grat·i·tude – noun \-tüd, -tyüd\

: a feeling of appreciation or thanks

__________

So, choosing “gratitude” as my word of the week is a little disingenuous. If I were to really choose a word that reflected what has been happening in my heart and life over the past few days, I would have picked “grouchy” or “ungrateful” or “frazzled” or “stressed.” In fact, if you asked my husband or my step-sons, they definitely would have chosen one of these words, instead.

Life is full right now, and though some of our circumstances have come to us quite by chance (or providence), much of the flurry of activity has arrived because I invited it. I took on too much work; I agreed to too many commitments; I have an immature inability to say, “no.”

Late last week, one of my cousins invited me to a Facebook meme in which I was to list three positive things in my life each day. I’ve seen this project circulating on various friends walls lately, almost as popular at the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So I agreed. But then, on Sunday—day three—I just dropped the ball. I didn’t report a single positive thing.

Oh sure, I was busy. And maybe it was just that I didn’t have time to sign on to Facebook. But the truth is, I think I went to bed that night more worried about what didn’t get done, what I regretted, and what I hoped wouldn’t happen than thinking about all the positives in my life.

Last night, the same almost happened. But just before dropping off to sleep, I remembered the challenge, and quickly came up with three things. It was actually easy once I thought about it.

This is not the first stressful, busy season in my life. In fact, I’ve had months, even years, that were far more difficult. And here’s what’s really crazy—most of the current stress in my life revolves around things other people would love to have in their lives, things I myself wanted, too, even prayed for: a new house, an abundance of paying work that I enjoy, lots of activities with friends and family, and opportunities to serve others.

2388876532_ff29552568_z

So, back to my word of the week. Rather than being disingenuous, I’m actually trying to be a little proactive in choosing “gratitude” as my word. My grumpiness, my stress, the little catches in my chest when things aren’t going well—they all hinge on my ability to see all that I have in a new way. To swing things in a new direction, I need to start with a little gratitude.

While I’ve kept lists of things I’m thankful for in the past, I haven’t been nearly as consistent as my friend, Laura, who has filled up nine notebooks over the past seven years by jotting down five things every day. She’s started a new online project in which she models this idea of daily gratefulness—of seeing all she’s got and saying, “thank you,” to the One who made it possible. And if I’m going to make it through the next few weeks of packing and painting and pulling weeds and preparing a new home, then I need an anchor of gratitude to keep me from floating away.

I probably won’t make all my lists public; that’s just setting myself up for more stress and more unmet expectations. But I owe it to my cousin to try to finish out the meme on Facebook, and then I’ll just find a little journal, put it on the nightstand next to my bed, and ask the Lord to help me see my life a little better at the end of each day.

Today’s list of five things I’m thankful for:

  1. Leftover pancakes for breakfast.
  2. A slow entry into a new day after staying up late last night to finish yesterday’s work.
  3. Rain outside; dry inside.
  4. Truth from Proverbs that brings real change to my heart.
  5. My husband, my step-sons, and I all healthy and well, and doing the work we have been given for the day.

__________

WORD COUNT: 667

Photo above by Pamela Rentz, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.