Let me set the scene: cozy blanket, rainy autumn day, dimly lit candle, Frank Sinatra Pandora station on, baby sound asleep in the bassinet next to me. I feel like Maria singing about a few of my favorite things. Genuinely, life is sweet. The past few weeks I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and correspondingly, I have been overwhelmed with the conviction that I am truly not grateful enough for all the Lord has graciously blessed me with.
I often have “stop-and-catch-my-breath” moments with God when I suddenly take in my surroundings and appreciate every single bit of it. I once heard a quote that has stuck with me for years now that says;
“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday…”
Ever since, one of my deep personal resolutions has been to lead a thankful life. To think about, reflect on, and actively praise God for everything I’m grateful for. Everything He blesses me with day after beautiful day. The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is one of my all time favorites, it changed the way I view gratitude and it truly connected a thankful heart to a joyful heart. I wholeheartedly believe that and I try my best to live this way.
But of course, I tend to get caught up in my little world and my little problems and I can forget just how incredible this life truly is. But Jesus, in all his sweet and gentle kindness, reminds me of what He’s given me in sometimes the most unexpected ways.
The past few weeks I have been reminded over and over again while watching one of my favorite “guilty pleasure” shows; Dancing with the Stars. Yes, I am one of those people. In all fairness, I have always had a passion for dance and I love learning more about people’s lives and if you’ve ever watched that show, you know it’s a brilliant combination of the two. There are always at least one or two “stars” with incredible life stories that leave me speechless and inspired week after week. This season has been full of a lot of beautiful people, but one in particular has gripped my heart in a whole new way.
Victoria Arlen. This beautiful woman inspired me from week one. When she was just eleven years old her body was viciously attacked by two rare neurological diseases, leaving her essentially a “vegetable” (for lack of a better term) until she was 15. During those four years, doctor after doctor told her parents to accept her impending death. By the sweet grace of God, she started to regain her abilities when she was 15 until the only things still paralyzed were her legs. She was told she would never walk again. But she didn’t give up. And finally, ten years after the disease first took over her body, she was able to not only walk, but a year and a half later… she joined DANCING WITH THE STARS! I know. I was mind-blown too. Just look up her story, you will be left amazed.
The very first week after hearing her story, I was so moved, I started doing a little more research into her life. Not only has she made this miraculous recovery, she also competed in and won the paralympics for swimming and became the youngest reporter ever hired by ESPN. Yeah, she’s incredible. This was all the week of my birthday and I happened to find out that Victoria was born exactly six days after me. And not only are we only six days apart in age, we were both born in Massachusetts. And not only were we born close together both in age and location, she is also a believer.
All of a sudden, I was struck with this deep sense of reality. That could have been me. And yet, for whatever reason, it wasn’t. I have so, so, so much to be thankful for.
The following week the horrible shooting occurred in Las Vegas. That could have been any of us. And yet, for whatever reason, it wasn’t. We have so, so, so much to be thankful for.
Day after day, God has been showing me ways he has moved in my life. He is reminding me of all the blessings I’ve been given. All of the things I can so easily take for granted. And as I’ve been thanking Him repeatedly for this life He has given me, I’ve grown closer to Him. My outlook and perspective is consistently growing more positive. And the things that once seemed upsetting, unfair, or frustrating, now seem less and less important in comparison.
I’ll tell you what, a thankful heart truly does breed contentment.
The breath you just took, the colors you see, the sounds you hear, the legs you have, the warmth of your bed, the smell of good food, the coziness of a good book, hugs from a friend, trees in the fall, rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens… haha you catch my drift. Appreciate it all. We don’t deserve any of it and yet we’ve been given so much.
With my favorite holiday coming up in a month, its the perfect time to start preparing our hearts and reminding ourselves what we are truly thankful for… and then thank God for it all! If you aren’t sure where to even begin reshaping your heart and mind to focus on what you are grateful for, try doing a gratitude challenge like this one, and watch what happens to your soul. As you pour out thankfulness, you will be filled with joy and contentment for the life you’ve been given.
I hope this inspired you the way I’ve been inspired lately to walk life with a grateful heart. I love you all, thank you for reading!