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Gratitude . . . Lived as a Discipline

Hi Y’all! Take a guess!!! In what decade were Ken and I married?!?! (See #4 for a closeup!)


It is Monday, July 3rd, and we have returned from a weekend of celebrating two graduates, feasting with friends, and being loved and loving! So, in an effort to actually live out this phrase, “…gratitude can also be lived as a discipline,” (Henri Nouwen – below) I have decided to include some pics and refer to some friends who DO THIS WELL! My gratitude giving meter has been a bit low. So, reading this today helped me -


“Gratitude...goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’

and claims the truth that all of life is

a pure gift. In the past I always thought of

gratitude as a spontaneous response to

the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.


Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful

even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is

amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude

instead of a complaint…. The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real

effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little

less self-conscious…. There is an Estonian proverb that says: ‘Who does not thank

for little will not thank for much.’ Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step

by step, they reveal that all is grace.” — Henri Nouwen


My friend Janet Adams Sunberg has a discipline that she follows each day on Facebook. She simply calls it, “My thankful list for today:” She then embarks on 5 things (or more) that she is thankful for, sometimes just because, and sometimes she expounds.


I cannot tell you how many times her “lists” have stopped me in my tracks and made me look at myself! You see, I tend to get “lost in the weeds” of the turmoil of this world – so much so that it steals my joy – AND it steals my GRATITUDE! So, after reading Henri Nouwen (above) posted by my long-time friend and mentor Rev. Dr. Phil Stout – I will begin my gratitude list.

1. I am and will be forever grateful for Phil and Carol Stout. After serving with them for over 20 years in pastoral ministry in Jackson, Michigan, and after over 30 years of friendship – I truly do not know where I would be without their unconditional love, their unwavering devotion to God, and their examples as parents, friends, spouses, activists for the Gospel, and compassionate and caring individuals. Being together so encourages my soul.


2. Janet Adams Sunberg – YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW YOU ROCK MY WORLD!!! I am so grateful to this friend (who actually is my friend because her husband was my friend first! Ha!) for her ability to SEE GOOD, DO GOOD, and BE GOOD for this ole world! If you ever get a chance to read her posts on Facebook you will be challenged to truly look at your life through a grateful lens. And while her perspective simply brings a new awareness to what it means to be human – her ability to bring dishes from the dirt blows my mind. Her entrepreneurial spirit dares me to make more from the dust of what is by dreaming, sweating, learning and growing through the changes that life brings. Search

“Dirt to Dishes” on Facebook and find creations that will make you wonder at what is possible. (Here are a few.)





3. Celebrations – For years we were never around family to adequately celebrate together. So, this new idea of celebrating births, birthdays, and every day being together is new for us. This last week we celebrated the birth of our niece’s baby. We heard his tiny cries, and we held his little body close to ours.




And – another reason to celebrate: Mom Garner has been recovering from knee replacement. She is doing so well. She is working so hard and exercising diligently hoping for 100% mobility and strength! So grateful for knee replacement surgery that can give someone new life options that help us move forward.



Also, we celebrated our Madeline (third of our four goddaughters to graduate high school). As we gathered and talked and laughed together we saw friends and family love on this family and this precious gal. What a gift! And, really - her joy was the "presence" of those she loves.


Finally – we celebrated a friend whose accomplishments have been huge! As she has been working toward her M.A. in counseling, she has been working a million jobs and loving on all of us as her friends and family!!! Rachael truly loves being WITH people and celebrating everyone else!!! So, we got together to celebrate her - and we SURPRISED HER!!! Being together this weekend was a TREAT! Yay! Way to go Rach!!!




4. My Ken – how I love you. I never want to take you for granted. I am grateful for your love for me. I am grateful for the laughter! I am grateful for intimacy. I am grateful for mutual admiration and respect. I cherish you – and we are almost to #35!!! Can you believe it?!?! Time FLIES!!! (You are definitely ALWAYS #1 on the list – but here is where you are mentioned. Haha!) Wow! We've come a long way baby!

(Getting Ken in the pic was a little difficult! Haha!!!)



5. Food to eat, a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, jobs, and a car to drive. (Yes, I just did that – I lobbed it all into one big basket!) But, after this last 3 years – and the situations that have been present causing so much anxiety and feelings of overwhelm – I had to do it! I am so very grateful, and I am dreaming of ways to help others have the same. For today – right now – I am grateful.


“Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint…. The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort…” (Henri Nouwen above^^^)


So, today and this week is such a mixed bag right? As I am consciously choosing gratitude, I know I have so much work to do in order to work through the emotions and feelings of sadness, regret, resentment and hurt. Do you feel this?


Today I long to be full of grace and peace in order to remain grateful while engaging in the world. I long to be a hope-bringer standing in solidarity with those in the world that feel so down and forgotten that they are struggling to even find one thing to be grateful for.


O God – help us to celebrate the freedom to be and do better! Be our guide in love, in life, in hope and in peace. Show us who you are, and then empower us to call those qualities out in ourselves and in others as we are created in your very image. May we be God-Bearers…


Amen.


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