The Grace Box sits on our kitchen table and represents more than the slips of paper it holds. I believe that the key to happiness in life is gratitude and daily grace before meals builds in both being thankful and teaching thankfulness to our kids.
The Grace Box used to be a small envelope that Ali decorated in Sunday school, over the years, we’ve collected short prayers and dinnertime graces and upgraded to a larger container. The prayers came from Sunday school classes, magazine clippings and the weekly prayers our old church in New Jersey used to distribute in the Sunday bulletin. We have a small children’s book of prayers that fits in neatly and an embroidered prayer on the wall that Anna favors reading when we sit at the table that’s closest to the framed words.
Our Grace Box prayers offer inspiration, but we also love to create our own and encourage the kids to speak from their hearts. Anna tends to be the one who most easily and openly creates beautiful, genuine prayers “from scratch” and without reading from the choices in the box, but we also nudge the others to say a grace from their hearts not their mouths. I love the idea of making talking to God something simple yet powerful, something that anyone can do at anytime without a prescribed formula, script or without going through another person. Go ahead and talk right to God.
Nick and I believe in modeling faith for our children. We believe in creating a home that allows for questions, discussions and wondering about God, the universe, spirit, what happens when someone dies and any other of the millions whys, hows, and whats.
There are so many uncertainties in life and whatever our children end up believing, whatever course their hearts follow, we feel our job is to nurture the fertile soil for their spiritual journey. Our job is to introduce them to God, to our beliefs as well as to our own puzzlements and doubts.
It’s not just acceptable, it’s smart to think and ask questions, to seek answers, to weigh and explore what your personal feelings are on any topic, including church, religion and God. In our family we start with bedtime prayers, regular church involvement and saying grace.
It takes conscious attention to be mindful of the good around us. Since family dinner is so important to us, mealtime is the perfect place to count our blessings, so we open the Grace Box and share a family moment of gratitude.