Friday, July 1, 2011

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude...

Readers, feel free to accept this challenge (and if you have a blog, you should let me know that you did).  It's always a good day to be grateful, especially if you believe--as I do--that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).  Why shouldn't I be thankful?  There are so many good things that I take for granted that I have no control over.  I'm breathing in a healthy body right now; I have relative control over doing things to keep it healthy, but diseases and disasters strike without our say.  That's not my reality today, so why not be grateful and acknowledge that for the blessing it is?
I have gone through times in my life where I kept a prayer journal very devotedly.  I just made it a habit to write in it at least once a day, usually after reading the Bible.  It was my way of meditating on the truths I was reading.  I also, for a time, wrote 5 gratitudes every morning and every evening.  It was a life-changer. It truly changed my way of thinking.  One example I remember was several years back, when I didn't have a car.  I was living in Tualatin and had to ride my bike or take the bus to get anywhere.  On this particular day, I was riding back from Lake Oswego, which entailed riding on the very busy and non bike-friendly Lower Boones Ferry Road.  I went over a train crossing and my front tire got tripped up in the deep grooves of the train crossing; I was thrown from my bike into the side of the road.  What would your first reaction have been?  "OUCH!"  Yeah, that was mine too.  It was gravel and I hit it full force!  But my second reaction differed greatly from what it might have been a year earlier.  My next thought was "Thank you God that I didn't land in the road and get hit by a car!  Thank you that there was no train nearby!  Thank you that I'm not seriously injured! This could have been so much worse."  I assessed the damage: the chain had slipped off, and I was scraped up, bleeding, and sore, but nothing worse than that.  I tried to put the chain back on, but could not.  With tears in my eyes, I looked up wondering what to do...and saw that I was near a Joe's Sport Equipment store.  Surely they could fix it!  "Thank you, God!" I said aloud.  Sure enough, the nice guy there put the chain back on without charging me anything; I was near a bus depot that would take me home, and the bus was due shortly; I had enough money for the bus, and so I got to take the bus back.  My mind just kept going to seeing the "good side" of everything: isn't it AWESOME that Trimet buses have bike racks on the front? Isn't it great that I was near a bus stop?  Yay God!
When I fell out of the habit of writing down gratitudes, my attitude declined to be more pessimistic and "poor me."  It's so much easier to feel like I'm a victim than a beneficiary...but has there ever been a time in my life that I haven't been a beneficiary of God's grace and gifts?  No.  
Well, that was a long introduction, but here goes with 5 gratitudes today:
1.  I have a generous husband who cleaned the kitchen so I would have time to write this and time to scrapbook :)
2.  My daughter is adorable and smart and pretty much awesome.
3.  My brother is really great with Ruby and very flexible; I'm hard pressed to think of a time when we've asked him to watch her, hold her, change her diaper, whatever that he's said no.  It's really great to have him living with us.
4.  I, unlike a scarily high number of Americans, get a paycheck and have a job to come back to when school starts.
5.  I get a break during the summer, unlike most people (including my long-suffering, work-a-day-world hubby)
Hmm, I feel better already.  That's a pretty cursory list. So, dear readers, I challenge you (along with myself) to think of the things you're grateful for.  Start with five, if you can, and see where you are taken from there.  They do tend to multiply!  Think about to what/whom you are grateful, too.  
Almost forgot today's song challenge!  A song that someone has sung to you.  Well, at the risk of embarrassing my husband, I will have to say "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel.  One night (before we were married) Allen felt lonely to be away from me, and so he called my voicemail and sang this song to me).  I should have kept that voicemail, but it did get deleted, sorry to say.  That song is special for another reason: when I was a senior in high school, my brother Chris (then a sophomore) was in the After Lunch Bunch--a small a capella choir with some guys in the school--and they sang this song.
Here it is:

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