Gratitude Day 197 – Signs of Gratitude

Fri., Jan. 18, 2019

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe,

“You sure have a lot of things in your house with the words ‘grateful’ and ‘thankful’ on them,” our 8-year-old granddaughter Ellie told me recently.

20190116_110619

We were sitting at my desk searching the internet for fun gymnastic photos for Ellie. When I looked up, I saw two items on my desk, each with one of those words.

20190116_110615

She had a point.

20190116_110639

My mind quickly began recalling the various other items in our house that express one of these words or a variation of them. Point is? Ellie is right. There ARE lots of things in our house that include these words.

Then came Ellie’s next question, “Why?”

20190116_110726

Why do I have a variety of things expressing these words?

Because these words mean a lot to me. They capture the essence of one of my core values. No matter what is going on in my life or the world, I have much to be grateful and thankful for. Rather than spending ridiculous amounts of energy focusing on things that disappoint me or I wish were different (and often out of my control), I choose to surround myself with the thousands and thousands of ways I truly am blessed. Having little reminders throughout our house is a way to subcontiously remind myself that I am truly blessed.

Because, I am.

DSC06200

Sure, I’d like to lose some weight. And be more productive with my time. I wish I would say all the right things in difficult situations, rather than the wrong things that often come out of my mouth. I’d like to be more humble and listen more. I wish I would stop comparing myself to others and be completely happy with who I am.

 

Most days, there is this little voice inside of me that tries to lure me to a place where I know I could easily become cynical and question why there always seems to be some crazy thing in my life lurking just around the corner. Before this becomes the most important thought in my day, I choose to counter these difficult thoughts with gratitude … thankfulness … blessings. Maybe having these little reminders scattered throughout our house is one way to remind myself that no matter what happens today, my glass is more than half full. I believe in a God who will help me navigate what ever challenge comes my way. At the end of every day, I have thousands of reasons why I am a very blessed person.

How did I answer Ellie? I told her I have items with these words scattered around our house because they are important to me. They are little reminders of what is most important, like she, her brothers and cousins. I hope these words will encourage other people to also be grateful and thankful.

I know this is a lot for an 8-year-old to capture. But, it’s how I feel. And why I surround myself with these words as daily reminders of what perspective I want to see life through.

So, what two or three words are the ones that inspire you the most? What few words do you want to have others see in you? How do you integrate these words into your daily life?

20190107_003737

For little reminders of what is most important to me, I am grateful.

Lord God – when life gets busy, full and overwhelming, it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important. Help us to find small, easy things to help us find our core values each and every day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 174 – Worship

Sun., Dec. 9, 2018

Psalm 122:1- I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let’s go to the Lord’s house!”

The Rookie

In the movie The Rookie, Dennis Quaid plays Jim Morris. Based on a true story, Jim coached high school baseball. When his team makes the state high school playoffs, he fulfills a promise to the team and tries out for a major league baseball team. Never mind that Jim is in his 30’s and has a family. When he consistently throws the ball 98 mph at a try-out, he is signed to a minor league team.

It’s a tough summer for Morris. He’s traveling in a bus with a bunch of college kids, while his wife and family are home, barely paying their bills. He’s questioning why he’s pursuing this dream. After an opportunity to remember why, he walks into the locker room before a game and approaches another player, Brooks. Morris says to Brooks, “Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to play baseball.”

Today is Sunday. Today is going to be a good day. Today, we get to worship God.

A little over a year ago, I stepped down from serving two churches as the pastor. After planning weekly worship for 18 years, Sunday mornings have been very different the last year. Yes, I have had the opportunity to fill the pulpit many times. Some Sundays, like today, I will provide music for a worship service. Whether I’m the pastor leading worship or the pianist sitting behind the piano, I look forward to Sunday because this is the day we get to worship God.

kids time at Midland

I’ve been asked whether Hubby Rick and I have found a church home. Quite honestly, we worship in a variety of churches. Most months, we worship at a different church every week of the month. This has been a big change for both of us. Our Sunday morning routine is very different than it was for the previous 17 years of our marriage. I don’t leave home before Rick. We go to worship together. Sometimes, we even get to sit next to each other for some or all of the worship service. Every Sunday, we get to worship God.

Believe it or not, worship is the single most popular act in the United States on a weekly basis. Even in a time of declining church attendance, more people will attend worship service today than will attend a professional football game. More people will take time to gather with other people of their particular religion than will go to a theater production.

 

I know, you may find this hard to believe. But it’s true.

In the many years I actively served faith communities and congregations, more than one person approached me and shared their reason why they did not attend worship on a regular basis. It was the only day of the week they could sleep in. They needed a break. They had gotten out of the habit of going to worship. They can’t find a worship service that “speaks” to them. They don’t want to be hypocritical and go to church when they aren’t sure what they believe. And the list goes on … and on … and on.

Here’s the deal. Worship is not something we do because we feel like it. There are many things we do, even if we don’t always feel like it. Do you only go to work when we feel like it? If most of us only exercised when we felt like it, there’s a whole bunch of people who would never exercise again.

Here’s the truth: feelings can be great liars. Feelings allow us to justify anything, if we allow it. If we only do things when we really feel like it, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that would never get done, including worship.

Too often, we talk ourselves in or out of something because we don’t feel it. We justify our actions by declaring that it would be inauthentic to do this task if our heart isn’t in it. Here’s where worship is different: worship is an act that develops a feeling for God, not a feeling for God that is an act of worship. Through worship, we begin to feel things of and for God that we would not experience unless we worship God.

quartet at midland

What about those people who say they can’t find a worship service that speaks to them? There will be days when worship is going to resonate with you more than other worship services. Unfortunately, we’re not all on the same page at the same time. You WILL attend a worship service that is a dud. I’ve been to these worship services. I’m confident I’ve led some of these duds. Worship is not just about style or a particular kind of music or liturgy. Worship is not about us. It’s about God. It’s looking beyond whatever happens in worship and finding the One True God who created you, who loves you and who deeply wants to be in relationship with you. This is worship. Period.

Instead of the line he said in the movie, think of Dennis Quaid saying these words to Brooks, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Let’s discover who God is for us today, whether we feel like it or not. Let’s look beyond the worship elements and simply meet the Lord. Worship is a matter of the heart; our heart being open to discovering God anew today. And when we open ourselves to God, I believe amazing things can happen.

Psalm 122

For the opportunity to worship today, I am grateful.

Holy God – Advent is such a special time of the year. A time for us to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. I pray we make regular worship a part of this preparation. Help us be on a journey to Bethlehem with Mary, Joseph and the angel. May we be amazed what happens to our hearts when we worship you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 150 – Gratitude Every Day

Wed., Nov. 7, 2018

Colossians 2:7 – Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.

gratitude yesterday, today, tomorrow

Since April 1, 2018, I have been blogging about things for which I am grateful. In my every daily, ordinary, regular life, I’ve tried to find even the simplest of things for which I am appreciative. I know. Some of these “grateful” things may seem like a stretch. One friend said to me, “Parchment paper?”  And I said, “Yes, parchment paper.”

Why something like parchment paper? Because I truly believe being grateful for the little things in life make a difference in how we view our little neck of the woods.

interrupt-anxiety-with-gratitude

Let’s be honest. Most of us won’t be president or governor or the CEO or a large company. Most of us won’t have a building named after us or a Wikipedia page where people can go and learn about our background. Most of us won’t be the person who everybody knows your name.

What we will be is the someone who has made a small difference in a few people’s lives. Or a big difference in even a smaller number of people very close to us. We may be that “crazy aunt” or the “cool parent” or the “embarrassing grandparent.” Just as easily, we could be the “cranky cousin” or “weird neighbor” or “difficult spouse” that no one likes to talk about.

What is the difference between the two? Sometimes, very little. The space between being a genius and being insane can barely be a sliver. What keeps someone from crossing from one side of the spectrum to another?

My-favorite-Gratitude-Quotes-Action-Jacquelyn-32

Gratitude. I have no actual data or research to back this up. But I truly believe our attitude towards appreciation, humbleness and respect go a long way towards our frame of mind and how we view of our little piece of the world. I see this over and over. People who demand respect approach life in a very different way from someone who simply appreciates the opportunities in front of them. Those who live life from the “glass half full” position often find it less necessary to point out to others what great things they have done. When I focus on all that I have rather than the one thing I don’t have, life seems pretty darn good.

What I do know is this: when we include gratitude in our lives on a more regular basis, the rest of life makes more sense. Personally, I feel we struggle less, value little things more and are able to find happiness more easily.

What have I discovered after writing 150 blogs about gratitude in the last 7+ months? Let me share a few things:

  • I find myself grumbling less. I have most often tried to embrace a Pollyannaish attitude; trying to find the good in any situation. Yet, it is also easy for me to grumble about something that discouraged me. I think my gossiping/grumbling are down these days. And this is a good thing.
  • I spend less energy trying to “find” that something that I “think” will make me happier. Maybe what I’m looking for is already right in front of me … and I wasn’t smart enough to realize this. Rather than searching for something that may or may not be there, I try to embrace what is already a part of my life.
  • I try to be content. It’s easy to focus on those things we’d like to change. I’m discovering that if I want something different, then I must be the agent of change; not someone else. Maybe it’s ME that needs to look at my life or the world differently rather than someone else. I can’t control someone else. Rather than trying to herd cats and get frustrated, maybe I am the one who needs to do something a bit different.

I never take for granted you, the folks, who read these little blogs after I write them. I appreciate having an audience and place to share where I see God in my daily life and express appreciation for this. If a blog challenges you or allows you to seek and find a little more gratitude in your daily life, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this.

So, I’m trying to decide if a few more “gratitude” blogs would be a good thing or not. Please leave a quick comment or a response on social media about whether continued blogs on gratitude would add value to your day. Or if there is something else that would be helpful for you to read about that includes a spiritual reflection with it, I would love to hear about this as well. I’ll read every comment carefully and take to heart your responses!

Begin each day

For a safe place to share about where I experience gratitude in my life, I am grateful.

In this world where we can easily focus on everything that we don’t like, challenge us to keep gratitude in our daily lives, Lord God. May we be agents of gratitude in all that we say and do.  Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 99 –Blessing of Prayer

god-s-words-of-life-on-rest-400x400

Sat., Aug. 11, 2018

1 Peter 1:21 – Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in him alone.

This week has been one of those especially full weeks. A week when there do not see to be enough hours in the day. When I just try to figure out what really is the most important thing to do in each moment.

When I feel like there is a lot going on, I also desire for moment of escape. Diversion. Not having to think. A few moments when I can put my life on hold. The problem is this: when I want those moments of escape, I don’t always make the best choices. I choose the something that will not really restore my soul. I choose something that lets me escape reality for just a few minutes.

As I was driving home tonight, the radio was on in the car. I turned it off. This is not uncommon for me. Sometimes, I just want the quiet of nothing but my own thought running through my head. And so, I just drive.

We all have seasons that are more demanding than others. Whether they last for a day or two, a week or two or for a couple of months, it helps me when I know this is not forever. Sometimes I know the timeframe. Other times, I don’t. What I do know is that I can trust God to be with me. I’m not alone. I can journey through whatever lies in my day because my faith and hope can rest in Christ alone.

For this, I am grateful.

Dear God – thanks for being with me whether I am fully aware of the need for you or not. When we feel overwhelmed, I pray your presence will increase and encourage us to simply look to you.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Gratitude Day 58 –Much to Be Grateful

Gratitude_02

Tues., June 5, 2018

Lord God – as I journey through this day, bring to my attention all the many things to be grateful for. May I see my glass as half-full today and not half-empty. Thank you for presence with me today. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.