Saturday, November 26, 2011

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

As all my blogger friends in the US celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am reminded of my decision to live a life of thanks and to give thanks EVERY DAY.

Earlier this year, I came across a brilliant book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and her blog called A Holy Experience. I was challenged to start my own Gratitude Journal which can be found at the top of my blog. I have not managed to record something every day as I had planned BUT I have chosen every day to find something good.

Many of the photography challenges these last couple of weeks have had a theme of gratitude and I have been encouraged to take up the challenge again of recording the things I am grateful for daily, rather than every week. It really is amazing how choosing to live a life of thanks can change your focus. Keeping a gratitude list has been scientifically proven to decrease anxiety, enrich relationships & make you 25% happier! These last few weeks I have seen the proof of that in my own life.

You see, I live daily with chronic illness. I have multiple health problems; 2 heart conditions, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Chronic Neuropathic Pain, Neuromyofascial Pain Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, nerve damage to my neck, arms, my right hip & leg (from a car accident in 2009), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome... I live with severe pain on a daily basis. I am told I hardly complain BUT I used to cry out to God daily asking, "Why me??"

I raised my 4 children alone for 12 years (they are all adults now); my eldest son is a prodigal, my youngest daughter suffers anorexia... and I continued to cry, "Why me??"

My new marriage was falling apart after just 12 months and I was having huge struggles with my 5 step-daughters... and I cried, "Why me??"

I wanted to live daily with Thanksgiving... I wanted to live Eucharisteo!!

MORE THAN ANYTHING, I wanted life to be different, to be happy in the mess of ill health, lost children, a struggling second marriage, problems with step-children... I knew that the only way to be happy was to live in THANKS. So since April, I have been counting. I became slack for a while and only counted one a week but I am getting there! After reading Ann's blog over the last week of her trip to Ecuador with Compassion, I was challenged again to get back on track with counting the things I am grateful for daily.

Research has proven that living in thanks DOES change your life, decrease anxiety, improve relationships and make you more than 25% happier!!

Many of the circumstances in my life are still the same. However, living in Thanks, Eucaristeo, Gracias... I am happy again.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

I am thankful for my, now even LARGER, family. I am the middle child of 5 children, and have 4 children of my own, a son-in-law and almost 2 grandchildren (my oldest son has an 18 month old son, and a daughter due in December). My husband is the middle child of 5 children and has 5 daughters of his own.

My beautiful family (taken at my eldest daughter’s Sarah’s wedding on 27th March 2010)
Back - Ben (now 20) & Daniel (22).
Front – Bec (19), me, Sarah (27), Oscar (Sarah’s husband), and my wonderful parents.

My husband and his 5 daughters (taken on our wedding day 5th December, 2009)
From L to R: Jessica (now 16), Amy (23), Michael, Tamsyn (20), Lizzie (14), Kathryn (18).
- Photo credit to DeeZigner Images

Michael & me (May 2011) - Photo credit to RAD Photography (my daughter, Bec) over at Through the Lens; RAD Photography

My amazing best friend Nat & her husband Greg (Sept 2011) – Photo credit to RAD Photography (Bec)

Also grateful for more:

45.  For rain to soak the dry earth.
46.  For rainbows after the rain, signalling His promise.
47.  For joy.
48.  For 5 more daughters to love.
49.  For time to breathe.
50.  For time to love.
51.  For time to laugh.
52.  For time to cry.
53.  For time to live fully in Him.
54.  For blessings in time of need.


Michael S-B said...

Liz, you have come a long way in these last two weeks. It is lovely to see you happier and enjoying yourself more. It really does start with a choice.

Your blog brought tears of gratitude to my eyes :)

TexWisGirl said...

God bless you, and all of your family. Thanks for posting this wonderful reminder, that attitude can change our days.

Your soul shines from within on these photos. :) So nice to 'know' you here!

FilipBlog said...

Great family pictures.


Melbourne Australia Photos said...

Beautiful sentiments, Liz. I often say to people that we have lost the capacity to say "thanks" with our heart, and to feel gratitude for all the wonderful things in our life.
Lovely shots!
You may like to join the Floral Friday Fotos meme when you are posting flower photos!

Dawn said...

This is beautiful, Liz. I need to join you in the quest for gratitude.I don't think of it often enough! Kev tells me I'm negative and I surely don't want to be.

I didn't realize you had 5 step daughters - I am so thankful things are going well for you and your sweet hubby

Have a wonderful week-end!

Nadege, said...

A beautiful post, love your family pictures.

Stewart M said...

Hi there - to find yourself healthy again and that your family is still there is a wonder beyond words. We need less things and more time at peace.

Hope you have a good week. Stewart M - Melbourne

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. Family is the most important thing from my perspective.

Anonymous said...

I went to visit your daughter's blog via World Bird and it was such a beautiful blog, I kept reading and came across that this beautiful girl was dealing with some health issue and I read back farther to see that it is the same thing that my daughter had and has overcome. It was difficult as I have my own health issues. But I told her that we would get through it together and we have and there was light at the end of the tunnel..and I hope that for you and your family...Michelle

Stasha said...

What beautiful family and so many talented photographers! I met a lovely blogger in summer who daily chronicles her struggles with some of your condition. Her twitter handle is @FeliciaFibro . I am sure you would enjoy becoming a part of her community.

Anonymous said...

Great post Liz. Love that One Thousand Gift book xo

Paula said...

Thank you. I started recording my 1000 gifts a year or so ago. I really need to continue again, especially with feeling so incredibly down as I do now. I know I have a lot to be thankful for, but I just can't feel it at present. No joy. It will come back though. Xoxo

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