A Gratitude-Filled Reflection of 2015
Wow! It’s so hard to believe 2015 is nearing its end and 2016, with excitement and new adventure awaiting, is just around the corner! While 2015 has without question been one of my toughest years yet, it’s also proven to have been one of the most powerful and growth filled 365 days I’ve ever experienced.
My adventures with Loving Lessons began four years ago, but it’s now I’ve come to realize I had been seeking a way to live whole-heartedly this whole time. To sum up the reckoning, rumble and revolution that’s taken place in my life this year alone, Brene Brown in her book “Rising Strong” captures the essence of my journey:
Whole Hearted Living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect, vulnerable, and sometimes afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. - Brene Brown
I’m always amazed to see how God works and the people, places, events, books, and messages He sends that help me realize His desire for me to live whole-heartedly. For example, at a recent church service our pastor shared an amazing message about thankfulness. It was a powerful reminder that while we all have so much to be thankful for, it’s easy to find ourselves – myself – falling into thoughts and habits that distract us from the gifts of the present moment and leave us unsatisfied with the here and now.
I speak from experience. I went through a period of “woe is me” where I was only focused on the bad side of things even though I was telling others to look for the good. It was through the pastor’s message and Brene Brown’s words that I realized the key to whole-hearted living is to be intentional and thankful. It was just the wake up call I needed.
Thankfulness helps us focus on the miracles of life and not the mud.
As I began my plans for 2016 and the adventures that await, I found I needed to take some time to reflect on 2015. Sometimes I want to skip this step and just move on. It’s just human nature, right? I mean, who wants to reflect on and deal with the past? However, Brene Brown refers to this process as Day 2 or the rumble — the raw emotions we feel or go through to get to the other side; the discomfort that makes us want to hide and perhaps not feel. While for me it would have been easier to just move forward, I know from the lessons 2015 has taught me that this is a step worth taking…and I take it with thankfulness.
As I reflect on 2015, I have a whole new respect and gratitude for things I used to take for granted:
- I’m thankful for a loving God. I’ve seen God show up and show off in big ways in my life, and I’m so thankful for the forgiveness, grace and mercy He shares with me. He constantly reminds me how much He loves me and provides for me always!
- I’m thankful for my husband. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. We’ve experienced many blessings and great moments, but we’ve also been through the fire. Because of my choice to reflect on our journey, I’m realizing more and more that the difficult challenges we’ve experienced in our marriage over the last few years — the obstacles of not being able to communicate, the health challenges and the lack of relationships we faced — are the exact things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my messy marriage, all the hardships and all the learning that has made us stronger.
- I’m thankful for my boys, Connor and Bailey. The pure joy my children teach me and the simple and honest truths they share daily simplify life when we adults overcomplicate things. They teach me the exact loving lessons I need to learn about myself and about life. I’m thankful they’ve reminded me to and taught me how to play hard, laugh much, believe big and love more.
- I’m thankful for all I’ve learned as a result of losing my brother, Robert, five years ago. I’ve learned that grief is an interesting, personal process: some will avoid it or go around it; some will go through it and get stuck, while others go through it and come out on the other side. I’m thankful to have come out on the other side of it and to be able to celebrate life. When you lose someone you love, that loss doesn’t just go away nor is it something you just get over. I’m thankful grief is difficult and it required me to go through and deal with a wide range of emotions. I’m thankful I can choose to celebrate life and be joyful and I can also be sad and miss him like crazy. It makes me feel alive to know that there is hope and healing.
- I’m thankful for my opportunity to serve in Belize. I’m thankful for all the ways God showed Himself with the financial hardships and obstacles that came about to get there, I experienced, the women I traveled with, the women, children and families that I now have an opportunity to pray for familiar faces. I’m thankful to be blessed by every miracle I experienced before, during and after my mission trip and how it has forever changed my heart.
- I’m thankful for the tired families I get to work with. I’m blessed to have families who open their homes and their hearts to make changes to leave a legacy of love in their family. I’m thankful for their hard work, dedication and commitment to themselves and their children. I’m thankful I get to partner with parents and watch miracles happen on a regular basis.
- I’m thankful for the having been able to care for children in my home over the last seven years. I’m thankful that each child and their family provided me with opportunities to grow and learn personally and professionally. I’ll always cherish the many blessings and memories I have with these sweet children.
- I’m thankful for the opportunity to heal from my past. By sharing my stories of anxieties and secrets that have defined me and who I was for too long I’ve been liberated from fear and unforgiveness. I’m thankful to have not only reckoned with my past but to also have gone through a couple years of the rumble. It was going through the rumble filled with deep and raw emotions that I am ready to live more fully. I’m letting go of my secrets and shame, and I’m thankful I am ready to own my story and be all that God designed me to be.
- I’m thankful for YOU. While some of you I know personally and some I’ve yet to me, I’m so thankful you’ve taken the time to read about me and my journey. It’s my heart’s deepest desire that something you read or watch through Loving Lessons plants a seed of change in your life and for your family.
- I’m thankful for all the brokenness in the world. The brokenness is a great reminder of how much more alike we are than we think. I’m thankful that through the brokenness we can put the pieces together with each other’s support. It helps me realize that what we do and are for one another is enough. We all truly just want to be loved and accepted, and I’m thankful that deep down inside our greatest desire is to be the life-changing example of love.
Thankfulness helps us focus on the miracles of life and not the mud.
As we begin the journey of a new year, I encourage you to reflect on the miracles of the year past. What victories have you won? What did you overcome that you thought you wouldn’t survive? Write it all down and refer to your list of thankfulness in times when you need a reminder to focus on the moment, the miracles in the here and now.
Love, blessings and thankfulness,