Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” It is a “quality” that I believe to be incredibly important. Something that every person should foster in their own lives, in order to both increase the level of happiness and fulfillment in our own lives and to also increase the positivity we are impressing into the world of others.
I was struggling to figure out what it is that I wanted to do here, I know I’ve been neglecting my blog and more than that my writing in general, for quite some time. I’m coming out of a busy season, and going into a new type of busy season and with that comes a change in my priorities and plans for all areas of my life. Including this blog. I had grande intentions, and with one two week holiday over Christmas, things changed.
Christmas was an incredible time full of celebration, emotion and excitement as I left my own family behind for the first Christmas ever in order to spend two wonderful weeks with my boyfriend, Micah, and “meet the family”.
Those two weeks were wonderful, and they also mark the dividing line between these busy seasons. I left home as a busy woman, with a faraway boyfriend, two jobs and a handful of other responsibilities. I wasn’t sure what the immediate future would bring, but I was content in all my busy-ness, learning all I could about working in a church, managing an office, volunteering, teaching, mentoring, and trying to figure out where exactly God wanted me to be and what exactly God wanted to do with me.
However, on Christmas Day, after weeks of talking about our future and how incredible it would be to finally be together, Micah took me to a quiet little campsite and on the shore of a river with the sound of rushing water and trees rustling in the wind as the perfect soundtrack, he got down on one knee and officially changed my plans for 2015.
[Yes, that’s right, he proposed!!]
And as soon as I said yes, my priorities changed. We already knew that when the time came to get married, because we knew we would, that I would pick up and move the 800 miles from Northern British Columbia to Oregon. All of my busy-ness here would shift from being about completing the task to preparing people, teams, and tasks for the day that I would leave. It went from doing my job well to leaving my job well, and while I still have two jobs and a tonne of responsibilities, and he still has a job and school and a tonne of responsibilities…WE now have a wedding to plan and immigration to contend with as well. We are in a new kind of busy season, together, and we are so excited and also stressed and also feeling the distance between us in a whole new way.
And here is where gratitude comes into it.
As I said, I had grande plans for my writing this year, but ever since I came home the only thing that seems to matter is keeping my eyes firmly focused on Jesus and all of the good things in this life; because sometimes it is so dang hard to see the good things through the heaviness of life, the ache of distance, and the fatigue of overstuffed schedules.
For about three months now, every time I pray I meditate on the same three words. At home, in worship services, in my car, in the shower, in the midst of the most painful moments, and in the midst of the most incredible moments. And every prayer since Micah asked me to become his wife. Its always the same three words.
Thanks. And. Praise.
“Thanks and praise, Lord. Thanks and praise. All glory to you, God, thanks and praise, always, in all things.”
For this life, for the breathe in my lungs, for Micah, for ever flowing coffee, for late night phone calls, for revelation, for salvation, for conviction, for peace, for people, for family, for new family waiting for me in Oregon, for more food than some people will see in a week, for communication, for technology, for warmth, for shelter, for purpose, for my sister coming home, for work, for a new kind of future, for trust, for full nights of sleep, for health, for changed directions, for His presence in the difficult things, for His presence in the wonderful things…
Gratitude. Always. For all things.
And repeating those three words, thanks and praise, has helped to keep my eyes on what matters and what’s really happening, and what’s coming. Even in the harder moments. But gratitude takes practice and persistence. It takes consistently remembering and noticing and refocusing. It takes effort.
This year is going to be a big year. This is the year that I get married! This is the year that I move to another country! The year I literally change direction from where I always thought I was going. And in that will be an incredible amount of uncertainty, struggle, stress and heart ache. And also so much good, so much joy, so much fun, and so much adventure.
So I am committing, right here and right now, to make this year about the good things; the joy, the fun, the adventure. It won’t be about surviving the struggle, or coping until Micah and I finally make it to our wedding day. It won’t be about remembering to lean into God when the uncertainty is unbearable. Those are all things that will likely be a part of 2015, and they will all be valuable lessons that I hope to learn well. But that’s not what I want to define 2015.
I want 2015 to be a year focused on gratefulness. A year of consistently refocusing to see what a gift this life is, what an adventure this year will be. I want to remember 2015 as the most incredible year yet. I want to start each week this year with gratitude, I want to share with you the crazy, incredible, beautiful things that I encounter and I want to hear from you, too!
What are you grateful for?