"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."
If you are one of my Facebook friends (Hi friends!), you know that I've been writing a gratitude post on FB each day this month. I hope I'm not driving ya'll crazy with my daily posts...as much as I enjoy social media it can drive me a little crazy sometimes too. That said, it has been such an impactful practice in these last 12 or so days that I've been doing it. Please know that when I share with you on FB that it's coming from my authentic heart-- truly, if you could know only one thing about me, it's that everything I say is always and only coming from a place of authenticity.
It's been an interesting practice for me, this practice of putting written words to the things I'm grateful for each day, or at least one thing. It has made me slow down to notice, pause to consider, and watch a little more closely the many blessings in my life.
As I've been working on these posts I've also been reading through quotes about thankfulness, and gratitude, and blessings. Guess what? Everyone says the same thing...they say that a posture of gratitude changes your perspective, it brings peace, it helps you to feel more joy.
I can honestly say that everything they are saying is true. I have felt my heart-- a heart that I thought was pretty grateful in general prior to this experiment this month-- open up in ways that I haven't felt it open up in a long time. I have found myself being completely enamored as I watch my six year old play in the freshly fallen snow outside. I have found myself staring at my husband and being extra grateful for his generous heart and the way he makes me breakfast EVERY MORNING!
I have to be honest, I would have called myself a mostly grateful person, but I take a lot for granted. I've taken my home for granted. I take my freedom in this country (especially my religious freedoms) for granted. I take my health, and my husband's paycheck and even my kid's health for granted. I have taken the beauty and joy that can be experienced at each stage of life and motherhood for granted. I've taken my marriage for granted. I don't think any of us set out to do this, it's just that these things, these blessings in our lives, they become such a part of our "normal" that we forget to be intentionally thankful for them.
When I physically write the words of the things I am grateful for, I can feel a shifting in my soul-- a shifting from the low hum of anxiety and overwhelm that I can tend to carry as a mom about all of the day-to-day things (ALL.THE.THINGS!) to a peace that feels like a great big deep breath to my soul.
And for that I am very, very thankful.
So, in the spirit of continuing to practice thankfulness and gratitude this month around our house the girls and I finally created our thankfulness tree yesterday. I'll let you in on a little secret- I had a moment where I thought, My big girls are getting to old for this. They're going to think I'm a total cheeseball.
But here's what actually happened-- we had fun working together. Cutting that tree out of brown butcher paper and then needing to rely on each other and utilize a little teamwork to tape that thing to our sliding glass door as it kept folding down on itself. We laughed, we ripped tape of the dispenser, we sighed, and then laughed some more.
And, when we finally got it all up on the wall, including the "Thanksgiving" sign we made to hang above it out of the pre-cut leaves we had bought, we all stood back, smiled and said, "Wow! That's really cute!"
(When four of the five people living in your house are female, you talk about things being "cute" or not "cute" a whole heck of a lot!)
|Sorry the photo is so hard to see. Our new snow made it quite bright outside, but hopefully you get the idea. The leaves above the tree are strung through brown string and say, "Thanksgiving".|
Then, at dinner, everyone grabbed their little leaves and pens and started scribbling down what they were thankful for without me needing to even ask (Aubrey was especially excited about this and tries to write something new down every time she passes by the table!).
I'm also going to add quotes to the window as I come across them (like the Willie Nelson quote from the top of this post), and we're posting a new Bible verse about blessings, worship, or gratitude on our kitchen chalkboard each week.
This week's Bible verse:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
We have to keep things pretty simple in the Littlewood household or this momma has a hard time following through. So, that's the extent of our plan, and we're having fun with it so far.
I did come across these two websites that offered great suggestions for incorporating gratefulness practices into your life individually or as a family. The links are listed here:
Marelisa over at Daring to Live Fully offers some excellent suggestions for practicing gratitude:
9 Gratitude Activities For Children (from the website Investing in Children):
And here are two fun picture books for talking about thankfulness with kids:
We love the "Bear" books by Karma Wilson! In this one, Bear has a Friendsgiving in which all of his woodland friends bring a dish over to pass and then reflect on their gratitude for each other and their meal.
I haven't read this one yet (I just ordered it today), but am looking forward to reading it with Aubrey when it arrives this week!
Instead of ordering just one copy I ordered two so I could send one as a gift! All you have to do is leave a comment either here, or on my Facebook page (under the link to this post) so that I know that you stopped by. I'll pick one winner on Sunday night and announce it my Thanksgiving post next Monday!
Blessings to you all. I hope these words in some way encouraged you to find little ways to practice extra measures of gratitude in your homes this week! And to be a total cheeseball with your kids-- stye love you for it more than you think (;