Serving Thanksgiving – With Breakfast

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Written by contributing writer, Ann Dunagan.

“Hey, that’s not fair! You already got one-and-a-half more pieces than me!” Our 11-year-old glared at her brother, as he proceeded to “stake his claim” by grabbing for the butter and syrup.

As I was working on yet another batch of French toast, I realized our kids definitely needed more than food on their plates. Our family needed a fresh lesson in thankfulness and gratitude. The petty bickering was really bothering me, especially in light of several stories I had read only a few hours earlier.

So, while the kids sat on their stools at our kitchen counter, waiting (not so patiently) for our next round of French toast, I proceeded to give a lesson:

“You know, kids, we need to be thankful for what we have, and realize that we’ve been given a lot! In the Bible, God says, ‘In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (I Thessalonians 5:18). Instead of complaining, God wants us to continually live with an attitude of thankfulness and joy.”

Just that morning, I had been reading a Voice of the Martyrs magazine, about how a minister named Richard Wurmbrand had endured persecution while being imprisoned for his faith. He had spent over 14 years in Romanian prisons, including long periods in complete solitude – with no Bible, no books, no scrap paper or pencils, and (obviously) no one to talk to. Even during this horrible time, this man still found ways to be grateful. The article shared how Rev. Wurmbrand meditated on scripture he had memorized, and how he (along with other Christian prisoners) kept his mind active by praying fervently throughout the night for various needs from around the world. Yet the example that most-deeply touched my heart was reading about how this man of God learned to rejoice.

For a moment, I put down my spatula and reached for the magazine lying on the counter. “Just listen to this guy’s attitude,” I told my kids. “This man found reasons to be grateful, even in prison, and even when there was absolutely nothing to be thankful for:

“The Bible tells us about one of the great joys we can have,” Rev. Wurmbrand explains, “even in a prison cell: ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice’ (Romans 12:15). I rejoiced that there were families somewhere who gathered with their children, read the Bible together, told jokes, and were happy with each other. Somewhere there was a boy who loved a young girl and dated her; I could be happy about them. There they had a prayer meeting; and there was someone who studied; and there is somebody who enjoyed good food, etc. We could rejoice with those who rejoiced.”

- Quote by Richard Wurmbrand, Founder of The Voice of the Martyrs - (Excerpted from The Triumphant Church, pp.32-33).

We need to have hearts of gratitude, which means being thankful for even little things that we usually take for granted.

I asked my kids, “When was the last time you were grateful for your toothbrush or toothpaste . . . or for your teeth? Or when was the last time you were thankful for hot running water, or a good toilet?”

That morning, I was also inspired by three examples I had read in a little booklet about gratitude, and my kids heard about these as well:

Back in the 19th Century, a well-known commentator named Matthew Henry was robbed. Yet even in the midst of a terrible circumstance, this man found ways to be grateful. Just listen to this attitude, as written in Henry’s journal:

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed!”

David Brainerd, a devoted missionary to the Native American people, was characterized by a thankful spirit. Even when he had a high fever and great pain, he was thankful that this challenge had come when he was among friends; when he ill and alone in his little hut, he thanked God saying, “Blessed be the Lord, I am not exposed in the open air…”; and in another instance, facing weeks of outdoor solitude, forging through swamps, and enduring dark nights, he thanked God that his loneliness “drove him to experience intimate fellowship with the Lord…”

And if you remember Disney’s classic film, Pollyanna, the story of a missionary orphan who goes to live with a difficult aunt. This sweet-natured girl brings joy to the entire town by looking on the bright side of things, an attitude she calls her “Glad Game,” even in the midst of challenges.

(Examples adapted from The Attitude of Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss).

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go”; and in Deuteronomy 6:7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

By the time the kids had a fresh plate of French toast, they also had a quick lesson in gratitude, and I was feeling better as a mom.

Later, our son came up to me and asked for forgiveness for his attitude; and I could tell he was truly sorry. And our daughter, who just moments ago listened to me read this article, asked me to please tell you all that she already said she was sorry, and that she’s thankful . . . but actually, her brother was the one who started it.

About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

20 Responses to Serving Thanksgiving – With Breakfast

  1. Kim November 10, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Ann, thank you for so many great stories. I can’t wait to share them with my family! And please tell your little girl that I believe her ;)

    • Ann Dunagan November 15, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks Kim!!! I’ll tell her! :)

    • Robert November 25, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      Ha Ha. I believe her too.
      Great story.

  2. Michelle November 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    You know i remember reading his book Tortured for Christ when i was 14, changed my life! I love VOM & after i went on a couple missions, definitely keeps you in check with everything we have here to be grateful & give thanks for. I was also sad when he died, i remember writin it inside the cover of the now tattered copy of his book(read it many times, poor cover has fallen off over n over now). I used to teach Sunday school as well, and i remember after coming back from the first mission taking a whole new perspective on teaching about thankfulness. I would say to the kids ( i taught the 3 & 4 year olds), i want you to look down, what’s on your feet? Someone would say shoes, we would take a min. to talk about how great shoes are, that they protect your feet. Then i told them about how i just met some other kids their age and got to give them their very first pair of shoes, ever. And would say something like, can you imagine never having shoes till now? And how we should be thankful for everything, even the things that seem small to us like shoes. Lovely blog :)

    • Ann Dunagan November 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

      Michelle, I appreciate you taking the time to share about how Voice of the Martyrs and their book, Tortured for Christ, impacted your life . . . and about how you have taught children about thankfulness.

      For those who don’t know, this powerful book about the story of VOM’s founder is available for FREE through the VOM website (see link above in article).

  3. Kimberly November 9, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    What a great post and lesson for us all! It is SO easy to take things we have for granted!

    • Ann Dunagan November 9, 2010 at 7:11 am #

      Amen, Kimberly!

      One of the reasons I like to regularly read about the needs and situations of the persecuted church — our suffereing brothers and sisters in Jesus — is because far too often we take our spiritual freedom for granted. We do have SO much to be thankful for. I was so inspired to hear about how Wurmbrand (founder of Voice of the Martyrs) was even able to be thankful to the Lord from a prison cell . . . and that’s where Paul was too (in a prison) when God inspired Him to write, “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and again I say, REJOICE!”

      Thanks for your feedback! Bless you!!!

  4. Ruthann November 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    Hi I just found your blog! It’s so wonderful to see other women that are devoted to their home and family! Your blog is so very inspiring! Keep up the good work, this country needs more mom’s like you! Come on over to my blog for a visit sometime! God Bless you!

    • Ann Dunagan November 9, 2010 at 7:07 am #


      I appreciate your thought about “our country needs more moms…”

      That is SO true. The family in America is under attack. It’s a HUGE blessing to society and to God’s kingdom to be a faithful and godly mom. I’m sure thankful that the Lord doesn’t ask us to do this, and then not help us. He gives us His GRACE for each day.

      Blessings to you!

  5. KGR's Mom November 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you for the post…I cried, and of course laughed at the honesty of your daughter, as I read. I love Voice of the Martyrs. They have it at my chiropractor’s office and I am slowly reading through them all. Every time I walk away with a changed attitude and complete respect for those facing true persecution.

  6. Joy November 8, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Great post Ann! Perspective changes everything, doesn’t it?! I have to remind myself to be thankful too, at times. Living in the midst of poverty does certainly keep it fresh in my mind, though!!

    Thank you for these thoughts,

    • Ann Dunagan November 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      KGR’s mom:

      I think it’s important to always remember the persecuted thurch — for prayer and for perspective. Real Christianity is not just about being pleased, but living to please God. At times, it will be tough . . . but God will give us the grace for all that He calls us to do.

      Bless you!!!

      • Ann Dunagan November 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

        oops — I meant to say “church”

    • Ann Dunagan November 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

      Joy — You’re welcome.

      Thanks for your comment and interaction. Bless you!!!

      P.S. Where do you and your family live?

      • Joy November 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

        We live in Indonesia, where we serve as missionaries with MAF. :)
        Thanks for asking.

        • Ann Dunagan November 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm #


          WOW!!! That’s AWESOME. MAF (I assume you’re speaking of Missionary Aviation Fellowship) is such an awesome ministry. We’ve used MAF many times over the years getting into remote places, and I’ve always enjoyed the stories about missionary MAF heroes like Nate Saint. I look forward to checking out your website, and seeing how we can PRAY for you. May the Lord continue to bless you and your children, and give you increased GRACE and anointing for the service you’re called to. I’m so honored to have your comment.

  7. Amanda November 8, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    thankful you blogged this. : )

  8. Kori Kauffman November 8, 2010 at 5:43 am #


  9. Danielle B November 8, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    Good post! children have to reminded often.

    “And our daughter, who just moments ago listened to me read this article, asked me to please tell you all that she already said she was sorry, and that she’s thankful . . . but actually, her brother was the one who started it.”

    LOL… kids! I hope you nipped that in the bud too. A lesson in taking responsibility for your own actions would have followed suit in our house.

    • Ann Dunagan November 8, 2010 at 7:23 am #


      YES, as mothers we definitely have to keep nippin’ those self-centered attitudes in the bud. I just got such a chuckle out of our daughter’s comment, and thought you would too. It reminded me of a funny example my sister-in-law tells, when when her two little boys came running in to tattle-tale on each other, and one of them shouted, “Mommmmm!!!! Travis hit me back!”

      Being a mommy is a BIG JOB . . . and a JOY.