Giving Thanks + Cultivating Gratitude

“I fill my lungs with the world, with this life, with this gift beyond containing. There is only one thing I can say. Thank you. And I must say it with my life. Through my life. To the end of my life. And after.” N.D. Wilson

It’s a dreamy, calm grey November day. Preparation and plans are set in place for a gathering.  A table full of the favorite home cooked food, the sharing of memories, the continuing of childhood traditions, and the simple joys of celebrating life together. Thanksgiving day has arrived, and with it a stream of nostalgia and a deepening sense of gratefulness.

Last night, it seemed my head was trying to show my heart to open my eyes. Wide awake, I was more fully aware of just how great of a life I possess. Sometimes it seems like I start going through life in a daze, unaware of all that is going around me. So in this Thanksgiving season, I especially try to look for the countless ways my life has been filled to overflowing in the richest of ways.This month I have tried to find things each day and the list has piled up rapidly. Some days, it is so easy to find the positives, other days, I have to fight to see the beauty present around me. There has been stress, waiting, sadness, wandering, certainty, plenty, hope, and joy. I’ve had my fair share of messy moments and things I wish I could change. However, God has been faithful in the highs and lows, and for every moment in-between, and for that I am beyond grateful. 

My heart has been challenged to not just give thanks for the obvious gifts everyday, but to actively express gratitude for every thing. In every thing and area of life, He is good. Here’s a few things that stand out to me:

  • Grateful for the friends placed in my life and all they bring into it, even though sometimes it is hard when we are all growing and changing at once. There is something beautiful about being shaped by community and having long term relationships with people who know you and still love you.
  • Grateful for the certainty of His perfect timing and faithfulness in every step of this story, even when I doubt and worry about how it will all come together. Every step of my life has been filled with the evidence of His hand too strongly for me to not recognize it.
  • Grateful for my family, for each person and how they bring unique strengths and gifts, and are an encouragement and support in countless ways, even though we’re imperfect and I have a hard time loving others well in some moments. They mean the world to me and have impacted my life in countless ways.
  • Grateful for the ways God is growing me in my passions, even though sometimes it all seems to not have a clear purpose. He has placed the love of these things within my heart, and I am amazed to see how He has chosen to work within my creating and making “art” of a kind.
  • Grateful to God for loving this soul relentlessly, even though I am so double-sided and contradictory in so many ways. He is showing me how to be confident in who He has designed me to be and live freely in that. For this grace I will spend my whole life saying thank you.

 

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