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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the Subject of Gratitude...

I feel inspired to share a quote from Andy Andrews' book The Traveler's Gift.  This quote is from the fifth decision for success, the decision to be happy.
     I am the possessor of a grateful spirit. 

     In the past, I have found discouragement in particular situations until I compared the condition of my life to others less fortunate.  Just as a fresh breeze cleans smoke from the air, so a grateful spirit removes the cloud of despair.  It is impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.

     My God has bestowed on me many gifts, and for these I will remember to be grateful.  Too many times I have offered up the prayers of a beggar, always asking for more and forgetting to give thanks.  I do not wish to be seen as a greedy child, unappreciative and disrespectful.  I am grateful for sight and sound and breath.  If ever in my life there is a pouring out of blessings beyond that, then I will be grateful for the miracle of abundance.
We really do have so much to be grateful for!  You woke up today and took in breath.  You have food to eat and water to drink and bathe in.  You have a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in.  You have clothing to wear.  You're reading this, so you obviously have internet access.  Good God!  Do you realize how fortunate you are?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stress 'Tis the Season

My sister wanted me to write for this blog and talk about how grateful I am for things. When she asked me this I couldn't think of anything to write about except for the fact that I am grateful to be alive. However, the tragic and sad aspect of my life can be considered inspirational, but I didn't seem to go over in my head. Then I thought well I could write about my cat. Yes, I am a crazy cat lady and I love my cat dearly. So for a while I couldn't think of anything appropriate to write about! Then it came to me: giving gifts!

I love giving gifts and presents! Now mind receiving them is fun too, but not anywhere as fun as giving them. I will spend hours and hours looking and shopping and picking out several items before I land on the perfect gift for a person. Then I buy it and wrap it in a colorful paper or tidbits as I am poor. Then I start stressing over the present. I start thinking "Will they even like it?" "What if it's the wrong color?" "Is that the model they wanted?" "Do they already have this one, I thought it was the other one?" It is dreadful. I end up hating the whole process.

Then the day comes when you get to give this person the gift. They pick it up while you hold your breath waiting to see if they like it or give the stand by "That's nice." Which really means thanks for the re gift option. Then when they open the gift and they have the best look on their face or they squeal in excitement or hug it to their chest and don't let anyone else see what it is, because they like it so much! That is the best part of my holiday! Bringing other people happiness in such a small thing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking gratitude for granted

There is a fine line between things we take for granted and those we are grateful for. This becomes more apparent as we get older.

For instance, I work with a local youth group in town. In talking with some of these teens, I am shocked at some of the things they take for granted. Things they expect that we as adults might see as a luxury for ourselves. Cell phones, MP3 players, A running vehicle and stylish clothes. These are some of the things teenagers expect and get quite upset when they are denied.

I think back to my own teenage years when I began working at the age of 14 as a mechanic at the Shell gas station in Mojave. I fudged the job application and listed my age as 16 because I really wanted a job. I worked there for several years and earned money to purchase myself a black and white TV for my bedroom. I bought myself a bicycle so I had something to ride to work and back. I eventually bought myself a car.

It looks good in print. In reality, I was not much different than the kids in my youth group. I demanded and received most everything I wanted. I never saved my money. I spent my money on things I felt I deserved. My Mom tried to encourage me to save money, yet I thumbed my nose at her and spent as I pleased. I denied myself nothing.

It is funny how each generation changes. When electricity was invented, only the lucky few had it in their homes. Those who had it were very grateful. Today we let our blood boil if there is an outage. At one time most families had one television set for the whole family to enjoy. Today we expect a television in each room complete with 400 cable channels. Think of it. Most everything we take for granted to today, someone was grateful to have a generation ago.

Shortly after our Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we will be entering the Lenten season. Even if you are not Lutheran or Catholic. I challenge you to give up something you take for granted for the 40 days of Lent. Then see how grateful you are after Easter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My gratefulness

It is difficult for me to write about gratitude when I take so much for granted. The most recent example I can think of is my health.

For many years, 44 to be exact, I have lived a life free of any serious health problems. My blood pressure and cholesterol have always been well within a healthy range. I only take 2 daily prescriptions, both of which I could easily live without. Yet I have always taken my health for granted. My diet would make most wild animals puke. It is nothing for me to eat pizza and donuts in the same meal. I smoked for 24 years before stopping in 2004. Let's not forget my earlier years when I subjected my body to lethal doses of alcohol.

God has a funny way of calling in debts. In October of this year, He decided it was time for a reality check on my health. I fell seriously ill with the H1N1 virus. Yes it was a sucker punch that I could have done without. I can't remember ever feeling that sick in my life. When I felt I could easily over come this dreaded illness, I was treated to round 2: pneumonia in my left lung. Wow! I never saw that one coming. Round 3 would be pneumonia in my right lung as well.

Between October 2nd and October 16th, I quickly learned how much I have taken my health for granted. I was lying in the emergency room on oxygen feeling like I was getting ready to punch out on the time clock of life. My skin was gray and my nails were turning blue. With my daughter sitting at the side of my bed I started playing back all the good things in life I was getting ready to leave behind.

Through prayer and the miracles of health care I was treated and my good health was restored. All the things we take for granted can be taken away in such a short period of time. I am so grateful for even the smallest things in life. Things that I could quickly lose with a simple illness.

I have been blessed far more than I deserve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It's November, and here in the US, Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  A time for gathering with loved ones, feasting, and of course, giving thanks.  And really, we have so much abundance in our lives, what is there not to be grateful for?

I am grateful to be living in a society where abundance is so prevalent, it is often taken for granted.  I'm thankful to have food, good food, and much more food than I really need.  My friend Randy recently noted that "the next time you feel like complaining, remember: Your garbage disposal probably eats better than thirty percent of the people in this world."  I'm grateful to have friends who are positive, encouraging, and supportive.  I'm thankful that my family is close.  I get to see them every week, not just on holidays, and I enjoy spending time with them.  I'm thankful for my mentors, who see greatness in me, even when I have a hard time seeing it myself.  I am so grateful for my freedom, the opportunity I have to make my voice heard, the ability to choose my own destiny.  I'm thankful for the knowledge I have, and my incredible ability to obtain more.  I'm thankful to have a man in my life who loves me, supports me, and encourages me to be the best person I can possibly be.  I'm grateful for all I have, and all I will yet receive.

I asked my friends on Facebook what they are grateful for, and here are some of their answers:

"Running water, electricity, and the ability to think outside the box.. and so much more."

"Vehicles that allow me to commute to a job I love!!!"

"opposable thumbs"

"A comfy bed, [my cat] Pippin, and the fact that for the time being my heater works."

"My beautiful son, my wonderful family and friends, and the opportunity to go back to school instead of remaining forever stagnant in my life."

"The opportunity to associate myself with people who I can honestly say are some of the best friends I have ever known."

"My two best friends, Daniel and Courtney, and also my two new friends Heather and Nick"

So now I ask:  What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is A Joyful Noise?

A Joyful Noise is a place to celebrate life's abundance through music, art, comedy, literature, and any other medium you can think of.  This blog is a part of a greater campaign to encourage, uplift, and inspire people in all walks of life in all parts of the world.  All of life's victories deserve to be celebrated, whether graduating from college or teaching your daughter to tie her shoe, making a million dollars or perfecting your spaghetti sauce recipe.  Everything in your life is important because you made it.

Each month I'll have a topic to think about and comment on.  I also intend to have weekly guest bloggers to give their thoughts on the subject.  (If you would like to be a guest blogger, email me at