An Attitude of Gratitude

One of the things many people are missing in life is joy. For years I wasn’t capable of feeling a lot of joy, so I prayed earnestly for it. I have found the key to finding joy. It’s gratefulness. This is something I strive each day to teach my kids. I want them to be able to experience true joy in their lives. You have choices in everything. And if you want to be happy, you have to choose to be happy. If you are not happy, then change it, or quit. If you can’t change it, quit. If you can’t quit, then be happy! I heard that years ago. Where? Of all places, a two hour tax seminar for daycare providers. It was taught by Tom Copeland and it changed my life.
Every day when I get up, I tell God thank you for that day. I am grateful for God’s love and my relationship with Him, my amazing family, and my job. I get to do something I totally think matters and I love. How lucky am I? How blessed am I that I KNOW I am doing what God created me to do with my life?
So many people think that having things makes you happy, but it simply can’t. Love can make people happy. Jesus can make people happy. Satisfaction can make people happy. But things simply cannot. No matter how much you have or what great next thing you are excited to get, it’s fleeting. The happiness lasts for only a little while. But joy is lasting. Joy is a deep emotion felt to the bottom of our soul. Joy is GOOD.
I used to want my Mom to make me happy. And my sister. And my husband. But no one can do that for you. You have to decide that you are going to be happy to find joy. When I began to choose to look at things from a positive light, my situation BECAME more positive. When I learned how to be happy with myself, I was happy to be with my husband and appreciated him more.
Being positive is something I try to model for my kids. I talk to them a lot about how I feel and how I’m going to choose to think about our situations in a positive way. Many times I have heard one of the older kids talk about how they decided to do the same, and they are helping me model positive perception to the younger kids.
This weekend we moved our only daughter across the state to her first apartment. More than one thing went wrong. And more than one surprise arose. I could have chosen to be upset. But instead, I just looked at the situation and tried to find a way to fix it. I could be sitting around feeling sorry for myself because I will miss her so much, but instead I’m TRYING to focus on how exciting a time this is for her. I remember when I got out on my own for the first time and it was FUN! It was hard to learn how to take care of myself, but when I learned to do it, I was so proud of myself. And she is an AMAZING woman. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She is working out plans to make her hopes and dreams come true. It’s pretty cool to watch. It’s what we raised her to do. We’ve known she was leaving someday for 22 years now and although it’s scary to let go, and hard to watch her struggle, and I will always worry about her, I am super excited to see her become something in the world. To make her way. And to live her life.
Family child care is not a lucrative business. I bring in income, but most of it goes for expenses to run the business, like $7,000 a year for food for the kids. Once you deduct that plus toys, art supplies, games, equipment, paper products and all the other things it takes to run the business, there is not a lot left. Sometimes I get tired of being poor, but then I realize I have everything I need and can pay my bills, and I remember how blessed I really am. So many people hate going to work every day but I get to wake up and be excited about what I am going to do that day. Lots of days are super hard, and sometimes I even want to quit, but I still LOVE what I do most of the time.
After we built our first 5 garden beds and got them ready to plant in, a 60 foot willow tree fell on it all and smashed a lot of it into the ground. I was sad to lose my favorite tree, and I was sad to lose my garden dreams, and I was sad that there was a big mess to clean up, but the first thing I thought of was that I was glad it didn’t hit our house, or hurt anyone. It’s all in what you choose to focus on. I know that my prayers were answered when God revealed this truth to me.
I am not always perfect, and I’m not always happy 100% of the time. I worry a lot, I’m insecure, and I fail at a lot of things, but my life is 1000 times better when I choose happiness. So what can you do to change your situation? What can you do to change your perspective of your situation? If you have trouble getting started, make a list of things that you have to be thankful for and THINK about them for a while.
Philippians 4:8
The Message (MSG)
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Philippians 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
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