Posts Tagged gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

Christmas 2015 – Raven, Christopher, Carol, Suzanne, Joel, Mitch, Michael, Colin, Nancy, Christina

According to Cicero, “Gratitude is the greatest virtue and the parent all other virtues.” Gratitude is my word for the year and I hope it is my attitude for the year. There are so many things for which I am so grateful. I am grateful for my larger family, but I am especially grateful for my children and my sister. J am grateful for my friends. We have not been able to get together much during the pandemic, but that does not diminish their importance to me. I am grateful for my home and all the wonderful memories it holds.  I am grateful for my church and all the relationships that it represents. Our Sunday school class is exceptional.

I am grateful for my country. I am a proud American. I am patriotic. We are not perfect as a nation but we are moving in the right direction. I am grateful for my city and state. I owe a great debt to the public schools, to Mars Hill College, Furman University, the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University and Lander University. I am grateful for my home town and all the wonderful people there who helped me grow. I am grateful to Northside Baptist Church and all those wonderful people who encouraged me. I am grateful to the Board of Directors of the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center. They not only gave me a job, they gave me a life.

As I start a new year I am mindful of the two great loves of my life. Liz, Suzanne and Michael’s mother, stretched me in every way possible. She took a chance on me when only love could have made that possible. Carol rescued me from hell after Liz died. She brought joy and adventure to a tortured soul. I grieve that they went on without me, but I am grateful that I had them for as long as I did. They brought love, beauty, challenge and comfort into my life.

I am simply grateful for life and all that entails. I live in a beautiful city, I have wonderful neighbors. I have books, music, an inquisitive mind, and a restless spirit. When I look at my grandchildren, I am confident of the future. I am an incurable optimist. The world will not end today because it is already tomorrow someplace else. I have a faith that sustains me. “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

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Blessings – Karen Rast*

This Thanksgiving we gathered  in our living room with family.
Communicating, catching up with how each one was doing and what had been going on in her or his  life.
Words were tossed back and forth. One said, I remember when I was younger our family lived across the street, we had fun going to one another’s homes for tea.
Then the topic of church. The importance of a church that reaches out to people showing love and gratitude . These two words, love and gratitude seem to stick in the mind.
As a young child,  my sisters Vickie, Carol and I spent a weekend at Aunt Velma’s.
We always went to church with her. It was Thanksgiving.
Our Aunt was a great example of love and gratitude. She was very busy the day before Thanksgiving, preparing dinner the day before. She was famous for her apple pie and blackberry pie. She was an amazing woman!
That Thanksgiving she invited my parents to come and gather around her dinning room table.
There was talk and laughter and soon my sisters and I were dismissed to play outside.
The yard was large with plenty of space to run and play. We loved  playing  a game of tag, running around the  side of the house .  There were branches and sticks to play with and then break them to throw  in the large barrel for burning.
Soon it was time to pack our belongings to go home. The most important thing I remembered  to pack was love and gratitude.
Have you remembered to pack up love and gratitude?

*Karen Rast is my late wife Carol’s sister.

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A Unique Approach to Passing the Peace – Madison Avenue Baptist Church

Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City where Rev. Susan Sparks is the senior minister has a unique method for Passing the Peace or extending the Right Hand of Christian Fellowship during this pandemic. Because worshipers are scattered around the world and attending by smartphones or computer screens exercising social distancing, they are unable to touch each other. Rev. Sparks suggests that each listener reach out to at least three other people during the forthcoming week.

You can call, text or write each of your recipients. Next to face to face conversations hand written notes are the most personal and are most deeply appreciated. It is a way of staying in touch. It is a way to assure others that we have not forgotten them, that even in a pandemic they are important. Several years ago, I suggested that we could stretch the 12 days of Christmas over the entire year by choosing a date in each month and surprising a person with an unexpected greeting or small gift. Actually I like Susan’s idea better because you will reach more people. We are social beings and we need human contact.

Thursday of each week is Thankful Thursday. I ask this question on Linkedin.com. ‘Who are you thankful for today?” I then suggest that you let that person know of your gratitude. Thankful Thursday offers another opportunity to reach out, but now you are reaching out at least once each week. The purpose of all of these ideas is to stay in touch with others, especially those who have no family members nearby. You do not need to be a member of any religious or secular group to join in. Just do it because it makes you feel good.

Because people have time on their hands during this pandemic, I have heard from friends that I have not been in contact with for years. It is fun to catch up on what has happened in their lives. We all have such good intentions, but now we have the opportunity and the time to follow through and actually do those things we intended to do. Now we have the time.

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Why gratitude may be the best gift under the tree this year* – Jeff Brumley

If you’re reading this story on the new laptop or tablet or phone you just got for Christmas, be thankful.

But don’t forget also to be grateful, which, many spiritual leaders say, is not necessarily the same thing.

“We are taught repeatedly to be grateful when we have material gain, so it should come as no surprise that we wake up one day thinking people with more material possessions are more grateful,” said Joshua Hearne, abbot and director of Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional Christian community devoted to hospitality, prayer and grassroots community development in Danville, Va.

“Our culture has taught us that gratitude is a bland cheerfulness that is all too often connected with financial security,” he said.

Rather, gratitude is a spiritual practice that, like other disciplines, requires daily attention. And its focus is on a growing awareness and experience of grace that may or may not be inspired by material blessings.

“In our experience, gratitude multiplies,” said Hearne, who serves as field personnel for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Those who cultivate gratitude, he added, “will not only be grateful for the thing itself, but they’ll be grateful for their own gratitude.”

Scarlette Jasper has seen that phenomenon firsthand.

Jasper is director of Olive Branch Ministries, which serves the homeless population, working poor and those experiencing medical crises, financial devastation and domestic violence in a 10-county area around Somerset, Ky.

The holidays always add a level of financial and emotional stress for most of the clients her ministry serves. It’s especially tough when children are involved.

“I had one call me last week saying the kids are asking ‘are we getting a tree?’” said Jasper, who also serves as CBF field personnel.

Likewise, there are more calls for help providing gifts and food.

“You just see the need increase,” she said.

But the gratitude also increases — even among the poorest people Jasper encounters.

Scarlette Jasper

“The families I work for are grateful for … the littlest things I do to brighten their day.”

It’s especially true for those struggling through medical challenges. People sitting with very ill or dying loved ones seem to be able to pull from a deep well of thanks for even the tiniest of moments of togetherness.

“They don’t have huge expectations,” Jasper said. “They are just appreciative … for the time they have together.”

Hearne said it isn’t necessary to feel sorry for people facing such challenges at Christmas. Doing so reveals a disturbing theology.

“This time of year it’s common to talk about how blessed we are and how sorry we feel for those who are doing without, assuming that material wealth is a mark of God’s favor or the value of a person,” he said.

Those who simultaneously experience poverty and gratitude, likewise, are not doing so despite their circumstances, Hearne said.

“It has little to do with their poverty. They just choose to practice gratitude.

*I posted this two years ago, but it is so good I decided to post it again.

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