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contentment

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Practicing Gratitude.

So I’m just going to start by being honest… this week was T O U G H.

Like really tough.  Delle (my almost 3 year old) had meltdown after meltdown after meltdown.  Hagen (the 1 year old) was super needy, clingy, teething (the trifecta).  Work was crazy. Life was busy. You know this web the drill.

So here’s my confession…  I failed.

Big time.  Like lost my patience/temper/and sanity in the process.  According to Daniel the Tiger (which I also let Delle watch way too much of)… I needed to “take a deep breath and ask for help.”  That s&^* doesn’t work for adults. I took a million deep breaths, asked for help, and got nowhere.

But then, as I am sitting at our dining room table trying to cram in a few extra minutes of work in a quiet moment.  Delle is sitting accross from me, recovering from her epic meltdown.  And then, out of the blue, Delle gets out of her seat, comes over to me, and crawls in my lap.  She cuddles with me. Tells me how much she loves. And wants to be near ME (the impatient, exhausted, distracted, emotional mess of a mom).

These are the moments in life that get me.  The ones where I am so clearly shown such pure love and joy in the middle of my chaotic, emotional mess.  Yes, I know this seems minor.  And not really “blog-worthy.”  But here’s what happened almost as soon as Delle crawled into my lap… I was instantly flooded with an overwhelming peace and reminded of Psalm 118:24.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV); “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I hugged Delle.  I soaked in our really sweet 5 minutes.  And was challenged on my gratitude.  On my “rejoicing” and “being glad” (or really the lack thereof) in the present moment.

Quite frankly, this was an odd time to be reminded of gratitude. But sometimes that’s how God works.  And if his subtle, peaceful prompting wasn’t enough, I opened my “The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms,” by Timothy and Kathy Keller.  This is is what they said:

“Actually every day that your heart keeps pumping, your country is not invaded, and your brain keeps functioning is wholly an underserved gift of God.  We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days full of amazed, thankful joy (September 30).”

I just love that, “We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days FULL of amazed, thankful joy.”  So God, hint taken.  I need a gratitude adjustment.  And am now striving to BEGIN (baby steps right?) developing a more grateful heart…  And here’s how:  5 things at the end of every day. That’s all. Just 5.

At the end of each day, I am writing down the “TOP 5” moments I am thankful for.

It’s a simple, small step that I know I need to take.  It reminds me to be grateful because everyday is a NEW day.  A new day filled with new opportunities, new trials, new tests, and new moments where Delle curls up on my lap and tells me how much she loves me.  And I want to remember those… not the stuff that wore me out.

It’s easy to get broken down by the tensions and trials and tests of this life (and especially motherhood).

And all too often that where my perspective stops.  That’s what my mind almost immediately get locked in on… the “hard stuff.”

But I’m finding that through the lens of gratitude my heart is softened and my emotions eased.

& That’s what I need more of.  A softened heart and a whole lot of “eased emotions.”

So that’s all for today.  Just a simple reminder to find ways to PRACTICE GRATITUDE, to thank God for the good and a challenge to begin developing a grateful attitude.

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Advent Week 4: Psalm 23

It’s hard to believe Christmas is THIS week.

That this month, this year, this advent season is coming to an end.  I always get sentimental about the end of… well, everything.  Seriously, I turn into a sap when I finish a JOURNAL. Who does that?! Apparently, me.  So get ready for a bunch of sappy, reflective, sentimental posts;) But in all seriousness, I wanted this week (the last week before Christmas) to be special.  To be a week filled with spirituality overdrive.

I had A LOT of grandiose plans… and then God gently reminded me to not overcomplicate things (something I’m pretty good at doing).  And immediately after this gentle reminder, I felt led to a verse I’m sure many have heard or read (myself included).  But this time when I read this verse I saw the perfect number of promises for the perfect number of days this week.  It was meant to be… & then I did my thing and overcomplicated life/blogging/work and didn’t finish this post UNTIL Wednesday.  Oops (& sorry).

But, hey at least I posted this right?;) Here’s the verse God brought me to…

Psalm 23 (NLT)

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

Each day this week my challenge has been to read this Psalm and focus on 1 VERSE at a time.  Yep, you read that right…just 1 verse.  So often I feel like we get hung up on trying to read huge chunks of scripture & in doing so we forget to soak in words and phrases and sentences that can shape our daily lives.  Maybe that makes me less spiritual or elementary but it works for me.  When I find myself being able to meditate and focus on just 1 VERSE each day, it somehow becomes a part of me and shapes the way I think and live… day by day.

& So, I encourage you to do the same.

Small pieces of scripture.  Read them slowly. Think about them often. Dwell on the different words or phrases God leads you to.  Let God’s words soak into your soul and be the living and active, life-giving source Scripture has the power to be.

So today, just read ONE VERSE; verse 1:

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.

How simple and yet convicting.  The Lord is my shepherd… I have ALL I need.  & What an appropriate time to be reminded of this.  This week we all will be bombarded by images, toys, stuff we “NEED.”  Things that others need.  That the church needs.  All the stuff you don’t have and need to hurry up and buy.

This week you will be reminded of everything you DON’T have.

& It goes beyond just gifts and “stuff.”  We are reminded that we DON’T have certain people in our lives anymore.  That we DON’T have the family we wish we had.  That we DON’T have the money, schedule, vacation, relationship, health, body, energy… fill in the blank, that we desperately desired/wanted/needed this Christmas season.

But what if we shifted our thinking to what we DO have?

That we DO have God, the good shepherd with us… & THAT is all we need.

Such a simple truth and yet it is extremely difficult to live.  How often do we abide in knowing and living in the grace and goodness of our shepherd king?  Our one true provider, protector, care-giver?  Our leader, shield, and strength.  Our source of life and hope and joy and peace?

And so, this week I shift my gaze and focus my heart on what I DO have- the Lord, my shepherd.

See, it’s only in resting in Him, His strength, His goodness, His presence, that I am truly (& deeply) satisfied and content.

All that in just ONE VERSE. 

That’s why I LOVE and hunger for the scriptures… they are full of life giving truths that keep our eyes fixed & our hearts focused on what matter most, our shepherd king.