Mom: Feeling grateful should extend beyond November

The last few weeks I have been a bit “blah.” I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed with little projects, working on learning how to decipher unconventional lab results for my kids (which I’ll discuss in January) and catching up on other odds and ends. I’ve not been exercising like I enjoy and have been neglecting my marriage and myself. All of these things leave me being not very grateful for my relationships, my kids and where I am at in my life.

I am the type of person who sees the positive and even in my darkest moments, I know I will survive and overcome to be a better person. During a really crappy start of the week, a friend told me to spend some time in the Word. I did just that one Monday morning and felt comfort in what I was reading. It brought a heartfelt discussion between my husband and me. Something had been brewing between us and we just really needed to sit down and talk it through.

A couple of days later while having tea with a friend we discussed our “gratitude” and being grateful. What does it really mean to live a life filled with gratitude on a daily basis? Ask the victims in Washington. Two weeks ago they were all making their Thanksgiving plans, but instead they have been shown that all they had to be grateful for was taken away in a whirlwind storm. Why does it take some awful situation to express our most grateful hearts?

She left me with this to ponder:

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.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen

This has allowed me to reflect more on how I want to continue to grow as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter. Is it possible to be that disciplined in gratefulness in the daily grind and mundane routines? Why is it so hard to teach ourselves and our children the discipline to live an authentic grateful life? Because many of us don’t rejoice in the things we have, we are always longing for something bigger, better, greater and usually that is something tangible. A random act of kindness, a child laughing, being unemployed for several months to finally learn you got a job, that is when we begin to find greatness in gratefulness.

Being continuously grateful for all things is a discipline that goes beyond the month of November. Even I find myself challenged to be more grateful and I have so much to be grateful for in my life. My daughter’s joyful heart and the way she giggles. My son’s sweet, cute voice and the way he smiles from ear to ear. My husband’s daily question to me, “What can I do for you today?” Does it get any better than that? Sometimes I want to slap myself when I feel ungrateful.

It is right there in front of our faces and all we need to do is just say, “Thanks!” In our darkest and saddest days, we can remind ourselves that we still have much to be thankful for because it shows in the way we live our lives. Make that “valiant effort” to express sincere gratitude from a heart filled with joy and love, not just this week because the holiday is reminding us, but find something everyday to be grateful for.

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