I've wanted to write a blog post for a few days but it's been a weird week and I can't seem to get myself motivated. I keep procrastinating and doing other tasks but today is Thanksgiving in the USA and all week I've been bombarded with emails, devotionals and social media posts about the importance of gratitude and changing your attitude to being grateful for what you have.
I've loved seeing all these things as gratitude is a massive part of my life as a Christian. Most mornings I write a gratitude journal and give thanks for the things that are going well in my life. It's so important to adopt a positive approach to life and to acknowledge all the blessings you have, even when you're in your darkest moments. Sometimes it can be really tricky and you might be digging deep for even one reason to be thankful, but think on it hard enough and that reason will come.
It was for this reason that back in 2011 I started the Reasons to be Cheerful linky and I still know many people who use this practice in their everyday life. Looking for the silver linings and the little moments of grace that you spot in the everyday. When you start to look for the good stuff, you'll find you spot it much more easily. It's like any habit, keep practising and it will become second nature. Of course, at times you'll get distracted and forget but thankfully I find that God prompts me to look once again for the good moments when I am drowning in my problems.
October was an awfully hard month for me, I had parenting challenges that I never thought I'd have to face but I kept trying to dig deep and look for the blessings. They were there, some of them hiding behind black clouds and it took me days to write even one thing in my journal at times, but I'm coming through it, I look at November and there are days with a list of 20 reasons that I am feeling grateful.
I had one particular day in October where I sat at the kitchen table and I didn't know how I'd get through the day as I was so sad with everything going on and then I decided to mindlessly scroll through Instagram and I had to chuckle when I came across this image and the accompanying words as they spoke to me so clearly. What made me really laugh is that I had made the graphic and written the words and scheduled them on my church account. So God knew the exact day I'd need them to come back and minister to me!
"Times may be tough, but we are always encouraged to have our eyes heavenward and to focus on Him. Not on our situation. Of course, this isn't always easy but if we can do it, it will help us immensely.
When He is our centre, the storm can rage around us and we will come through it. Bless you, friends. We pray for your storm to be over and the joy to come in the morning."
Then, earlier this week I read a really good short devotional. It talked about changing the words you use and instead of saying - I had to drive JJ to college, I had to cook dinner for everyone, I had to change all the beds. You could adjust one simple word and make it - I get to drive JJ to college, I get to cook dinner for my family, I get to change the beds. This really spoke to me and reminded me of what I had written back in 2011 when I first started the reasons to be cheerful linky.
"Do you know what I believe are two of the fundamental keys to happiness? One, is to choose to be happy and the other is to want what you already have! Endless seeking of things, money, status, time or anything else will never fulfil you! This is where the gratitude comes in...."
It speaks of the same attitude, the one of embracing what you have in your life. Yes, it can be a pain to have to do a 16-mile round trip to take JJ to college and back a couple of times every day, but do I love those times of just being with my boy, my lad who'll move away to Uni in under a year and then I'll mourn the fact he isn't here anymore? I choose to enjoy chatting to him, teaching him to drive, listening to podcasts and playing guess the tune on all those journeys. I know I am privileged to be able to work from home and have the flexibility to do the running about and taxiing of my kids that living in a rural location entails.
Talking of that rural location, could I be any more blessed than where I live? Ashburnham Place is the most amazing place and it feeds my soul when I go out for a walk and see the Autumnal colours, or I catch a glimpse of the deer as I drive out, or the young volunteers take one of my girls under their wing and teach them new skills?
I am feeling very grateful for my life. I have a close relationship with God and I know He loves and accepts me. I am learning to accept myself too and for the last few days, I have been making good choices with my eating as I finally know that I am worth investing in. I believe that change is happening. Finally, I will become the healthier version of myself that has always been God's will for me. I don't have any plans to join a slimming club, follow a particular plan or overdose on exercise, I am just doing it the old fashioned way. I have given up my will and I'm relying on God. He has the answers, not me. It really is time to be obedient and to walk into the fullness of life that is waiting for me.
I'm looking forward to my future, as well as embracing my now. I can't wait to share my journey with you friends.
Why don't you dig deep and record what you're feeling thankful for right now? Happy Thanksgiving!