Stories of Gratitude to Ring in November

(Photo: Free images)

All week, I've been about to spin the best story for you out of the happenings of my life.

But now that the week is over, I've realized no one particular story I can share with you will do the trick.

This week was a collection of essentially "boring" moments, but somehow, they represent a picture of why I'm grateful to be alive. They depict the steady gait of life the way it is for most of us: mundane, familiar, routine, not glamorous.

And yet, I felt grateful ...

  • When the sky and trees collided so far above me as I walked through the woods, and I really noticed that beauty. I felt so small, but so glad to be alive.
  • When I was at a Halloween cocktail party/game night, and I looked over at my husband, so relaxed and happy to be among friends, so in his element, cracking jokes and talking about games and playing games. He makes me smile.
  • When I saw my cats basking in the sunlight, not a care in the world. We could all take a lesson from that.
  • When my Bible study group helped me realize a new truth about the definition of the word "abide." On the one hand, yes, it's about obedience, but there's a prerequisite to that: sticking with Jesus like two pieces of fast-bound duct tape and letting his power work in your heart and life. It's so freeing to know I don't have to be the strong one. I'm still learning that.
  • When a friend from the gym noticed my absences over the past week and took a moment to encourage me to keep at my exercise routine.
  • When a project I'd been obsessing over at work started to (finally) take shape, and I began to breathe again.
  • When a leader spoke the words "Just say what you're comfortable saying," and I felt a weight lift off my heart and mind.
  • When it snowed on Halloween, and as the flakes swirled about, co-workers started smiling or bemoaning the event, displaying the love-to-hate spectrum common among Michiganders when it snows. Then, someone walked in with a box of pumpkin cream-cheese cupcakes, and moods universally lifted.
  • When my sister texted me to tell me she'd made too much food, and would I like her leftovers? I was all tied up that day so it didn't work out, but her generosity touched me just the same.
See? Even in the most mundane of weeks, the list of small, stunning moments can stretch on and on.

I have two more thoughts to share about "boring ol' life":

1. Faithfulness is boring.

This was a truth pointed out to me this fall by our lead teaching pastor at Ada Bible, Jeff Manion, during his series "Faithfulness" on the life of the prophet Samuel. 

Samuel's long, God-honoring life consisted of this: "From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah ... (then) back to Ramah, where his home was" (1 Samuel 7:16-17). He ministered to the people in those four towns, over and over and over, all the days of his life.

Think about your average week. For me, it's like this: Get up, hit the gym, go to work, come home, feed the cats, cook dinner, eat dinner with my husband, do dishes, tidy up, pack the gym bag and lunches for tomorrow, read/write/do other evening chores, go to bed. 

Then, I hit rewind and play all over again, times five. Then the weekend comes: Commitments, chores and play commingle.

What is that made of? Lots of repetition. It's not very spicy or sexy. There's plenty of room for complaint, if that's the route you choose. 

But the life of continued faithfulness ... is just a series of choices. It's the kind of life led by the people who, when they die, the whole town turns up at their funeral, and everyone's got a never-before-heard story of a time when the deceased friend helped them, reached out, showed kindness and love, and in so doing, built people up and left a lasting legacy.

And it was all because of consistency. Faithfulness.

2. There's always something to be grateful for.

Awhile back, I heard some sound advice: If you're struggling with depression, sit down at the end of each day and choose three things to be grateful for. Look for a new set of three each day, and write them in a gratitude journal. 

This exercise won't cure your depression, but it will help keep the tide from swallowing you.

A November challenge

Keep a gratitude journal. Each day this month, seek those little glimmers of hope, light and beauty, such as the ones I shared above, and write them down.

If you want to get started by listing one or two here, I'd love to hear them. Leave me a comment below or over at my Facebook Community page.

Read more posts in the Storytelling Sunday series here.

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