The phone call left us both silent.  My husband stood there, stunned at the news.  We were on vacation and the little gas station tucked off of the dusty road held a moment in time for us.  Tears racing down our cheeks as we turned the car around.  The news was more than we could handle, but one thing was certain we were not on vacation anymore.

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We sat in the back booth.  Jackets and purses shoved to the side so that we could all squeeze in.  The restaurant was cozy and inviting, my favorite kind.  I glanced at my phone.  The urgent message caught my attention.  I tried to stay composed as a flood of emotions washed over me.  Tears filled my eyes and hope filled my heart.  There was no doubt about it, a miracle was on the horizon.

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Two very different instances.  One full of immense heartache and grief.  Another filled with joy and hope.  They changed my life forever…those moments in time.  It’s amazing how one year can hold such incredible hope while giving way to unbelievable grief.   The good and the bad.  The bitter and the sweet.  The truth is, there are so many moments and memories that make up a year.  There are times when it is a daily choice to walk in gratitude and joy, while other times it just flows out of our hearts like a rushing river.  As our family has walked the highs and lows of this year I have been asking God how to stay steady in my gratitude, despite the circumstances.  How can I shift my focus when my heart is overwhelmed?

I wish I had a concrete, no fail answer to that question. The truth is, I don’t have a magic formula.

But what I do have are stories and memories.  Times where I have quieted my heart and looked for the good.  Moments where my heart felt heavy and burdened, yet I found a glimmer of hope.  If you were to ask my husband what he does, he would tell you that he takes physical action to help point his heart in the right direction.  When he feels low, he goes for a walk and thanks God for his very breath, life, family.  Each physical step representing the distance he is putting between his heart and discouragement or fear.  My way is a bit different.  I’ll go for a drive or take time to create in silence.  It’s those quiet moments that help steer my perspective and allow me the space to let go of negativity and anxiety.  Because, if I’m being honest.  Those are the two things that if left unchecked can easily rob my heart of God’s promises.

Gratitude is a powerful medicine.  It is intentional and vital.   It can take the bitterness of life and turn it into something we hold dear.  It is a gift.  A heart song…a way of saying I trust you, God.  And I have not forgotten Your goodness towards me.

This year.  2017.  It’s been a lesson in trusting God for more while staying content and thankful for what others may consider less. It’s contained gut-wrenching loss for our family and yet, it’s also been a season of incredible gain. Through it all, we have held on to this year as a season of dwelling in hope. Life is life. It’s never perfect. But declaring each day as one worthy of thankfulness and joy has allowed this year to be one that we can look back on with fondness. As much as we cringe at the thought of bitter moments, they make the sweet one’s extra special.

 

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