Teaching Our Children to Be Grateful

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June 6, 1944, was the first day that U.S. forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in France, as part of a massive invasion of Allied forces intent on liberating Europe from Hitler and his Nazis. Ray’s daddy arrived with the U.S. forces who landed on June 7, which the army called D-Plus One. Except for the few days when he got leave to go back to England to marry Ray’s future mother, Ray’s daddy remained with U.S. forces until they entered Germany itself. He was there when Germany finally surrendered on May 8, 1945, known as VE (Victory in Europe) Day.

Wesley Notgrass was in Germany when General Courtney Hodges pinned on his Bronze Star.
Wesley Notgrass was in Germany when General Courtney Hodges pinned on his Bronze Star.

When Granddaddy Wes was in his late eighties, he began telling us stories about the war.  I’d like to share one of these cherished stories with you.

After our troops entered one particular European city that U.S. forces had just liberated, its jubilant residents were celebrating in the streets. Always the history and literature and travel enthusiast, Wes decided to go with a buddy into a famous cathedral in the city. He believed it would be filled with people giving thanks to God. To his astonishment, he and his friend walked inside and went all around the massive and beautiful cathedral without seeing another single soul.

Attitudes of thankfulness are one of those important life lessons our children need us to teach them. It is something we are teaching them all the time, perhaps especially when we don’t realize we are, since our every word and action reflects our own gratitude or lack of gratitude.

In the past few days, God has answered two important prayers for me, one I had prayed about for years and the other for a few hours. I know that I don’t remember to thank God for specific blessings nearly as much as I have begged Him for those blessings. Shame on me.

There is always a reason for gratitude in every circumstance, even though we are often blind to what we could and should be thankful for. I can’t think of anything as terrible as the one and only Son of God dying innocently at the hands of His enemies. As awful as that was, we know that unfathomable event is the one for which we can be more grateful than any other event in the history of the world.

. . . always giving thanks for all things
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
to God, even the Father . . . . Ephesians 5:20-21


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  1. Much needed message!!! I am soooo guilty of being ungrateful at times. My child are the ones to always point out the positive to remind me. God knew which children to entrust to me. They teach me and remind me when I need it the most. Praise The Lord!

  2. After so many years of denying God in worship, the people never thought of Him in the victory. They thanked the allied forces. I pray our nation never gets that far away from God. We do still “run” to Him when in great need, but it looks like we’ll repeat the sins of the Old World.