Browsing Tag

living with gratitude

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.

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”.

 

 

When Timehopping is hard

I have a love/hate relationship with a Facebook app. You may know the one, Timehop, “your memories await.” The app collects your texts, photos, and social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Then each morning, you can scroll down “your day in history” from one to eight years ago. Oh my.

Sometimes my Timehop includes a photo of delicious pie that I gobbled down a year ago. Sometimes it includes a photo of a friend who passed away a few years ago. And sometimes there are photos from several years back of grandchildren playing at our house.

And always it includes my Happy Day Moment #___ Facebook posts. Always my discovery of a “moment” each and every day (since #1 on April 1, 2010) when I was grateful and “living with gratitude.”

So there are those memories where I smile stupidly at my phone, remembering joys and love and happiness; and then others where I have to pause, sigh, stop the scrolling, and close the app, remembering what was and what has changed. Because sometimes everything is too achingly wonderful and too achingly sad.

That’s what this life is for all of us. Life truly is HARD.

During lunch with a girlfriend not too long ago, she asked how I was doing. “Actually, I have had a real peace lately,” I said. “Then this morning some photos showed up on Timehop, and ka-plooey, some peace-adjustment was needed.”

“You should delete that app,” my friend said, she who would win trophies for her kindness.

Maybe I should.

But then, as hard as it is to read some posts or see some photos, they are my life. They are what has molded me, strengthened me, taught me. To live with gratitude. Always.

That’s my (not-so-secret) weapon. That to weather the storms of life, the seasons of pain and the seasons of joy, the times of leanness and times of bounty, the hard and the soft, when I always lean into gratitude, I don’t just survive – I become stronger.

So I won’t delete my Timehop app. I’ll let its memories, good and sad, remind me I can’t control life, but I can control how I respond when “life” happens (i.e., still being grateful). I can decide not to spend time feeling sad about a situation and missing how things used to be, but decide to be thankful for the awareness and empathy and understanding that all my memories have given me.

These, then, are some posts from my Twitter page that will pop up next year in my Timehop memories. These are a handful of my daily tweets from the summer of 2016. May they edify you, build you up, encourage you. May they make you stronger if you also have a love/hate relationship with your Timehops.

if-your-heart-is-broken-youll-find-god-right-there-if-youre-kicked-in-the-gut-hell-help-you-catch-your-breath

  • May the power of love that holds us together be greater than the power of any offenses that separate us.
  • God doesn’t reject a heart that is broken and honestly regrets the past.
  • Reconciliation with others can be long and difficult, but it usually begins with small acts of mercy and grace.
  • Never stop hoping, no matter what you’ve been through, or are going through.
  • The world will always have brokenness and sorrow. But it will also always have God’s grace.
  • It takes a strong soul with real heart to develop smiles out of situations that make us weep.
  • The glorious thing about life is we have a daily choice regarding the attitude we will embrace that day.
  • You may be frustrated and tired and weary, but don’t give up.
  • Let’s keep loving and forgiving others even when they make stupid mistakes.
  • I’m not making this up: God will walk with you through this.

 

sometimes-this-is-the-way-it-it

  • Sometimes when you least expect it, God is there with answers.
  • Sometimes when we’re kind, we still disappoint people. It’s okay. Be kind anyway.
  • When we defend our opinions, let’s do it with gentleness and respect.

When we are grateful, we are stronger, and life is more beautiful.

Today I am 60. This is what I know for sure.

Today I am 60. No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Isn’t my mom 60. Aren’t I 40? No, wait. [TIME OUT.] Let’s do the math. I was born April 30, 1956. So…..

Egads. I AM 60!

True story:

One day I’m wondering what to read for my 6th grade book report and the next day waking up and I’m 60. How did this happen?!

True Story:

Young girl. Tomboy. Christian. Gymnast. Cheerleader. Accident. Quadriplegia. God is Faithful. Jesus. Small steps. Family. College. BA. MA. Writing. Teaching. God is Faithful. Love. Marriage. Babies. God is Faithful. Mothering. Business owner. God is Faithful. Grandchildren. Joy. God is Faithful. (Some pain tears fears and stuff. Jesus always. God is Faithful. Always.)

And more of my true story…

What I know for sure after six decades:

I am grateful. For my God. And for the unconditional love and support from my Mom and Dad, my brothers and sister, husband, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and my friends. All my life, I have been cared for, encouraged, sustained, strengthened, sheltered, forgiven. Sixty years of gratitude.

What I know for sure after six decades:

God is faithful. In all the adventures. In all my mileage. During the happy, the scary, the joyous, the heartbreak. During the body slams, soul slams, and heart slams. When the wind was knocked out of me by unexpectedness and sometimes terrifying scenarios. When I fully understood that every day I lived and walked by faith, when I began to focus on living with gratitude, when I knew I am always His, always held by Him, always desiring to serve Him. Which doesn’t suggest that life is always gentle, or that moving on, or even getting up and out of bed is always easy. But it does promise that when times are tough, I shall always shift my focus to remembering His faithfulness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

When life isn’t going as planned, God brings me fierce grace. I will never find a bundle of affliction that does not have in it somewhere sufficient grace. When circumstances haven’t turned out as I’d hoped or prayed, I know that God is always there with grace, caring for me, and loving me. My circumstances don’t determine my peace. Although disappointments take something from me; they can leave something too: a gift, an opportunity, the possibility of creating change. His grace pours out and covers me. And there is nothing He cannot redeem.

What I know for sure after six decades:

My heart is to love like Jesus. Every. Day. The best way to improve my life, my relationships with others is to act like Him. How can I love others as Jesus loves me and participate in the kingdom work to which I’m called? By loving others when it’s hard, when it costs me something, when it’s not convenient. By choosing to be loving even when I feel wronged, misunderstood and rejected. By pouring out His love that offers patience. Love that extends kindness. Love that responds with gentleness.

What I know for sure after six decades:

I know about finding a Happy Day Moment. Finding one small thing, one small blessing. Then finding another small thing and then another. It’s a pathway to living with gratitude, and to seeing God in every moment. Every day I can choose to give thanks for something. For family and friends I love and who love me. For the world around me and the blessings I have. Being happy doesn’t mean I have everything; it means I’m thankful and appreciate what I have. Gratitude brings solace and perspective and more smiles than frowns, more laughter than tears.

The best stuff I know for sure after six decades:

It’s all about loving and gratefulness, giving grace and forgiveness. About doing all that I can do and then leaving everything up to God. The best stuff I know is that God is in control, and that with God nothing is impossible, and that Jesus loves me this I know.

I know about waiting and going slow and being patient and having faith and obeying God and believing and trusting and staying strong and living with gratitude.

I know that kindness matters. In all things. I know I can’t respond to unkindness with more unkindness.

I know my heart, my soul is nourished when I’m kind; it splinters if I’m cruel.

I know about love about compassion about sacrifice about healing about friendliness about mercy about generosity about tolerance about understanding about listening about encouraging.

I know about getting older and wiser and learning from mistakes.

I know about good and sad and happy and hard.

But it’s not always about what I know. It’s also about what I say and do.

I know about being brave.  That I should say what I need to say.  That when I don’t speak up, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said.

It’s good to believe in myself during the hard stuff, but it’s better to believe in God during the hard stuff.

I know that I will never regret the chances I took, the love I gave out, and the gifts I shared.

So…

My odometer has rolled to that new 0 number. There have been miles and miles of ups and downs, straight roads and treacherous, detours and scenery, lost ways, stops and some speeding, getting stuck, moving backward, pushing forward. May the accelerating continue….

What I want for sure for my next decades:

I want to live with the juicy fruits of the spirit hanging from all my branches: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I want to live by the words in John 13: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I want to be known by His love.

I want to show more love, kindness, grace, mercy.

I want to be more forgiving, courageous, brave.

I want to be less awful.

I want to live my life like everything is a miracle.

Happy play back of 2015

Living with gratitude in the play back of 2015 … in all ways … always

…from January

Since I’ve deemed myself the Happyologist-of-the-internet, I’m going to always cheerlead the idea that we can choose to live with gratitude, that we can choose to be happy, no matter where we are in our journey, no matter what chapter of our story.

Gratitude is a life-changer. It does something to the human heart.

Even when I close my eyes at night and the day spills over my soul like a dark stain. Even when my heart is parchment. Even when the space between where I am and where I desire to be is a vast valley, and way too dry.

Even when……

So I breathe. I pray. I anchor myself to gratitude. I gather my words and share them with you.

Love does not give up. Love does not lose faith. Love is hopeful. Love endures through all circumstances.

…from February

I want to understand that every day love makes a difference. That life is a gift. That love is a gift. That each day I awake and breathe is a gift.

It’s the only gift that I have right now. And my only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Gratitude can push you through life’s slumps, thrust you over the humps, and pull you out of the dumps. ‪

…from March

When we view our situation through the lens of gratefulness, instead of a self-centered mind-set, we have the potential to be happy in spite of circumstances.

Let’s acknowledge that others are bigger than the wrong things they sometimes say and do and that we’re more than the sum of a single mistake.

You can be strong by keeping quiet and trusting God.

…from April

Don’t attach your self-worth to someone else’s opinion of you. Nourish yourself with what God says you are.

You’ll have a hard time ever being happy if you aren’t grateful for what you already have.

…from May

And yet, for all the struggles, questions, hard times, there is gratitude.

Gratitude that shines a light in every dark, desolate place. Gratitude that remembers a summer, a fruitful place.

A storm, a tempest I did not foresee. Turbulent waters. And in that storm, God made me brave. Brave to cling to Him and strong to live in that dark place, that hurt place, and yet to write flickers of light. To be prepared to see and write about moments of gratitude even when life is UNHAPPY.

When it comes to the storms of life, we need gratitude to help steer us through.

Because it lifts us above circumstance.

Because it refocuses our attention.

Time and time again, that’s what I discovered. I found that whenever I navigated any rough terrifying circumstances with gratitude—even through storms and difficult Joseph-experiences and hard places, I was encouraged, strengthened, braver.

…from June

May we look for the best in others. May we always forgive. May we never lose faith.

More than likely, you’re experienced deep, hard moments. Maybe you’re like me and are in the middle of them right now. Moments of emptiness loneliness bleakness.

And yet. (Those two words are a promise.)

And yet, for all the struggles, questions, hard times, there is gratitude.

Gratitude that shines a light in every dark, desolate place. Gratitude that remembers a summer, a fruitful place.

…from July

It’s not the stuff around us – it’s the stuff within us – that really matters.

Everybody struggles. Everybody has issues. Let’s show a bit more kindness.

…from August

Thank you for your love. This statement really sums up everything.  Your love has carried me, nourished me, shaped me, encouraged me, comforted me for 35 years. And every day you say it: “I love you.” {Happy 35th anniversary to us!}

Words of gratitude lift us above circumstance.

Sometimes the wall of difficulties we face appears too tall to scale. But the presence of gratitude lifts and carries us. We become stronger, more agile, infused with what we need, not just to face the barrier, but to search for a way around or over that we hadn’t considered before.

Words of gratitude bring us joy.

Those who live in gratitude have the most joyful lives. It’s impossible to miss the joy when we’re on the lookout for blessings. We won’t miss out on the moments when we’re present and rooted in each one as it comes.

…from September

Let the fuel of your life be love, mercy, and forgiveness.

But I also believe that that we get energy from following our passions, from committing to people and service and causes, from choosing to live with gratitude. And the fuel that creates this strength and drive comes from love and goodwill – from kindliness and humanity.

…from October

The easiest and the hardest thing to do every day is to live with gratitude, but it will transform our life if we can do it.

Don’t harbor or memorize a list of all the things you think you’ve messed up. Forgive yourself and move forward.

…from November

Let’s pause and appreciate the things we have, not the things we don’t.

Love will always have the last powerful definitive absolute word.

We can choose to be thankful and grateful, understanding the fragility of life that makes every moment so meaningful. We often waste too many moments immersing ourselves in needless distractions that steal our attention away from the things that actually matter. We should grasp the precious moments of this life and stop being distracted with the things that don’t really matter.

There is always, under the mess of life, something to be grateful for.

…from December

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

{closing 2015 with God’s grace; opening 2016 with God’s grace}