Tag Archives: gratitude

Smile on Aisle Five


In light of this post and of course, this one, I no longer see any day as “ordinary.”

I have discovered that when I live a life of gratitude for even the smallest things, the world around me comes alive with a joy that shimmers…and dances…and celebrates…and beckons me to take one step further…because there is always more.

Joy can be found even at a Marshalls store on a Saturday afternoon.

My daughter was on a hunt for the perfect pair of jeans.

Two trips to two stores on Friday afternoon with me had yielded no results, so hopes were high on the ride to  the local Marshalls.

The ride itself is a beautiful one, courtesy of the majestic mountain views. I took it all in as the four of us joked, laughed, and discussed current events while eighties music played in the background.

Doug, Josh, and I finished our shopping well before Julia did, so we all met up in the ladies department. She had found the jeans fairly early so now the search was on for some cute tops.

I did not offer to help because when I had tried to do so the previous day, holding up what I thought was darling for her approval, I was met with such comments as:

“That is hideous!”

“NO!”

“You’re kidding, right?”

(All of these comments were made with copious eye rolling, followed by a plea to be allowed to shop in peace).

So, it was with great interest that I watched Doug walk over to Julia, stand beside her, and begin to go through the racks.

I called out, “What are you doing?”

Smiling, he looked over at me and said simply, “I’m helping.”

Julia’s face registered initial surprise, followed by a big smile as she allowed her dad to offer assistance.

I was so touched by that moment.

It was so small…but so significant.

I whispered a prayer of thanks to God for the gift that my husband is to our children. But especially for the gift that he was giving to our daughter in that moment.

I love that he cares…not just about the big things, but the little ones too.

I love that he– a soon-to-be 48 year old man who knows nothing of teenage fashion–was willing to try simply because if it was important to our daughter, it was important to him.

A tiny smile continued to play on Julia’s face as she and her dad searched side by side.

It was an endearing sight.

Eventually the perfect top was added to the perfect jeans, birthday money was spent…and a sweet memory was made.

Never underestimate the power of a small gesture…sometimes that speaks louder than a grand one.

(By the way, I did feel slightly better that nothing Doug chose made the cut either.) 🙂

Do not disdain the small. The whole of life…is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole.”–Ann Voskamp

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Filed under Friends and Family, Joy

Simple Joys


I am going be honest and admit that when I woke up this morning–which happens to be the second day of spring–and discovered that five inches of snow had fallen overnight, my first reaction was not happiness.

I was slightly irritated.

This has been a long winter.

Lately, spring has seemed so close, tantalizing us with lots of sunshine, warm temperatures, and gentle breezes…only to disappear entirely this morning, leaving us with another day of gray skies, snow, and cold.

As I turned from the window to start my day, this verse immediately came to mind: “I have set before you today life…” (Deuteronomy 30:15)

Life is a precious gift to be treasured.

This is the day that the Lord has made and I am commanded to rejoice in it (Psalm 118:24).

Was I really going to complain about the weather???

A few minutes later, I read what my friend Margaret had posted on Facebook. While most of the status reports were filled with complaints about the snow, her status was a like a breath of fresh air: “I’m enjoying possibly our last glimpse of winter wonderland before spring fully arrives. Beautiful white flakes coating the trees. What a gift!”

Rather than enduring a gray day, she was enjoying it.

Instead of just seeing snow, she observed a winter wonderland.

She was fully embracing realityrather than wishing for what might have been.

I decided to follow her example and spend the day looking for all the simple joys I could find.

Among other things, I reveled in the following:

* snow coating the trees all along the roads, creating a canopy of dazzling white

*having a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast that made me feel like a kid again

*laughing with friends at lunch

*the sun breaking through the clouds, chasing away the gray

*patches of  bright blue sky that hint of summer

*the sound of melting snow, reminding me that spring really is here and winter’s tight grip is loosening

*the sprinkle of freckles across my son’s face

*embracing my husband in the middle of the kitchen and asking him to dance with me

*the clear, sweet sound of my daughter playing her flute

*the delightful taste of a chocolate chip cookie

*reading such a beautifully written  blog post that it moved me to tears

*having a long talk on the phone with my mom

*finishing a chapter of a good book

*singing praises to my beautiful God while listening to Third Day’s new album

*being grateful that I have eyes that see, ears that hear, and limbs that work

*getting an upbeat email from a dear friend who wrote to tell me that she loves me and is praying for me

My day was transformed by searching for the simple joys.

There are treasures everywhere.

Look for and celebrate the simple joys in your life this day…I would love to hear about them. 🙂

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Filed under Joy

One Thousand Gifts


As much as I love to read (a quick glance at my “Books I Love” page will attest to that! :), there are few books that I would classify as life-changing.

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp definitely qualifies as a life-changer. Ann is a beautiful, lyrical writer; one who paints breathtaking word-pictures across the hearts of her readers.  I did not want the book to end and the minute I read the last word, I turned right back to the first chapter and began reading all over again! Almost every page is highlighted, underlined, and starred. Simply put, this book powerfully stirred my soul and filled me with joy.

One day in  November a  couple of years ago, Ann received an email from a friend, daring her to make a list of one thousand blessings in her life. That simple exercise proved to be a journey into joy for Ann. She discovered that “thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large…God gives the gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.” (pp. 48, 57).

Joy is a huge theme in my life (more on that subject in posts to come) and when I decided to accept the same challenge,  I was delighted to discover  that  immense joy filled my heart as my eyes were truly opened to all the gifts and beauty that surround me daily: a snow-covered backyard bathed in the light of a full moon;  my son playing a piece from “Fiddler on the Roof”; the sound of my daughter laughing with her friends;  the feel of my husband’s strong arms around me at the end of a long day; the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven; the sun making the white snow glitter like a million diamonds; sharing childhood memories with my brother. To say nothing of eyes that see, legs that walk,  and ears that hear!  Gifts are everywhere!

As Ann so rightly declares: “…the heights of our joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude.” (p.166).

Life is such a precious gift, bestowed upon us by our Creator.

However, we so often take that gift for granted.

We live, but we are not fully alive.

We see, but we do not savor. (When is the last time you truly gazed at the  faces of the ones you love, rather than just taking a passing glance?)

We pass the time (and sometimes even waste it) , but we do not invest it.

We tend to focus on all that is wrong rather than celebrating what is right.

We rush through our moments  rather than treasuring them .

We worry rather than worship.

This day, choose to see–really see– the gifts that surround you, no matter how small. Begin to name them.

Choose gratitude…and you will find joy.

I do not write these words from an ivory tower. Life has been hard these past several months. Fears loom large, tears spill, and there are more questions than answers sometimes.

YETgratitude has a way of redeeming those fearful moments into a celebration of the goodness of my beautiful God in the midst of the pain.

Embark on a treasure hunt through your life. Celebrate the gift of today, right where you are.

This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. — Ps. 118:24

Blessings,

Susan

(You can find Ann Voskamp’s blog at: www.aholyexperience.com and the Amazon link to “One Thousand Gifts” is on my ‘Books I Love’ page).

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Filed under Devotions, Joy