Thankful Thursday: Gratitude

15036545_10157860999200220_8848435644398902674_n

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful”…..or I think this one better “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has”.

I will admit this has been a struggle for me.  There have been moments when I have appreciated what I have, not comparing myself to others or wishing for something better or different.  For many years, I never lived in the moment – I was always planning the future or regretting something in the past.  Over the last 18 months, life has become very different.  Recovery is teaching me (again) how to live in the moment and be grateful for what I have.  Do I slip into those moments of comparing myself to others?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Every night as I relax and reflect on the day, I have been thanking God for the blessings he has given me.  Even on my worst days, there is a blessing to be had or a lesson to be learned.  Taking a gratitude walk through my day has helped me to appreciate where I am instead of regretting the past or wishing for the future.  It helps me to not miss out on the special moments of the day.  Have you ever taken a gratitude walk?

November is the kickoff to a season full of gratitude.  Some feel they have nothing to be thankful for.  Others are too busy trying to fit into a role others have set for them to appreciate what they have.  Some are dreading the holidays as this will be their first holiday with out their special someone. Some are just thankful they have lived to see another day. What ever your frame of mind is, I am hoping this video clip from Kid President will make you smile – I know it always brings a smile to my face.

How many of these have you forgotten to say sometimes? As we approach the holiday season and begin to consider our blessings, maybe it is also time to add some of these “words” back into our everyday conversations. It is amazing what a simple “thank you” can do to change a person’s perspective on a day. What was your favorite one?

Have a blessed day!

Who Really Signs Your Check?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

She works with eager hands (Proverbs 31:13, NIV).

I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was one of my least favorite jobs. I soon discovered that I was not alone in my lack of enthusiasm as I read the following note posted on the office bulletin board:

“If you don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, you ought to be here five minutes before quitting time!”

Our attitude about our work will determine the success of our work. Scripture tells us that the Proverbs 31 woman literally “pounced upon” her work with “chosen delight.” Notice the word “chosen.” No job is perfect, and no workplace is always wonderful, but we can learn to choose our inner attitude about our work regardless of the outer circumstances of our workplace. Like this woman, we can learn to train our heart and choose our attitude about our work.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor” (Ecclesiastes 2:10). In other words, joy in work can be found when we look for it. The Proverbs 31 woman chose an attitude that guaranteed success in her work. The right attitude in any workplace is to view our work as an act of worship to God. This woman’s workplace was an altar upon which she laid her best efforts as an offering of praise.

The story is told of three men who were working on a large building project. “What are you doing?” one of the men was asked. “I am mixing mortar,” he responded. The second man said, “I am helping put up this great stone wall.” When the third man was asked, he replied, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God.” We need to understand that what gives work eternal value and makes it successful is not the product or service we offer; it is doing the job faithfully to the glory of God. It doesn’t matter if you close a million-dollar deal or do a million loads of laundry. If you do it unto God as part of your life worship of Him, you are a success.

The apostle Paul was a very successful man whose work ethic is made clear in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Every customer you serve or every child you hug, every toilet you clean or every deal you close can be an act of worship when it is done for the glory of God.

A survey by the Families and Work Institute found that 70 percent of people in the United States often dream about doing something different for a living. Books, consultants, and employment agencies offer to help us land our dream job. However, is finding a different occupation always the solution to job satisfaction, or could the key to successful work be discovering a new approach to the work we already do? Twice in Colossians 3, Paul used the phrase “whatever you do” as a call for wholehearted service to the Lord.

A wholehearted effort is difficult when working for a critical, ungrateful boss. Minimum effort then becomes a response that certainly seems justified under the circumstances. However, when our work is done for Christ and we view Him as our supervisor, we will strive to do our best all of the time. The boss may sign the paycheck, but the Savior issues our reward. Obviously, it’s not wrong to seek work that fits our skills and interests, but it is pointless to move from one job to another without first settling the issue of who it is that we truly are serving in the workplace. Daily work takes on eternal significance when it is done for God.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: PAIN

I can see you now, rolling your eyes and wondering, how can she be thankful for pain……  Is it possible anything good can come from a life with pain?

Whether you live with pain as a result of a chronic illness, addiction, or a physical/mental reason, are you still able to smile?  Is it possible to find happiness after a disease has stolen a career, ended friendships, stolen memories and some days even confined me to the house?   Is it really possible to not fall apart?

I lived through the pain of addiction, relapse and recovery,  I have lived with the pain of MS.  Some would say I do it by living in denial or in some sort of fantasy world I’ve made up in my own head where everything is unicorns and rainbows.  The pain I feel most days is not physical (although I wish it was) it is emotional.  Is it possible for someone to fight addiction, secondary progressive MS and still find purpose in life? Can someone whose life has been striped away; have moments, if not days, of tears; live in confusion not remembering things, continual fatigue and weakness yet find themselves not cursing the world, their disease and everyone or anything?

Is it truly possible to be thankful for a life with pain?

The truth is, pain has helped me to grow as a person.  It has helped me to see “joy” is possible.  I will admit entering into recovery the first and then again after a relapse, the pain seemed immense.  There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Then hit with the diagnosis of MS after 4+ years of testing, the emotional roller coaster started again.

I wouldn’t know the treasure a smile could bring if I didn’t know the misery of pain. I wouldn’t know the simple pleasures of sitting outside enjoying the weather.  I wouldn’t understand the value of time spent with those I love.  I wouldn’t hold dear those moments of peace I experience if I had never lived through days of chaos and disorder. I wouldn’t appreciate the little things in life, often passed by as nonsense or unimportant by most people if I hadn’t been in a place where those things were all that kept me going.

When the pain is great enough, I am ready to practice gratitude and do some work on me.  In recovery, I know the pain is great as a result of those inner gremlins who keep rearing their ugly heads.  I may have lost LOTS of memories but those inner gremlins sure know when to jump up and make me feel even worse.  I don’t know what the next moment in my life or tomorrow will bring. I don’t know if today will end in tears or laughter. I don’t know if I will have enough strength to fight my way through. I don’t know if my hands or legs will fail me when I need them the most. There are a lot of things I simply don’t know.

There are two things I do know………#1 Using is not an option whether it is a drink or a drug or endless shopping or binge eating.  Going back to doing the things which lead me to more pain and heartache is not an option.  #2 MS will not define me. I used to be brave. I used to be a tower of strength for those around me.  I used to be a mighty warrior. But now…now I’m a warrior with weak ankles, fading memories, and tears in my eyes.

Some days I don’t know if the emotional pain is a result of the relapse or because of the MS.  The two get so jumbled together.  I said for many years, the loose of memories was a result of my addiction when the truth is, it was probably the start of my MS.  The pain of not being able to remain is greater than any physical pain I could ever feel.  Not remembering my childhood is one thing – I mean I’m getting old, right? But when you can’t remember the day your daughter was born, when pictures don’t tigger memories, when you dan’t remember your wedding day which was only 8 years ago…..the emotional pain is great.  Relying on others for their memories of particular events is tough – it is their perspective and not my own.

MS has stripped me of the person I once was.  Addiction, relapse and recovery has shown me glimmers of the me I could become or used to be. I know it sounds weird since I don’t have many memories BUT if I can feel good about me then it is a good day.  Today,  I put my foot down and refuse to sink amidst the swirling tumultuous seas pushing against me. I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up.

Today, the battle I am facing begins in my mind. I am reminding myself and you, I am more than MS (or whatever you are dealing with).  We are more than the pain. We are more than the loneliness, the struggles and the fears. We are true warriors! People may never understand the battles we face (although in recovery there are others who thankfully get us) or see the internal struggles taking place in our lives, we stay in the fight…weak, but grateful for one more day.

Wear your badge of honor, bravery and courage proudly today. Hold your head high. You are a hero…a gutsy, courageous, mighty warrior! You are strong enough. You are brave enough. You are tough enough.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Being Stuck

I’m sure you are wondering WHY would anyone be thankful for being stuck, right?  I read a great blog post from my friend, Deana which got me to thinking.  I know, scary, right?

Think about it…. when was the last time you were stuck? Maybe you were reaching for a goal and just couldn’t seem to push past a block?   Maybe you were waiting for an answer from God and it just wasn’t coming in YOUR time?  Maybe you just weren’t making progress as fast as you would like?

Whatever it was, it didn’t feel good right?  It was frustrating, right?  You just wanted to move forward and no matter how hard you tried it just wasn’t happening.  Well, Deana says “being stuck is an indicator or a symptom that you need to grow“.  YIKES!  So basically being stuck your comfort zone?  If it is, then how many of us truly want to step out of our comfort zones?  I know when I get comfortable, I like to stay there and even wish it could be forever.

For many years I was stuck….. financially and spiritually.  I wanted to climb out of the mess but it just wasn’t happening.  WHY?  Because I wasn’t ready to take the steps necessary to make it happen.  When I walked back into the rooms, faced my relapse and asked for help – growth started AGAIN.  You may not be an addict and in need of a 12-step program, BUT you may be stuck or comfortable unable to move forward in your life.

Deana says we get stuck in 4 different areas which effect our lives.  They are:

Finances – the thing that propels you toward or prevents you from doing the things you want to do for yourself and even others.

Faith – the truth that we cling to when all the chips are down. Our actions are the result of our beliefs.

Fuel – the igniter to your soul. If your soul had a face, this would make it smile.

Family/Friends – the relationships we have, have to have, want to keep and those we don’t.

Being stuck helped me to resolve some financial issues and restored my faith.  I have developed new friendships and am mending relationships with family.  The one area I am still STUCK in is FUEL.  Some days I have it and then there are some days, I wonder what it is.

The one thing which ignites my soul (besides my family and friends) is my angels.  Creating them from different things.  I can see an angel in the making in just about everything.  Sharing angels with others.  Hearing the stories/ memories of other’s angels.  I take baby steps forward in my business and then fear kicks in.  I play the comparison game and think “it will never be more than a hobby” so I get stuck being comfortable – not taking chances or stepping out.

The reality is I (and I’m sure many) focus on the BIG picture which is our end goal.  When we should be focusing on the next small step…..If we repeat the same small step or at least one small step a day, we wouldn’t be stuck, right?  Better yet, we would be closer to our end goal.  .

So for me, today I will be thankful I am stuck and for the realization it is just a symptom of my fear.  Fear to step out of my comfort zone.  Fear to make a change.  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss of income.  Yup, there are lots of fears BUT when I take one small step…… like reaching out to those who have expressed an interest in buying some angels, it doesn’t seem to overwhelming.

As Deana says “Growing past our comfort zones is never easy, but always worth it!”  How will you grow out of your comfort zone and get UNSTUCK?

Have a blessed day!

Recipe for A New Life

This month seems to be full of transformations…..It has been 6 years since hubby’s 10 day hospital stay which ended with a defib pacemaker which changed our life slightly.  I just celebrated one year in recovery after a VERY long relapse.  I am feeling like God is setting me up for a change in my life.  I am by no means complaining, although as you can tell by my recent posts, life has been a roller coaster of emotions…
There have been signs all around me about changing my mindset and the importance of it….. from posts on Facebook to conversations with friends to my Just for Today devotionals.  Not only does this apply to everyday life but it I am seeing how it is being applied in my business.
When I was in rehab, I remember a saying which went something like this: If one person calls you a duck – you can toss it aside, if two people call you a duck – it deserves some consideration but if three people call you a duck – you MUST be a duck!”  I haven’t been called a “duck” lately BUT I am seeing some of my passion moving in other directions.  In the past, this has been when I jumped ship at a job – it didn’t happen often especially after I got into Social Work.  For now, I am lookin for my purpose and seeking my passion…
So starting this morning, this duck is going to work on making a change from muddling through the waters to finding my joy.  Letting go of fear and doubt is the toughest thing for me.  The people pleaser in me doesn’t want to let anyone down, and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.  The problem is, I can’t figure out if this is a temporary thing as a result of some MS issues or if my passion is truly changing.
Do you need to change your mindset?  Here are a few questions you can answer which might help:
  1. Identify the what happened to cause the change
  2. Why did it happen
  3. How can I use this for my personal growth
  4. What changes can I make to improve in the future
  5. Where can I find help or who can help
This is “recipe for life” was part of a devotion I had read.  Maybe this will help you in changing your mindset or counting your blessings:
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
(Author unknown)
 
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!