Choosing gratitude

An empty picture frame sat resting against the wall behind her recliner in the bedroom.  A project she had planned to finish when she got home. I picked it up and recalled the conversation we had weeks ago, before I left for Colorado. She was describing to me her most recent decorating idea: she was going to turn the frame into a marker board or chalkboard and hang it in a prominent place where all could see and access. And whoever wanted to could write words on it—words of things they are grateful for. And we’d fill the frame up with gratitude.

Gratitude: that was her song…one of many….her walls and notes declare it, her life displayed it.

A motto hangs in her room reminding us to “Count your rainbows, not your rainy days.”

Rejoice always [always!], pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

(I Thess. 5:18 and Phil. 4:6, emphasis added)

I’ve heard it often, the difference between giving thanks in all circumstances, versus for all circumstances…of the importance of continuing to give thanks in the hard times…

It’s become so real to me now. Both the struggle to give thanks and the freedom, the joy that comes in giving it.

And, thanks to Mom, there are reminders all over the house to give thanks, to trust God, to find the reasons to smile—I see them as final messages from her.

Yes, life is hard right now. And as I sat tonight with my brothers and sisters during Bible study, the last thing I felt like doing was joining in on the songs of thanks for God’s bountiful harvest and blessings.

It’s an exercise with a ripple effect. In choosing to give thanks, I can then enter into the fullness of joy that Jesus longs for me to have. The more I make the choice to thank and praise, the more I experience joy, and the more my vision clears and expands to see God’s huge hands at work.

And so, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m overwhelmed at the thought of all that I have to be thankful for.

*        For the gift of a beautiful Mom and an amazing legacy to follow…the gift of memories, of having had a friendship with her…for the sweet gift of knowing where she is and knowing that I’ll see her again someday

*        For the incredibly beautiful body of Christ who has surrounded me and my family over the past 2+ weeks and given me a tangible picture of the hands and feet of Jesus

*        For friends who pray for me and hold up my arms when my strength is low in the heat of the battle

*        For signs of God along the way

*        For little miracles and answered prayer that have taken place from November 6 and since

*        For both the beautiful sunny days and sweet-smelling rainy days on which I can get out and enjoy fresh air and exercise when my mind needs cleared

*        For music that is often heard wafting through the house and encourages the heart and lifts the spirit

*        For God’s promises, that can be trusted

“Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built up with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the bridge from known to unknown, and know: He holds.” –Ann Voskamp

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15 thoughts on “Choosing gratitude

  1. Renita Rhodes says:

    Thanks so much for writing, Kristi! Your words are such a blessing to me! I see Jesus in you as you choose to walk His way through this pain! I am encouraged! May God give you His strength to continue on one day at a time!

  2. Marilee says:

    Kristi…that is absolutley beautiful!! You have encouraged me today and shown me the beauty and strength of Christ in your life. This is not an easy path that you are walking right now, but we can give thanks that you don’t have to walk it alone. at times when it is harder to walk, I would encourage you to go back and read what you have written…It will lift you to a higher ground! Praying for you

  3. Esther says:

    What you wrote about your Mom is such a blessing to know you are following in her footsteps. Your Mom was such an inspiration to my life and each time I would read her post on Facebook jus made me realize how beautiful Heaven is. Jus continue to follow the rainbows as she has. Prayers are with each one you.

  4. Mark says:

    Kristi, you and your family clearly have an annointing of the Lord as you grieve, write, and share. You are encouraging many, as the Lord encourages you. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement as you press on through these coming days.

  5. Cheríe says:

    Your choosing gratitude is doing far greater things than you may ever know. Thank you for letting Him be strong in you! It was a huge blessing to meet you; I will keep praying for you.

  6. Twila Kulp says:

    I read this due to your aunt Ruth sharing it – it’s beautiful! Hearing that your family lost your godly mother touched me deeply. We have been praying for you all. May the God of peace strengthen and sustain you. Greetings to your dad. Twila (and John) from WI (also cousin to Michael Yoder of Va. Beach :))

  7. purposelyliving says:

    Kristi, I am blessed by your words. Your family response to tragedy and pain has inspired me more than I can even say–I know that is Christ in you. I am praying for you and will continue to pray as the Lord brings you to mind in the days ahead. I didn’t even really know your mom, but her legacy has touched me deeply through the things that your dad and you and your siblings have shared. Thank you for being willing to choose gratitude–to choose joy. May you sense Him carrying you and filling you with more of Himself. blessings.

  8. Carolyn Miller says:

    Thank you Kristi for these words. God gives me strength through them. My heart aches for your pain and we lift you up to Him for continued healing.

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