FAITH NEWS SERVICE – “Say thank you!” is one of the earliest lessons we learn as children when we receive a gift, but an attitude of gratitude is not just for the benefit of others. With its focus on thankful appreciation of the tangible and intangible good in our lives, gratitude is strongly associated with greater personal happiness and well-being.
According to Harvard Medical School, gratitude “helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Helping people “refocus on what they have instead of what they lack,”* cultivating gratitude also goes hand in hand with developing emotional maturity.
Exposing children to the wonders of nature—God’s creation—is one way to help them mature in faith as they develop a sense of gratitude for and responsibility towards our shared world. In Good One, God, debut picture book author Stacy Leicht takes us on a fishing trip into the Gulf of Mexico with little Kelsey, her big brother Zach, and Grandad.
As they encounter nature’s marvels, such as great blue herons, terrapin turtles, and the salty sea that tastes just like potato chips, Grandad’s thankful “Good one, God!” prompts Kelsey to keep her eyes peeled for her own praise item. But Zach always beats her to the punch, and Kelsey worries she’ll miss out on thanking God. It takes a sudden insight into the human connectedness with nature for Kelsey to realize that she’s had something to be grateful for all along.
“I want children and adults to look at nature and see God’s amazing miracles in everyday life,” Stacy says. “My desire is for children and adults to see the minute details in small creatures, to see the incredible colors of birds and fish, and to know only God himself can make such beauty.”
This charming story not only highlights the natural beauty of the Gulf region, it also points to the value of intergenerational discussion about God’s good gifts and the importance of stewarding the earth he has entrusted to us.
* Harvard Medical School. Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Health Publishing. 14 August 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Dearborn, Michigan, Stacy Leicht grew up loving animals, nature, and books. She was an elementary school teacher and literacy curriculum facilitator for fifteen years before becoming an adjunct professor and then a supervisor in the Education Department at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Stacy lives with her husband, Rick, and their rescue dog, Bella, in North Carolina. She and Rick have two grown children. Stacy treasures time with her two grandchildren and loves reading, baking, and snorkeling at the beach.
Contact Stacy: firstname.lastname@example.org