In 2013 I was given the opportunity to borrow a book from my friend Donna. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp was a great read. In fact after reading it twice I've decided it's finally time to download it for my Kindle. I read the book twice but didn't fully participate in the Joy Dare. So....this is the year I'm going to practice looking for joy in everyday. When we lived in WA for a short period of time I wrote my 3 daily "gifts" on our bathroom mirror so I could meditate on them. I think I'm going to adopt this practice again as well as journaling my daily entries and participating in the FB community.
If you haven't read the book in my opinion you should. It has been very transformative and has encouraged me to really come out of the fog of my apathy by pressing in to gratitude. The last few months have been very rocky and full of hurt, unmet expectations, change and grief. Truly I've felt hemmed in by a fog and that this haze has kept me from engaging in life fully. I'm coming out of this season because of God's hand of mercy. However, I know that part of my journey forward is momentum caused by gratitude.
Another tool that I am utilizing is the 100HappyDays challenge on FB/Instagram. Each day I share a picture and a brief synopsis of the happiness associated with that image. I'm currently on day 52 and it has been so much fun. Also I've had two people in my life specifically mention that my sharing has impacted them. That's pretty cool. I've shared moments with my children, successes in my weight loss journey, a snippet about Nathan, pictures from our Christmas celebration and even a picture of my Joy Dare list for January. Taking time each day to by mindful, pause and realize my blessings and spend time thanking God for them has been freeing. It also has encouraged me to engage with those in my world and tell them how much they are loved. I share with them what they have done, what they are that brings joy to my world. The dynamic of our house is changing and I'm feeling a renewed sense of hope. It's a blessing.
Part of my true embracing of gratitude has been the realization that there are things in my life that are hard, painful and challenging that bring growth, strength and mercy. Things that others might not look at as lovely, helpful or beautiful have caused me to experience a strange warming in my soul. I'm becoming increasingly more thankful for the things in my life that don't happen, the "no's" of my life and the disappointments. The words of the serenity prayer are ringing true..."hardship as a pathway to peace...". It sounds crazy, but I am grateful, truly humbled by the things that have been taken from me because they are bringing a greater sense of dependence upon Christ and a deeper relationship with each of my family members and also myself.
I dare say today that I'm grateful for autism. I venture out of my comfort zone to say that I'm thankful for a marriage that has grown from depression, hurt, withdrawal and pain. Being challenged with five kids, two sets of twins and financial hardship sure is building character. The gift of devastation as by friend Bette calls it, is truly that....a gift. Stepping out in faith, moving across the country and facing circumstances that precipitated a move back to NC...not an accident. These temporary storms have cause my roots to grow deep and I'm praying for a heart that displays the glory and splendor of God. I'm not grateful for the things in my life so I can brag about them. I want to be a mirror that reflects Christ. I want to be a clear window that transparently allows people to see the pain in my life and the healing that occurs through the work of Jesus. Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:30 "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
So today I revel in the brokenness, the piece of my life have been shattered so that God could put them back together to make a stained glass window. I'm so glad he knows the story of my life and is continuing to write it in my heart and mind. I'm grateful, so grateful and may my life be a living sacrifice of praise as I flesh out real gratitude....a life filled with thanksgiving.