What a capsized canoe taught me about gratitude (and why I won’t stop talking about it)



10 years ago, if you had asked me what the theme of my life was, I would’ve said survival. With three children under the age of three, multiple ministry moves, 17 different houses, struggling to make ends meet and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was all about survival.


Of course, by God’s grace I did survive but I wanted to do more than just survive. In my mind, survival looked like hanging onto a rope, dangling over an abyss and not letting go. I preferred to climb that rope and end up on top of the mountain enjoying the view. Gratitude was the key that took me from surviving to thriving.


Gratitude gradually became my life’s theme


I write about gratitude a LOT. So why am I writing about this again, you ask?


I guess because I keep thinking about the Bible verse, “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light’ and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops.” Matt 10:27.

Yeah, I know that’s a little out of context, but this blog? It’s my housetop and this former woe-is-me-woman can’t help but shout, “Look what the Lord has done! He healed my body he touched my mind, he saved me just in time!”

Literally. Just last week, in fact.

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The art of living in never before times

There’s a lot of advice buzzing around the internet about how to navigate this covid 19 crisis. As a writer, I’ve been encouraged that this is my time, the perfect opportunity to pour forth to the world all of my hard-earned wisdom. To that, I say:


Listen, friends… you already know what to do. You were born for this, although you might just now be realizing that.

The question is, will you accept the challenge? Because, like I always say, you have a choice.

But you already know that, too. Soooo… what should we talk about?

As much as I really. don’t. want. to write about this present crisis, (because who needs to read one more list or opinion?) NOT talking about it feels like avoiding the elephant in the room. Since we can’t avoid the elephant, let’s just feed him a handful of peanuts and hopefully keep him distracted for a few minutes, while I share a few random things I’ve been thinking about.

Here they are, do with them what you will, and don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards.

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Seeing is Believing

A life lesson was not what I was expecting that day.


It was a chilly morning in late winter and I was bundled up, walking in the woods near my parent’s home. Not a hint of spring anywhere. Bleak, really. A tree had fallen, and it made the perfect spot to stop and be alone with my thoughts.

That’s when I heard His voice:

“I am teaching you to see.”

My first thought was, “See what?”

At that time, I had just started wearing reading glasses but overall, I thought my vision was pretty good!

Of course, that wasn’t at all what He was getting at. He was talking about my propensity to always see things as bleak, just as I had perceived the woods that morning; He was talking about my focus.


See the bleakness of the woods


Joyful Journey

It was the beginning of a joyful journey that continues to this day, a journey of praying to have His eyes to see and behold beauty in the small, the mundane, and the common. To search for treasure and to pay attention.

I don’t know why I was so blind, oblivious to what was staring me in the face: God is everywhere, so why should everything always look so bleak to me?

My husband didn’t struggle with this. When we took a walk together, I fixed my gaze straight ahead, the next block, the next street. He looked down. Or up.

Seek and ye shall find, it says, and he found all sorts of things. He delighted in discovering tiny insects in the cracks of the sidewalk or birds that I would never have noticed, hidden high in the trees. He was present and so he saw.

My dear friend, Janie is also a “see-er,” (I call her Magpie) always bringing home treasures from her walks. Granted, they may or may not have been special to others, but she saw hidden beauty and meaning in each object.


“Now I will teach you to see,” He said.


And He did. But I’m a slow learner.

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When counting it all joy feels a little like death

I received a message recently from someone who reads my nightly gratitude post, “Counting it ALL Joy” on Facebook. Here’s what it said: “Your Counting it ALL Joy is killing me.”

I’d been posting a lot of things about my new little granddaughter including an adorable picture of her in her hedge hog Halloween outfit, so I thought she meant it in a nice way – killing her with joy. But then I read further.

“ …we face issues that do not have a shred of joy in them. I stand here in front of your words and beg my Father to help me, in faith, believe it and to live it. This formidable mountain casts a deep shadow.”

Oh my heart. She’d been reading not just the gratitude posts but also the blog series on climbing the mountains in our lives. Her mountain was so vast the shadow was blocking out every bit of light. All I could do was empathize because I’ve been there. That’s how this whole practice started—when I was drowning in the depths of my own darkness. It’s one thing to count your blessings when you can look out your rustic farmhouse window, see the sun rise and the light fall on that patch of glorious sunflowers you planted last spring. I looked out the window and all I could see was the dumpster. I get it.

How do you count it all joy when you’re not joyful?

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Depression and How I Dismantled It

“The opposite of depression isn’t happiness; it’s vitality.” 

the opposite of depression isn't happiness, it's vitaity

Depression used to drain the life out of me. 

Four years ago, on May 12, 2014, my life radically changed, but the seeds for that change were sown in January 2013. Here’s a partial journal entry from that day:

  • Decimating mountains of fear
  • Obliterating depression
  • Pulverizing despair
  • Dismantling lack
  • Annihilating anxiety
  • Building hope muscles
  • Training my mind to think positive thoughts
  • Rebuking the victim mentality
  • Shaking off discouragement
  • Stomping on old habits
  • Parting ways with the pity party
  • Stepping out into the future.
  • Lack is not part of my vocabulary
  • Stressed is not in my thesaurus
  • Blessed is how I describe myself

I am rich: rich in favor, finances, in spiritual wisdom, in relationships, in all my endeavors.


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