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Shining a Light in Our Backyard

Shining a Light in Our Backyard

With Thanksgiving coming up later this week, I'm thinking about getting together with my family and the special meal we've got planned. We are heading over to my Mom's house.

I'm taking the mashed potatoes, a pecan pie and a raspberry pie, as well as a cranberry jello salad. Thanksgiving also reminds me of all I am thankful for ... loved ones, a home, a wonderful church family, and the many blessings in my life.

Our culture is so well-trained to notice and focus on what’s wrong in our relationships and work situations – it’s easy to overlook what is actually right/good.

Young children are so happy, excited, joyful, and eager to experience and embrace life – a snowflake, a mud puddle, or even bubbles can bring them joy and excitement.

As adults, it seems like we lose some of that sense of wonder, joyfulness. When we see an older person who is joyful, happy, vibrant, they stand out to us as an exception instead of the norm.

Gratitude helps us widen our frame of vision. Author M.J. Ryan ("Attitudes of Gratitude") says that taking time to be grateful is like shining a light in our own backyard and seeing the stuff that's already there.

We make lists of what we want and goals – and that can be very helpful and important – but we also need to take time to rejoice in what we have. In order to experience gratitude, we need to open our hearts to God, to others, and to life.

Of course, there will be days/times in our lives when it's impossible to feel grateful – and that's okay – tell God what you are struggling with, and be honest with yourself. Be assured that God is with you during those times and will carry you through.

Gratitude can be a spontaneous up swelling of the heart, but making a conscious decision to practice looking at what's right and good in our lives is another way of living gratefully.

I do like the idea of comparing being thankful/grateful to "shining a light" in our backyard – to shine the light on the stuff that's already there.

So, this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let's "shine a light" in our backyard and see what's already there to be grateful for ... It's a great place to start!


Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


Cathy Harris ovalCathy finds great joy in serving as co-pastor at Spiceland Friends Church and in ministering alongside the wonderful folks in our church family. She loves music and enjoys singing, playing the piano, and dabbling a bit on the mountain dulcimer, autoharp, and lap harp. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her husband, Tom, their children, and her granddog, Jack. Her greatest desire is to serve God with all her heart.

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