Finding gratitude amidst the storm

Gratitude can be a funny thing.

 

We let it roll glibly off our tongues when life is good: I am so very grateful for this brand new car, my beautiful home, the college graduation/wedding celebration/baby shower with the abundance of amazing gifts.

Those are the easy ones because we are happy at our good fortune.

But what do we do when the appreciation doesn’t come so easily?

How can we be as grateful when life is stormy?

Wives-Do you express gratitude for your husband every day, regardless of the clothes he leaves on the floor and the dirt he tracks in? Or do you only offer it as a back-handed compliment for a task he accomplished? Thank goodness you finally took the trash out!  I only had to remind you three times!

Moms-Are you grateful every day for your children, even when they start an epic battle in the grocery store or when they bring the water fight indoors? Or do you give thanks only when they sit quietly and angelically, in church? I am so grateful for my children because they are well-behaved today.

Single women-Do you offer thanks for this time to grow in all areas of your life, to have the opportunity to pursue what is important to you, or do those prayers of thanks only cross your lips when you meet that special guy? Lord, thank you for hearing my millionth request for a husband.

 

Gratitude is not conditional.

It is not only about recognizing the goodness in our lives.

More importantly, it is learning to be deeply grateful in the midst of the storms.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter of joy and gratitude—from prison—to the Philippians. In verse 4:12 he wrote I know what is it to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.

Former Prisoner of War Commander Paul Galanti, said “There’s no such thing as a bad day when you have a door knob on the inside of the door.”

Another wartime prisoner in a concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom, wrote of being grateful for the continual infestation of fleas in her barracks, because it kept the guards away. She and her sister were thus able to read and share the encouragement of the Bible with the other women.

Gratitude for discovering weakness revealed, for a working doorknob, for the torment of fleas.

Well, I don’t know about you, but those examples make my expressions of gratitude at only the good in my life sound and feel quite shallow.

Can we reach as deeply? Can we look with a fresh perspective to find the good everywhere in every day?

Dr. Wayne Dyer writes, “With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.”

 

So I am asking each of you to choose with me today.

To look for the good.

To find gratitude even in the most difficult of places.

For a family whose members are formidable to love, for a workplace filled with gloom and doomers, for a health condition that has no cure.

Scientific studies have shown that when folks write down three things a day for which they are grateful over a short period of 21 days or even longer, up to 10 weeks, they sleep better, enjoy a healthier body, feel more joy, and are generally more optimistic.

I want those benefits for each of us, and pray that we begin to live a more joyful, fulfilling, healthier life, to be able to be a light to others as well.

Dear readers, I am asking you to share in the comments today. List up to three things for which you are grateful. If you want to start with the easy ones, do so. Learning to express gratitude takes practice, and like any other skill, it becomes easier and the more natural response with time.

I am going to post this on my Too Darn Happy Facebook page as well. If you’d like to head over there and post notes of gratitude as they come to you, I would love to have you join me. I would be so grateful if you would “Like Me” as well while you are there. :-)

Let’s share the love, the hope, the encouragement.

 

Here are my three expressions of gratitude to start the ball rolling.

1. I am so grateful for the stupidity with which I handled money for so many years. I have a bottomless pit of examples and experience from which to draw when I facilitate Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Classes and helping others become better stewards of their money.

2. I am so grateful my husband and I have been living apart for the last four months because of his work assignment. I thought I treasured and appreciated him enough. I did not. We both discovered much weakness about ourselves that opened the door to being less independent and trusting God more.

3. I am humbled every day at this opportunity to share with women, to help encourage and teach, and I am so blessed as well when I hear from you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

In closing, I encourage you to watch the video below. It was one of the very first songs that really resonated with me when I became a Christian just a few short years ago because I was learning to be grateful amidst my storms. Be sure to listen to the beginning message which tells the story of the song, as it is moving example of how our gratitude not only helps us, but helps others as well.

 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Sharing at No Ordinary Blog Hop, Better Mom, Finding Heaven, Things I Can’t Say

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Comments

  1. Kim,
    I love this deeper, richer definition of gratitude that you’ve shared. It’s just as Paul wrote: to be content in every situation requires us to rely on something beyond just our good circumstances! Your post has helped me to slow down and look with greater gratitude at what God has granted me today.
    Ann

  2. I never get tired of being challenged to be more grateful, Kim. It is an area that I’ve stubbornly and foolishly held on to for far too long. I’ve been trying for several months to express thanks in my prayers for as many specific things as I can think of–especially about the areas where I am discontent. It is helping, but I have a long way to go. I love the quotes you’ve given–so many are deeply profound and convicting.

    I’m thankful that my youngest is off to youth camp at Big Stuf in Panama City, Florida to be spiritually challenged along with so many other youth.

    I’m thankful that I have met so many great blogging friends like you, Kim, that enrich my life!

    I’m thankful for a week of “work-ation”–where I will push aside my usual schedule and devote myself to personal projects that have needed to be done for months. Better get back to that! :)

    • Thank you so much for sharing your gratitude with us, Beth! I love the youth camps that challenge and grow our kids. I know our youngest would come home from them absolutely pumped up with joy and gratitude! Aww, you make me blush. I, too, am grateful for you.

  3. Awesome post, Kim. There are so many things to be thankful for, and I’ve thought of Corrie’s “fleas” story dozens of times when I’m tempted to gripe. Here are my 3 things:

    ** I’m thankful for a beautiful Virginia morning. I got in a short run early today and love my green mountains.

    ** I’m thankful for a sink full of dishes and dirty linens. My daughter and her friends stayed here this weekend and went to another friend’s wedding.

    ** I’m thankful I don’t have a naso-gastric tube. (For you non-medical folks, it’s a tube that runs from your stomach and out through your nose. You can’t eat or drink when you have one because it’s purpose is to keep your stomach empty until your digestive system is functioning.) Yes, this is strange but back in 2007 I had a series of health problems and surgeries and hospitalizations (and NG tubes). In the spirit of Paul Galanti, Any day without an NG tube is a good day.

    Lifting you up in prayer today, Kim. Thank you for the encouraging words!!
    ~Susan

    • I’ve driven through VA, and it is lovely. They also had the most awesome rest stop ever, with charming Southern ladies serving lemonade and cookies. :-)
      Oh, a daughter and her friends gathered at home with you. Priceless.
      Wow. That last bit of gratitude never crossed my radar. It is now on. Whew-glad you are better!
      Thanks so much for your prayer, Susan.

  4. Good stuff.
    I’m thankful for a bad back. It has been teaching me how to be humble and let others help me. It has taught me how to be more dependent on God. It has shown me the power of prayer (and I hope it will be a testimony of God’s power someday as He heals me.)

    • Oh, ow, Becky. My dad had a bad back for years, so I can imagine how difficult that is. It is amazing how personal injury or illness humbles us, isn’t it? I will pray for you now, and for the future as you use this challenge to grow.
      Thank you so much for stopping by.
      I just love the bits of lives that are being shared!

  5. Glorious words of Gratitude! Kim, I am deeply grateful for YOU!

    I am grateful for the sunshine,
    For the waving leaves of trees;
    I am grateful for the songs of birds
    Ever my ears to please.

    I am grateful for the flowers,
    Blossoming bright in the fields;
    I am grateful for the harvest,
    Bounty the earth yields.

    I am grateful for the rivers,
    The rushing waters of streams;
    I am grateful for the oceans,
    In which colorful life teems.

    I am grateful for the forests,
    Plush and vast and green;
    I am grateful for God’s Design:
    Showing Unseen in the seen.

    I am grateful for His creating man,
    For loving him without measure.
    I am grateful for Jesus Christ,
    Indeed our Greatest Treasure.

    I am grateful for eternal life,
    Known by faith in Christ, the Son;
    I am grateful for the Truth,
    Words of the Almighty Eternal One.

    I am grateful for the Cross,
    Upon which our Lord willingly died;
    I am grateful for salvation
    Through the blood of Christ, crucified.

    I am grateful for His Sacrifice,
    For the Cross He did embrace;
    I am grateful for His enduring torture
    That we may know His boundless grace.

    I am so grateful for God’s love,
    Love which I cannot comprehend;
    And I am grateful for the blessings
    He ever generously does send…

  6. What a thought provoking post Kim!
    I am very thankful for my family….lots of joy there!
    I am thankful for my work…there are so many people wanting work.
    My aunt had a brain aneurysm a few years ago and spent weeks in the ICU. There were times we didn’t think she was going to pull through. After she was released from rehab, she came to live with my Mom and Dad, which required her to move out of state. She lived with them for 2 years and then rented a house down the road. She stood up in church on Sunday and talked about how the aneurysm was such a great thing! She is a Christian now, she is stronger as a person and she is away from some negative influences.
    Something that was horrible at the time….truly a blessing! Blessing for her and us because she is closer!

    • Hi Lisa, Thank you for sharing the story of your aunt. What a testimony to the love of your family and the love of God! I think that we very often are apt to rail and be angry and afraid rather than let go and trust in the thick of those difficulties. I am so glad your aunt is able to live on her own again so close to you. You have brought such a blessing to this space today!

  7. Great post! I am grateful for a husband who puts up with all my “stuff”. I am grateful for my kids who still love me even when I make mistakes in my parenting. I am grateful that God didn’t give up on me even when I was stubborn and refused to accept His love and grace! I am also grateful for hot water in my shower in the morning and I DO thank Him for that everyday! ;)

    • Mindy, you made me laugh out loud when you mentioned parenting mistakes. Oh, my, I hear you on that one! I have not thought to give thanks for my hot water. I am reminded of that bit that floats around FB and Pinterest: What if you woke up today and only had the things you had thanked God for yesterday? Brrrr. A cold shower is just not my cup of tea!
      Thanks for sharing your gratitude with us today!

  8. It is always better to be grateful in the midst of the storm. I love that song. I am grateful for seeing the sun after the a morning rain. It remains me that in the midst of the storm, the sun is still shine above the clouds.

    • Your words are especially sweet today, Lisa, as we have seen about a straight week of rain. It’s a great reminder that the sun is still there, I just can’t see it right now. What a great analogy for so much of our lives! Glad you enjoyed the song, and thanks so much for sharing your gratitude!

  9. Since reading Ann Voskamps book, I have learned more and more to the thankful for those things in the storms. I’ve been working my journal and have passed the 1000 mark.
    Today I am grateful for
    1) open windows in the house to let the fresh air and breezes in
    2) my 19 year old son always willingly and cheerfully helping me around the house and yard.
    3) finding your blog site :)

    • Kristin, you are the first person I have met who has passed the 1000 mark. Wow. I read today that suffering establishes us, making us as steadfast and solid as granite (Elizabeth George). It certainly does, and makes us grateful for that solidity.
      I love your list, and am so glad you came over for a visit!

  10. I am grateful for Christ changing me from the inside-out because of His sacrifice and His resurrection. Grateful for His great patience and mercy. Grateful my hydrangea are blooming beauty. Grateful to have met you, Kim :)

    • Dolly, you hit a big one with that. I am embarrassed to say I have not listed that one specifically. Changes—sometimes that we have to be dragged kicking and screaming through—leave me so grateful, like you.
      I imagine your hydrangea are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing and your sweet words!

  11. It’s really hard to find that protective fortress in the middle of the storm but yes indeed. I’ve much to be grateful about. Health, love and shelter for example. Thanks.

  12. Thank you for posting this thought provoking article. I have often thought the adversities in my life, and how much I have learned and grown from them. Although difficult at the time, these are the incidents that have made me a better person.

    I post a monthly blog hop that’s open until the 14th of the month and this would be a great post to link up if you had the time. The hop is “Pay It Forward”. Stop over and see what you think.

    Blessings…

  13. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

    I come to this verse so often. I have heard life and death being described as a revolving door, and my pastor says that “we are not physical beings with temporary spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings with temporary physical experiences”.

    So anything I could worry about today…anything at all that I could choose to pitch a fit about, or be irked about, or roll my eyes about…is seriously detracting from my limited amount of human experiences! I only get so long to be here – why not “make allowances for each other’s faults” and “forgive as God forgave me first” and just BE?!

    Just be happy.
    Just be content.
    Just be a joy for my husband to walk through life with.
    Just be a strong well of wisdom for my babies to pull from when they’re older.

    Tomorrow will happen whether we griped about taking the trash out or not, so just take it out and go hug your hubs! You just might get a hug back!

    • Wonderful thoughts, Michelle. Tomorrow will happen, and we can spend it griping about family or being grateful for their presence. I believe you will be a strong well of wisdom for your children as they get older. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation!

  14. 1) I am grateful for stumbling upon two amazing blog posts today that Jesus knew I so desperately needed. (Thank you for being one of them.)

    2) I am grateful that God chooses to say “Wait” in my prayers for a female spiritual mentor/role model. It is a reminder that HE is always enough.

    3) I am grateful that my sweet 12 month old son was a wreck at my small group today. It reminds me that I am a complete failure on my own, and that His ways – while mysterious at times – are always the best way.

    4) I am grateful that my husband studies for the bar exam 12+ hours a day, so that when he finishes, I will delight in falling asleep next to him again.

    • Chloe, I am so humbled you were led here today. I just love how God takes us where we need to go and shows us what we need to see when we allow ourselves to be led and open to instruction. I laughed out loud when I read you were grateful for the less than stellar behavior of your son today. Our girls would do that when they were little, but I was never grateful for it. Thanks for that reminder to look there for gratitude!

  15. Well…
    Today was a rough day.
    Writing it out in my mind tonight…but–
    At the end of the day our littlest put her hand up to the painted hand prints on our wall…
    And I saw how much she’s grown since that first print.
    It caused me to pause.
    And give thanks.
    For her gift of life…for each breath that gives them to me in the morning.
    Because we’ve been on the flip-side…where we’d give anything for even just one more minute to cradle a little-body-loved.
    But He is faithful in the deepest of storms.
    Beautiful post.
    Love,
    K @ The Chuppies/NOBH

  16. Kara, you write so eloquently. You bring tears to my eyes when I think of the gift of our children and how we are not always grateful for them.
    God is indeed faithful in the storms. I love how in the video above lead singer Mark Hall phrases that truism: God either calms the storms or rides them out with us. What a comforting image that is.
    Thanks so much for reminding us to be grateful for the gift of the life.

  17. It’s harder to be thankful during the hard times, but there’s always something to give thanks for! I try to remember that.

  18. It really is a choice. Sometimes it’s hard. This is a great reminder!

  19. This is a great post. It is sometimes so hard to see the blessings in hardships. I am truly ghrateful for our financial challenges because I can see that we are growing in our faith and in our priorities.

    • Nicole, it’s so good to hear that others are grateful for their financial challenges, too. It can be very hard to be grateful for that area! As you note, though, the benefit is being more intentional about what is important and also growing in your faith. Blessings to you!

  20. I recently started a gratitude journal to help me get through the present trial I am in. It’s been a huge blessing thus far. Thank you for this beautiful post. Your words brought me encouragement today:)

    Just for today I choose peace.
    Just for today I choose joy.
    I live my life with integrity.
    I treat all living beings with kindness.
    I show gratitude for all my blessings.
    ~ Principles of Reiki
    Hope Sparrow recently posted…If You Chance To Meet a Frown…My Profile

    • I am so grateful you have found encouragement here, Hope! Gratitude journals are a wonderful thing, and can be really helpful in finding your way to a more joyful place. Did you download my free ebook, “Practicing Gratitude and Discovering Joy-30 Days to a Happier You!” It gives some great information and a plan for greater gratitude. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here-I am encouraged by you!

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