Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Live a Life of Thanksgiving

It's the week of Thanksgiving, that lovely holiday when we reflect on all that is good, all that is blessing. Often on that day we gather with others to share our bounty. Often, we break bread together, sharing a meal of larger-than-normal proportions. 

Perhaps your Thanksgiving table will be laden with turkey, dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, that ubiquitous green bean casserole, and maybe even a pie or two. Perhaps those around your table will hold hands, share laughs, share love. 

Or perhaps your Thanksgiving will be quiet, maybe just you or maybe in an intimate experience with one other person or a small group. Perhaps your meal won't be of feast-like proportions.

In whatever ways you spend the holiday this week, whether quiet or loud, solo or surrounded by family and friends, we all share the same opportunity to enjoy it with a spirit of thanksgiving -- giving thanks for what you have in your life.

As you express your gratitude for your blessings, spread that gratitude, joy and love beyond Thanksgiving to the other days in your life. Being thankful shouldn't be reserved for only one day a year in November. Make the most of every single day by treating it as a gift to be savored and appreciated. 

We each have abundance in our lives. When we spend time reflecting on that abundance, it becomes clearer to us and our opportunities for thanksgiving grow.

Today, this week, this Thanksgiving: Be thankful for the abundance in your life. Spread bountifully your gratitude, joy and love. 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Be Grateful for Your Restlessness

Wouldn't life be easier if everything was neat, orderly and clear? Wouldn't it be nice to have a definitive road map where the answers arrived swiftly at our feet so we knew when and where to take the next steps?

Alas, life isn't so clean, neat or clear. It can be a tangle. It can be a fog. It can be a dark night without a flashlight.

Rather than stress about the uncertainty, embrace it! Be grateful for it! Experience fully the restlessness that resides within you. Be okay with not having a clear road map for your every move. Being restless can help you remain open to newness. 

When you're restless, growth potential finds its way into your path as a signal that good things are coming.

Today, this week: Experience your restlessness fully. Be grateful for it. Celebrate all of the potential it holds.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Feel Peace

Life can be rather a stressful experience. There are all kinds of reasons to feel stressed. As a culture, we thrive more and more on conflict -- with others and with ourselves.

It seems these days that people tend to like feeling stressed and conflicted. We surely talk (or tweet or post) a lot about those things that make us feel that way. We zip about quickly, trying to do too much. We don't take good care of ourselves. At the end of the day, we're exhausted and spent and perhaps even a bit lonely as we isolate ourselves from others, hidden behind our electronic devices.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the United States. As those of us who live in America reflect on the men and women who have heroically served our country and continue to do so around the globe, let's also take a few moments to pause and express gratitude to them -- perhaps through your thoughts and prayers, perhaps through your words and actions. Think healing thoughts of peace for them.

Then, think about how you can diffuse the stressful, conflicted moments in your own life so that you feel grateful, connected and at peace. Once you feel that sense of peace, be generous with it. Spread it around so that when others feel stressed or conflicted, they'll feel your peaceful energy and find that they, too, can live in such a wonderful state.

Today, this week: Feel peace. Spread peace. Live peace. Be peace.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Quiet Grace of Gratitude

"What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning and all you had is what you thanked God for yesterday?" That message, which landed on my Facebook timeline several months ago, made me pause as it reminded me of the quiet grace of gratitude.

Gratitude isn't showy, bossy or bold. Gratitude is a quiet state of knowing, a peaceful place of blessing. 

Gratitude seems to be the perfect theme for November, a month marked by not only the American holiday of Thanksgiving, but also the quieting of nature. After the vibrant colors of summer followed by the crayon box of brilliant hues in October, November arrives appropriately in shades of tan and taupe. With it comes the opportunity to pause, to soak up the silence and to be grateful -- even to be grateful for making time to be grateful.

As human beings, our wants are often greater than our needs. When we pause and reflect on our blessings, both large and small, grand and everyday, immediate and evergreen, everything changes. When we're grateful, we often find that what we have is enough. There is a quiet peace in having that deep knowing that it is all enough, there is no need for more, what we have is already blessing.

As I joined three others from my church at an out-of-state conference last year, our pastor led us in prayer before we embarked on our road trip and before each meal. It didn't matter if we were at a fast-food restaurant or taking our sandwich with us in the car, she made sure that we spent a moment in reflection and prayer that always included the words "thank you."

One of those pre-meal reflections was based on a tradition in her household where those dining together share something aloud for which they are grateful that day. I found, as I always do, that when I am forced to think about my blessings, they seem to bubble up in such abundance that naming one blessing isn't sufficient.

As a child, our family's meal prayer consisted of these lovely words: "Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything."

I haven't said that prayer for a long time, but its words are affixed to my childhood memories and I realize that I should say them more often. As I look at those 26 words now, I see that they say it all. The prayer focuses on the good that surrounds us and is inside of us, the magnificence found in the details of the natural world, the blessing of having food to nourish our bodies, and the realization that everything, everything is blessing.

Everything is blessing. Everything.

As an adult, I often experience overwhelming feelings of gratitude. Those feelings are likely fueled by the daily conditioning I do of naming three things for which I'm grateful upon awakening and then repeating the practice before I fall asleep at night. The act of framing my day in gratitude affects my perspective all day long.

How do you experience the quiet grace of gratitude? Take a cue from the gentle shades of November and sit quietly, if only for a few moments each day, to express your thanks. Everything is blessing. Everything. May you feel blessed today and every day.

Sunday Sunshine: Count Your Blessings

When the alarm clock rings, what are your first thoughts? Do you think about what you're going to wear? Do you worry that you might have overslept? Are you in a hurry? In a fog? Do you feel excited for the new day? Or do you feel a sense of dread? Or, perhaps even worse, a sense of resignation that the day will be the "same old, same old"?

What if you turned your mornings inside out and upside down until they were right side up by expressing your gratitude? That's right! Try being thankful at the start of your new day. How might your day, how might everything look if you chose to view it through the lens of gratitude?

At the end of the day, repeat the process. As you place your head on the pillow and get ready to relax, rest and renew, spend a few moments naming your blessings. Chances are you'll even sleep better. 

It's amazing what a little dose of gratitude can do. Try it! A grateful heart makes all of your hours a gift.

Today, this week: Spend time each morning and each evening counting your blessings.