Archives for April 2013

The Art of Gratitude: Jean Francois Millet

Jean Francois Millet painted gratitude, if ever I dare to say such a thing!  I have often thought to myself, “How would you paint gratitude, Laura?”  And my “self” answered and did paint one painting entitled “Gratitude,” which you can find here, but it is not an easy task I found.  I guess most of what I paint is that which I am grateful for, but to actually paint the meaning of the word is another story.  To really convey the topic of gratitude, one must really put on one’s thinking cap.  This might be a great activity for your child.  Ask him/her to paint gratitude after they understand what it means, and see what they come up with.  Please share with us; we would love to see their inspired artwork! 

The French realist painter, Millet, (1814 -1875) painted three paintings I want to share with you that speak to our hearts on this topic.  Let these paintings speak louder than words and enjoy.  Here are some questions to ponder over this first famous painting above entitled, “The Angelus:”

1.  What are these people doing in the painting?  (Praying.)
2.  What is in the basket and laying near the man’s feet and the pitchfork?  (Potatoes.)
3.  Why do you think they are praying?  (They are probably thanking God for the crop of potatoes they are digging up and perhaps asking God to bless it and multiply it.)

Here is another painting of gratitude entitled “The Gleaners:”

 A “gleaner” is a person, generally a poor person, who is allowed to pick up the wheat that was missed from a field after it is harvested.  Ruth, from the Bible was a gleaner.  She gleaned from Boaz’s field.  God blessed Ruth, and her attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude for being able to glean from Boaz, gave her favor in his sight.  After explaining what a “gleaner” is to your child and sharing the children’s Bible story of Ruth and Boaz with them, share this painting and ask these questions:

1.  What are the women doing in this painting?  (Gleaning the leftover wheat.)
2.  How did God bless Ruth when she gleaned wheat in Boaz’s field?  (Boaz asked the men to drop extra wheat for her because he noticed her heart of gratitude.  He also eventually asked to marry her.)
3.  Do you think the women in the painting thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (Yes.)  Why?  (Because they did not plant it or get paid to harvest it; it was a blessing to their family.)
4.  Do you think the harvesters thought this leftover wheat was a gift?  (No.)  Why?  (Because they already harvested most of the grain and this was “waste” or “leftover” to them.)

Here is another famous Millet painting, “The Sower:”

1.  What is the man doing?  (Planting or “sowing” seed.  See the seeds falling from his extended hand?)
2.  Do you think he will pray for a harvest over these seeds?  (Yes!)
3.  What does he need to do to in order for God to bless his seed?  (Water the seed, take care of it, be grateful for it, and continue to pray for it.)

I hope you have enjoyed these gratitude paintings by Jean Francois Millet!  I love the heart of gratitude they represent and that your children will understand more deeply what gratitude means through this master artist’s work.  

Love and infinite blessings,

Laura Bird Miller, artist/art instructor


Podcast: The Backstory of Chasing Fireflies

Chasing Fireflies is a series of podcasts that expand on thoughts and ideas expressed on The Fireflies Blog [].  In our first episode, we begin the discussion of why we decided to launch a blog and what beliefs inspired us to want to “create family legacy moments that encourage children to communicate with confidence and view the world with a sense of wonder.”

Chasing Fireflies Podcast Icon

Deni Corbett & Gil Moegerle

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Author & Illustrator:  William Steig

I wonder if any of the myriad of wishes I have wished have ever come true! I have wished on the first star of evening, four-leaf clovers, the wishbone in a turkey and more birthday candles than I care to remember. But whether or not I’ve seen some miraculous event follow any of my wishes – well, I’m afraid that hasn’t yet happened.

Sylvester, however, DOES find that magic pebble that changes everything for him!  As an avid collector of pebbles of unusual shape and color, he is always on a quest for one that is extraordinary.  One rainy Saturday afternoon he finds a flaming red, shiny and perfectly round pebble.  Examining it, Sylvester wishes it would stop raining and immediately the rain stops. His newfound power continues to be quite an adventure, until he mistakenly wishes himself to turn into a rock. With no way to touch the magic pebble and reverse his wish, Sylvester is helpless while his parents have no idea what or where he is.

What will happen to Sylvester? How will his parents possibly find him? Will the magic pebble be able to help them?  I will tell you that something as simple, yet wonderful as a picnic lunch will be the happy ending to Sylvester’s story!

Often we make wishes for things that really aren’t important at all. Sylvester learned he was truly grateful, not for things he could wish for, but for what he had all along.

Mary Byrne Kline
“What a lucky day this is!” thought Sylvester.
 From now on I can have anything I want.

Moments: Content and Grateful

When I was young both of my parents had a love for music and a love of singing.  They even traveled around the world in an evangelistic singing group when they were in college.  At times, I found their passion embarrassing as they wouldn’t just sing the songs during worship, they would sing loudly, and with what seemed to me to be dramatic inflection in their voices, sing harmonies and runs.  Mostly though, I loved that we would sing in the car as a family and I loved to sit on the piano bench next to my mom and sing with her.  One of my favorite songs to sing with her was Jehovah-Jireh. The lyrics are simple. “Jehovah Jireh, my provider, His grace is sufficient for me, my God shall supply all my needs, according to His riches and glory, He will give His angels charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me.” 

I have found myself singing this often through the years even though I haven’t heard it in church or on the radio in a very long time.  Now as I reflect on these lyrics they have been some of the most impacting theology I’ve ever known.  My life wasn’t and isn’t all “sing-along’s” and “Sundays.”  There have been many times where the circumstances of my life have told me I’m alone, I don’t have enough, it won’t be okay, or this situation won’t get better. But standing on the truth that God is my provider and He is full of riches and glory, He cares about me, He watches over me and His grace is sufficient for me, has made the difference between a life of “if onlys” and a life of trusting Him in all things. Choosing to be grateful in all circumstances and finding true contentment. 

As a mother in today’s society, teaching our kids to be grateful and content can only happen if we ourselves have learned to be. God is good, He is able, and He loves to take care of His kids. 

Lanise Santala

Philippians 4:19

King James Version (KJV)

But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.