I have never been more grateful for "dire" circumstances...actually, our circumstances are by no means TRULY dire, but you know what I mean. The job situation that surrounds our family right now is no different than the situations of many other families in our country. Layoffs are becoming an everyday thing, sadly. But in the middle of it all, I'm finding a deeper reservoir of hope than I've ever seen in myself. I know it comes from God. I feel happier now than I did when things were (on the outside) appearing to be "good". Things still ARE good.
My friend, Mike Asquino, who has Multiple Sclerosis, said that he is grateful for the valley he's in because it's brought him closer to God. He has lost a lot of things and people in his life due to his disease, but he has maintained an upbeat attitude, a sense of humor and his faith in God. I have no excuse. He's become stronger in his faith and he has adapted to the position in which he finds himself. He has hope in God.
If we learn nothing else from the down turns in life, we MUST learn that most often the down turns pass. Sometimes they DON'T pass, but we have the choice to be changed for the better or for the worse, no matter where we find ourselves. Things will change. Life goes on and it's too short to spend focused on the smaller picture. In the grand scheme of life, the bad circumstances we endure will be what my mom calls (insert Southern accent), "just a blip on the screen". If we allow God to change US and do his work in us, it almost doesn't matter what happens on the periphery because we have surrendered to the current of his will.
I'm grateful for...
Beth. She is the one who inspired me to begin expressing my gratitude. I have watched her grow in her journey of gratitude and her growth has inspired me. She does a list every day. It's amazing to read her daily descriptions of the weaknesses in her life, but seeing the incredible strength she has found through thankfulness has been such a catalyst in my own life change.
The blessing of transparency. One thing I've begun learning over the past year and a half of finding my gratitude has been the ability to be transparent. I'm not "there" totally yet, but I'm FAR more open than I ever was prior to the beginnings of this journey. Gratitude has forced me to be open about my weaknesses because I've been so overwhelmed with the realization of the grace God has extended to me. If you focus on the good things around you, you can't help but be touched with the knowledge that you are so incredibly undeserving and yet loved wholly and completely. The ability to be transparent is a blessing. It means you can just be yourself. It means you can be free. It means that you can say what is in your heart. It means you don't have to be ashamed or embarassed because you are who you are by the grace of God. It also means that you give others the permission to not be ashamed. That is the true gift of transparency. It's passed on. It's inspiring to other people.
Cutting back. We've been thinking of ways to "tighten our belts" in order to accomodate our change in circumstances and it's actually been a good thing. It's fun to try to see who can think of the best ways to save or who can think of the cheapest family date. I think it's all in perspective.
Family time. I look forward to layoffs for that very reason. We have spent a lot more quality time together as a family because we have been given this opportunity.
Steelers training camp. It may seem like no big deal to someone else, but you know how much I love my Steelers. It was awesome. I am TOTALLY going again next year. :)
Sean. Today, (without me asking for his help) he not only cleaned the whole 2nd floor of the house, including the kids' play/school room, our bedroom, the bathroom and the kids' bedroom, but he also took the time to sit down and write a little poem for me which he posted on his FB page for me to find. I posted it earlier, but I'll put it here. He got very emotional while writing it...it made me feel loved. :)
If I could fall into your arms
And dream a dream that would never end
I would be invincible
Untouched from all that breaks and bends
If I could stare into your eyes
Till all that hurts just melts away
All I know would fill with light
This night would birth a brand new day
I'll watch you dance and sing tonight
I'll let you take my breath away
I'll see what's true, pure and right
You are all I want to know
You are all I want to know
If all the world would turn away
And everything I know to fade
The only life that I would need
Is your hand inside of mine
I'll tell the world to take its time
Mine is set and yours to spend
For all the love we make is right
Perfection never has an end
My hope is that you realize that the down turns in your life can truly change you for the better. The change involved is a choice, though. It's far easier to allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity. If I experience a rough patch, I do give myself a time frame for wallowing. Once the time period is up, though, I pick myself up, and I make the choice to move on. I have found that the more I've stuck to the time frame idea, the less I've needed the wallowing time. Most recently, I gave myself three days and I only ended up taking one. I got sick of myself after that day. Ha! If you're going through a hard time, give yourself a time frame to feel what you feel and then once it's up, move on. Grief and self-pity are a part of life, but we can't let our lives get stuck in the muck of sadness. We were meant to live full lives. Self-pity is the enemy of a full life.
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