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Grateful Heart

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November 20, 2017

How to Cultivate Gratitude When It’s Hard

*This post is the second post in a 2 part series. 

Last week I shared in my post “Hindrances to Giving Thanks” some of why I struggle with giving thanks, even though I long to. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here before you continue on to read these words below.

I’ve learned that in whatever we struggle with, whatever hurts our hearts, there’s power and healing in lament, and there’s power and joy found in thanksgiving. 

Recently I took a poll in my Instastories and asked people if they’ve ever struggled to give thanks. 88% of people who responded, answered yes. The reality is that the majority of us struggle to give thanks. My guess is that if you’re reading these words, it’s more than likely you have this struggle too.

Maybe you aren’t sure why gratitude is hard for you but you just know it is, maybe after reading last week’s post you were enlightened to some of the driving forces behind your struggle, or maybe you’ve been living very aware of what hinders you when it comes to gratitude in your life, but you just don’t know what to do about it.

Here’s the thing, wherever you are in the struggle to give thanks, it’s crucial to understand that the moment you struggle to give thanks is the exact moment you need to intentionally seek it and practice it the most. You need to choose gratitude and keep on choosing it. Don’t give up in the struggle.

When you arrive at the place where you understand that gratitude is hard for you, yet you know the importance of it and the Bible’s commands regarding it, you’re probably left wondering, But how do I do this? How do I give thanks when I want to, but I’m struggling to and I just don’t know how to? Read more

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November 14, 2017

Hindrances to Giving Thanks

*This is the first post in a two part series on struggling with giving thanks.

Have you ever struggled to give thanks? Have you ever longed to be thankful, yet gratitude doesn’t seem to be the natural attitude of your heart — or maybe perhaps given your current circumstances gratitude just quite frankly feels impossible? Well, you’re not alone.

If you were to come over for a cup of coffee this week, you would see a DIY brown, cardstock banner strung across my dining room window.

Give Thanks it says.

What you might not know, is that my heart needs this banner strung across it too. Maybe I’m hoping as I walk past these words daily that they will somehow impress themselves upon my heart.

Giving thanks does not come naturally to me.

I like to think I’m a grateful person. (Don’t we all?) But an honest examination of my heart would reveal my struggle to give thanks, and not just in the hard times, but on any given day. Read more

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September 28, 2017

2 Ways to Transform Your Life When You Feel Helpless or Hopeless

The sound of bedroom doors opening and closing wakes me from my less than stellar night’s sleep. Before I even open my eyes, my body stirs, and the pain instantly radiates through me. Each small movement feels like my joints have become creaky, old, rusty door hinges.

Why at 32 do I feel like I’m trapped inside of an 80 year old arthritic body?

I painstakingly pull myself so that I’m sitting upright in bed. I swing my legs, or rather drag them with the assistance of my hands because my joints are too stiff and stuck to move on their own, from the bed to the floor. Every movement takes more effort than it should. The pain aches deep inside my bones, and I let out a moan of discomfort followed by a long sigh.

I force myself to stand, pushing against the mattress, once again with the assistance of my arms to get myself there because my legs just can’t seem to function. And then I go to take a small step forward. A simple step. But I can barely manage. I press my foot down on the floor as I step and immediately retract it as it tells me it won’t be holding up the weight of my body this morning. I momentarily hold my leg out in front of me to examine it and test my knee. It won’t bend at all. The pain travels back and forth between my knee and my hip as I try to achieve even the smallest angle. Nope. Not happening.

I look down at my knee that won’t bend. It’s terribly swollen and looks ridiculous on my skinny leg, that’s not skinny in a nice way, but skinny as in I’ve lost all my muscle tone sort of way.

And then I continue my journey to start my day by hobbling to the bathroom, hunched over, using the wall as a crutch. This morning reminds me of the days immediately following my surgery… 6 months ago.

This isn’t good.

This isn’t good at all.

After not seeing the progress I had hoped for, I finally sought the help of a physical therapist. And yet, I’ve seen no improvement. In fact my knee seems to be progressively worsening.

My knee is never going to heal. This pain is never going to go away. 

I notice the tears wanting out as the discouragement and fear barge in, but unlike those emotions that burst through like a pack of wild and unruly children that I can’t seem to control, I try to control the one thing I’ve become good at: keeping the tears in.

But then I recognize what I’m doing as I refuse to let those tears through. I’m storing up things inside of me that are no good, and as a result hopelessness is rising and flooding my soul.

That old familiar lie of hopelessness. I recognize it more quickly these days, but still it comes.  Read more

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August 30, 2017

The First Day of Kindergarten, from One Rainbow Mom’s Perspective

Right now many of us moms are sending our babies off to kindergarten.

For many moms this season likely creates a huge ache in their hearts and a trickle of tears down their cheeks that they quickly try to wipe away and hide, at least while still in view of their little ones.

After all, we’re sending our babies off into the world. And perhaps this is one of the first true moments of letting go. And the letting go is h-a-r-d.

This week I was one of the moms sending my baby off to kindergarten.

However, I wasn’t one of the moms that I just described.

Now please don’t hear me wrong, especially if you were / are one of these moms. I can empathize with the reactions and tears and difficulties in sending our babies off to school in a way that is much deeper than most realize and there’s no judgement here.

My experience this week was different. And maybe in a way that you might not expect.

You see, when you’ve walked the unexpected and traumatic road of child loss, as I have, it drastically changes you as a mother, as a person, and affects every aspect of your life including how you think and feel and look at the world.

One of the hardest aspects of losing a baby is that you grieve more than just them, more than just who they were, more than just your sweet one month old. You lose them and their entire future – and the future you had expected for yourself.

You lose an entire lifetime all at once, your grieve a lifetime of losses all at once, and you do it for your entire lifetime.  Read more

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August 24, 2017

Comfortable in Suffering

There’s a song by Francesca Battistelli called “If We’re Honest” in which she sings these words:

“The dark seems safer than the light.”

Who could ever imagine the dark being safer than the light? That we could end up thinking that way?

But that was it.

One day as I was listening to this song for hundredth time, those words reverberated in my mind and stopped me in my tracks.

That was where I found myself without realizing it.

In a place where dark seems safer than the light.

Have you ever been there before? Are you there now? If yes please keep reading. If not, please still keep reading, because maybe one day you’ll remember these words, and they will help free you from the darkness and the moment in which it seems safer than the light.

In our lives we will have seasons where the storm rages, the skies darken, a fog falls over us, a blackness consumes us. There’s a million ways to describe it – and most are accurate. None of us are immune to these seasons.

However you want to describe it, the darkness can enter our lives in different ways but functions the same. Maybe it’s through sorrow or fear or pain that comes from death, illness, job loss, a broken relationship, or something else, something else that hurts and breaks and empties us.

Our lives grow dark during seasons of suffering.

The darkness wraps itself around us. Those of us who have experienced a season of suffering know this. But here’s the thing, if we’re not careful, we might end up holding onto the dark and pulling it tighter around us like a blanket.

Like the dark is safer than the light.

We might long for the light and beg to be released from the darkness’s captivity – but how do we experience the light again? Will the darkness ever be lifted? When will we ever be free from it? Is it even possible?  Read more