Gratitude. "The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness". That's what google says anyway.
What does gratitude mean to you? For me, it all depends. I was grateful this week to harvest the pic of lovely flowers above-the last of this growing season. But sometimes, me being grateful just depends on the day of the week, what's going on around me, and even sometimes the weather (that may sound awful). I do tend to be more grateful for sunshine but sometimes I'm grateful for the rain. These beautiful flowers we harvest during the busy season on our little farm need that sunshine to grow. But those same beautiful flowers need the rain to grow as well.
Have you every thought about how we need both sunshine and rain to grow or maybe I should say that we need the good times and the bad. I have found that those struggling bad times have helped me develop a positive and encouraging outlook on life. But it hasn't always been that way. Optimism is not something I was born with-I don't think so at least. If the truth be told, I would say I have been a natural born complainer (cringe-sometimes I still am). But I will tell you those complaints and fussing did little to help my situation and mostly brought me down.
There is a quote credited to Michael J Fox on one of my personal Facebook posts that says "And if you don't think you have anything to be grateful for, keep looking. Because you don't just receive optimism. You can't wait for things to be great and then be grateful for that. You have to behave in a way that promotes that." Fox really sums it up well. Everyday he faces an uphill battle, literally. But, he chooses to be positive about it. In case you don't know, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 29 and is currently age 62.
I really do want to be the eternal optimist and an infectious encourager of others. I am that person that believes there is always something to be grateful for. Did I tell you I love, love, love this time of year because of all the joys and celebrations it has brought for most of my life. But for many, this time of year carries it's own struggle- those that have lost love ones, others in the middle of a family sickness, or still others with family life that has changed by other circumstances.
There was a time in my life when every day was a struggle and felt like it had it's own insurmountable challenges. I found very little to be grateful for even though I was surrounded by abundant blessings. It was around this time I came upon the suggestion of starting a gratitude journal. I listed 5 things I was thankful for every day. Yes. Every. Single. Day. As I got started it was hard, very hard. There was crying I'm sure but through that practice of naming things I was thankful for, it opened my eyes to help me see how blessed I really was. I do not want to minimize anyone's struggles and please don't assume I am saying I know anything about yours. It took a really long time of writing in my gratitude journal to change my outlook, but God used it little by little to change my life. He used that little journal to change a life lived in bitterness to one of profound joy I cannot explain.
This past week I was so very very thankful to have help digging a ditch that would allow us to hook up electricity to the high tunnel (I will spare you the details). But thanks, Brad High! I was also thankful for a warm bed and clothes to keep warm on these chilly nights and mornings. Warm veggie soup. Three sweet kitties. My precious kiddos. My family. My friends. And yes that beautiful last bouquet of flowers. I guess you can see where I'm going with this. Once you pick up this gratitude bug it can get a little contagious. Couldn't we use a world with a little more contagious gratitude?
Is a gratitude journal in your future? I'd love to hear what your are thankful for in the comments. Look forward to seeing you soon.