Why not choose gratitude?

I finally wrote a thing. Finally. Be nice.

You know I’m big on finding a Happy Day Moment each day, living with gratitude, focusing on joy.

You know I have big feelings about finding a HDM.

I post a Happy Day Moment on my personal Facebook page (up to #2831 consecutive ones!) and I post something inspirational/motivational/encouragement on my Happy Day Moment Page because I’m determined to remember the preciousness of life.

Because I’m determined to choose gratitude.

Because even with all the stuff of 2017, even my father’s death, even my struggles to keep trusting and believing when I don’t understand the whys of certain situations … because …

Because … I’m determined to believe this:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” ~ Isaiah 52:7

So, because even “life,” even “stuff,” I’m determined to choose gratitude, to publish “good news of happiness” on Facebook. 😊

It’s true – I’m a positive person by nature. And it’s true if you’re not naturally easy-going or cheery, you may have to work a little harder to discover a HDM. Not everyone is programmed to be Pollyanna or Little Miss Sunshine. Maybe you’re a bit Scrooge-ish or a glass-half-empty person. It’s hard to become that peppy sunny person if it isn’t in your making. Whether your life is disappointing, whether there’s unexpected hardship, whether there’s heartache, it’s hard to get out of a bad mood once it’s taken hold of you. The good news is that you can work at discovering a “happy day moment” even if gloominess is more your disposition. You can work at choosing gratitude. Good things often take time and effort. Bless God, living with gratitude can come when we develop a habit, a discipline, when we choose to see little small happy actions/words/sights that are always there – somewhere – every day.

So, why not choose gratitude?

From my HDM Posts/Twitter throughout 2017

Why not try out these little changes that could change you from negative to cheerful in no time.

  • Tell someone, “You make everything lovely.”
  • Concentrate on what you have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Be the person who decides to go for it.
  • Be kind to unkind people because they need it most.
  • No matter what others say or do, stay committed to being kind.
  • Be quiet while others speak.
  • Let your smile today lift someone’s life.
  • Trust God’s wisdom, even though you want to do it differently.
  • Let gratitude be more that an act; let it be a habit.
  • Practice relentless gratitude.
  • Let go of trying to change the people around you.
  • Let’s choose to speak kindness.

 

  • Do a little thing today to show your loved ones that you care.
  • Let’s banish our angry words and bring out the welcome mat for kindness and mercy.
  • Don’t think of others as problems, but as people to be loved.
  • Stay kind and committed to love, no matter what others do.
  • Don’t look backwards for very long. Keep moving forward.
  • Show your love in meaningful ways.
  • Treat others with kindness no matter how they differ from you.
  • Notice the people around you who seem isolated and engage them.
  • Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. Give a hug today.
  • All that beauty you see in others, tell them about it.

And why not remember these little observations that could change you from powerless to strong in no time.

  • Don’t get caught up in what could’ve or should’ve been.
  • There are times when bitter trials become blessings in disguise.
  • Let’s pull back our judgments and reach out our hands.
  • God is close to all who call on Him.
  • It is well with my soul. (The day my Dad died)
  • Never cling to the notion that something’s not possible.
  • Some of our strength would never be discovered if not for our struggles and trials.
  • Acts of love can thaw a frozen heart.
  • God’s faithful love never ends.
  • Everything starts with a dream.
  • Whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you.
  • You’ll never regret being true to your dreams.
  • God’s love is complete and He’s aware of your circumstances.

 

  • When we put kindness first, good things happen.
  • A peaceful person is not one who’s always in a good place, but one who always has a good attitude in every place.
  • Remember to thank people for their time.
  • Being generous and kind, even in circumstances where it’s hard.
  • We can’t go back and make a new beginning, but we can start over and make a new ending.
  • Don’t let failure go to your heart.
  • Where you can help, help. Where you can give, give.
  • Every week has seven days. Someday is not one of them.

 

  • God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
  • Let’s be patient with others and smile at strangers.
  • Kindness and compassion can heal wounds and restore peace.
  • We always have the ability to be kind.
  • The best stories end with gratitude.
  • Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence.
  • So often we don’t realize what we have. Pause and be grateful.
  • Let gratitude be something that you are. Not just doing, but being.
  • Open your eyes to see the wonderful things of our world.

My God reigns.

This Daughter Loves Her Dad

Four Sundays ago, family members gathered to celebrate my Dad’s 89th birthday. His children, his sister, grandchildren – family sitting around the conference table, with Dad (the amazing Fred Kehoe!) at the head, wearing a big button with “It’s My 89th Birthday!” There was cake and ice cream and birthday cards, which Dad read multiple times. There was laughter and stories and comments about curly hair and facial hair and gray hair. Then after the cake was consumed and most of the red icing wiped from face and hands, Dad said, “Let’s pray. I’ll start and Jama can end (because I was to his right). And if you don’t know what to pray, just say, ‘Lord, bless Fred a ton. Or a ton and a half!'” Then Dad prayed a beautiful prayer asking for the Lord’s touch on all of us. And we all said “Amen!”

[Listen to Dad’s question to Mom at the end of this video. And giggle along with us!]

Three Sundays ago, family members gathered at my Dad’s bedside, loving our Mom and Dad, his health declining with every breath. For days I held my Dad’s hand and stroked his arm, sitting near him, giving him all my love. At one point he was determined to hold my thumb and I told Mom, “I think he’s challenging me to a Thumb War.” We surrounded him and played hymns on YouTube, placing our phones on the pillow near his ear. How Great Thou Art and The Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace and Just a Closer Walk with Thee and Peace in the Valley. And we sang along, doing our best to add Kehoe family harmony. It was a holy time.

Nineteen days ago, his wife and his children encircled him and prayed and sang and held his hands and caressed his arms. We loved him until his last breath, and in that moment of his home-going, the words of the hymn “To God Be the Glory” played: “Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.” The moment for all of us was tearful, tender, and sacred.

It became the moment

…that my Dad was the happiest he’s ever been …that my Dad was restored in mind and body …that my Dad was embracing Jesus …that my Dad was ushered into the Kingdom surrounded by his loving wife and adoring children …that I was a daughter most blessed to have a father who was always there to love me, to show me Jesus, and to lift her up to the True Father …that I thanked God every day for my Daddy.

And I will for all of my life as I hold memories of love and fun and prayer and encouragement and laughter and play and wisdom and counsel. For my Daddy who bestowed countless happy and loving and holy moments. I am altogether happy. He was my leader, my patriarch, my friend.

Twelve days ago, family members and a host of friends gathered to celebrate the wondrous life of my Dad. They came. Long-time friends and just-made friends and beloved family. Friends and colleagues of mine, of Steve of Doug of Julee. All to love love love and honor my father, to embrace us, to share our grief and joy, to weep with us, and yet to rejoice. Pastor Kevin Holt spoke the truth, likening the life of Fred Kehoe to Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement.” This was my Dad: “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” ~ Acts 11:24.

Oh Dad, what a true father you are: always there for me. . .

A true father is always there. He is there to grin with happiness when his eyes fall upon his infant daughter. He is there with arms to catch her when she takes her first steps or stumbles. He is there to pick her up and teach her at the youngest age, that failure can turn into success. He is there to help her tie her shoes, cut her meat, and work on math assignments. He is there to play with her and tickle her and massage her little toes. He is there to keep her from making mistakes, yet helps her find her own way. He is there to hug her and kiss her and hold her on his lap in the “king’s chair.” He is there to teach her and tease her and laugh with her. He is there to lecture her, prepare her for the tough grown-up things, and point to truth and integrity. He is there to put up with her teenage moods and sensitive nature, comfort her tears and rejoice in her joys. He is there to pray and praise, to build up her faith and encourage her. He is there to believe in her talents, strengthen her commitments, bring guidance and wisdom. He is there for big and small events, when she graduates, to smile when her name is called and feel proud. He is there to embrace her and kiss her before she goes to live away at college. He is there to see her become a working woman, to walk her down the aisle. He is there to hold his grandsons and be a role model to another generation. He is there to watch her grow as the lines on his face grow. He is there to welcome her home, always, and let her hug him and smell the smell she remembers from childhood, the warm, protecting, comforting smell of dad. But most of all, he is always there to love her, to show her Jesus, to lift her up to the True Father. And she is always there to love him back, and to thank God for him every day of her life.

…And Dad, my hero, like heroes do, represents the best of ourselves, and reveals those noble qualities of loyalty, determination, courage, patience, perseverance, focus, and fearlessness.

He is admired and respected and he made our family brave and strong. He saw what was possible, and taught us that with God “all things are possible.” It was often my father’s faith that strengthened me.

That’s what a hero does – encourages, is selfless and generous in spirit, who gives and helps others, who cares so deeply.

My Dad, my hero, carried me in his arms
Carried my on his shoulders
Carried me on his back
Always, always he carried me in his heart.
He comforted me strengthened me taught me teased me humored anointed me… and loved me and loves me still. Every single moment.

If I am loving and confident and funny and strong and faithful. If I am positive and plucky and courageous and hopeful. If I speak Jesus and scripture and family and football. If I am all these things, then thank my father, my hero.

He is my patriarch leader advisor prayer-warrior coach teacher medic playmate trainer motivator preacher guide captain champion intercessor…. Hero.

But mostly, my Daddy. I love you and will miss you…until I join you and my Jesus.

The Letter “G”

Gratitude … brought to you by Jama

New Year! New Year! And what do we all want? … A year where we all want to be happy!

How we find the “Happy”? … I’m saying (as I have been for some time) that we should look to the Letter “G” … “GRATITUDE!” Authentic moments of gratitude boost our ability to be happy, to see happiness, particularly when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, just plain-old fed up – with everything.

We all have STRESS (oh my goodness, what a year 2016 was!), but our response to dealing with it ALL is what determines its potentially toxic impact.

My response is the habit of gratitude … living with gratitude.

The Letter G.

The more we practice gratitude in the face of fear, adversity, loss and disappointment, the more we increase our capacity for joy, even bolstering our immune system and boosting resilience. Seriously. There have been studies!

And when our expectations collide with reality, gratitude can protect us from stress and even depression and help us create a new way of seeing, being and living.

Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us to be healthier, to make more friends, and to deepen our existing relationships.

According to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

In her bestseller Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

And for me, it’s in the Bible:  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Through expressing gratitude, we remember where our blessings come from. It’s in the Bible: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

To start your habit of finding the Letter “G,” finding a Happy Day Moment, an “everyday epiphany,” try these four things:

  1. Be aware. Every single day look around at your life and find something to be grateful for, some joy, some inspiration, some silliness. Pay attention! We so often look but don’t see; hear but don’t listen. Make your daily purpose to choose awareness, to enjoy the beauty of the treasures in your path. Look for God’s fingerprints and hear His whispers amid the messes, and your heart will change. Don’t lose sight of the goodness of life.
  2. Change your thinking. There’s more than enough negativity in the world right now. So do your best to be more positive about yourself, about those around you, and about life in general to tip the scale back towards positivity, love, and hope.
  3. Do something happy for someone.  What can you do right now to give a happy moment to someone? Even if it’s someone you don’t know … that stranger with a heavy load, a frown, a scowl. Even when you’re in an unhappy moment. Do something every day that makes someone smile, gives someone a boost to their weary spirit. You’ll find gratefulness when you can use your life in ways that lift another person.
  4. Keep track of awesome things. Remember the “happy moments” that you see, hear, feel, and don’t let them slip away after you come up with them. Write down the simplest things you feel grateful for daily, one good moment that happened to you, that you did, that you witnessed. Then, if something in your life starts getting you down, starts bugging you, go straight to your “happy moment” notes and get a dose of gratitude.

It’s really a choice. Your choice for how you move forward into this new year. Try it with more of the Letter “G”.

 

 

Closing the chapter of 2016

On this the final day of 2016, while John and I sipped our coffee and watched the morning news, he skimmed the newspaper and I scrolled through Facebook. I commented, “It’s disheartening to read and hear just about everyone say that 2016 was ‘one of the worst years ever.’”

“If you highlight the negative, you can make any year horrible,” John replied.

Truth.

Then he added, “Or you can highlight the positive…like CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!”

To that remark, I laughed and laughed, and so did he. Because he’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan, while I’m a die-hard Cubs fan(atic).

But it’s true. Every year has its negatives, its disappointments, its regrets, its sorrows, its pains, its losses.

Yet, every year (if you choose to discover) has its positives, its joys, its celebrations, its wins.

Some years have more milestones than others: personal physical mental professional relational emotional financial spiritual. Some years prayers are answered; some years there is more waiting.

While 2016 often seemed like a year that many want to forget, for me, the year had some pretty awesome highlights, milestones to remember:

I turned 60.

I quit a job.

I accepted a new job.

I taught an English class at Ball State. (And met incredible students.)

I directed the 43rd Midwest Writers Workshop.

I celebrated my husband’s retirement.

I saw my grandchildren, heard them laugh and talk, and felt their hugs.

I supported my parents and the challenges in their lives.

…and to repeat, I cheered and cried that THIS actually happened: “Cubs win …The World Series!” Seriously.

Six years ago, I began a practice of posting a “Happy Day Moment” on my personal Facebook page. Writing something every day that I was “happy” for, something to be grateful for. It has changed my life.

The daily practice, the discipline, the routine of choosing to look for the positive, not always focusing on the negative, has changed me. Forever. Strengthened me to face … anything.

It’s impossible to think negatively when you’re focusing on the positive.

It’s impossible to have an attitude of lack when you’re embracing abundance.

It’s impossible to be judgmental, resentful, or quarrelsome when you’re thankful for your relationships.

It’s impossible to miss the lessons when you give thanks for your difficulties and obstacles.

It’s impossible to miss the moment when you’re present and grounded in each one as it comes.

I know I can keep my humor, my perspective, and my patience regardless of how my day (or life) evolves.

The key is gratitude. 

So, be thankful for 2016, with everything it contained. And be thankful for 2017, for everything it will hold.

 

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the dry lands. ~ Isaiah 43:19

This Christmas

 

May we be a kind person who makes a difference.

May we be patient with those in the hard times.

May we be quiet and thankful for all that we have.

May we be compelled to boundless gratitude.

May we be aware that God’s promise of strength has no expiration date.

May we comprehend that God extends grace greater than our hardships.

May we create space for acceptance, growth, and grace.

May the blessings we receive today be the blessings we need the most.

May our actions be of the love and acceptance we claim to stand for.

May we make every effort to do what leads to peace and encouragement.

May we let joy become a filter by which we view life.

May we choose to see the happy stuff.

May the key ingredient of our life be faith.

May we always always always speak our love.