Tag Archives: Gratitude Jar

Year of Gratitude: June, Week 2

This month’s focus is on “Sabbath.” For any one who has children or was once a child, June was the beginning of the summer break from school. When I was younger and had kids at home or as kid myself, I so looked forward to summer. Longer days, swimming, picnics in the park, vacations and just a different schedule.

Now, I have no kids at home and while the schedule at church changes, it is not the same. The truth is Sabbath is a gift from God and one that is part of the ten commandments. Of course of the ten there are commands to worship God, to treat other people right (don’t steal, lie, covet or murder,) but the command to take a break is in my opinion pretty profound. Last year in the middle of a sermon series I spoke about Sabbath.

I am terrible at taking time off. I have a litany of excuses as to why I shouldn’t be “lollygagging” around! Yet, God demands we do so. Rest and Sabbath IS good for the soul and necessary for good health. Sabbath is a gift of time that in some ways allows the “soul to catch up with the body.”

I have had a run of days that have been filled to the brim beginning in May. I have had some days off, but recently I haven’t. I cleared my calendar for yesterday (Thursday) and my day off is Friday. I wanted/needed some down time.

My time “off” began with a delightful Wednesday night opening of “Sound of Music” performed by Music Theatre Wichita. Attending with my husband, my sister and a friend, it was a good way to unwind and destress. On Thursday morning, I picked green beans and then we went to the Wichita Art Museum for their exhibitm”Georgia O’Keefe: Art, Style, Image,” and had lunch in the cafe. We visited one of our wonderful indepent bookstores, Watermark and picked up some new reading material. My sister and friend headed out for the rest of their weekend and I ended the evening cooking supper (something that relaxes me) and watching the movie “Mary Poppins Returns.”

I note all this not because my way of relaxing is the same for everyone, but in order to invite people to do the same. If I am to give thanks for Sabbath, then I have to take Sabbath. I need to take a break. So I added a couple of slips to my gratitude jar. Remember those?

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Have you been adding events and moments for which you have given thanks? Remember, in December, we will have a time to pull them out and re-read about our year of gratitude. Today, I am still relaxing, reading and giving thanks for Sabbath time, with my soul, my spouse and my God. This is your invitation and challenge to do the same.

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Year of Gratitude: April

We have entered a new month for our Year of Gratitude. This month our focus is

Growing Edges: Spring comes this month and for Christians, Easter. Flowers begin to bloom and gardens are planted. New life is all around. This month we give thanks for growth: physical, spiritual and those places where we need to grow..

How are you progressing on writing a thank you note a week? Personally, some weeks are better than others for me. Sometimes I don’t write one note, I write several. This is one of those weeks.

Are you remembering to place memories or events in your gratitude jar?  I have not always put something in the jar each week and sometimes I have put two or three memories or events in the jar. Like the thank you notes, it is a good push for me personally to remember to be grateful by action and deed.

In the Christian tradition we are still a couple of weeks away from the celebration of Easter. Holy Week is another week away, but the spiritual disciples of Lent are still part of the lenten journey. During the forty days of Lent, seeds can be planted for growth,, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Like a flower bulb, or a seeds, new growth is cultivated by nourishing the soil, by watering the soil and the right amount of sun. Out of the right amount of care, flowers and trees and the garden grows.

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What spiritual practices are helping you grow this week? “How is your soul?” John Wesley encouraged peopl to ask each other. How is your soul and spirit? What are you nuturing in your spiritual life? Who is helping you do that? Have you thanked your prayer partner, your small group leader, your Sunday School teacher or your pastor? Perhaps there is an author that helps you deepen your faith. Can you write that an author a note or share their book or writings with others?

This week, may you find new challenges to help your faith grow, and to deepen your spiritual life in Christ.

 

 

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Year of Gratitude: March Week 2

This week there has been several things that have caused me to give thanks. At some point in the last week, someone has put additional chocolate on the conference table in my office. If you didn’t know it, that table is always covered with chocolate, individual bags of peanuts and cheese or peanut butter cracker snacks and usually some fresh fruit. As you might guess, the chocolate disappears more quickly than the other snacks. How sweet it was to see small bags of M&M’s and new little chocolate candies!

Then, yesterday, in the midst of the “bomb cyclone” that hit much of the midwest, a bright red cardinal appeared in my back yard. The rain was long past, the wind was terrible, but we sat for a few minutes outside, somewhat protected and there was that cardinal. Feathers being ruffled by the wind, but he was there, hanging on to the tree in all his glory. I paused and admired him. That beautiful cardinal had no intention of being moved by that wind.

On Tuesday night, I had my window cracked open all night long. It didn’t get below 58 degrees and having fresh air on my face for the first time since last fall was such a gift. I was grateful for the respite from unrelenting cold and winter we have had. These three experiences reminded me how easy it is to overlook the little things that occur each day.

So this week, I am adding to my gratitude jar these simple joys. Remember our gratitude jar? I wrote about this jar on my first blog post of 2019. This invitation was to write down one thing each week, an event, a surprise, something for which I am grateful for, so that in December, I have a whole year of wonderful memories to enjoy! What has gone in your gratitude jar? I have a few simple things, like what I listed above and a couple of big things, like my brother’s retirement party. I don’t even remember everything I have put in the jar, so I am really looking forward to seeing what I wrote in December.

Today I am grateful for my home. For the birds, the backyard, the place to put a gratitude jar. I am grateful for bed to sleep in, windows that open and close, a heater that works when it is cold, a kitchen to cook in and indoor plumbing! My home is place where my family comes to visit, where friends hang out, where I find refuge when the world seems a bit crazy and where I can entertain, or just be alone. What do you give thanks for where you live? How is your home a place of refuge and a place where you can be surrounded by those you?

 

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Year of Gratitude: February Week 3

Toward the end of this week is Valentine’s Day. Last week I invited you to share Valentines. This week, if you haven’t done, I invite to still share some love with people that are close to you. I would add, perhaps you could share some Valentine’s with people are not close to, people perhaps in your orbit, but with whom you do not have a great deal in common or whom you do not know well.

A few weeks ago Leonard Sweet asked this question: “When we see someone else, what do we see? Do we see others through a self-screen of our ideas, our beliefs, our politics? Or do we see another person as an inimitable and precious handiwork of God?” I’ve pondered it since then. How do we see others? Not just those whom we love, but other’s whom we have just met or perhaps know from a distance or from their “reputation” whatever that might be?

When we give thanks or share Valentines is what we share from an open place in our hearts and minds and spirits? Or do we share only from that space within ourselves that acknowledges what we already think we know about someone? Do we see someone else as a unique and unrepeatable gift from God? Or, do we see them somehow only in terms of our own ideas and beliefs?

This week, I invite you to get to know someone new, someone who you do not really know. Get a cup of coffee, or tea, sit down and just open yourself to who this person was created to be. Then write them a thank you note for the time spent together, and add a note to your gratitude jar about your experience. Or, write a thank note to someone whose services you take for granted, the custodian in your building, the postal carrier, the person who brings you coffee at your favorite shop, a checker at a grocery store. People often need a reminder that they are created by God and are a gift to the world. Find a way to get through the “self-screen” of the people you meet this week and see each one as “an intimitable and precious handwork of God.”

 

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Year of Gratitude: February

We are finishing the second month of our Year of Gratitude. (We started in December with the beginning of the Christian year.) This month we focused on new things: New Year’s  resolutions, new paths and other choices to begin a new year and gave thanks for the new possibilities we are given. We created a gratitude jar so each week we could put one thing or event that made a difference and for which we were grateful. At the end of December, 2019 we will be able to look back over our year and remember.

For the month of February our gratitude focus will be:

Relationships: This month is filled with “Valentines” but love is more than hearts and flowers. There are many relationships which call for gratitude. This month we give thanks for all our relationships.

Sarah Ban Breathnach in her journal book The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude writes:  “Grace is available for each of us every day–our spiritual daily bread–but we’ve to to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.”

Grace is our daily bread as is gratitude. I would like to encourage you to think about the grace you have received through the month of January. Have you written three or four things to put in your jar? If not, take a few moments to so. Breath in grace, Breath in gratitude. What has touched you in January? What has surprised you in its grace, its beauty, its love?

Relationships are also part of our spiritual daily bread along with grace. Our relationships teach us many things. As we prepare for February and our thankfulness for our relationships, today I want you to write two thank you notes. One, I would like you to write a thank you note to God, for the blessings you have received in January. Put it in your jar, so that in December you might pull it out and re-read it with a prayer for God’s goodness.

Second, to begin our month focusing on relationships, I would like you to write a thank you note to yourself. We are so often hard ourselves, we call ourselves names, often have a running litany of what is wrong and why it is wrong and blame ourselves. Often the grace that is our daily bread is offered to others and we offer little to ourselves. Take some time and thank yourself, for getting up and out of bed, for taking care of others whether it be children or friends or a partner or parents. Thank your body for what it can do. In thanking yourself, you have a path to thank God for life, for love and grace.

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2019, New Year, New Possibilities

Today is January 1, 2019. Each year on the first of January, thousands of people make New Year’s Resolutions. Some people are very intentional and there are all kinds of online helps and prompts to support those who want to make changes: dietary, lifestyle, overcoming bad habits, new or increased exercise, read more, do more, do less, practice a deeper spirituality, reduce stress or whatever a person wants to make a difference in his or her life. Others mock the whole “New Year’s Resolution” as an exercise in futility.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to do better, be better or change things about one’s life that are unhealthy or unhelpful. I will never mock or put down any one who is trying to live a better or more healthy life. So what if some one doesn’t get it “right” the first time or tenth time. Choosing to be intentional about life, is a spiritual practice. For me, it means to not sleep walk through my days and nights, but to open our eyes, my heart, my mind and my spirit to the newness each day bring, let along alone each year.

At the end of November, I challenged my congregation at First United Methodist Church  to a Year of Gratitude. This is not my own unique idea, I had seen it posted in blogs and through churches over the last few years. We began in December, because in the life of the church Advent is the beginning of the new year. My challenge was a personal challenge for me as well. I want to live my life as one continual thanksgiving to the God who creates and loves and calls us all. The challenge includes writing one thank you note each week. Here is this months focus:

January 2019

Good things: This is a month often used for “new life.” Resolutions, life changes. Find a jar and each week write down one good thing that happened. At the end of this year you will be able to empty the jar and read about the amazing year you have had.

So today my hope is that you will find a jar, a basket, a container of some sort of another to begin writing down one good thing that happens each week. Here is what mine looks like: it’s not particularly pretty or well done, but it will be the place where I will be putting my good things that are happening each week.

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So a new year in the western culture has begun. A clean slate is available for you and I to begin anew. I plan to be intentionally thankful. Today, I will be writing thank you notes for the gifts received this Christmas. What thank you note or thank you notes will you be writing this week? Then I will be looking for that one good thing to write down and put in my jar so that by December 31st, I will have a jar full of good things to be grateful for and remember.

I saw this quote on a friends Facebook page this morning:

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” John Henry Jowett (1864–1923) PRESBYTERIAN PREACHER AND WRITER

I believe gratitude and being thankful is all of those things and more. I am grateful for another day and new year. Happy New Year!

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