Day 1: My Journey

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Some time ago, I unknowingly began a journey that is sure to change my life.

It started last November when I found an idea on Pinterest for a “Thankfulness Jar” & every evening we wrote down one or two things that we had been thankful for that day on tiny notecards & left them in the jar.  I even blogged about it here.  One snowy school day in December the kids and I dumped them into a basket & read them out loud.  Some of them were funny.  Some were cute.  Some were so sweet they brought tears to my eyes and I’m not a even cryer {and I say that with absolutely every scrap of sarcasm in my soul}.

Spring time came and with it the impending PCS season that my Bible Study sisters and I had all been dreading.  After 3 years, most of us were being forced to go our separate ways and our group would disband.  For our final study we chose a book, One Thousand Gifts. by Ann Voskamp. (If you’ve never read it, please do yourself a favor.  Stop reading my words and go read hers. Trust me. You won’t be sorry.)  All I knew about Ann was that she uses more words than me & everything she writes sounds like poetry, so I was excited to begin.  I had no idea how much that book would wreck me in the very best of ways.

As part of the study, I began keeping a gratitude journal; a numbered list of everyday things that I could be thankful for.  Counting blessings of every shape and size.  Noticing beauty and savoring wonderful moments that might have passed me by.  Looking for God’s grace in hard, sometimes painful, places and choosing to be grateful for them as well.  Her words made me desperate for a fresh glimpse of a good God who shows His goodness in upside-down, backwards ways that most people deem not good.  I was determined to find one thousand things, both good and bad, to label “gifts.”

Like most people I rode that high for the length of the Bible Study plus a few extra weeks, for good measure.  And then the packing and moving began.  I became consumed with the inevitable house hunting, friend-searching, church visiting…and also the frustration, doubting, and loneliness that seem to be the hallmarks of this military life we live.  My gratitude journal & my determination to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness got lost somewhere in the shuffle of hotel rooms, boxes, and that stupid packing paper.

But a good friend wouldn’t quit text-encouraging me to join her in this challenge.  She insisted that all I had to do was pick a topic and then write about it for 31 days in October.  No big deal, right? {Don’t you love how I get talked into these things?!}  So as I was unpacking boxes and organizing our new home, I found myself mulling over possible topics and making mental lists.  By the time all the rooms were unpacked and it was time to organize our storage closet, I had already firmly decided on a topic and had begun jotting down ideas in my journal .  But in that closet, in the front pocket of one of our empty suitcases, I stumbled upon my gratitude journal.  Just like my commitment to count one thousand gifts, it was a little beat up and worn, but it was still intact & was begging me to begin again.  Hence, the pages in my journal that now have big X’s on them….

Neither this journey to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, nor my attempt to write about it for the next 31 days, will come easily.  Life happens to all of us. We make plans and circumstances change our plans.  We experience disappointment and we don’t always emerge from every battle victorious or unscathed and sometimes its gut-wrenching to try to find good in not good.  But if we challenge our hearts and minds to search for the blessings in every situation, God will be faithful to reveal Himself, redeem our circumstances, and reignite our gratitude flames with his grace and love every single time.  

So, my friends, pour yourselves a cup of coffee, get cozy in your chairs, and please join me as I begin searching for and counting blessings once again. Follow along as I share images and thoughts from my gratitude list here every day for the next 30 days.  Maybe my list will encourage your weary spirit or maybe you’ll find yourself inspired to begin counting & keeping a list of your own.  And if not, at least you got cup of coffee out of our time together.

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