The Thankful Life

The Happiness Secret

Why are so many people unhappy?

I don’t know the secret to happiness, and I have yet to meet anyone who does. What I do know is that gratitude makes a difference. Being thankful, even for the smallest blessings, can change the way we look at life.

As I celebrate another birthday this week, I can look back at the past year and remember it in two ways. I could focus on the bad things that happened, or I could celebrate and give thanks for the joys instead.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians‬ ‭4:12-13‬

Happiness vs. Contentment

The Apostle Paul had certainly seen his share of adversity prior to writing to the believers in Philippi. But throughout his trials and imprisonment, he knew that his brothers and sisters in Christ loved him. They were praying for him. Paul also knew that Jesus provided him with the strength to persevere. Paul found contentment regardless of his circumstances.

My brother and I celebrate our TWO January birthdays with Mom

I may not be happy with everything life dishes out, but I am learning that contentment is more precious.

I sometimes feel sad that my mom no longer remembers who I am. It’s frustrating that she remembers her granddaughter’s name, and my brother’s name, but not mine. Yet I know beyond a doubt that she loves me. Her face lights up when she sees me, and she loves being with her family. I am content sharing her joy.

Although dementia has taken over my mom’s life, I am still her daughter. In this role, I am content to be her cheerleader. I can help find the word she is seeking, or guide her next steps with her walker. These may seem like small gestures, but they can make a world of difference to someone in need. Contentment has helped me to be more patient, more thoughtful, and even more creative in the ways I communicate with her. This has made a difference in my everyday life.

Sunday thought for the day: Sometimes happiness is found when we finally relinquish control of a situation, and give it over to God.  Why? Because God loves us. He always has a very specific plan and purpose in mind. And so, we can be thankful that life’s dilemmas are no longer our problems to figure out. 

Isn’t that a happy thought? 😊

 

 

The Gift of Friendship

Random Reminders

We’ve all lost someone we love. Family. Friends. Pets. And along with each loss there will always be random reminders. Songs, sayings, or objects pop up now and then to call attention to their absence.

For me, today’s random reminder was a Chiquita Banana sticker.

Just before Christmas I lost a dear friend. He was a senior member of our church, and someone I admired for his ability to always make me smile.

Calvin came by the church every week to help prepare the sanctuary for Sunday worship. He always stopped by my office for a chat and a snack, and now I am missing my friend.

After Calvin passed away, I learned that at one time he collected Chiquita Banana stickers. He stuck them on the side of a cabinet door in his kitchen — dozens of them! It was a quirky memory that made me laugh. Now I will have a yet another reminder of that special friendship whenever I peel a banana.

Friends are Gifts from God

When I was asked to speak at Calvin’s memorial service, that was a first for me. Although it was an emotional day, I managed to share my thoughts and hold my emotions in check. I imagined Calvin sitting in the congregation, and that did the trick. He was an amazing storyteller, and I tried to recall some of his finest moments. This was my closing paragraph:

I am always amazed by the wonderful people that the Lord continues to place in my path here at this little church, and I am so grateful that Calvin was one of them. His friendship has been one of God’s many blessings in my life and I will treasure it always.

In addition to the friends I have made through my church, my life has been enriched by the friendships I have made from childhood until present day. Yes, I’ve lost touch with some of them, but I still carry their memories and stories in my heart. They are part of who I am. There are other friends who have become as close to me as my own family members. My life would feel incomplete without them.

And I have room for many more.

In Loving Memory
Calvin James McGehee, Jr.

August 3, 1936 — December 22, 2018