February 28, 2011


Last night before I turned out the light to go to sleep I jotted down a few items in my gratitude journal.  After pulling the soft yellow blanket that I've had since I was a kid clear under my chin, I stared at the ceiling and talked to God.  "What do we do Lord when we don't feel grateful - when we feel like we are going through the motions, filling in the blank lines on a page?  What do we do when the ugly reality of ingratitude creeps in?  What do we do when the pain of our loved ones, the unrealized dreams in our heart, grand sickness, and unloving people make the little graces seem so very, very tiny?  What do I do when I want to say, 'Yeah Lord, I know I have a bed, a roof over my head, and a job, big deal.'?" 

The ugliness of the conversation was astonishing to me, but not to God.  I made an agreement with God recently that I would be honest, brutally honest with him about all that is within me.  He knows it's there anyway, so why not talk about it and let him sort it out for me.   He always does.

The Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows smiled, and in his gentle way reminded me that thankfulness, although not listed as a fruit of the spirit, is just like them in that it is not an emotion and it is not a feeling.  It comes when my heart, soul, strength, and mind intertwine with his because of who he is, not because of what he does or doesn't do. It is a constant commitment to do and be Jesus in spite of the feelings and emotions that often well up inside of me.  Feelings are indicators of how my behavior might play out, but they are not predictors.  I can change the course of my feelings when I recognize how fleeting they are and how permanent he is.

I smiled back at God, kissed my husband good night, and thought of the treasure trove of graces I have stored up from the Giver of every good and perfect gift.  I am very, very thankful for a God who understands my ugly human thoughts, loves me anyway, and sheds his light in those shadowy places.

So today, I continue with my gratitutde list . . .

716.  The privilege of comforting my mother

717.  My parents, and all of us who believe, will get new bodies in heaven.

718.  The warm glow of the light bulb under dark red lamp shades in my office

719.  Licorice jelly beans for Dad

720.  Orange slices for Mom

721.  My vintage hot pink Samsonite brief case where I keep my hot pink laptop.

722.  My hot pink laptop

723.  Pink Bliss body butter

724.  An invite to a birthday party

725.  Lunch out of the office

726.  Wearing sandals for the first time in months

727.  Old people - wise, sweet, exasperating, lonely, and in need of my help.

728.  Teal blue

729.  The maintenance warning signals on my dashboard

730.  Birds balancing on a wire.

731.  Fine lines around my eyes caused by smiles, laughter, squinting in the sunlight, and tears

732.  The way the sunlight filters through the bald trees of winter

733.  The way the bald trees stand out against a winter sky

734.  Sun rays pouring out from behind a darkened rain cloud

735.  Washing the wound on Mom's arm and bandaging it.  How many of my wounds has she mended?

736.  Chocolate chips right out of the bag

737.  Watching my puppy eat a clementine

738.  Finding out there's nothing wrong with my puppy - he's just getting old

739.  The panting of my puppy as warmer weather moves in

740.  The sound of the wooden blinds clacking against the open window as the breeze blows in.


  1. Stephani,
    I appreciate your honesty. Sometimes I think I should write an "ungratitude" list just to shock myself at my own thoughts. So thankful for God's grace...

    Chocolate chips right out of the bag. Yes. :-)

  2. This was a wonderful list, Stephani...much to ponder...

    Hope you're having a great day. I'm praying for you, bloggy friend!

  3. Visiting from Ann's page and deeply enjoyed your beautiful, honest post!

    Also enjoyed your beautiful hot pink Samsonite!!!

  4. What a beautiful post and I love the picture of your Dad and Mom. Just precious!

    Wishing for you a beautiful week!

  5. He knows our frame, Stephani. I join you in praise of the Lord whose love for us will not wane.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Hopefully, peace and joy accompany you this week.

  6. You are not alone...only more honest than the rest of us. I love the picture of your folks...I think you look like your mom.

  7. Stephani, your list made me smile the whole way through! It feels like we must have had a nice talk lately, because so many of these are echos in my life. I find this all sweetly odd! #717 - Hope is right in the middle of that one! Cannot WAIT for that. That photo of your parents...oh your mom is beautiful! You look so much like her! My laptop is hot pink too. I mentioned my thanks about open-toed shoes this week too; teal blue is my favorite second only to olive green; the maintenance signal is alive and kicking on my dash right now too; been battling smile and laugh lines with a new moisturizer lately, but honestly, I don't mind them that much. Glad they are smile lines and not frown ones! I ate chocolate chips out of the bag on Saturday. And one of my favorite sounds in silence is that of the wind blowing through the windows and blinds. I know this was your list, but weird. Still, after all my rambling, the picture of your parents is the BEST. Thank you for sharing and making me smile so big this night.
    Blessings on you!

  8. And what I meant to mention FIRST, but got carried away about your list is the "realness" of your post. Love: "Feelings are indicators of how my behavior might play out, but they are not predictors." Amen. And this I need to be reminded of during the middle of some turbulent days of late. Emotions are shallow...HE is deep. Thank you for this reminder!

  9. I love your gratitude list,
    especially # 76

    I am thankful for the privilege of calling my mom twice a week. We live too far to visit regularly.
    I cherish hearing her voice.

  10. Beautiful list, Stephani. I love chocolate chips right out of the bag, too, and a hot pink laptop...I'll try not to covet!

    Is that a picture of your parents? It just brought tears to my eyes. Oh, how blessed you are to be so close to them to be able to care for them. I know the weariness must set in, but I know you're creating precious memories you'll never regret. I'd love to have that privilege with my own parents.

    Much love to you and many hugs!


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