The Priority of Gratitude

On November 13th, our daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The moment she received that phone call, our three busy lives came to a screeching halt. Since she lives at home with us, my husband and I went into immediate quarantine, while she began 10 days of isolation in her bedroom.

We are grateful that our daughter’s illness was relatively mild and did not require medical intervention or hospitalization. I am praising God that my husband and I tested negative, and remained symptom-free throughout our quarantine which ended on Thanksgiving Day. We are slowly getting back to some semblance of “normal”.

Giving Thanks

Our family is not unique. At any given time I’m sure you know a family that is quarantined. And if you have not lost a loved one to the pandemic, you probably know someone who has. The isolation and separation are painful as well. My mom is in a nursing home 30 minutes away, yet I have been unable to see her since last February.

When this pandemic hits so close to home,  you learn to appreciate the people we often take for granted.

Thanksgiving was a time to reflect on what matters most:

  • Friends, Neighbors and Relatives
    During our time in quarantine, we were called, emailed and texted daily by so many people who were concerned about us. They offered to shop or run errands, and one neighbor delivered a plate of warm cookies to our doorstep.
  • Church Family
    In the early days after our daughter’s diagnosis, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were worried, not just about her, but about our own health. During those 14 days away from our faith community, we were covered by prayers, and we felt every one of them. We knew we were never alone.

Then there are the “extras” in life that we seldom think about as we use them day-to-day:

  • Internet Connection
    Many of us adapted to the challenges of working from home last winter and early spring. I am grateful that I was able to connect to my church and still fulfil my duties as Office Manager remotely. Thanks to a reliable internet connection, I sent emails, updated our website and social media, and uploaded videos for Sunday worship.
  • Online Shopping
    For two weeks, I had to forgo my Sunday afternoon ritual of shopping at Wegman’s. (Yes, I actually enjoy grocery shopping.) It’s not quite the same, but I was able to load my virtual shopping cart using their app on my phone. Two days later I arrived at the curbside pickup, popped my trunk and received my order without leaving my car.  Technology is truly amazing!
Blessings in Abundance

My family is blessed beyond measure, and giving gratitude has become a top priority.

Our daughter is mostly recovered. Her symptoms were relatively mild and her company paid for the time she needed to isolate. She still tires easily and has occasional headaches, but she was able to taste all her favorite dishes at the Thanksgiving table. (Losing her sense of taste and smell was the first indication of her illness.)

Tomorrow I will return to my office in person. It’s a special time for our church as we enter Advent season, and we also anticipate the arrival of our new pastor. And as today is the first Sunday of Advent, we lit the Candle of Hope during worship. We take shelter in the hope of the Christmas season, and we anticipate the birth of our Savior who brings light to a broken world.

Oh, Joy!

How is your “Stress-O-Meter” reading this week? With Christmas just 10 days away, it may be reaching the critical levels on the gauge.

Considering our long lists of errands, holiday shopping, baking and wrapping, joy may be the last thing we are experiencing during the holiday season.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if simply flipping the calendar to December brought an abundance of joy into our homes? Or perhaps we could simply order a case of joy online. Then it would show up on our doorstep in a smiling cardboard box the next day. Better yet, subscribe and save so you will never run out again!

Where Joy Lives

I think we often confuse joy with happiness. Joy is a constant state of being, whereas happiness is haphazard and fleeting. Happiness often depends on someone, or some thing to make us happy. And when life fails to meet our expectations, happiness goes right out the window.

Happiness lives in the mind.

Joyfulness dwells in the heart.

Joy is a precious feeling that is carried through the highs and lows of daily living. It does not depend on outside influences to thrive or grow. It is an abiding and fulfilling joy, that unlike happiness, won’t be here today and gone tomorrow.

This time of year, I often think of the Christmas angel who appeared to the shepherds, watching their flocks.

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” – Luke‬ ‭2:10‬

The angel was sharing the Good News of the babe in the manger, the greatest joy ever known!

As we enter the final days of Christmas preparations, try not to become overwhelmed by that to-do list. Remember to capture the joy of the small, quiet moments each day, and treasure them in your heart.