“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate
on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
I am a primary school teacher and like me, many elementary teachers and students are very well acquainted with an adorable, yet precocious student named Junie B. Jones! Junie B. Jones is a loveable first grade, fictional character from the New York Times bestselling author, Barbara Park. I absolutely love this series! I was first introduced to this book series, through my job as a librarian. The first Junie B. book I ever read was Junie B. Jones Is A Beauty Shop Guy. I laughed so hard, I was literally crying as the books are written from a first grader’s perspective with all the lingo he or she might say at that age level. Any book with Junie B. Jones’ name on it, is always a crowd pleaser to read aloud to any class. I am so enamored with this author and these books that several years ago my coworkers and I booked a conference in Arizona with the highlight being other than escaping snowy Canada in February, actually hearing Barbara Park speak! For weeks the anticipation grew! My students and I were so excited that I was going to meet Barbara Park “for real!” Oh the questions I would ask her! I also was so pleased I could get her to sign hopefully a few books from my growing collection of Junie B. favourites! Well unfortunately my excitement came to a screeching halt, when just before we were to board our plane, we received the sad news that Barbara Park could not attend the conference as scheduled, due to a personal emergency. A good time was still had by all at the conference, but the absence of a “meet and greet” with the Barbara Park was an obvious disappointment. Anyhow, that is the way things go sometimes! I do hope to meet her some day, and still continue to eagerly share her very humorous books with each new class I teach.
During the Thanksgiving season I read her Thanksgiving Junie B. Jones book, entitled Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten and Other Thankful Stuff! O.K., even the title is enough to make you laugh out loud, wouldn’t you agree? The hilarious story revolves around Junie’s class compiling a “thankful list” that much to their teacher’s dismay included the likes of toilet paper, exploding biscuits in a can, snausages for a pet dog and cranberry sauce. The disheartened teacher had such high hopes for having a meaningful discussion about true things to be thankful for, yet unfortunately his students really missed the point! My students certainly had some great giggles about the list. As a follow up to reading this, I decided to launch a discussion about what my class was thankful for. My concern was they would use the book as a guide and a foolish discussion would ensue. To hopefully completely avoid this, I instructed them to think carefully and come up with appropriate and meaningful choices, unlike the book. One by one they shared multiple things they were grateful for that touched my heart like my baby sister, food, God, family, and yes even my teacher! A lump came to my throat as they sincerely shared what they truly felt were their greatest blessings. One little girl even said to my delight, “Don’t worry Mrs. R.! We take this very seriously!” I was so proud that they really “got” what it meant to be thankful and it was one of those teaching moments that will forever be etched in my memory!
All this can’t help but make me wonder… do we as adults always” get” what it truly means to be sincerely thankful? We have so much to be thankful for, yet it is so easy to complain and focus on what we don’t have, over what we do! We want more money, a bigger home, a better job, the list goes on and on! Do we see the glass half full or half empty? The choice is up to us each and every day! I remember years ago when Oprah came up with the idea of gratitude journals. She inspired many to take a pause and really remember all the blessings both big and small that are right in front of them! As a child I recall singing “Count Your Blessings,” in Sunday school at the top of my lungs, despite the fact that at that time I didn’t get it as I do now. At present amongst my richest blessings are: my relationship with God, my wonderful family, incredible friends, a career opportunities that are absolutely perfect for me, and the fact that I have published my first book, just to name a few. My list could go on and on and even for that reason alone, I am thankful! Singing is also one of my passions and I am very relieved and thankful that God saw fit to bless me with a singing voice that many people seem to like!
I have sang solos for many years and one Thanksgiving I had a solo at our church called “I’m Forever Grateful.” I practiced so much at home that my then two year old daughter Shannon would sing along with me so sweet and sincere how she was forever “gratebull,” too! So what’s the lesson here folks? It is quite simple actually. I ask of you, what are you forever “gratebull” for? Perhaps you are at a point in your life where it is hard to see. To assist you, consider making a list or starting a gratitude journal today. It can really help us see the “big picture” and focus on what we often take for granted. Life is hard and stressful at times! Believe me I get it! If you can try to see the positive however, in even the most difficult circumstances and develop an attitude of thankfulness, this will really carry you far! “Thank you” for listening to me and reading this blog! I pray that the list of things you are blessed with continues to grow and grow! If Junie B. was here, I know just what she would say. It would go something like this... "Listen up people ! I thinked and thinked about this real hard and being really thankful is the bestest thing ever!" I would have to say... "Thanks Junie B. couldn't have said it better myself! ; )"
Little lesson learned: Always have a grateful heart!
"What a beautiful thing, God to give thanks. Psalms 92:1 (The Message)
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2013
3/15/2014 12:22:21 pm
Sadly since the writing of this blog Barbara Park has passed away. Maybe the reason she couldn't attend the conference was because she was ill. Sadly she died of ovarian cancer. RIP Barbara you and your incredible talent for writing will be deeply missed.
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