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?
I first met Lesley Crawford on one of the link-ups we each contribute to, Five Minute Friday, maybe? Whichever one it was, I am changed for the better for having crossed paths with her. Her genuine heart for people and for Jesus shines through in her blog posts. I love that she loves music and uses her gifts and talents on a regular basis. And her writing? It’s real and vulnerable. It’s been beautiful to watch how God has given her a voice in the blogging world. I haven’t gotten to meet her in person . . . yet. But I hope to one day. I’d love to hear her Scottish way of saying things and her wise insights in real time. Please help me welcome Lesley to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!!
At the start of 2017, I began keeping a gratitude list.
It was something I did on a whim. There was no particular reason for it or fixed goal in doing it. It just seemed like a good idea to try—to pause for a moment at the end of each day and write down two or three things for which I was thankful. I had heard others talk of doing this and I was curious about the impact it could have.’
Initially I planned to do it for a month but, almost two years later, it is a practice I have maintained every single day, and it has been a blessing far beyond anything I would have imagined. It was a surprisingly easy practice to establish and it only takes a minute but it has made a big difference to my attitude and outlook.
As I look back, it is amazing to remember the many ways I have been blessed.
Of course there are some blessings that would have stuck with me regardless- receiving favourable medical results after anxious months of waiting, or learning that a piece of writing had been accepted for a book—but there are so many other gifts that may otherwise have been forgotten.
As I read over the list, I remember moments of laughter and gestures of kindness—like the day I was crazily busy with work and my friend suddenly appeared to bring me ice cream, or the day a random teenager approached me on the street to give me a flower and say, “Have a nice day!”
There are also the simple pleasures of life. Few of the items on the list are spectacular, but the fact that they are ordinary doesn’t make them any less of a blessing. Clean sheets, walks in the sunshine, good books, time with friends, space to relax . . . There is joy to be found in celebrating the little things.
I also see a few people’s names come up time and time again, people who constantly bless and encourage me. It is good to stop and be thankful for these people when it could be easy to take them for granted.
Over the last two years there have been some difficult times and, in those times particularly, stopping to look for the blessings has been important. When it would be easy to focus on the negative and let the challenges become overwhelming, pausing to notice the blessings has forced me to find the positive. I have discovered that sometimes the challenges enhance the blessings.
Last year, a difficult situation at work pulled two colleagues and me together and strengthened our friendship. It is interesting to look back and think that, although the situation which caused our stress and anxiety is now resolved, the depth of our friendship remains.
Most days, even in the difficult times, reasons for gratitude came to me easily when I took a moment to stop and think. As I look back over my list though, there are a few days where I was clearly struggling to come up with something positive.
I see “God cares” on the list and I remember writing that one day, feeling like no one else cared. As I scrabbled around in my mind trying to find something to be grateful for it felt like the best I could come up with.
The strange thing is that, as I look back, I have no recollection of what caused me to feel like no-one cared that day, yet I am reminded that, even when that is how we feel, we do still have something to be thankful for in a God who always cares and is there to help us through.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul instructs the church:
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)
There are always reasons to be grateful, and I have found keeping a list to be a simple but effective way to remind myself of that and to notice them every day.
What about you? What are you grateful for today? What practices help you to maintain a thankful attitude?
Lesley CrawfordLesley lives in Scotland and works for a Christian charity. She enjoys music, reading, theatre and walking in beautiful places enjoying God’s creation. She has been blogging at Life In The Spacious Place for just over three years, she is a regular contributor at Gracefully Truthful, and she was delighted recently to have a piece of work accepted for publication in a Christmas anthology.
Click to Tweet: There is joy to be found in celebrating the little things.