Gratitude in all Things

Last week in my kindergarten classroom one of the students laid his bag of Veggie Straws down on the floor. The boy with the cubbie next to him stepped back and accidently crushed the Veggie Straws. I saw it happen and held my breath, waiting for the angry outburst I was sure was coming. Instead, the first boy picked up the bag and shouted, “Yea! Now I have more!”

Gratitude and joy were his first response. I loved that.

And I was rebuked at the same time.

I wish gratitude and joy came that easily to me, but I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of person. That’s my natural default.

I Thessalonians 5:18 tells a different story- “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Last week I wrote about all the reasons I was thankful to be single and easily came up with twelve of them. Most of the time I enjoy being single.

Sometimes, though, I absolutely hate it:

When my school wants to do something nice for the teachers so they arrange for all of us to get away at a nice lodge. Ummm… who do I “get away” with?

When people call me “Mrs.” and then quickly apologize

 Scraping snow off my car at 6:30 in the morning while wearing a skirt because there’s no one else to do it

Feeling like everyone’s either judging you or pitying you because you’re single

And holidays. I really struggle with holidays. There’s nothing like a string of warm, cozy family-oriented events to remind you of what you don’t have.   

How does a single woman give thanks in those circumstances?

One of my favorite books is Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (it was written before she was married).  This book has helped me greatly with my outlook on the more challenging parts of life. So now I want to shift the focus of this post and turn it into a book review:

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” –James 1:17

Choosing Gratitude emphasizes the importance of treating gratitude as a way of life, not just an attitude. The book starts with the reminder of what God has done for us- He saves us, calls us His children, and offers us a new life.

When we stop to REALLY think about what God has done for us then it stands to reason we will be filled with thankfulness. A heart that’s been changed by God should naturally be overflowing, multiplying, and abounding with gratitude. When we start to view life that way, our whole outlook changes.

The author also emphasizes the importance of developing gratitude for all aspects of life- both the good and the bad. A heart of gratitude can help us walk through the hardest times.

Those tough holidays? My single-girl holiday season might look different from most women’s, but there is still a lot to be grateful for. Reading books like this one help me see that.

I would highly recommend this book. It’s full of joy. You feel it seeping through the pages (sorry if that sounds cheesy, but it’s true!). It will give you new eyes to see what God has done for you and how you should respond.

If you already feel yourself starting to struggle with the holiday season, reroute your mindset with a great book like Choosing Gratitude. At the end of the book there is also a thirty-day devotional to guide readers through a “journey of gratitude.” The devotional is a great tool to help you focus on thankfulness.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss tells us gratitude is a journey to a whole new way to view life. It’s a choice to see life through God’s lens, finding ways to give thanks in all circumstances.

And gratitude leads to joy.

Quotes for Inspiration:

“So much of what is wrong in our lives- out of sync, out of sorts, out of harmony- can be traced back to the root of ingratitude.”

“The mercies of God that are ‘new every morning’ are not blessings we deserve but graces given by God’s loving hand to fallen creatures, those He has redeemed by His good pleasure. To ignore such unmerited favor… is to miss out on the vision of His loveliness and glory that will sustain us through life’s battles and keep joy flowing into and out of our hearts.”  

 “I love knowing that He cares and provides for me, not just air to breathe and food to eat, but countless extras that simply flow from His generous heart. When my eyes are opened by gratitude to see these boundless examples of grace, only then can I see clearly enough to press on in this broken world.”

“Bath soap. Toothpaste.

Hot water. Dishwashing detergent.

Air conditioning. House plants.

Sunsets. Sunglasses.

Birthday cards. Blue skies.

Flashlights. Blankets.

Family photos. Fresh fruit.

Measuring cups. Warm clothes.

Books. Bookcases.

Beautiful music. Clean sheets.

Autumn leaves. Sticky notes.

If we take it all for granted, if we think life just shows up with this stuff already in place, if we trick ourselves into believing that everyday household items come from the grocery store rather than from a gracious God, we walk right past countless reasons for worship without even knowing it.”

I want to end with the author’s beautiful list of simple thankfulness. When we start to look at life that way, it’s amazing how long our thankful lists really are.  Even on the hard days, there’s so much to be grateful for. 

Today, I’m thankful for every SINGLE blessing God’s given me!

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