The Thanksgiving holiday starts with great food. Just imagine biting into soft bread rolls or a savory slice of marinated turkey! The right ingredients and consistent practice produce culinary perfection. Do you have a favorite family recipe? In my family, Chocolate Pecan Bars top-off our Thanksgiving meal. My Mom bakes a plate of sweet, chewy pecan bars each year. As a child, I fondly recall sneaking a bar off the generous platter that graced the kitchen counter. Here’s that special recipe!
Chocolate Pecan Bars
3 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cup corn syrup (light or dark)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2½ cups pecans (chopped or whole, ≈10 oz.)
2 cups sugar (divided ½ cup + 1½ cups)
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1½ teaspoon vanilla
Crust: Grease bottom and sides of 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. In mixer bowl, beat flour, ½ cup sugar, butter and salt until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press firmly and evenly into pan. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Filling: In large saucepan, stir corn syrup and chocolate over low heat until chocolate melts. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining sugar (1½ cups), then eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in pecans (chopped) or place whole pecans evenly on crust. Pour filling over hot crust; spread evenly. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes until filling is firm around edges and slightly soft in center.
Cool in pan on wire racks. Cut the bars after the pan cools with a very sharp knife.
Hannah’s Thanksgiving Blessing
Why not be as intentional in expressing thankfulness to God (and training your children to do so) as you are about preparing that cherished family recipe? Hannah, Samuel’s mother, provides an exceptional example of how to express thanksgiving.
After God miraculously answered her prayers for a son, Hannah showed sincere thankfulness. Several years later, she faced a critical choice. She could either continue to thank God, trusting His plan for Samuel, or she could become self-focused, harboring her son to herself. Hannah made the difficult, correct choice—and the Lord affirmed her heart:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
Most children learn thankfulness by recognizing the wonderful things in life. Kids find joy in friends, donuts, teachers, stuffed animals, or fun trips to the playground. This is a vital developmental step. Children must also grow in thankfulness to God when things are less-than-perfect. In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoun shares that gratitude is possible, “…not because everything goes perfectly but because God is present. The Spirit of God is within us—nearer to us than our own breath. It is a discipline to choose to stitch our days together with the thread of gratitude.” Choosing thankfulness helps shape our hearts to focus on what God is doing—instead of fixating on our problems.
Thanksgiving in Worship
Worship is a key ingredient to thankfulness. Hannah chose to praise God and focus on His goodness. Her words and actions worshiped the Lord. It was the act of putting God first in her life; it is no different today. Calhoun explains, “Worship reveals the somethings or someones we value most. What we love and adore and focus on forms us into the people we become. …Transformation comes through valuing God above all else.”
Come alongside your children to help them learn how to prioritize giving thanks to the Lord. During your worship times this Thanksgiving season, try one or more of these practical recipes!
- Worship Songs: Twelve Tunes to Help Grow Thankfulness
- 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
- Good, Good Father (Chris Tomlin)
- New Doxology (Shout Praises Kids)
- Every Good and Perfect Thing (Yancy)
- Happy Day (Amber Sky Records)
- Give Thanks (Motion Worship)
- Give Thanks to the Lord (Seeds Family Worship)
- Thank You Lord (Shout Praises Kids)
- The Good Song (Seeds Family Worship)
- Unshakable (Amber Sky Records)
- Now Thank We All Our God (Martin Rinkart)
- Come, Ye Thankful People Come (Henry Alford)
- Group Activities: Three Spiritual Practices to Encourage Thanksgiving
- Dig Deep: When times are tough, dig deep and find something to thank God for. Invite children to respond to this question: “How do you feel about this hardship?” Spend time thinking together of ways they have observed God’s nearness during that difficulty. Then ask, “How can you be thankful in this hard situation?” Share your answers.
- Tell a Story: Children love stories. Take advantage of their natural interest by telling a personal testimony about God’s provision and sustaining presence in your life. Stories of God’s faithfulness (and your thankfulness) will encourage kids to do the same!
- Reflect & Remember: Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 slowly and thoughtfully (see below). Provide sticky notes or sheets of paper and ask the children to write down ways to remember and practice those words. After two minutes, post the sticky notes around the room.
- Videos: Seven Presentations that Prompt Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving True or False (Digital Felt Productions)
- The Story of Thanksgiving (Zebtoonz Productions)
- Thanksgiving 101 (Flashlight Films)
- Give Thanks Worship Intro (Motion Worship)
- Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving (Steelehouse Media Group)
- Thank You (Yancy)
- What Are You Thankful For? (Building Worship)
“Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)