Gratitude as the Pathway to Joy

Tomorrow is my last radiation treatment.*  I am so excited to ring the bell tomorrow to mark this huge milestone in my journey.

and WOW what a journey this has been!

To be real-The last three weeks have been very difficult for me.  The fatigue has been crippling and has affected every area of my life.  Let’s just say I’ve been in survival mode.

I must admit I’ve struggled in these last few weeks to find joy.  Yesterday, I sat down in the kitchen, tired and frustrated at my weakened state, as I put my head in my hands and literally asked the Lord to HELP me have joy.  And right away He reminded me that JOY is a byproduct of GRATITUDE.  So I asked God to help me to have a heart of gratitude.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

God’s will for my life is gratitude.  In every season. In every circumstance.

I’m reminded of a book I read several years ago which was life-changing for me.  I think I need to read it again.

Ann Voskamp says in “1000 Gifts”:

“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.”

I want to really live like this.  Not just talk about living like this.  I realize that I was allowing my fatigue to rob me of my grateful heart.

Yesterday on the kitchen floor reminded me that there is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

And right then and there, I looked up and the first thing I saw was a basket of overflowing laundry.  Laundry that should have been folded and put away days ago.  I thanked God for the basket of overflowing laundry.   Instead of complaining in my heart about not having the energy to fold the clothes, my perspective to shifted to one of gratitude.  “Thank you, Lord, that we have baskets full of clothes to wear.  Thank you Lord for the family members that you’ve blessed me with that wear these clothes.  Thank You Lord for a washer and dryer.  Thank you, Lord, for the overflowing baskets of clothes.”

In 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp describes writing down 1000 blessings in a gratitude journal.  A couple of years ago when I had busy days of three littles at home, I realized I wanted to grow in the discipline of gratitude.

So I took a basic journal, opened it up and left it on the kitchen counter throughout the day.  I numbered God’s gifts- a funny comment from a child, a song that ministered to my heart, or simply the way the sunlight fell across the hardwood floor.

It takes practice to see things through different eyes.

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gratitude list circa 2014

 

As I look through this old journal from two years ago, I’m reminded of the importance of chronicling gratitude.

When I need the Lord to restore my joy, I will chronicle some things I am grateful for here. (I’m starting at # 89 because I left off at # 88 in my journal two years ago.)

Maybe soon I’ll have my own list of 1000 gifts.

Brooke’s 1000 Gifts (in no particular order)

88.  Grateful to have hair, and getting used to wearing the short new style out in public.

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89.  Beautiful flowers from friends today

90. My parents that help in so many big and little ways

91. The world’s best next-door neighbors; lazy afternoons talking with Lauren talking in my den while the kids are playing upstairs or taking the kids to the park. I cherish these days

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92.  My supportive and understanding husband who knew how much I needed to rest Saturday, so he took the children to the gym in the morning so I could rest and have quiet time with the Lord.

93.  thankful that we found the cancer before it had spread to other organs.  Even one month later could have a made a big difference

94. new mercies every day, like the beautiful sunrise I saw today as I took the children to school.  The sun looked like a huge bright orange ball in the sky.

95. encouragement from a woman at church who has walked through difficult physical suffering~ she listens and allows me to be real and conversations with her always uplift me

96. the girls singing “And Can it Be” tonight after bath time.  One of my favorite old hymns.

97. a phone call with my sister today

98. MY LAST DAY OF RADIATION TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!

I could keep going……and I will in another post, or in my journal privately.

My joy has been restored, by opening my eyes to God’s gifts.

If you need your joy resurrected, why don’t you try it?  All it takes is a pen, journal, and eyes to see God’s gifts.

 

*I was initially scheduled to finish tomorrow, Maundy Thursday.  Then my final treatment got shifted to Monday.   I was bummed because I was looking forward to being finished by Easter.  Today at my appointment, my doctor said I could have two treatments in one day if they were 6 hours apart.  So tomorrow I’ll have a treatment at 9:30am, and my FINAL TREATMENT at 4:30pm tomorrow! I’m so excited!!  Thank you Lord for bringing me THIS FAR!!

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Susan Spearman643 says:

    Beautifully written, Brooke! Thanks for reminding me of God’s faithfulness and love. I love the idea of the gratitude journal.Sometimes I need to be reminded to be grateful in ALL circumstances! Prayers for you and the family. Congrats on ringing that bell!

  2. Robin Baber says:

    Love your hair. You look beautiful. Thankful for you and your friendship. Love you!

  3. Margaret McKoy says:

    Brooke, you do not know me. Your aunt, Marsha Ward, goes to our church and requested prayer for you numerous times. Your name is on our weekly prayer bulletin again this week, as it has been for some time now. I have only read a couple of your blogs, but I want to say what a blessing you are–even to people you do not know! God is using this trial to make you a blessing, to draw you closer to Himself, to make your light shine a little brighter–as He always does. My sister & I walked through the cancer journey together (14 years ago!), and I know a little of where you are. I can testify today that God brought me through, and that I experienced His presence like no other time in my life–because I knew that every day was a gift and that my life was truly dependent on Him. Every day is still a gift, and my life still depends on Him, whether or not I recognize that on a daily basis. Treasure every moment. And keep shining for Him!

    • Wow, thank you for your kind words and for reaching out to me. I have the best aunt, don’t I ? :) She’s great :) I”m so glad she has such a strong church community. She has shared with me many times that those at her church were lifting me up, and it always touches me so deeply how God uses the prayers of many. Even people praying for me that I don’t know! Wow. Thank you so much for the prayers you’ve lifted for me. Yes, it is often in times of great suffering that we draw closer to our Lord. For that, I’m grateful! And congratulations on 14 years cancer free!! Thanks for writing!

  4. I am thankful for your faith and your gift of sharing yourself to encourage others.

    • Thank you so much, Debra! I pray God can use my words to encourage and uplift~ as so many including you have encouraged me along the way! I was so excited to ring that bell! I know you understand!!

  5. Sherrie Pruitt says:

    Sweet Brooke, your post is so heartfelt and lovely! Our women’s group at church read 1000 Gifts a couple of summers ago and I started keeping a blessing journal during that time. I generally write mine down when I get up as I’m starting my prayer time. It helps me center myself and starts my day off with a thankful heart. Often during the day something will happen or I’ll see something that I try to make a mental note to put in my journal, sometimes it’s as simple as windows to keep out the bugs or the pen I’m writing with (I’m not sure I could chisel things out of stone and keep all my fingers).
    I’m so thankful that God has brought you through this journey with a grateful heart and stronger faith!

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