Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

My focus word for 2015 has been gratitude. At the moment, I am grateful for those of you who remain subscribers on my blog even though I am really bad about posting on a regular basis. I’ve got a book review I’ve been wanting to post, but I felt like I needed to write a personal post before adding another “book break,” as there hasn’t been much real content on my blog to break from lately. The good news is — I have been too busy to write. Well, I guess that’s also the bad news. I know it is important to slow down to allow ourselves time for the things that we enjoy and that make our lives meaningful. I also recognize that I need to be more purposeful about how I spend the hours in my days. Perhaps you are noticing the same thing in your life?

Here are some words from others that I found inspiring:

“If you itemize your activities and their time consumption over the course of a week, you might be surprised at the dominating events. Each moment is a gift, so set aside a few minutes each evening to plan. Then revisit the way you spent the last 24 hours. This will help you to live purposefully.”  (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

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“When we slow down, we give ourselves time and space to really think about things, to be present, to embrace what’s happening right in front of us, as opposed to flitting from task to task, never quite spending time in the now. …

If we waited until the house was immaculately tidy and work was quiet and the kids were perfectly settled and we had no stresses, then we would still be waiting for permission from life to slow down.

It doesn’t happen like that. Life is messy and layered and there are always things going on. It requires constant tilting.

… It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we slow down and stop cramming stuff in to life. …

We think clearly. We pay attention to the moment. We learn things. We come away feeling rested and rejuvenated and at peace, because we’ve spent time living in the now.” Brooke McAlary (Slow Your Home: The Simpler Life You Want)

Be GratefulThinking about the now, here are a few things I am grateful for today:

I am grateful for my husband, who still works hard and plows ahead, despite some setbacks he experienced in his career this past year. I am proud of him and his determination to find and forge his next path with the company he has worked at/with for over seven years.

I am also grateful that I can continue to work from home, and that he supports that choice, even if the alternative (9 to 5 in an office) might put us in a better position financially.

I am grateful for my sister Gabrielle, whose company finds and provides the source of my current work. [And I’m quite certain she is equally grateful to have one of the best editors around working with/for her. 😉 ]

Although, it is perfectly normal to worry a little bit about the days ahead, since I can’t see what the upcoming months will bring in terms of projects, income, health issues, etc., I also recognize that worrying about the future only takes away today’s joy.

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However, as I reminded one of my other sisters recently, it is okay to feel what we feel and to acknowledge it even when we are aware that some people have things harder or worse than we do. It’s good to have perspective, but we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t hurting or frustrated or worried or confused. We should acknowledge it, maybe even give ourselves a moment to wallow in it, “then take a breath, push the bad thoughts away, and move on.”

As Lysa Terkeurst shares: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Look for something positive

So, grab hold of today. Slow down, and pay attention to the moment. Recognize any negative thoughts and/or feelings that might be stealing your joy. Then tuck them away, and reach for the things that give meaning and purpose to your life. Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

Practice Gratitude

The thoughts that I wanted to share with you on today’s post actually comes from another blogger – Brooke – author of Slow Your Home {The Simpler Life You Want}. Although her article “21 Actions You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life” is from September of 2012, I believe it is still relevant today. I enjoyed all of her suggestions and just signed up for emails from her blog. I think her articles fit well with Fuller Way of Life {on living simply and living well}, and action #2 from this specific post that I linked to ties in to my word for the year – Gratitude – so I wanted to share her comments for this step here. I recommend that you follow the link above and read the whole article.

Joy

Action # 2: Practice Gratitude

Recent studies have shown that those of us who are regularly grateful for the good in our lives are likely to be more physically active, feel more content in our day-to-day lives and suffer less health problems.

Sound good?

How to Practice Gratitude and Reap the Benefits:

Once a week, spend ten minutes writing down 5-10 people/acts/events/things you are grateful for. Just one sentence per entry is enough.

That’s it. Just ten minutes a week will have truly positive impact on your happiness and well being.

Is That All? Ten Minutes a Week? What if I Do More? Will I Be Happier?

Gratitude studies have shown that over-doing the gratitude journalling may have the opposite effect. Over time we become immune to the feeling of well-being gained through gratitude and lose the positive benefit.

Although I personally tend to think it would take a lot to over-do this. I can see no harm in thinking on the positives each morning or as you go to bed at night.

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How do you practice gratitude? Do you find that it comes easier the more you focus on people, things, and situations you are grateful or thankful for? What are you grateful for at this very moment? 

Happiness cannot be traveled to,
owned, earned, worn or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience
of living every minute with love, grace,
and gratitude.  ~Denis Waitley

Wishing you much happiness today!

My Focus for 2015: Gratitude

Just as I did at the start of 2014, I pondered, prayed, and reflected over the past month to come up with one word that I would try to focus on for the year. The word that came to me was “gratitude.” Gratitude

Gratitude is easy when you are clearly surrounded by life’s blessings and you feel like things are going well for you. But what about when you are going through a tough time? Unfortunate circumstances can make it difficult to see the good and to be grateful for what is happening to you or around you. It can be especially hard to discover the silver lining in the dark clouds at this time. But, I believe, in many cases, if we look hard enough, we can find something in each moment to latch onto and to be thankful for.

“I have learned to be content
whatever the circumstances. I can do everything
through him who gives me strength …
God will meet all your needs.” 
Philippians 4:11, 13, 19 (NIV)

Attitude of Gratitude

My goal for this year is to “Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude” despite my circumstances. I created a place on a whiteboard (see above) to remind myself of some of the things I am grateful for on an ongoing basis. Currently, it shows things like family, friends, Bart, Bella, work, nature, and books. What I’d like to do throughout the year is to replace these easy-to-come-up-with concepts with things that might not at first seem to be something one would be thankful or grateful for. I want to dive deeper into my feelings and my life situations and attempt to discover the good within the “bad” or the uncomfortable.

Gratitude_Tip

 I invite you to join me on this journey. I’m thinking about creating some “Growing in Gratitude” kits (including colorful string, mini-clothespins, and pieces of paper in various shapes, sizes, and patterns) for my Etsy shop, depending on interest level. So, let me know if you might be interested in something like that and if so, I’ll put some kits together. Otherwise, it’s very easy to create your own gratitude journal or board, using regular paper and colorful markers or pencils, or whatever strikes your fancy. You can update the concepts daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever the mood hits. There is no right or wrong way to highlight or reflect on your blessings.

Too many blessings

“God, send me anywhere, only go with me.
Lay any burden on me, only sustain me.
And sever any tie in my heart except the tie
that binds my heart to yours.”
David Livingstone

As Zig Ziglar says: “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

What helps you maintain an attitude of gratitude? I would love it if you would share some of your thoughts on this with me, as I plan to continue writing about this topic throughout the year.

Thank you, and have a blessed day.

Grateful for trees

“The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.”  —Brennan Manning

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