The discipline of gratitude (and a bit of happy).


Photograph by Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty

every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17).


Years ago, while going through a crisis, I was introduced to the concept of keeping a thank you journal. That year was one of the toughest of my life. I was having trouble keeping my chin up and putting one foot in front of the other. As I began this new practice of purposefully giving thanks, I still remember how hard it was to find something to write down each evening before I went to bed. At the end of a long day filled with many hours, minutes and seconds my selections were things like: babies greeting me from their cribs each morning when I walked into their bedroom. Crisp fall air. The way the sun reflected off the river. The macaroni and cheese was on sale. The car didn’t break down. It’s the best I could do and it helped. The discipline of gratitude lifted my eyes to the hills, from whence my help comes (Psalm 121:1) and reminded me to…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Besides struggling to find things to be thankful for, I also remember developing the habit of reviewing the entire week of God’s goodness every Sunday morning before leaving for church. It never ceased to amaze me how I had forgotten all the good things God had done just a few days before! It also delighted my soul to stack all of that goodness up in one bundle of remembrance at the end of each week.

How can we forget? But we do.


After years of practicing this discipline of gratitude, I have learned to thank God even for the tough things. Looking back, my growth as a person and as a Christian is proportional to my suffering. I wish that weren’t true, but it is. If Jesus struggled, so will we. We are to count it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its result that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4).

I know your life is hard too.


I wish we could have  a cup of coffee and share the crazy way happy and sad mix together in a tangle within each of your days.

It’s mind-boggling.

Every once in a while, however, we get a reprieve.


This was one of those weeks for me.

First one in years.

I was happy, not just choosing to be joyful.



So since it’s Sunday morning, I am going to let you see my gratitude list this week, the kind of list that happens once in a decade.

  • My parents visited. (I miss them. They are the only parents I have.)
  • A speaking event that I participated in went well. (I had fun with students and God gave me much-needed mental clarity.)
  • Some bills were paid that have been hanging over my head. (Felt so good to check them off the list as done. Paid by the grace of God.)
  • My son went on a fifth grade trip and pictures sent by chaperons from the trip showed him happy. (I stared at the pictures and loved him.)
  • Parenting college athletes is hard work, but this week there has been some happy in our soccer. (Proud of my girls. Tough and sweet.)
  • I hosted a Bible Study in my home with a great group of ladies. (I am getting to know a new group of women and am enjoying them so much.)
  • My neighbor checks in on my puppy each day for some play time. (What would I do without her? She’s a neighbor in the good old-fashioned kind of way.)
  • I finished week five of an eight-week course on-line. (I had to quit this course five years ago because it was too difficult. This time I am making it. I have learned.)
  • Teaching was fun this week. I laughed more with my students than I ever have. (My students would be shocked to know how much I like them.)
  • A child we do respite care for in the foster care system may now be headed toward a forever home. (God, take care of this little guy.)
  • My schedule for spring 2016 was decided. (There is room in my schedule to participate in women’s ministry at my church for the first time ever…finally!)

It’s been a long time since I had a week like this. It’s been a break in the storm.

I have always told my kids that life is hard, so when a good wave comes along, enjoy it!

GPC Iverson

Tonight a lunar eclipse will coincide with a supermoon at 10:11 p.m. EST. The moon will appear up to 14 percent larger because of its close proximity to earth. Known as a blood moon, the moon will pass behind the Earth into its shadow, resulting in a red tint across its surface. The eclipse will take 72 minutes.

This double phenomenon won’t occur again until 2033.

We all look at the same moon from each of our vantage points on the globe. When I was in the Philippines and China at age 19 it comforted me to look at the moon and know my parents and friends were seeing the same during their night hours. As I basked in moonlight, I would pray for them.

Please join me as we enjoy God’s grandeur. Let’s lift our eyes above our circumstances tonight and meet at the moon.

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Tonight I will pray for you, my blog readers, and all who are touched by Oaks Ministries.

I am grateful for each one of you.

Be blessed.

© 2015 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved

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Planting and Watering

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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