I find myself writing a lot about gratitude. I talk about thankfulness and how it has affected me. And my life. But then I continue on. I continue with life without ever going into details. I continue on without sharing what thankfulness means and how to practice it in a practical way. So today, today I will stop rushing past. Yes, today I am pausing and reflecting. Today, I will share what gratefulness is to me and what it has done in me.
ONE THOUSAND GIFTS
About a year ago I was given a book. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book changed my life. Seriously, I don’t say this lightly. At all. I have never read something so profound (you know, other than the Bible), that it literally changed the way I lived and viewed my life. Ann shares so vulnerably, so personally her own journey of gratitude and grace. She walks us through her life, her story, and her journey through thankfulness. Her journey began with a challenge. A challenge to document 1000 gifts. A challenge to live this life, with the ups and the downs, to the full. She began with a journal and a pen and then began using a camera to document the small and big ways she experienced gratefulness. The small and big ways she experienced the love of her Heavenly Father.
MY JOURNEY OF THANKFULNESS
That is where I met, Ann. I met her in the middle of the easy and the hard. I met her on my own journey through life with a special needs child. I met her on my own journey of understanding who I am outside of motherhood or marriage. I met her on my own journey to understanding the love of the One who created me. And honestly, I began this journey of gratefulness thinking it was a bit silly, even unnecessary. I practice thankfulness at the dinner table daily, with my children. We recount our days for one another, grateful for the hearts that beat so closely together.
And then one day, as I read the Psalms, something reminded me. Something triggered that the simple act of remembering and writing it down was important. Telling of my gratefulness in passing was beautiful, certainly. But writing the words and reflecting on them was more. And it was necessary. So I pulled out a journal and I began. I was a few weeks into the new year, so I wrote a few extra items each day until I “caught up.” You see, the 1000 gifts dare is to name 1000 gifts, 1000 items of gratitude each year. This equates to roughly 3 items a day. Some days are easy but others, just one item can be oh so rough to get to. You know, those hard days, the ugly days where you weren’t great to yourself, you weren’t great to those you love, and you certainly weren’t great to the strangers you met at the store. Or waiting in line, if you’re anything like.
But. But God met me there on my hard days. He met me at my thankfulness journal as I sat, trying to think of one good thing from the difficult days of our neuropsychology appointments. It’s still hard to think of something to be grateful for during those days, those appointments. But this practice of gratefulness is nothing without grace. So on the hard days, I thought of one item. One point of thankfulness. And the next day I caught up. And if I didn’t, that’s okay too.Because grace.
And now, I am here, 5 months out from those long and difficult appointments for Boy-Child, and I can see the grace in them. Now, today, I am able to catch glimpses of how God is working my story for His glory. I am able to catch glimpses of how God will bring Himself glory through Boy Child’s special need, yes, even through our hard days. That is the evidence of my thankfulness journey. I pray you would join me and experience the beauty and grace of living daily, in gratefulness. And to make it easier, I’m sharing a few easy and practical tips. Because if you can make something fit easily into my daily life, the more likely I am to actually do it!
TIPS FOR PRACTICING GRATEFULNESS:
- Set aside a time each day to reflect and remember. If you’re like me and it’s hard to remember the events that have transpired that day (or the day before if your time is first thing in the morning), use your calendar to help you remember. I have my quiet time in the morning, after the kids are off at school. Every day, at the start of my quiet time, I sit with my journal open in front of me. And I think on the day before. I remember the good moments and the bad. I think about the words that were spoken, and those that were left unspoken, to dwell in my mind and heart. But this act of me sitting in silence, reflecting, remembering, caused me to grow.
- Use a journal. There is truly something about writing thoughts down that gives them weight and makes them real. Plus, having them all together makes it easier to reflect on and remember your journey through gratefulness.
- Think of THREE specific things you can be thankful for each day. They can be small things like the smile of your little one or hearing your favorite song on the radio. Some days this is easily accomplished and I add a few extra. Other days it’s difficult and I only manage one.
- Don’t stop there! As you continue on your day, think on what you can be grateful for in that moment, in that interaction. And watch it change your mood and your life! Honestly, as I grew more comfortable in this journey of thankfulness, I began practicing it outside my quiet time. Outside the safety of my journal + kitchen. But it grew me. Without me even knowing. I began seeing gratefulness more easily throughout my day. I could more easily express it, show it, to my children so they too could experience the grace that is thankfulness.
Will you join me in this journey of gratitude? What thankfulness tips would you add?