December 18, 2012

How Gratitude changed my life

Let me just adjust my soapbox here...

Okay, ready?

Last year at this time I was feeling lower than low. Our beautiful home that I loved so much was on the market as a short sale, the company that Kendrick worked for changed it's pay structure for loan officers so he was no longer bringing in any salary and was strictly on commission and none of his loans were closing, we had a mountain of debt hanging over us from having to live off credit cards after major medical "experiences" and we had just lost out on the house we were so excited to rent. I lived my life on trying to find Kendrick a new job. I couldn't shower, I couldn't cook, I wasn't sleeping. I had stopped doing the things I knew I should have been doing. I was barely functioning and was just getting by so as not to alarm my kids during the Holidays. It was rough.

Then one day I heard a lesson in Relief Society about Gratitude. The girl that taught it wasn't actually a RS teacher but had been asked to share her experience with gratitude with the rest of us. Her trials were sort of similar to mine. Except that she had handled them with way more grace than I was handling mine. And then it dawned on me: I could CHANGE the way I handled our trials. They did not have to get the best of me. I just needed to change my perspective and find something good to focus on in the midst of all the tough stuff. So I challenged myself to keep a year long Gratitude journal. Each day for 365 days I wrote down 3 things that I was grateful for. And to "up the anti" I posted those things on my old blog. Knowing that I had people reading my gratitude posts made me put more thought into them. And knowing that I had people rooting for me to succeed, helped encourage me to keep going.

I am happy to say that those 365 days are now over. I did it! I managed to list 3 things I was grateful for every day. Sometimes it was really hard-whether out of laziness or because my heart was breaking, I still tried to find things to be grateful for. And can I tell you-2012 will go down as one of the best years of my life! But nothing was easier in 2012. We moved, we had to start over from scratch financially, Kendrick lost a job, I lost several friends, we struggled with some health stuff on Tay's part, there was family drama and money was tighter than ever. But I had a different perspective through all of it. I was living my life with gratitude and my heart was softened.

I honestly believe that if I hadn't been doing gratitude posts this year, we would not be where we are today. So much of how I perceive, react and handle things affects my family. And this year I chose to see things differently, to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to enter situations that made me nervous full of hope and optimism. I chose to remain positive and upbeat and lean on the power of prayer when we were faced with trials. I chose to let the little things go and focus only on what really mattered in the long run. And my family thrived because of it. If ever you women feel useless and under appreciated as wives and mothers-remember that the way YOU handle your family's trials can sometimes make or break your family. That's a lot of power in our hands! And it's not very fair when you think about it. But I believe it's true, because more often than not it's on us women to set the tone and invite the spirit into our home. In the midst of  cooking, laundry, school work, cleaning, shopping, paying bills and being a good wife, mom, neighbor, daughter, sister and friend it sometimes feels like too much for us to have to bring peace and joy into our homes too! But I promise you, it is so easy to do when you have a heart full of gratitude. When you focus on all you have and are mindful of where it all comes from (The Lord) then you start to live your life in a way that is pleasing to him. And when you live in a way that is pleasing to Him the blessings start to pour down on you. The biggest blessing is when you become more aware of His presence in your life and you know that you have Him on your side. When you know that you have God on your side, it's pretty hard to stay down!

I am forever grateful for 2012 and what it taught me. I look forward to 2013 with open arms, an open mind and an open heart. There really is so much good in life and so much to be grateful for. I'm glad I finally chose to see it!