Tag Archives: gratitude

Eyes to see.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

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Which begs the question, what do I see?

When I look with the eyes of faith, I can see my life as a love letter from the one who gave it to me.

Version 2

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Version 2

Version 2

Version 2

The key, surely, is to look —

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in order to be able to see.

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Jsg/feb 16

Photo Credits: Josie Gammell, California Feb 2016

 

 

Never underestimate the blessing of an easy fix.

There are many things that are falling apart in my house. Thankfully not me and the kids, but many others.
This week my son pulled open the Tupperware cupboard and it swung drunkenly from its lower hinge. It was unhinged and so was I. Ach. What would I now have to do? Take the door off its hinges, take the door to Home Depot, ask what kind of hinges they have that I could replace mine with, get the right screws, come home and reattach the cupboard.

This doesn’t sound earth shattering I know, but as a single mum it’s just one more bloody thing.

Then a lovely thing happened. In going to take the door off the following day I suddenly thought, “What if it just needs a longer screw to hold it in place?” And – do you know – I was right! What I had envisaged as a couple of hours of laborious life in the material world of door fixings, I was – voila! – sorted.

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I felt as light as air, and I moved on with my now miraculously free day. Well, free in the sense of all the other things I had to get done without fixing the door. Which meant a lot.

It made me think about the ‘easy fix’ and how often I skip by it. Like when you’re delving into your handbag and you pull out the right lipstick first time. What are the odds of that happening?

Or when you ask your ex for something and – instead of argument – you hear, “Sure. I can give you the check this evening.”

Or when your child feels rejected and you come up with something simple that solves their world.

All these are what I call ‘easy fixes’. Freebies if you like.

Like when my son was three years old and decided to potty train himself. Start to finish in ten days. SAY WHAT?!@#$!! That was a divine freebie. No agro, no stress, just happened.

When I think about easy fixes they’re hard to remember. The cupboard only happened this week so it’s fresh in my mind.

Why don’t I remember them? And why don’t I remember the things that didn’t happen and focus only instead on those hard things that did? Why is my scale so balanced toward the hard stuff and so laid back about the every day graces like: My kid’s getting better at math! I got the job! The chicken was on sale! There was a Groupon for the party!

Why do I almost feel like I am “getting away with” anything good that happens? That the good I receive was somehow not intentioned, but (happily for me) slipped through unnoticed? “Oh well, that’s something I don’t need to worry about!” I say as I move on forgetting, to fix my eyes instead on the next problem/obstacle/deficiency.

My thanksgiving is always so pathetically generic: health, kids, home, beauty. I am very grateful but, the truth is, I rarely rest to consider the good.

Yesterday I was driving my kids to school, and the car two behind us collided with a metal trailer attached to a van that failed to make a late left turn. We were forty feet from disaster. I rushed to the desperately shaken 16 year old driver and was glad to help, but did I consider that could have been us? No. It didn’t occur to me, because nothing bad happened to us.

The other month at prayer group, we spent ten minutes silently reflecting on our day. I sat there thinking nothing happened, and then realized that actually I had been happy that day. This didn’t even register until I’d done a laundry list of everything else.

My question to myself had been, “OK, what did I have to overcome today?” Apparently nothing, given my criteria. If I hadn’t been forced to reflect, I wouldn’t have even noticed that actually that day had been one simply to cherish. Nothing bad happened – so what then, it didn’t rate for me? What is up with that?! I am so hardwired for disaster that blessing almost doesn’t seem to count.

We have been having incredible skies in LA this week. We’ve had glorious rain on and off, and the sky has been outdoing itself in majesty.

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It made me realize something: EVERY cloud has a silver lining. Of course it does! You know why? Because the sun was still always behind the clouds, no matter how thick. The sun doesn’t change, the clouds do.

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Why then do I live my life from the perspective of oppressive clouds only with the sun occasionally breaking through – against all odds?

Sometimes there are many clouds, sometimes there are none. But the sun? The sun never changes. What if I were to live in this reality? To know good is never absent, the sun will come out tomorrow if not perhaps later today. Why? Because it is always there.

Last week, a friend in church said to me, “There has never not been a dawn.” Never. Even if it is obscured by bad weather and clouds, it’s still there. It is simply beyond our sight.

I want to live in the awareness that the sun is always shining on me, even when it is obscured by clouds and I cannot see it. That these “easy fixes” come not as a rarity but as a certainty. And they more than tip the scale in the opposite direction.

All “weather” is temporary. God’s love, His truth, His blessings, His favor, His redemption, His grace? These. These are eternal.

What if I were to consider this day within the context of permanent, constant blessing and not difficulty? What if I changed my grading system?

What would my life look like then? What would yours?

jsg/nov 15

The banner over this house.

Gratitude Banner

In the weeks leading up to Christmas I painted banners to give as presents to friends.  This was the one I chose to keep and hang above our hallway.  It is therefore, literally, the banner over our house.

Without Christ, I would not have peace, I would not know three-dimensional, unshakeable joy irrespective of circumstances, and I would not understand that I – along with anyone else who wants – have been (and can continue to be) forgiven.

In fact, without God I would not even have breath, let alone the other amazing gifts of this life and the one to come.

As we end this year and enjoy the cosiness of Christmas and the New one, I want this banner to remain at the forefront of my heart as I enter 2015.  That I would see everything in my life through it.

For I am thankful.  Incredibly, immutably thankful for all that God has given me and continues to give me every single moment of my days.

Happy New Year to all!

Josie

jsg/december14

Is life truly that sexy?

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I often encourage myself and friends with the reality that “much of life just isn’t that sexy.”  At the end of the day, no matter what your hopes, dreams or aspirations, you really do just have to get on with it.  Pay the bills, feed the dog, vacuum the carpet.

Before I continue, you need to understand that by “sexy”, I mean “Brilliant!/Exciting!/Exhilarating!/Mountaintop!/Spectacular!”

Over the weekend, I ooh-ed and ahh-ed along with large portions of the known world over George Clooney’s wedding in Venice.  The romance!  The water taxis!  The impossibly beautiful couture dresses!  The hat!  Those legs!  (Not George’s). Who didn’t sigh at love and companionship so clearly being found – “At last!” – for the most eligible charmer on the planet?

Personally, I thought the wittiest headline was: ‘Internationally Acclaimed Human Rights Lawyer Marries Actor.’  And how true!  Clever girl and gorgeous too, good for her.

And so I sighed looking at all the pictures…  And then returned to the washing up.  And the laundry.  And the puppy chewing another pair of my sandals.  And my trying to open my child’s brain to long multiplication.

And I thought to myself how glorious those amazing moments in one’s own life are.  The big ones, the once-in-a-lifetime ones.

And I thought again that, as fabulous as those moments genuinely are, most of life is not made up of them.  Most of my life is made up of the everyday mundane.  The humdrum.  The common or garden variety of life — it is so easy to take for granted.

Hold your jets a minute.  What did I just write?  The common or garden variety?

And that’s exactly where my thinking is completely wrong, right?  I’m actually embarrassed to think it.  How impossibly privileged am I to consider my everyday life as ordinary?  For whom else is it so blissfully ‘ordinary’?

Who’s got my ‘ordinary life’ in South LA?  Or Syria?  Or the Central African Republic?  Or Pakistan?  Or Iraq?  Or the Ukraine?  Or my recently bereaved friend?  Or my newly diagnosed one?
Who in Syria wouldn’t love to “just play” with their kids when they came home from a school?  Who in Afghanistan wouldn’t love to make soup from “whatever they could find in the… FRIDGE”?  Who in Nigeria wouldn’t be thrilled that their kids “just had” a stomach bug instead of Ebola?

And I realize I need to shut up with my oh-so-clever witticism about much of life not being that sexy: BECAUSE IT IS.

Isn’t what I consider to be mundane/ordinary/straightforward/non-spectacular incredibly “sexy” just in itself?  The fact that everyday, I get to get on with my life?

That I get to be healthy and stay healthy with access to Urgent Care.  That I get to get up every morning, get to get my kids fed and ready, buy groceries, own dogs, have bills to worry over, call my mother (on the other side of the world) and take the trash out — because someone will actually come and take it away.  

Isn’t the mundane actually the sexiest thing ever?  Because we might so easily not have it.

For sure, the great events are mountaintop spectacular.  But without the lower slopes, you’d never be able to get there.  And you don’t – can’t – actually stay there, can you.  It really is an incredible view, but even gorgeous George is going to need to go out for milk sometime.   

So I’m going to reject out of hand what the glossy magazines suggest to me.  That the gorgeousness of life only happens to very special people (aka very famous people) and “aren’t I lucky that they allow the ‘rest of us’ to see the pictures?”

Ab-so-lute RUBBISH!  My appreciation needs to change pronto.  How can anything be sexier than the gift of simply being alive?

My nine year old gets it.  He leaves the house every morning, throws his hands in the air and says, “Just take a look at that, Mom.”  And he means the morning.  The new day.  The new opportunity to live life in all its bits. To have another go.

So when I can drift into thinking that much of my life “just isn’t that sexy” (in comparison to George, or the neighbors, or the colleague, or a pal, or another mom), I need to re-open my eyes to the fact that NOTHING I have is a given.

Perhaps I will then slap myself awake to the fact that – if I’m still here – each moment genuinely is, actually, extremely sexy.

jsg/sept 14