Thursday, November 13, 2014

Books to teach gratitude to moms

Well, I couldn't very well post some children's books on gratitude without recommending a couple of books for grown-ups. As much as I'm a fan of literature-based learning, the "book" my children read everyday is my life. I model my heart of gratitude (or greed) each day through what I say, what I spend my time doing and what expression I wear on my face. Usually what I've been reading and pondering have a big impact on the story I live.

If you're following me on this thought, here are two books I highly recommend to help put things into proper perspective:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Vosskamp
I read this book two years ago after a dear friend gave it to me. In our current culture of always wanting more, more, more, Vosskamp turns our attention to the countless blessings we already have. The farmer's wife and mother of six takes Philippians 4:8 to heart and task, by keeping her eyes and heart wide open for what things are lovely, virtuous and pure in her everyday life. Vosskamp shares both her struggles with anxiety and the simple practice of keeping a gratitude journal that refocused her eyes on everyday miracles and freed her from pain. The opening chapter of the book does contain a very tragic memory of losing her sister at a young age, which might be a trigger for some readers who have faced similar losses. Vosskamp's poetic writing style takes a little getting used to, as she has a dreamy, stream of consciousness approach to retelling some of her story. But once you fall into the rhythm of her voice, you'll probably feel inspired to start recording your own list of daily gifts and writing poetically. I loved the way she was able to transform the most mundane moment into something holy. Her musing on nature and moments with her children resonated with me especially. You might also enjoy her beautiful blog, A Holy Experience, which incidentally, is where I learned about the author and ministry of the following book:

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis
Cultivating gratitude goes beyond just counting our blessings and feeling good about our lives. A deep seated gratitude releases us and fuels us to live the way we were created to live in God's image. In The Message, the latter half of Romans 12:1 is translated "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Ponder those words for a moment. What would that look like in real life? If you want to see what that counter-culture lifestyle looks like, read this book.

Born and raised in the ritzy suburbs of Nashville, Katie Davis lived a charmed American life. Homecoming queen, top of her class, she says in her introduction that she, "dated cute boys, wore cute shoes and drove a cute sports car." She was on a track to go to college, marry her sweetheart and live a comfortable life. Kisses From Katie tells the story of how she fell head-over-heals in love with Jesus and the people of an impoverished Ugandan village during a short-term missions trip. It's been more than five years, and Davis is still in Uganda. She's bid goodbye to her former life and culture. And she's so thankful for the materially spartan but busy and spiritually rich life she now lives. She's started Amazima, a ministry that sponsors children so they can attend school and stay with their birth families. More importantly, she's become adoptive mother to 14 children.

Now, when I first read about Davis adopting all these children, some of whom she nursed back to health from the brink of starvation and fatal disease, I was a little skeptical- perhaps even defensive. How could a girl in her early twenties truly be a mom to all those kids? I mean, I have trouble truly loving my tiny brood of three most days. I thought she must have been more like a teacher at an orphanage school or a den mom at a girl's home than a real mom. But by the second half of the book, I saw; no, I felt her mother's heart for her girls. And I saw what it looks like to be genuinely yielded to God, and filled to overflowing with his Spirit of love. Davis recognized what God wanted from her and quickly responded to it. In return, he brought out the best in her. I'm not going to give away more of the plot because I want you to read this book. For my fellow Hoptowners, it will be at the library this weekend after I return it :).

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