Practical Gratitude

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I'm learning to use the manual settings on my camera, now that I have a new lens to play with. Sometimes, I forget that I last used the camera inside, at night, and then when I go to use it out in the bright sunlight, it's set totally wrong for that moment.

Just like changing just a couple of settings on my camera takes the washed-out, too-bright photo above, and captures the scene properly, the way it's meant to be seen, so does changing a couple of settings on my heart take it from one of discontent, to one of momentary contentment.

When the settings are off, I miss out on so much beauty, so much clarity.

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As I raise my children, I don't want to miss the beauty in the everyday; mashed in-between cheerios in the carpet, disobedient hearts, and teething cries, are glimpses of beauty that I can be thankful for if I choose to recognize them.

Today I've been really trying to focus on practical gratitude. I stumbled across anΒ amazing parenting manifesto recently and I read it daily in hopes I can make my mothering more and more reflect it, and therefore, more and more reflect what my Savior is calling to me to as a mother. One of the points says:

Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be intervention with verbal thanks. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!

and another says,

Today, I will transfigure all things into beauty, and I will refuse to see anything else.

Here are a few of the moments when I remembered to intentionally focus on gratitude today...

When little ones awoke before my alarm (which I set in order to start my day with the Lord before they wake), on a day when I'm on my own in the morning, and on a day when I stayed up a bit too late the night before, I chose to be thankful for the little treasures that they who I wanted for so long are here, part of my family and my daily responsibility.

When I had to deal with a huge, messy diaper, I chose to be thankful that my little guy gets enough food and doesn't have digestive issues.

When I thought about the condo we looked at on Monday night that seemed perfect for our growing family, that turned out to be rented out before we could even apply, I chose to be thankful for our nice landlord, affordable rent, and amazing neighbors (seriously, I love our neighbors).

When I picked up Gigi from preschool and her teacher gave me a sub-par report on her behavior, I chose to be thankful that she has such a loving teacher, who constantly gives her positive reinforcement and encouragement, but also lovingly teaches her and enforces rules that I appreciate, when necessary.

When I felt "cold," I chose to be thankful that I could step out into the sun, and walk next door to see my sweet neighbor, and not have to ice-skate my way over there.

When I thought about the medical bills (due to seriously lacking maternity coverage) in our future, just as we begin to see the light of paying off our adoption in the near future, I chose to be thankful beyond belief that the Lord would bless us with another gift to steward in this life and to be a part of our family.

It's amazing what a little practical gratitude, a littleΒ perspective, will do in a stressful situation.

Thank you, Lord, for the gifts, numbers 37-42 in my little counting journey toward a thousand.