BY MARY GEISEN

My eyes complete a three-hundred-sixty-degree sweep of my surroundings. There is beauty in every direction. The horizon reveals endless water and on the other side, a strip of sand stands guard as the water inches its way toward it. Green vegetation rises among the dunes while woven bits of color provide a feast for the eyes. A sweet breeze cools my hot sun-kissed shoulders and words of gratitude fall easily from my lips.

Days like this feel easy. Breathing comes naturally and anxious thoughts feel like a distant memory. I choke up at the gifts laid before me on this day. God’s gracious heart seems like more than I deserve. And in that moment I go “there” in my mind. The thought of why I am undeserving of abundant love, grace, and hope.

I wish I could tell you that every morning when I wake up, I begin the day with gratitude. That as I stretch, yawn, and unroll the kinks from my body, I see nothing but the goodness of God within my reach. Instead, some days I remember my losses, what ifs, and how I didn’t perform the task as well as I could have believed in the ode to perfection. My mind shuffles away from giving thanks and becomes cluttered with everything else.

It’s easy to allow the remnants of loss to fill the space where gratitude should reign. The physical loss of loved ones, a son or daughter who has left the fold, a job that is no longer yours, or dreams that were within reach and then drifted away. There are days I wake up and reevaluate over and over why the task wasn’t completed or how I could have done it better. My mind becomes a minefield of could have, would have, and should have and if I don’t tread lightly, it will all blow up in my face.

The gift in our every day is how the grace of God never runs out. Just when gratitude seems far from my thoughts, God provides glimpses of His beauty that take my breath away, just as He did for me several weeks ago. Everywhere I turned, another example of beauty was in sight and praise was on my lips. Somedays are just plain hard, but taking time to say “thank you” even for the hard opens up a way for God’s goodness to replace the messy.

I need to relearn this lesson multiple times, but find it is worth the time to rediscover the grace that is mine to receive again. Gratitude is a perspective-changer, soul-restorer, and revealer of lies in opening our eyes to the One who sees and knows the innermost parts of our hearts.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT  My goal each morning is to wake up and take a minute to thank God for the gift of a new day. There are days and weeks where this is second nature, and then I find myself falling into the habit of forgetting that I am here because God provided the new day. Still, I push on because I know the power of gratitude.  Today, begin your day in praise and gratitude. Even just a simple “thank you” will take two seconds, and once uttered, it will leave you feeling more centered.

Psalm 9:1 provides a set of simple words that we can pray as we begin the day.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Will you join me in saying the words above in an act of gratitude that God graced us with a new day? They say it takes twenty-one days for a habit to form and if we are intentional in starting and taking it day by day, I imagine we will surprise ourselves at how easy it is to let gratitude become our perspective-changer.

PRAYER  Heavenly Father – Thank you for giving me the grace to start again when I forget that you provide all I need. Permit me to find opportunities to thank you for each minute of the day as well as the unexpected details you put in my path as a reminder of your goodness. May I begin my day in gratitude as I focus on all I have and not all I feel I still need. I love you and praise you! Amen.

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