Several years ago I read this amazing book, the entire premise was on counting your blessings…daily…Ann Voskamp, author of New York Times Best Selling book (most likely the only book I’ve ever read off of that list) One Thousand Gifts just pulled me into this amazing cycle of being thankful, in all circumstances, all the time, even when it’s sucky and yucky and you’ve just had about all you can take. He is there, and there is good in it, you just have to look – sometimes really really hard.
I mean I had to really try hard to be thankful for some things, some situations. When you are habitually unthankful, and you don’t even realize it, there is an unsurmountable struggle. There has to be a conscience choice to change your thoughts. I struggled with that, I struggle with that. I struggled with finally having a little money in savings and then the car needing new tires and it would deplete the account…I struggled with that, then just one day…I was like, “but at least we have the cash.”. And just like that I made a mental shift. Thankfulness for what I had. It didn’t come easy, it came after years of pouring myself into Scripture, books and podcasts geared towards thankfulness, prayer and worship. I have to admit that as silly as an example as the car needing tires is, it is the first one I recall.
By nature I suppose I tend to lean towards the ummmm, negative side of things…there’s where my husband comes in and has always seemed to naturally have this positive, rosy glasses view of things, which honestly can be a little irritating when you’re trying to have a pity party for yourself and situation. So, I ‘m not sure if his “if you act enthusiastic, then you’ll be enthusiastic” chant finally got to me or God started working through me…I’ll give both the credit they deserve. I’ve learned that when our eyes are focused on what we don’t have, on what we think we want, we cannot focus on what we do have and what it is we do truly desire. When we cast our eyes on Him and all that He has given us, only then can we start to come into focus on what His plan is for us.
So as we all trudge through an often times not so happy go lucky world, let’s help each other with being thankful and share our stories of how we’ve been blessed, and how we’ve blessed and little things that we are thankful for…I’ll go first…
12 years ago I was pregnant…again…seems like I spent a lot of time that way for a few years. And while being home with two toddlers and expecting a third was what I wanted it came with it’s struggles. While hubby went from working in a territory 3 hours from our home (super long exhausting days and evenings for me with the kids) to building his own business, cash was a little, sparse shall we say? So someone had told me to check out a different grocery store in our area that was supposed to have better prices then where I typically shopped. So I loaded the two munchkins up and off we went. I do not remember what I put in the cart that day. I do remember I didn’t have enough money to pay for it…and I was one of ‘those’ people who started to have the cashier pull things off the order until I would have enough money…all while trying to keep a 2 year old and 18 month old under control. As I was having her take off yet another item, this man behind me hands the cashier $20. I protested that it wasn’t necessary…he was VERY insistent. I was VERY mortified. I sat in my car and cried…and the worst part is that I was NOT thankful. In that moment I was anything but thankful. I was humiliated. I was sad. I was a victim of my circumstances. I was a ‘why me’.
Fast forward about 10 years. I met this woman at a party, she was the quite one with the baby boy…there was just something about her. She was just SO quiet, almost shy and gentle and kind. We became friends, and would text from time to time. She lost her job she had for a long time when the major corporation she worked for closed their local center. One evening I sent her a message just to say hi. She sent back that she was to the point of not having enough food for her and her son. We always had food. If nothing else we had food. I couldn’t imagine worrying about not having food for my kids. The hubby said to invite them over for dinner and take her to the grocery store and get her what she needed. We did just that. I have never had a more humbling experience. Aisle after aisle I pleaded with her to get what she needed…do you know people eat Spam?!?! She was so sweet, everything she placed in her cart, she asked me first if it was ok. She WAS thankful. Her whole $87 worth of food thankful. And we were blessed by this momma’s smile, her true thankfulness, her grace in accepting what we were able to give her…and my heart softened a little more…and I received one of the greatest gifts. She taught me about thankfulness, about grace, about being humble enough to receive a gift. When you can fill a need that nobody else can at that given moment for someone…choose to be the gift, always chose to be the gift. You will receive way more then you gave.
photo credit @willbassett on Instagram