Thinking about this for the past few days has prompted me to take action. This morning I decided to write down all of the significant things that have happened to my family and me family in 2017. I have to admit, there are a lot of things I completely forget about until I sat and reflected on the year.
From spending time with a beloved grandmother during the 4th of July celebration that we no long have with us today to moving to a new community to buying a puppy and taking a trip out of the country, these are only a few of the twenty things I listed.
I challenge you today to sit down and write out your highlights of 2017. You’ll be surprised how much has slipped your mind from the first of the year and how fast time flies.
Maybe you got a promotion. Maybe a loved one got married. Maybe your children hit some incredible milestones. Maybe you kicked a bad habit. Maybe you got to meet one of your role models. (I had the pleasure of speaking with two this year!) Maybe you made a new friend that’s really impacted your life.
Whatever your journey, be sure to stop and appreciate your blessings.
Prayer is something I’ve mentioned here several times. When I pray, how I pray, and what to pray for are just a few aspects I’ve shared. Today, I’d like to tell you about realizing when God has answered a prayer.
This may sound hokey to some people, especially if you are new to prayer or a skeptic in general, but the easiest way to know when a prayer has been answered is to daily write your prayers down.
I write the same prayer list every day. Most of the time its contents are identical to the day before, but sometimes I add people’s names who may be struggling with something I just found out about. Sometimes I add tragic events to the list, asking for God to guide the people affected when they aren’t quite sure what their next move should be. And then, sometimes prayers are answered.
My husband found out yesterday that he’s going to be getting a raise at his job effective at the first of the year. I was extending my gratitude in prayer this morning as I was working my way down my prayer list and then I stopped and started laughing. The item on the list that brought me to laughter was the debt line item I’d been praying for.
You see, my husband and I have been trying to pay our student loans off so they are gone forever! I’ve been praying very specifically for the amount that I thought would help us put a huge dent in that goal. His raise was just shy of the amount I’ve been praying about for almost six months!
Had I not kept track of this specific prayer and the exact number, I’d probably chalk his raise up to a boss’ kindness or giving in the holiday spirit. But that’s not correct. This is an answered prayer.
I encourage you to write prayers down, even if it’s only on a weekly basis and you keep the same list throughout the week. I’ve seen time and time again where God has answered our prayers. You’ll be amazed at how awesome this process can be!
Often we forget about things that were once significant but now have become completely ordinary. For example, most people don’t wake up every day grateful for electricity and a refrigerator. However, you take these two things away and we could quite possibly loose our minds very quickly.
Gratitude is all about finding something, anything really, that brings thankfulness into your heart. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been grateful for my washer and dryer. (I realize that may sound silly, but go ahead and let your washer quit working for a few days. You’ll be extremely grateful for that machine!)
We also don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving 2018 rolls around to know about gratitude. What things are you grateful for in your life?
Do you have a good job? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food in your belly? Do you have a vehicle to get you places? Do your kids go to a school that helps them grow into smart, good people? Do you have friends and family? Do you have a network of people who support you? Do you have one close friend, significant other, or family member whom you count on?
All of these things may seem ordinary, but they aren’t guaranteed. They are blessings. The breath in your lungs is a blessing. The beating of your heart is a blessing. The ability to read this is a blessing.
Don’t take your blessings for granted.
This Holiday season, I’ve felt motivated to give more. Give more time. Give more money. Give more service. I’m not sure if it’s gratitude or perspective that’s got a hold on me, but I feel extremely blessed.
I feel blessed to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I feel blessed that my husband has a good stable job, that he actually enjoys. I feel blessed that both of my parents are alive and very involved with our family. I feel blessed that the few friends I have are there for me when I need support. I feel blessed that my children are all healthy. I feel blessed that my husband and I work together as a team, no matter the obstacles we face as a married couple. I feel blessed to be loved. I feel blessed to be alive.
Blessings, gratitude, and perspective don’t come from material things. I hope that you can find the blessings already present in your life today.
One day at a time…
Let me tell you, finding gratitude when you’re hungry, tired, and impatient is an extremely hard thing to do. How do I know? Recently, I attended a birthday dinner at a nice restaurant (with three kids mind you). The thing lasted three hours, when we could have been in and out of there in an hour and a half! Talk about testing your patience.
There were tantrums, melt downs, complaining about the food not being ready, and those were just from me. The kids really did an excellent job of eating bread and throwing crayons around the restaurant, but I quit caring about forty-five minutes in. It was almost like an ultimatum to the wait staff. “Okay, you get these kids fed or else I’ll be forced to give them each a bread stick and have them reenact a light saber fight by the bathrooms.” Zzzzzsssshhhhhrrrrroooooom….zzzzsssshhhhrrrroooommmm.
Anyway, the point of this whole thing is to say I’m grateful for the people I was stuck with for three hours. There were people I’d never met, people I hardly get to chat with, and my immediate family (minus one brother) was all in one place. I couldn’t think of better people to be stuck with. (Especially the sweet lady sitting next to my son claiming she has six grandkids and she knows how kids are. Thank God for that lady!)
You can find something to be grateful for in every situation. Every single one. You may have to look harder when it’s cold, wet, rainy, and you’ve lost your umbrella. But I promise you they are there.
Do you ever have a horrendous night of sleep that you know will drag you down the entire day? I’m talking about babies screaming and crying, kids kicking you in their sleep, the dog barking in the middle of the night, and weird dreams that jolt you panting into the darkness of your bedroom?
Yeah, that happened to me last night. And I’m trying my hardest to not let all of those affect my mood for the entire day.
So how can I turn this around? Just like you turn anything else around…get some perspective and focus on gratitude.
I’m grateful that my kids want to sleep with me when dad is travelling. I’m grateful that we have a large enough bed to hold our family all in one spot. I’m grateful for air conditioning and fans so when I have two other little people’s bodies pressed against mine I don’t sweat to death. I’m grateful for waking up this morning with a tiny face right next to mine. It reminds me that they’ll only want to do this for a few more years.
I hope you can learn to always take difficult situations or even just a bad night of sleep and turn it into something for which you are grateful.
Anyone else feel weird when you’re at a holiday event and everyone’s sober? I mean, it is only my 4th year of sobriety. But it still feels weird. I was waiting for someone to fall down and start laughing from their pitiful attempt at sliding down the hallway in their socks too fast. Or for someone to start being totally obnoxious with their political rants.
But it wasn’t like that at all. There was fun, board games, a comedy special on Netflix, the Cowboys game, and lots of good food.
All in all, we had another great sober holiday.
There’s no need to start drinking wine when you start cooking everything first thing in the morning. There doesn’t have to be power naps when your buzz gets too overwhelming. You can still have great conversations, a good time, and be able to enjoy yourself all while staying true to the person you are working your best on becoming.
But most importantly for me, I can show my kids what the holiday truly is about…spending quality time with the people you love. Even if they’re terrible at board games!