Choosing Gratitude series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

Choosing Gratitude (series):Enduring Gratitude—A Gift For All Seasons

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow  down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends.

For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful?

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I wish I could say I’ve had the privilege of meeting Michele Morin in person. Alas, that has not been the case, yet. I have, however, had many interactions with her online. She is a deep thinker, an intentional mama and Grammy. She is an avid reader, and a thought-provoking writer and blogger. And today, I have the opportunity to share her words here in my little space. Please help me welcome Michele Morin to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!!

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By Michele Morin

The distance around my elliptical driveway is one tenth of a mile. I know this because I drove around it, watching the odometer—and then did it again just to be sure. This fall I’ve been doing a careful jog-trot around its leaf-strewn gravel, a compromise intended to jump start a flagging metabolism without putting undue wear and tear on aging joints and narrowing spinal interstices. Five times around with the dog makes for a half mile of elevated heart rate, deep breathing, and an uncluttered brain. 

Of course, the gift of those empty mental parentheses is that I get to decide what I’m thinking about while I’m avoiding loose stones in the path and thanking God for the fiery red Virginia creeper and the rusty orange of fading marigolds. 

Lately, I’ve been following the example of Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet who watched the nation of Israel disintegrate before his very eyes. In Lamentations, he records the morbid details around the sacking of Jerusalem and the devastation of siege warfare: 

  • Chapter 1 — The Lord is punishing Jerusalem for her serial idolatry. 
  • Chapter 2 — Yes, it is time to lament the sin, the death, and the loss. 

Then, twenty verses into Chapter 3, Jeremiah turns a corner and makes a choice. He leaves his mental parentheses open just long enough for an act of the will, and, shutting out the evidence for despair that lies all around him, he “calls to mind” a new thought that gives him hope:

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.”  (Lamentations 3:21-26)


The beauty of this poetic tribute to God’s faithfulness is heightened by its context.  To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.

Jeremiah is setting the table for a discussion on gratitude that casts me in a rather unfavorable light. For even with the benefit of resurrection power and New Testament instructions to “give thanks in all circumstances,” I struggle to stay in a thankful mindset.

The prophet’s repetition of the word “wait” describes his own plight while also tweaking our privileged twenty-first century impatience. However, the distance between today’s desire and its future fulfillment is also a parenthesis, and it’s a good place from which to call blessing to mind. 

So, while my feet carry me around our elliptical driveway, I will use that time to notice the tiny changes to the landscape brought on by cold nights and windy afternoons. I will begin small by thanking God for the beauty inherent even in bleakness. 

Then, I will call to mind my grandson’s wise and wacky sense of humor; the sound of a trumpet practicing scales in our living room; my husband’s smile of appreciation when he’s enjoyed a meal I’ve prepared; the soft muttering sounds my granddaughter makes when she’s snooping in the canned goods cupboard.

Then, I will call to mind the disappointments of the year, the times when God has said no unexpectedly, and the occasions when He has chosen to heal, but not in this lifetime, for this is the lesson of Lamentations:  By faith, we can lean into gratitude for what has been given while at the same time waiting quietly and holding loosely our desire for all that has been withheld. 

Gratitude is an enduring gift that seeks beauty in every season. It is the solid pathway under our feet, and it is the conduit of blessing when, by grace, we call it to mind.

What about you? What is your most imposing obstacle to gratitude in this season of the year? 
In this season of life?
What can you “call to mind” that will change your perspective, usher in hope, and make way for gratitude?

Michele Morin is a teacher, reader, writer, and gardener who blogs at Living Our Days. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, and two adorable grandchildren Michele is active in educational and women’s ministries with her local church. Her writing has appeared at SheLoves Magazine, The Perennial Gen, (in)courage, Living By Design, Desiring God, and elsewhere. Michele laments biblical illiteracy, finds joy in sitting around a table surrounded by women with open Bibles, and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.”  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click to Tweet: Gratitude is an enduring gift that seeks beauty in every season. It is the solid pathway under our feet 

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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67 thoughts on “Choosing Gratitude (series):Enduring Gratitude—A Gift For All Seasons”

  1. Loved this, Michele…and thank you, Jeanne, for bringing us Michele’s unique and wise voice.

    In the midst of a life in which every day has become something of a cancer-fueled nightmarish whirlwind of pain and worse, I find gratitude easy, because the blessings shine more brightly against the fall of night.

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    1. Andrew, your courage and perspective are so bracing to me, and on this rainy fall day, and I’m noticing that the bright russet and yellow of the dying leaves shows up so much more beautifully against this gray sky.
      Thanks for all the places you show up to lend encouragement to other bloggers.

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    2. Andrew, isn’t Michele amazing? I love her thoughtful take on things. I so resonate with the image of blessings shining brightly against the fall of night. Most of us have to look for God’s blessings, because we get so focused on ourselves. But, when we can see God’s blessings, the gems among the dross in our days, that’s something priceless.

      I’m praying for you, my friend.

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  2. Oh my, Michelle. What an absolute treat to behold your words. I just love your writing and I savor every bit of it while I take in your story.

    My most imposing obstacle to gratitude is me! I can be so critical, it’s unbelievable. I’m working on it with God’s help. Thank you for sharing your words here today, friend. Loved your story about your walk around your drive way. 😊

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    1. Isn’t it funny that when we sit down to write on a theme, sometimes the words get stuck, but when our feet are moving (and there’s not a paper or pencil anywhere to be had!), the ideas and the connections start flowing.
      I’m grateful that Jeanne has invited me to join her here for one of my favorite topics to write about–and the reason it’s a favorite is that it’s a continual challenge to me. Negativity abounds here in this middle aged heart. I’m with you in this struggle.

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    2. Tiffiney, Michele’s writing is filled with depth, isn’t it? I had to smile when I read your biggest obstacle to gratitude. I think I tend to be my own biggest obstacle too. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. This is beautiful ladies and I am grateful for you both – Michele for sharing your wisdom and Jeanne for giving the space to do so! This is the line I will be thinking on today and sharing with others as well >>> “By faith, we can lean into gratitude for what has been given while at the same time waiting quietly and holding loosely our desire for all that has been withheld.”

    I’m going to choose to lean in this season!

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  4. So happy that your experiment with running is going well and that you, like me, use your time for contemplation. who knows what marvelous insights will come from the half-mile trip? The thoughts on thankfulness were inspiring!

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  5. Gratitude is so important. I’m reminded of a scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Lord revealed to me when seeking His will, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” His will is for us to be thankful.

    In this time of national turmoil, I kind of feel like Jeremiah watching things disintegrate. Thank you for reminding us of those words of hope tucked away in Lamentations.

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    1. Jerralea, thank you for what you shared about 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I never thought about God’s will being for us to be thankful. What a great re-inforcement for the importance of practicing gratitude. Thank you for stopping by!

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    2. I’m teaching that verse to my Sunday School kids, and we’re even singing it.
      Christians spend a lot of time wondering about the will of God when so much of it is spelled out in Scripture for us already.

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  6. Michelle, this is such a beautiful post it brought tears to my eyes. I love this: ” I will use that time to notice the tiny changes to the landscape brought on by cold nights and windy afternoons.” Also the thought of giving God thanks the disappointments of the year. That is life-transforming and good, considering the wild ride I’ve had this year!

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    1. Betsy, we have to be intentional about giving God thanks even in the disappointments of the year. We’ve had quite a year too. I’m still developing the habit of gratitude in regards to some of the events this year. Thank you for sharing a bit, and for stopping by!

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    2. When we come to the end of one of “those” years, where disappointment seems to be the rule rather than the exception, it’s good to be reminded that God’s steadfast love never changes and all that comes to us is mercy. So hard to see it that way–we need eyes of faith.

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  7. By faith, we can lean into gratitude for what has been given while at the same time waiting quietly and holding loosely our desire for all that has been withheld. What a wonderful way to speak of patience. Thank you for your encouraging post.

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    1. Anita, I’m really not good at patience, and I can recall the point in my walk with God where it dawned on me that my theology of suffering was completely out of whack. God does not promise to shield us from the uncomfortable side of life, but He does promise to go with us, full of mercy and offering hope to those who wait for Him and who seek Him first.
      Thank you so much for reading and for taking time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love how Jeremiah calls to mind God’s love, mercies, and faithfulness. We so need that in this journey of life, don’t we? Chronic illness and resulting fatigue are often obstacles in my life. Even more so is my self-condemnation when I feel like I’m letting my kids and grandkids down when I can’t do everything my heart wants to. But God is teaching me to be more thankful for “the beauty inherent even in the bleakness.” This line especially captures my attention – “By faith, we can lean into gratitude for what has been given while at the same time waiting quietly and holding loosely our desire for all that has been withheld.” I love how you put this. 🙂 Thank you for these encouraging thoughts, Michelle. And thank you, too, Jeanne. Blessings and hugs to you both!

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    1. Trudy, we have to choose to call to mind God’s love, mercies and faithfulness, don’t we? I find it too easy to get mired in the circles of confusion and discouragement that plague some days. I so appreciate your transparency here, Trudy. But God . . . aren’t those great words? He is continually loving us, and making us more into the image of His Son. I so appreciate your weekly contributions here, Trudy. Sending you love and hugs back!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a beautiful post, Michele, and thanks, Jeanne, for sharing! I loved your reflections on Jeremiah and how he found something to be grateful for even in such a bleak situation. And it’s true that if we call to mind God’s love and faithfulness we always have cause for gratitude as well. We just have to be intentional in choosing where to fix our thoughts.

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    1. Hi, Lesley! I agree that focus and intentionality are key to the temperature of our heart. I have spent this past year immersed in Jeremiah’s prophecy, and his faithful fulfillment of his assignment from God has been a huge challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Michelle, Your post has greatly encouraged me. I never thought about Lamentations in the light of choosing gratitude in the midst of uncertainty or trial.

    One of the most life-changing books I’ve read was Ann Voskamps 1000 Gifts. Unfortunately, I forget all too easily. I really need to read the book every year to remind myself to give thanks in all circumstances.

    In Christ Jesus, no matter what is going on in our lives, we have the hope of Heaven to be grateful for.

    Thanks so much for sharing. You have a wonderful gift for writing.

    Blessings,

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    1. We share a book in common! Ann’s book was what got me thinking about the foundational nature of gratitude to living this Christian life. And thank you for bringing up the long view of our eternal destiny. No matter how challenging the struggle in these short decades of life on Earth, we have millennia to look forward to in His Kingdom.

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  11. And gratitude brings peace that cannot be found any other way. It’s so true that we need to be intentional about being grateful for the faithfulness of God we’ve been graced with. Thanks so much for this reminder, Michele and Jeanne. Blessings to you!

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    1. Such truth here, Boma! Amy Carmichael said it this way: “In acceptance, lieth peace.”
      May we find grace to release our striving ways and to accept the will of God–which, by the way, includes gratitude! (See I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

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    2. Boma, you are right. Gratitude is powerful. When we focus on what we have (or have learned) rather than on what we don’t have, we can stop striving. And especially focusing on what we have in the Lord. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  12. Oh there’s so very much to be thankful for. As we get our eyes off ourselves and begin to look around with compassion eyes, we see that God is busy at work, doing what we never could.

    I am grateful …

    Jeanne and Michele, thank you …

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    1. Linda, there is so much to be grateful for! And you’re right, we often need to take our eyes off ourselves and look around so we can see God’s hand at work, and the gifts He gives us. Thank you for being here today, friend!

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    1. And thank you, Lisa, for the leadership role you play in encouraging me to be intentional about putting Scripture into my brain so it’s there when I need it! It was so great to meditate on that Lamentations passage.

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  13. Two writers I’m thankful for in one place! Horray!

    Thank you for this, Michele! I’m thankful God enables us to choose thanks when it doesn’t come naturally. Your thankfulness for beauty in bleakness is especially on point to me- we can choose to see and let that seeing open our eyes to greater perspectives.

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    1. Those bleak seasons are a challenge, so we particularly need His help to find the beauty.So much of what we struggle with comes back to our choices, and whenever I utter that word “struggle,” I’m reminded of it’s Elisabeth Elliot definition: delayed obedience.

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  14. Jeanne, it’s been such a gift to share this post here in your beautiful writing space.
    And we have so many friends in common that this has seemed like a big party for our favorite people!
    Blessings to you, and thanks for including me in this series on Choosing Gratitude!

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  15. Your words are such a gift to all of us. These words today are no exception. Choosing gratitude and intentionally seeking it in all things each day is no small feat. It is an area that I am always working on finding gratitude throughout my day.

    I will be pondering these words for a long time —> To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.

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    1. Well, you know me well enough by now, Mary, to know that I’m always writing about the things that I’m working on myself. And this time of year, I circle back around to the topic of gratitude and the fact that, in many ways, we don’t get to choose our circumstances. Elisabeth Elliot said the solution is Christ in me–not me in a different set of circumstances.
      And I pray that we will internalize this truth for the good of our own hearts!

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    2. Mary, you’re right. Michele’s words are a gift. As we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, may we each find things for which to be grateful for in our days. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

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  16. I enjoy reading Michele’s words anywhere! To see you sharing then here in Jeanne’s spot is a delight! Blessings to you both and may a Happy Thanksgiving usher in a year full of giving thanks!

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  17. I need to remember this, Michele. I’m in a season of waiting on a certain heart’s desire and focusing on counting the blessings God has already given me will certainly lift my heart and mood! Thanks to Jeanne as well for sharing your inspiring words with us today!

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    1. Being in a season of waiting can be so hard, can’t it, Beth? I’m praying for you today in the waiting. May we both count the blessings God gives us in this holiday season. I hope you and your family have a beautiful Thanksgiving! Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. This hit the spot this morning–as I sit in a hotel lobby waiting for three teenage girls to get ready. I don’t like waiting at this stage in my life. I like my schedule and my clockwork. but to wait in contentment in the chaos–this is what I need to cultivate. Thank you for the reminder!

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    1. I’m always inspired by all the ways in which you let God stretch you through ministry to teens. And it certainly is a cultivation process. Thanks for putting yourself in the position to be cultivated!

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    2. Anita, can I just be honest and say I never like waiting? 🙂 I like my schedule as well, but learning to wait with contentment is something God frequently has to re-teach my spirit. May we both grow in this area. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

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  19. Michele,
    So good to be reading your post here at Jeanne’s place – two of my favorite ladies. I really had a gratitude crisis lately. Just recently I had a gallbladder attack that ended in it having to be removed. Once again, I found myself plopped in my usual place on the sofa (where I’ve recovered from 5 previous surgeries). Through my tears I really questioned God. Six surgeries in six years?? Really God? Then I was want to roll out my righteous acts and good deeds and question what on earth God was doing. As the rain and my tears poured down at the same rate, I was drawn to literally force myself to thank God for all the blessings in my life. I begrudgingly offered up gratitude. But as I kept naming and listing and thanking, somehow my predicament didn’t seem quite as awful as it did before. The lamenting eased up and a moment of peace was ushered in. Sure, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going great, but in the crucible….that’s where, for me, the rubber meets the road. Loved this post. Thanks Jeanne, for sharing.
    Blessings and a warm Thanksgiving to you both,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I’m so sorry about this latest set back. Wow, 6 surgeries in 6 years is a lot for your body to handle, so be kind to yourself. Thank you for bringing your good ponderings to this conversation. We all need to be reminded (and re-reminded!) that gratitude is a God-enabled choice.

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    2. Bev, I, too, am so very sorry you had to have another surgery. There’s something beautiful about being able to thank God for things in the hard seasons. And there is something freeing that happens when we get our eyes off of ourselves and see God’s goodness in our lives. I’m praying for you today and this weekend, my friend!

      Like

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