Tag Archive | gratitude

Beat the Holiday Blues

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings

When friends come to call

It’s the hap-happiest season of all….”  

 ~Edward Pola and George Wyle

Andy Willams is playing on my iPod this very minute.  I love this song. I love this season. 

The truth, however, is sometimes the holidays are not the most wonderful time of the year. 

The endless schmaltzy movies (which I adore-full disclosure), cheerful music blaring (which I, again, adore) in every store, unrealistic expectations (which I’ve fallen prey to)…there are about six weeks from mid-November to Christmas  that will sweep you away.  Will you be caught up in thanking God for our myriad blessings,  in the glory of our Savior being born, in the fun of the season, or in the frustrations, heartache, and disappointments? 

Okay, let’s stop for a moment. 

Thanksgiving. I know, I know  it’s a loaded word. But isn’t it truly supposed to be a time of being mindfully, intentionally, profoundly grateful? Christmas … another loaded word…. Isn’t it really a time to remember that our Savior was born. He lived. He died. He rose again. Y’all, He lives!!  Ummm, that’s miraculous!!! 

When you look at the essence of the words, of the holidays they’re quite wonderful. We have made them hectic, chaotic, and less than holy. 

So many of my friends are facing a different holiday season this year. A son is serving overseas in a dangerous locale, a man is grieving the death of his beloved wife, a woman is spending her holidays in the hospital, a child is recovering from the loss of his daddy, a  woman is grieving the loss of her marriage–too many are learning to cope with the new normal in their lives. 

There are a few things you can do if you’re struggling this year:  

  1. Remember the holy. Deliberately focus on what the holiday is, not what man has made it. 
  2. Seek God. He is the lover of your soul, your maker, your hope, and your salvation. He is the only One who can soothe your soul. 
  3. Practice gratitude. Yeah, you’ve heard of gratitude journals and you know to make a list of 3-5 things you’re grateful for each evening. There’s a reason you’ve heard of it. It works! 
  4. Help others. Get the focus off of yourself and your pain. Actively seek out ways-big and small-to serve and “love on” others. It really helps. 

God is good. He is here. He loves you and He wants a relationship with you. Thanksgiving and Christmas should remind us of these things.  As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

“In his epistle, James reminds us that this precious gift called life we have been given lasts only about as long as a vapor. Our days on the earth are limited and very precious; we must not waste a moment.” Christine Caine (11/29/15)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6, NKJV



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Give Thanks 

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

 

I remember when Oprah introduced me to the idea of a gratitude journal years ago. Honestly, it felt …weird. It was unnatural, forced, almost fake. And then something wonderful happened. It became easier. It didn’t feel phony. Fast forward a few years…I don’t currently keep a gratitude journal, because I’ve trained myself to notice the blessings. Even better, I’ve trained myself to seek them out. You know what? They’re everywhere! Even on bad days, blessings abound! 

Blessings abound. Clouds, laughter, hugs, compliments, private jokes, children, loved ones, sunshine, short lines, lazy mornings, favorite songs, stargazing, picnics, long walks–blessings abound. 

After years of practicing gratitude I can say I’m a changed woman. Try it. It’s free. It’s life changing. And, y’all, it’s obedience. 

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23 (KJV) 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 (ESV) 

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

As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

Got TWITTER? Tweet with me! @julielclarke

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Don’t Forget a Single Blessing! (Part 2)

You’ve opened the gifts, enjoyed the meal, and you may be bargain shopping, returning unwanted gifts, or contemplating taking down the tree. Whatever your day’s agenda, let’s not forget to bless our Father.

“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)

Blessing God, thanking Him for the many, many blessings in our lives will only improve your life, your health, your relationships. It’s certainly done that-and more-for me.

5. Control your thought life.

Oh. My. Gosh. This may be the most important step of all. Have you read Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind or Battlefield of the Mind devotional? If not, RUN to your bookstore or online site and get both! (See below to order her book.)

As I wrapped up the semester at school I was faced with a challenge. Giving assessments, posting grades, hosting parties, attending meetings …. It never fails that teachers are exhausted at the end of the term. BUT I also had to pack and move into a new classroom. Please understand, I adored my old classroom. I had tons of storage and I’d been quite happy there for about a decade. I loved my “neighbors” in the hall. And I was tired. It would’ve been easy to be upset, to whine and complain endlessly. Although I briefly indulged a time or two, I realized how important it was to NOT go there. I didn’t allow myself to whine about the move because (and this is key) I could not change things. Sooooo, every time I felt tempted to whine, I focused on the good stuff. I would have a NEW classroom. (A new wing had just been built.) I would be with my grade level team for the first time. I would have a view. It allowed me to clean, trash, and donate. As I write, I’ve packed and moved a few things in. The district has extra people helping our precious custodians clean, wax floors, and move our furniture and heaviest boxes. The move is still hanging over my head. I’ll move in New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day–and I’m okay with that. (The old Julie would NOT be okay with it. In fact, she’d gripe about it and ruin her Christmas!) Lesson learned: if you cannot change things, change the way you think about those things.

6. Some people don’t like you. Make your peace with that.

Joyce Meyer says, “Statistics say that 10% of all people won’t like us, so let’s enjoy the 90% who do and stop worrying about the 10% who don’t!” Easier said than done, but I’m getting there. I am done working my tail off to gain the approval of a few and ignoring the precious people God has blessed me with. Again, it boils down to your thought life. Focus on what you DO have instead of what you don’t have. Happiness follows.

7. Give!

What greater joy is there than that giving brings? Whether it’s a hug, smile, a gift of cash, or simply listening–give, and give often.

Have a bLeSsEd 2015!

To order Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/battlefield-of-the-mind-joyce-meyer/1100216246?ean=9780446691093
To learn more about Young Living Oils: https://www.youngliving.org/julielclarke

Don’t Forget a Single Blessing! (Part 1)

“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:1-2 (MSG)

I’m sure you’ve read that practicing gratitude improves our lives. Why not make this a resolution for 2015? Ready, set, GO!

1. Start small.

Blessings come in tiny and huge packages. The key is to actively seek AND thank Him for the myriad blessings He showers on us.

There’s a traffic light on my route that was installed a few years ago. It makes one of my weekly errands so much easier. I’m STILL thankful every single time I go through that intersection. Every. Time.

I’m thankful for everything–from coffee in bed, fluffy cumulus clouds, the laughter of children, and finding a dollar on my walk to hearing “no cancer” when I found a lump in my breast last summer and having a dear friend accept Jesus as her very own Savior. Some people tease me, calling me a Pollyanna, but it’s this deliberate CHOOSING gratitude (choosing joy) that has changed me. It has made my extremely demanding job, the sometimes daily migraines, the scary month with the lump all okay. The thing is-I’m okay because my God is in charge and He loves me.

2. Choose “your people” wisely.

My husband is a wonderful man, but there’s one political issue that gets him going and can turn him into Negative Ned. I finally just told him how hearing about this every time he heard or read a news report was really bringing me down. It took a few times, but now he stops himself. Bonus: he’s avoiding those discussions with others and is more aware of which people and which topics can turn his thoughts and attitudes the wrong way.

I have a sweet coworker who can be incredibly negative. Obviously, this can make me negative if I’m around her too much. What to do? Maybe your spouse or parent or friend is negative. Ugh. Limit your time with them when they’re complaining. Pray for them. If you can, visit with them about how you are trying to stay more positive and how you’d love their help. If they notice the conversation turning to whining they can help you stop and switch directions (and attitudes). Maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a little more aware of their words. More likely than not, you’re going to have to control and limit contact. Some people aren’t going to change or help you keep things positive. If I have to be around someone I know will bring me down, I “pray up” before seeing them and get away from them as soon as possible.

Cultivate relationships with happy, positive, grateful people. You will become what you think about and surround yourself with.

3. Express gratitude to others.

My husband brings me coffee in bed every morning. And every morning I thank him. We thank each other for cooking dinner, washing dishes, checking the mail, taking out the trash. And we mean it! I also make it a habit to thank my students, my coworkers, and my bosses.

My school district offers a little award to employees who go above and beyond. Well, I think all of my coworkers go above and beyond! Every year, I take the time to nominate a dozen or more coworkers. From time to time, I text, email, or write a note to my husband and dearest friends, reminding them of how very important they are to me and why. Look for little ways to express appreciation to family, friends, and coworkers. (Hint: If I don’t have time to write a note or fill out the nomination form, I put it on my calendar.)

I’m pretty verbal, so words matter to me and I express appreciation through written and spoken words, but I have friends who express it differently-through cooking a meal, baking cookies, or running an errand. Discover how you like to give and receive gratitude. And discover how those dearest to you enjoy hearing or seeing or reading your gratitude. Words don’t mean as much to my hubby, but actions and attention do. He feels appreciated when I put my phone down and really listen to him, when I cook, when I do dishes when I run errands with him.

4. Be a good steward.

That lump last summer was scary. I’m choosing to view it as a reminder to take better care of my health. I’m choosing more and more good foods, walking more frequently, going to bed earlier.

It’s so important that we take care of what we have (children, spouses, health, friends, money, jobs, and so on). Be a good parent, spouse, friend, and employee. Don’t take your family or income for granted. Be good to those people in your life. Be an excellent employee. Spend, save, and give wisely.

Part 2 Coming Soon. Be blessed–and be grateful!