Last Sunday, the speaker at church gave a message that really chimed with the way I want to live my life. He was talking about thankfulness, something that has already impacted me in a powerful way. The need for gratitude has become a recurring theme in much of my writing and is, in fact, one of the main reasons I write at all.
I first thought about thankfulness when I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, and since then it has helped me to find a God of love, generosity and surprise even in bleak circumstances. To me, thankfulness means looking around at what I have, rather than looking around for what I do not have. In particular, it helps me to shift my focus from the pain and emptiness of infertility to the wealth I have in nature, in friendships, in family, and ultimately in my relationship with Jesus.
Thankfulness does not mean you don’t acknowledge the hard stuff in your life, but it means you appreciate the good stuff. When you start to notice all that you’ve been given, you no longer feel neglected but loved, and that changes things immeasurably.
One of the ways I practice gratitude is through my ‘Small Things’ posts, in which I list the little gifts I’m thankful for. Recent weeks have been tough in a lot of ways, but have nevertheless been full of Small Things! So, without further ado, here they are:
*Lemon & pistachio polenta cake.
*Watching and listening to thunder and lightning and feeling the storm-charged air from our open upstairs window. The rain was slamming down and everything seemed so indescribably fresh. The lightning was streaked right across the sky, above the hills. There was a rainbow, too, and when the rain stopped and the thunder became more distant, the birds erupted into the loudest song. It was like some kind of annunciation of Spring.
*Getting to the coast often, which I wrote about here. So good for the soul.
*The funny things children say and do. I’m back at work (in a Reception class) after a long time off and I had forgotten how much they make me laugh.
*Eating pasta bake and garlic bread – not fancy in any way, but sooo good!
*Finishing a book (Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner – more thoughts on that another time).
*Looking at potential places to stay for our anniversary weekend. Current favourites are some beautiful, quirky huts and cottages in the Brecon Beacons.
*A new notebook.
*Finding a baby rabbit in our greenhouse. He had eaten all of Andrew’s carefully sown seedlings, but he was heart-meltingly sweet!
*Having an unexpectedly free afternoon on the same day that my new Simple Things magazine arrived on my doorstep. There is little better than tea, toast and reading.
*Going to our first ‘Articles Club’, which was a great opportunity to spend time with friends, get to know them better and discuss an interesting article.
*Getting creative. I’m currently up-cycling a chest of drawers we had, which is great because it’s a job that can be done outside in the sunshine, and I found a bit of driftwood on the beach to hang my pictures on.
What are your Small Things this week?