Last week, our family gathered to celebrate the life of an amazing woman. Technically, she was my cousin-in-law, but I thought of her as blood kin because she was like us. Any time you were with her you felt special. Her laughter and smile were contagious. She was a great storyteller, but more than that, she was a prayer warrior and encourager. I’m thankful she was part of my life and I will miss her.
In the past year and a half, many events have occurred which increased my gratitude for life, family, friends, and faith. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on the calendar in November; it is an attitude of the heart.
Thanksgiving isn’t just a day on the calendar in November; it is an attitude of the heart.
Life is a series of peaks and valleys interspersed with plateaus of peace. When all is well, we forget the blessing that is life. Circumstances can change in a moment, causing it to feel as if our world has tilted and we are sliding headlong into the unknown. I think of several friends who experienced the sudden death of adult children; those who lived despite life-threatening COVID complication, but later succumbed to the after-effects; and my husband, who survived a usually-life-ending type of heart attack.
The brevity of life reminds us not to waste time with jealousy, perceived slights, anger and misunderstandings. Practice forgiveness and maintain forward motion. Don’t allow goals to rob you of time with family. Seize every opportunity to express love, speak words of encouragement, and cherish those God has placed in your life.
Celebrate and give thanks for the gift of life as often as possible, because life is precious and brief.
The distance created by COVID made me keenly aware of the importance of friendships and how much I value face-to-face interaction. One of the unique qualities of friendship is the closeness and connection that occurs in long-standing relationships, but also with new friends. Sometimes, you just “click,” as my mother used to say, and you meet someone who understands you as if you’ve known each other for years.
During the launch of my book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well, family and friends joined my launch team. Their joy for this time in my life blessed and encouraged me in many ways. I felt loved beyond measure. The support I received reminds me to give encouragement and support in like manner.
The beauty of nature is a source of peace and joy for me. God could have provided an austere, drab landscape for us to inhabit. Instead, God created a world filled with color, variety, and magnificent beauty.
Nature refreshes my soul, soothes anxiety, and provides a new perspective on problems. I bask in the sights and sounds and give thanks for the gift of nature.
I love my family and I’m grateful for my heritage. Many people search for their “roots,” but I have clear links to mine. When my father’s mother died, she left her photo album to me. It dates to the 1800s and provides a window into the past. I also have a written family tree from my mother side that goes back generations along with pictures. Both families were storytellers.
Now, the large family gatherings are infrequent and usually involve a funeral, yet there is joy in remembrance and gathering. We averted the type of squabbles that separate families so any time we are together we share love and fond memories.
Have I mentioned children and grandchildren? How I love them! I see my heritage in them—the dimples like my father, the personality of my mother, the eyes of a grandparent, the mannerisms or body build of great-grandparents. I see my heritage and I rejoice and give thanks.
As we stood to sing at the celebration of life last week, I was surrounded by cousins and held my husband’s hand. I was in a church I had never attended, but I was home. Voices of praise echoed. The name of Jesus was lifted high. And in the midst of sorrow, there was great joy.
That day, I didn’t know I would be with my husband in the ER less than 24 hours later for heart-related assessment. We don’t know what the next moment will bring, but, with God’s sustaining presence, we can face each challenge.
Faith is the anchor that secures us when life feels like it is falling apart. Faith is the source of peace and hope. I am thankful I grew up in a family that honored and served God and modeled a life of faith for me.
Your gratitude list may include other elements, but for me, life, friendships, nature, heritage, family, and faith top the list. Today, and in the days ahead, will you allow an attitude of thanksgiving to shape your life year-round?
“The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me. When I learn to rest and truly trust Him, He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing! I open my mouth to praise Him and thankfulness rises as song.” (Psalm 28:7 VOICE).
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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