One of the very first acts as a Youth Pastor was delivering the day-before Thanksgiving Chapel talk at Oakdale Christian Elementary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The assembly took place in a small gym with those old school wooden bleachers with clear polyurethane finish. I got there early, and after checking in with the front desk was taken into the gym to wait for the kids to arrive. Now, an important note here: My Mom was the pre-school teacher at the school! I must confess, this is how I got the gig.

I had never really given a talk outside of the Church context, so I was excited and a little nervous. Friends, the anxiety ramped as the students began to file in, classroom by classroom, row by row. To put it mildly, the kids were ready to be on Thanksgiving break, even at this early morning hour! I can still see the visual of the entire school seated in the bleachers with all eyes on me. So, I took a deep breath, found my Mother in the sea of children and went into my message, “Stay Thankful.”

We have the choice each day to focus our mind on the things we are thankful to God for, and of equal importance, to tell the people we are thankful for what they mean to us specifically. While it’s easiest to do that during Thanksgiving week, may it serve as a launch instead of a one-off. Do the people that you are thankful for know that you feel that way? I think it’s one of the best ways we can partner with God, by letting His beloved children (all of us) we interact with know that they are loved and appreciated. Scripture has a great summation of this, Isaiah 12:4 says,

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the people.”

As I closed in prayer at the assembly, I noticed my Mom was beaming with pride. As the kids began to be organized and filed out by their teachers, one little 6-year-old guy trotted over to me, and extended his hand which was holding an orange Tootsie pop. “Thanks for coming to talk to us, Happy Thanksgiving!” he said as he scurried back into line. Love to see Faith put into action.