Posts Tagged ‘thankful’

Every morning, after my shower and before eating breakfast, I sit down at my kitchen table and open a journal. Lately I’ve noticed I’m nearing the end of the empty pages, so soon I’ll go purchase another book to fill again.

img_2447Each morning I write down five things I’m grateful for…five gifts in my life. Some are silly (longer extension hose on the sump pump), some are monumental (healing), some seems small (the smell of brewing coffee), some are large (the furnace has worked great all winter long), some are spiritual (thankful for God’s unconditional love), some are physical (warm socks on a cold day), some are mental (clear mind for today’s work), some are emotional (joy over times with family and friends).

I began my gratitude journal on January 1, 2018 – by the end of the year I had written 1800 lines of thankfulness. I’m sure a few were duplicates (I love the smell of coffee – it probably showed up a couple of times). Today I wrote numbers 530-535 of 2019. It takes some introspection, some self-awareness. Those first few pages were easy to fill, but now it takes some real work to find those things that I’m thankful for. The practice of gratefulness has caused me to look over my day, even as I’m living it. What will I write tomorrow morning? What am I living right now that I’m grateful for? Who has caused me joy, or pain, that I can turn into a journal entry?

I know God has blessed me with health, love, joy, family and friends I treasure. I have work, shelter, provision, food on my table and blankets on my bed. I enjoy electricity, hot water and air-conditioning. We drive two cars, worship the Lord with freedom, and eat meat every day. And I know most of the world doesn’t have any of the above.

Would you take on the gratitude challenge? You can use a cheap spiral notebook, or purchase a fancy journal, but no matter what the pen and paper look like, it’s the expressions of gratefulness that will change your outlook on your life. And it will definitely spark joy!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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I’m scheduled to write about a memory for which I’m grateful. Once again, it is very hard to choose just one. I have a tendency to write about memories most of the time so I was wracking my brain to think of something clever or creative. However, while checking my “On This Day” tab on my Facebook news feed, I came across a memory from six years, for which I am so very thankful.


Six years ago last week was the anniversary of the magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated northeastern Japan. With only the 2008 Cedar Rapids flood as a reference, I cannot begin to imagine the recovery efforts needed to return to some sense of normalcy. The effects of that disaster were felt around the world, even in Cedar Rapids, as the McGarveys here (and in the St. Louis area) waited impatiently for news. You see, my beautiful niece Kim was working as a kindergarten teacher in Sendai, only 80-miles from the earthquake’s epicenter. Initially, local people reported 200 to 300 bodies already been found there. It all turned out okay for Kim, but even with all the current technology, it was hours before we knew that for sure. Hours of prayer. Hours of worry (let’s be honest – we say Christians shouldn’t worry, but we do). Hours of waiting for any little bit of news. Hours of watching devastating video. Hours of hearing rumors, hoping it’s all false.

If my memory is correct (please, no quotes here), Kim’s school ended up being a recovery location. She waited herself for news of her little students. As Americans, she and some other teachers ended up being transferred to the U.S. Air Force base at Misawa, north of the affected area. Eventually she flew home, only to return in late summer to help out again.

The numbers involved with this earthquake and tsunami are incomprehensible. The death toll was over 18,000, with over 6,000 injured. Entire towns were lost. Over 228,000 people had to live away from their homes, either temporarily or permanently. The property damage figures are staggering. Some estimate insured losses from the earthquake alone to be $34.6 billion US dollars. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents including meltdowns of three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex. People within a 12 miles radius of the plant evacuated. The health results of this part of the disaster may never be comprehended. Radiation levels remain dangerously high, and the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported in 2013 that about 300 tons of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean everyday.

It is not my intent to scare people. Though I am very grateful for my niece’s safety, for many, this anniversary is a reminder of one of the worst moments in recent history. Please take some time today to hug your kids, call your mom, and pray for a nation still recovering. May my heart be moved as God’s heart.

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Hello, long lost readers! I’m back. Once again, for the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to write a short (promise) blog for each day of Lent (minus Sundays – cuz Sunday is a day of rest and most Sundays, I’m pooped by the time I get home from church).

Today is Fat Tuesday. I’m not going to explain it because it’s easier to just use Google. Go ahead…I’ll wait. (tapping toes, humming tunes, taking a short stroll to get in my steps)

So by now, you also know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start to the Lenten season. Once again, I’m not going to explain Lent so check it out on the search engine of your choice.

Lent is a season of preparation. Many denominations have their followers “give up” something for this 40-day period of time. I did that two years ago – I gave up some bad attitudes, behaviors, mindsets…see year 2015 if you are curious. Last year I “added” some things – good mindsets, food, routines, attitudes.

So what to do this year?  I’ve decided to take the 40 days of Lent and be intentionally grateful. If no one but me gets anything out of it, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do…because truly, my blog is, first and foremost, for me. I need to be disciplined (at least once a year) and writing during Lent is my attempt.

bigstock-gratitude-37954498Intentionally Grateful – I’ve been greatly influenced in the last few years by author Ann Voskamp. Her book “1000 Gifts” caused me to write down my own list of 1000 beautiful gifts for which I’m grateful, but that was a couple of years ago and it’s time to revisit the discipline…because that’s what it is….I wish I was the type of person who was just naturally grateful, but I’m not. And you probably aren’t either. We take so much for granted. When I whine about my bad back (hallelujah – I’m healed!), I forget the years of great health I’ve enjoyed, and enjoy today. When I lament about being tired, I forget to rejoice that I have a job which pays me a pretty decent wage, tutoring students I enjoy, and a church family who loves and supports us.

In the last month I’ve read a book called “The Happiness Dare” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. I’ve tweeted about it, but Jennifer’s book (and subsequent Facebook book club), showed me that by increasing my level of gratitude, I naturally increase my level of happiness. She published a chart called “30 Days of Gratitude” which I’m going to use to direct my blog focus…starting tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath – it won’t be the best writing you’ve ever read. May even be pretty cheesy most of the time…but it’s my way of being intentionally grateful as I prepare throughout Lent for the greatest day on the Christian church calendar – the celebration of the resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Now, that’s something to be grateful for!

See you tomorrow.


Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

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thankfulIf you are at all familiar with social media, you probably recognize #TBT. It stands for “Throwback Thursday.” It’s an opportunity to post a past picture of yourself or people you know. Most are meant to show how far we’ve come, or how beautiful we used to be, or who we used to hang with. Some of those pics cause me to gasp in horror, tear up in memory or laugh in disbelief. I love #TBT. But I’ve decided to start by own Thursday hashtag – #ThankfulThursday – where I take a picture or comment about things for which I’m thankful. Pretty self-explanatory.

Today’s a pretty normal day for me – nothing special happening. I find that on extraspecial days – days with lots of fun activities, or days with friends and family around – I have no problem being filled with thankfulness. But on typical and routine days, it seems to take more thought to find things to be grateful for…but I’m up for the challenge. How about you?

I took a great long walk over my lunch hour, with comfortable shoes, in glorious sunshine, listening to my favorite music, on my nice smartphone. Right there I’ve got at least 9 things to be thankful for: I can walk…I have food for lunch…I have a place to work…I have shoes…I can see and feel the sunshine…I can hear…I have music available to me 24/7…I own a cell phone. Not so hard to be grateful, is it?

When my kids were much younger, and we had long car trips to endure, we came up with games to play to keep ourselves entertained. As a homeschooling mom, I was always looking for ways to teach my kids something, so we called our favorite pastime “The Alphabet Game.” This wasn’t rocket science. We’d come up with a category  like Animals, Food, Cities in the United States, Capitols of the World, and then, starting with A, we tried to think of a item that would fulfill the category. So if the category was Animals, we’d take turns going around and coming up with an animal starting with the letter A. We didn’t allow for duplication, so if I said “aardvaark,” the next person had to say a different animal, until all four of us had played. Some letters were easy…some extremely difficult ( “x” and “q” – ugh). As the boys got older, the categories got harder. On one of our last trips we used the categories “Musicians,” “Musical Trios,” and “Academy Award winning Movies.” Sometimes only Sean and I play, especially if we’re in the front seat together. But it never fails, we always get occasional input from the backseat passengers (i.e.”Queen Latifah” from my husband when I was struggling with musician starting with letter Q).

I’ve come up with a new Alphabet Game category for our next trip…What Are You Thankful For? Starting with A, you must say something you are grateful for. I started playing it in my mind on my walk today.

Big_Daddies       Gyro_Hut

A is for Aromas – I must have passed at least three restaurants that were oozing wonderful smells…barbeque smoke from Big Daddies, the mouthwatering french fry grease smell from Gyro Hut, and grilled hamburgers from Parlor City. What other A things can you come up with?

If you’re having a tough day, take a Thankfulness break. Stop to think of all you have to be grateful for – write them down if you need to remind yourself later. We’re all going through rough patches…financial struggles, health issues, family crisis, depression and sadness everywhere. But a simple but surefire way to combat the hard times, is reminding yourself of the good things…the common things that give us joy and gladness. Make this a real deal #ThankfulThursday.




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