Friday, November 30, 2012

The Attitude of Gratitude



I've heard this phrase, "the attitude of gratitude" for years now. It's a pretty simple concept, but can be a tough one to master -- as it is with most "simple truths."

As November draws to a close, I once again realize that I have much to be grateful for in my life. Surprisingly, I did not partake in the "30 Days of Thankfulness Fest" on Facebook. I'm not sure why. I'm definitely all about being thankful and letting people know what I'm thankful for, but I think some part of me didn't want the pressure of having to think of something and then post it. Maybe I just wanted it to be a bit more organic and natural. Or...I could have just been commitment-phobic. That is probably a little true too.

Nonetheless, without posting daily, I have been keeping track of my many blessings. And the more blessings I count up, the more blessings I seem to see in my life. I think this is a universal truth about being grateful:

The more grateful you are, the more things you see in your life for which to be grateful.

And I think that this is the heart of the "attitude of gratitude". The very act of being grateful begets more gratefulness and on and on and on....

This month I have been consumed with thankfulness as I helped my husband prepare for a trip to Tanzania, watched as he posted photos and stories of what he experienced over there, and then as he came home this week and shared even more. This experience alone has reminded me how blessed we are to live in the United States. Yes, our country is not perfect. There are many things to be troubled about, but at the heart of everything, we have a warm, clean place to live and an over-abundance of stuff. We do not lack for any creature comfort and have duplicates of many things. In fact, I had to wince several times at our largess -- we often have too much stuff that we have to go through and donate it, sell it and give it away.

That's an abundance of blessing, my friends.

However, beyond this obvious blessing, I have been given little "God winks" this past month that remind me that God is concerned with hunger, child abuse issues, homelessness....but He's also concerned with the little things that are important to us.

Here are some "little things" (that were BIG to me) that I have been grateful for this month:

  • That I survived the 12 days my husband was gone! As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, this was no mean feat. In fact, most days, we actually had a blast. There were very few times that I wanted to throw in the towel and run away screaming like a banshee! I attribute this mostly to the prayers of friends and family and their willingness to jump in and help me from time to time.
  • That I have launched a successful home-based business in the past few weeks with Usborne Books & More. When I signed up as a consultant, I gave the business to God and let Him handle it. So far, I have hit every incentive marker there has been for me -- despite my lack of time and ability to "drum up business." Just when I've needed it, people have asked me if they could schedule a show, have me come out for an event, or join my team as a new recruit. It truly boggles the mind.
  • More along the lines of the last one....I have tried to keep my start-up costs as low as possible, by figuring out how to do things with what I have around the house. I actually decided against buying a money bag that I wanted (it wasn't much, but it seemed like an unnecessary expense), but found out today that I "earned it" by selling enough books in the month of October. They were letting me know that they are sending it to me next week!!
  • I found a cute purse for my niece that I wanted to buy her for Christmas. It was on clearance and the price was right. However, it looked a little worse for wear. As I thought about how great it would be if I could find another one in the jumble of items, I looked up and there was another. Pristine and perfect and ready for me to purchase. Coincidence? I don't think so!
  • As a homeschool family, we really want to give our kids fun experiences with their peers. However, with 4 children in our family, costs can be prohibitive. I had signed up the kids for an upcoming ski trip with a local group. It was going to be $25 each for them for their lift ticket, equipment and a lesson. For me, it was going to be more. I felt like I should also be on the mountain with them as they learned, so I signed all 4 of us up. Yesterday when I went to get my forms and check in, I was told that I would be able to go for the "chaperone price" of $25!! A huge blessing for us!
I know there are so many more other little blessings. Money saved, a coupon given to me when I needed it most (that did happen as well by a Target employee!), a free Starbucks drink reward earned at the right time...and so much more.

Once I started seeing these graces in my daily life and gave thanks for them (and did some happy dance rejoicing most of the time), I began to see more -- how things just seemed to "work out" a certain way or the timing was just the way I needed it to be. And the more I saw, the more grateful I became until almost everything became something to be grateful for....yes, even the "bad things." Even in those, I could find things to be grateful for:
  • Too much laundry to do was a cause to celebrate the fact that we have plenty of warm clothes
  • Water all over the floor in the bathroom became a reason to rejoice in the fact that we have hot, running water in our house at all.
  • Children giggling in their beds when they were expressly told to be quiet and go to sleep reminded me that I have been blessed with 4 little people -- when many others have had empty arms.
  •  Balding tires made me think of the fact that at least I have a reliable vehicle to transport us around town. Replacing a few tires seems like an easy thing to do.
See what I mean? When you start, you just can't stop. If you don't stop long enough, it becomes a habit! And for me, it's one habit that I hope to never break!




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