”
Now, about your question on how can we as moms model gratitude and contentment? I would say, just spending time in God’s Word is the most important thing. Getting your own heart in the right place before God. Focusing on God’s goodness, and blessings, going through the Psalms and thanking Him for all of the things that He’s done for us will help to get your mind in the right place to live out gratitude.
And then just something very practical I like to do, is to keep thankful journal. It could be as easy as a blank notebook or I know there’s all sorts of fancy guided, thankful journals that you can find on Etsy or Amazon. It could be in the morning or before bed, but just writing down three things that you’re thankful for that day (or the day before if morning) to refocus your mind and your heart before God before you fall asleep. It helps to replace our anxiety with thoughts of thanksgiving and thoughts of God’s blessings.
And doing that with your kids too is a great exercise too! And when they’re little, they might be thankful for the dog, but that’s okay. It’s not so much about what it is, but just being consistent with it. Learning to thank God for things in our prayers together with our kids, instead of only asking for things. Doing that and just making comments about things you are grateful for throughout the day and letting your kids hear you…will make a BIG impact!
Mallory: Laurie, what you said makes me think of a quote, from Pastor Adrian Rogers, that says:
“Prayers often say please, but praise says thank you.”
And as we’ve been talking about this subject of gratefulness, I’ve been convicted of some things that I want to implement in my own home with my kids, and I’m sure there are some things for you as well reading. One specific thing I want to do better is making sure myself and my kids spend some time in our nightly prayers, not just requesting for things, but that we spend some time praising God for answered prayers or specific things that happened that day. So that’s just a practical challenge my family is working on…
But thank you so much Laurie, for sharing all of these practical ways to be an example of thankfulness and contentment to our kids! Be sure and go check out her podcast and her new book and the special packet she has put together for us!
Laurie: Mallory, it’s been so fun. Thank you so much for having me on the show today!
Mallory: I’ve loved having you!
I hope everyone reading has been encouraged and walked away with some challenges and some practical takeaways!
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And remember, keep up the good work of pointing your kids to Jesus.