Sunday, March 19, 2017

Let Me Turn Your NOT ENOUGH into MORE Than Enough - (Guest Post)

Hey Friend,

I am so pleased to introduce you to my friend, Jana Schmitt, who is guest posting here this week.  Texas born and bred, Jana lives and works in the small but growing town of Celina, TX, on the outskirts of Dallas.  She has been married almost 34 years to her best friend and partner in life, Darron.  She is mom to two grown children and grandmother to one sweet baby boy, who will soon celebrate his first birthday!

Jana went back to school in her forties to pursue a longstanding dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor and is now enjoying her "second calling" in life as a counselor in private practice.  She works primarily with adults struggling with depression, anxiety, life transition, and a host of other issues. You can check out more about her practice at theReclaimedSoul.com.


She is happiest when she is neck-deep in a creative project like remodeling a house, planting a garden, or hosting a gathering of some kind.  She believes we are called as followers of Jesus to leave a trail of restoration, repair, and beauty wherever we go. Her life is a work in progress as she seeks to live out this calling.  

Jana has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me in my blogging and in my work with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  Jana, my friends, is the "real deal". Will you join me in welcoming her?



Let me turn your NOT ENOUGH into MORE than enough ~ 

These are the words I wrote in my journal this past Christmas as I sensed Jesus speaking them to me. I was feeling inspired by the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6… “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” We all know how the story plays out. They all ate and were satisfied and the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers! Jesus turned their not enough into more than enough.

But first He gave thanks.

Can you imagine the joy the people felt that day? The food just kept on coming! I want to experience that kind of joy every single day. Who doesn’t want to feel that deep joy the ancient Greeks referred to as “the good mood of the soul”? As a counselor, I hear stories of depression and anxiety and shame and loneliness. People want to feel the joy the Bible talks about and yet, honestly, it sometimes seems so elusive.

But what if there was a simple practice that we could insert into our daily lives that actually produced joy? What if joy is not so much a feeling that just happens to us randomly, but something we cultivate?

Two summers ago my husband and I were seeking respite from the Texas heat in the mountains of North Carolina. We took daily walks and breathed in the fresh pine and drank coffee on the porch and slowed down enough to feel the awe and wonder of God’s magnificent creation. I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and her words about joy & gratitude were leaping off the pages at me.

Brene Brown is a research professor who studies things like shame and vulnerability and wholeheartedness. Through countless interviews, she began to discover a direct link between joy and gratitude. Without exception, she found that the people who described themselves as joyful were people who actively practiced gratitude. They kept gratitude journals or created gratitude art. They took time out of their busy schedules to reflect and give thanks. 

She discovered that the opposite of joy isn’t sadness; it’s fear. She calls it scarcity. It’s that fear of not having enough or doing enough or being enough. This is what keeps us from experiencing the joy we were created for. She puts it this way: 

“We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less (when we lose something we love). We think if we can beat vulnerability to the punch by imagining loss, we’ll suffer less. We’re wrong. There is one guarantee: If we’re not practicing gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we are missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard times.”

Brene Brown’s words stirred something in me. Then a client told me that Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts, had changed him and helped him find joy during the hardest year of his life. It’s a book about cultivating gratitude. This intrigued me. God was challenging me to go deeper.

Throughout this past holiday season I was asking God to give me a word for 2017. One word to be my focus as I moved into a new year. I kept hearing “gratitude…gratitude…gratitude”.

I decided to accept Ann Voskamp’s challenge to write down 1,000 gifts this year. She calls it “a dare to name all the ways that God loves me…the True Love Dare”.

I started naming the gifts each day, writing them in my journal in red.

#1) bright red berries in a winter landscape 

#2) friends staying in our guest bedroom 

#3) kisses from Cyrus (my grandbaby :) ) 


 #7) my new email penpal, Bev

What would happen if all of God’s people did this?

What if our first thoughts in the morning and our last thoughts before falling asleep, instead of thoughts of not enough, were whispered prayers of thanksgiving?

What if, instead of being on constant alert for facebook-worthy moments, we lived our lives on the lookout for gratitude-worthy moments?

I decided to begin looking at my life as a photographer looking for beauty. I began snapping photos, not to post on social media, but into my own “gratitude file” on my laptop that I will open at the end of 2017 and share with my family and we will remember and give thanks and re-experience the joy together. 

So here it is March already. Usually by this time I’m wondering where the year is going, my New Year’s Resolutions lost under a pile on my desk. But this one is different. This one requires very little time, no special talents or abilities, no money, and I can do it with or without cooperation from other people.  

It’s simply about being present. It’s about showing up for my life with eyes wide open in wonder. It’s about paying attention to the gifts God scatters all along the path. 

And what I’m finding… 

I’m finding that the practice of gratitude turns the mundane, every-day into something glorious. That life is a beautiful mystery to behold. 

I’m finding that I spend a lot less time worrying about not doing enough or being enough and that He truly is MORE than enough. 

I’m finding that practicing gratitude even in the midst of the hard stuff, the challenging, the painful – it lifts me and sets me on a higher plane where I don’t get so bogged down in the muck, where my vision is clearer because God always has the best vantage point and gratitude ushers me into His Presence like nothing else. 

#236) perfect starry nights 

#237) friends around the fire pit

#238) Mom’s chocolate cake 

#239) a thank you note from a client

I’m finding that He really does love us so much. We only need to open our eyes to see His gifts. They’re all around us.

 “So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last!” Psalm 63:3 The Message

~~~~~~~~~

Be Blessed...and please, friends, leave some lovin' for Jana in the Comments....



42 comments:

  1. Jana, I love Brene Brown's research, so thanks for sharing her findings in this wonderful post. It's always a treat, Bev, when you share your friends with us!

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  2. Michele,
    I love Brene Brown's work. She has a wonderful 20-minute TED talk called "The Power of Vulnerability". If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch. And thank you for your encouraging words.

    Have a blessed day!
    Jana

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  3. Thank you, Jana, for sharing so beautifully and encouraging us to practice thankfulness. Gratitude is the way to God's heart. As I read this, I thank Him for you and the way you are using your gifts to honor Him.

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement!
      Love you!
      Jana

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  4. Jana, I think we need to add "writer" to your credentials. :) Such a lovely post. "The practice of gratitude turns the mundane, every-day into something glorious." Amen. So true, isn't it? How I pray for eyes to see His presence in the beauty and life around me. -- Thank you, Jana -- and thank you, Bev, for sharing Jana with us this week. ((xoxo))

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    1. Brenda,
      I'm glad the post was meaningful to you. I pray that God allows you to see beauty everywhere you look as you keep your eyes open to His gifts. And thanks so much for the encouragement!
      Warmly,
      Jana

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  5. I, too, LOVED Ann Voskamp's book, 1000 Gifts. I began a journal in 1983 to record the ways God is faithful to our family. I'm approaching Entry #1200. You are so right: "Life is a beautiful mystery to behold"--especially when growing in awareness of God-engineered circumstances. Another point your post brings to mind: Gratitude not only produces joy but expands it. To be thankful for a small joy increases its importance, and makes us feel all the happier. A gratitude list certainly nudges us toward greater joy. Your idea to take snapshots for a gratitude file is brilliant! When you share them, the joy of everyone who sees them will be expanded too. Thank you, Jana!

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    1. Nancy,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love that you've been doing this since 1983! Long before 1000 Gifts was on the shelves! Wow...Entry #1200. And we wonder how we ever doubt God's provision:). I know that, for me personally, when I don't write down those specific accounts of God's faithfulness, I am so quick to forget. But when it's in written format and I can go back and re-read it years later, it's always such an encouragement to keep hanging in there when the answers seem slow in coming. And who knows...future generations may read those gratitude journals long after we're gone!

      Take care, my friend!

      Jana

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  6. Thank you for reminding us to practice counting the gifts, Jana. I am intrigued by your journey back to school and redirecting your professional life. It has spoke to my heart on so many levels. Thank you for sharing this today!

    Thanks for sharing this at the #GraceMoments Link Up!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

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    1. Dawn,
      It makes me happy to hear that my post (and my journey) has inspired you on some level. Perhaps you're considering a new direction in your own life? I recommend a book called "Second Calling" by Dale Hanson Bourke. This was inspiring for me (along with a WHOLE lot of prayer asking God for confirmation :) during my decision-making process. Also, there's a chapter called "Second Call" in Brennan Manning's book "The Ragamuffin Gospel" that was very insightful.

      I wish you the very best in your journey!

      Warm regards,
      Jana

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  7. This is such an important truth. Thank you for inspiring me with your words, but more importantly, for inspiring me by the way you live your life. It's the testimony behind these words that give it so much power.

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    1. Alyssa,
      Thank you so much, sweetheart! You encourage me every single day to live this out.
      Love you to the moon and back!
      Mom

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  8. Tears explode from my eyes as the truth of this post pierce my soul. The opposite of joy is fear not sadness. Sadness serves as a side kick to the super-villain Fear. For too long I fear I'm not enough, not being enough or doing enough to earn God's Grace.

    I'm thankful for family like Jana and Aylssa and Darren and Jerrod who teach me with their lives.

    Wow. Just wow.

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    1. Danny!
      Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and to share your thoughts. You're awesome! This basic truth is so powerful, isn't it? Hope it inspires you to choose gratitude over fear every day. You ARE enough, my friend :).

      Lots of love to all of you,
      Jana

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  9. The thought of fear being the opposite of joy is so eye-opening for me. Thanks so much for sharing that from Brene's book, Jana. I actually have that book but haven't read it yet. Fear has always been a big struggle with me. I love the idea of adding daily gratitude to cultivate joy in my life. What a beautiful life changing practice you have embarked on. I'll definitely be adding this to my day as well!

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    1. Candace,
      I'm so glad to hear that you'll be incorporating this practice into your day! It truly does become a habit within a matter of weeks. I wake up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee and stumble to my Quiet Time spot, then suddenly remember..."Ah yes! My gratitude journal!" and the simple practice of recalling God's gifts from the day before puts a smile on my face (and hopefully on His as well!) and sets the tone for everything else.

      Brene's book is well worth the read. I hope you enjoy it!

      Blessings,
      Jana

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  10. This is a great post and I agree that cultivating gratitude makes a big difference. This year I have been writing down things I am grateful for every day and it is so encouraging to look back on and remember all God's blessings. It is a good exercise too, to actively be looking for things to be grateful for even on difficult days.

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    1. Lesley,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's wonderful that you're already cultivating gratitude as a part of your daily life! It really does make a difference, doesn't it? I saw a sign recently that said "The seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart." Hm. Food for thought.

      May God continue to bless you on this journey of gratitude cultivating!

      Warmly,
      Jana

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  11. What a wonderful guest post here today, Bev. Jana, thanks for your words. Last month, I reached #8,000 in my gratitude journal. It has been life-transforming. But ironically in the last week, I've left that journal aside, forgotten! I need to pick it up again!

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    1. Betsy,
      8,000?!!!! Whoa. That's incredible! That is a LIFE LIVED with a grateful heart! You must be a very joy-filled woman :). No doubt it spills out onto those around you. I remember in the book, Ann Voskamp talked about reaching #1,000 and making the decision to keep going. It seems like a good way to spend a life.

      Keep it up, my friend!

      Jana

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  12. Thank you Bev for opening up your writing home to Jana. I love the thought of not enough becoming more than enough. Knowing that God takes us, broken and messy, and makes us enough to build His kingdom. That the simple act of giving thanks and recognizing gratitude for all in our daily lives leads us closer to God. Taking the time to draw closer to God in gratitude shows Him our willingness to walk with Him. Thank you fro these beautiful words. Perfect for me today.

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    1. Mary,
      I'm so glad this blessed you. That concept of Him taking my not enough and making it more than enough just melts me. I fight that battle constantly of feeling like I'm not doing enough or being enough. I think it's a reminder we all need from time to time. And yes -- how amazing that He chooses people just like you and me to build His kingdom!

      Blessings, sweet friend!

      Jana

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  13. What a great guest post! I think Ann Voskamp's A Thousand Gifts was my most pivotal "be thankful" book. It really did change the way I approached each day. Visiting from #TestimonyTuesday

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    1. Jamie,
      Thanks so much! I'm so grateful I was introduced to the book. Of course I always love Ann Voskamp's writing but the concept of this one was so simple and yet so profoundly life-changing.

      Many blessings!

      Jana

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  14. Jana, I so appreciate your words here. I have just begun reading that book by Brene Brown, and I'm gleaning much from it. I love that God gave you the word Gratitude to focus on this year. He really is amazing the way He opens our eyes to His workings in our days . . . if we'll but look.

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here!

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    1. Jeanne,
      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Yes, you're so right...He IS amazing in the way He opens our eyes to the wonder all around us, but so often I go through my day with my eyes half closed, too distracted by silly, temporary things that don't matter anyway! I want to go through my days with eyes wide open to see His gifts EVERYwhere!

      Warm regards,
      Jana

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  15. Jana,
    I am enjoying sitting back and watching the thoughts come in on your wonderful post! In thanking God for His gifts today, I thanked Him especially for you and when the mail came - what a delight to have a handwritten note from you - loved it. My dad (who has passed) always told me to work on my handwriting because it would be a lost art some day....wise man beyond his days. I think you have this writing gig down!! So when will you be starting YOUR blog out here in the blogosphere?? You're a natural...all ready to set up your next guest posting lol :)
    Love you sweet friend,
    Bev xoxo

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    1. Bev,
      Thank you :). I so appreciate your encouragement. I'm glad the note made it in today's mail! The scarf is beautiful!! And this blogging thing is super fun! Funny you should mention it -- I'm in the process of starting a blog with my daughter and another close friend. It's three ladies - a counselor, an artist, and a homeschooling, soapmaking mom - three different generations, as we share a backyard (all of our houses back up to the same backyard), a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, meals, communion, firepit time, and really just learn to live life in community. Should be fun! I'll send you the link when we kick it off. And I love guest posting for you! What a wonderful, encouraging bunch of readers you have here. They've blessed me so much. Thank you for making room for me!

      Love you too!
      Jana

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  16. Oh, ouch! I recognize so much of me in the fear, scarcity, unsure portions of this. Yet, I am so in love with the Lord and so very grateful for Him, for His gifts, and for the life He has given me. I have listed over 2000 gifts over a couple of years and found that I cannot hide behind those feelings of self-doubt and all. Thank you for this reminder and I shall be looking into the book. I have read much of Ann Voskamp, getting started with my lists. Thank you, Jana. I live in Portland, TX but looking to move soon to East Texas. I shall look up Celina. I do not know where that is but I certainly know the summer heat.

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  17. Hi Linda,
    That's amazing that you've been intentional enough with this to list over 2000 gifts! It changes you, doesn't it? And yet, you're so right. The fear & scarcity always seem to be lurking in the background, just waiting for an opportunity to take center stage. But I think it's the intentionality -- the act of choosing joy & gratitude over fear & not enough -- that begins creating new patterns and gives us victory over the old.

    I wish you the best in your move to East Texas! It's beautiful there. (Celina is north of Frisco & the rest of the Dallas metroplex.)

    Blessings!
    Jana

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  18. What an encouraging post, Jana! I'm so glad that Bev has you as her guest today. I just got "sucker-punched" by someone's words to me yesterday so I'm feeling a bit down today. This is just what I needed to refocus my heart and mind on all the good God gives me each day. Thanks so much!

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    1. Beth,
      I'm glad the words were encouraging to you. Those sucker punches can sting, can't they? I can't think of a better response than to refocus your heart and mind on God's goodness.

      I pray that today is a much better day for you. Take care, sweet friend. God bless.

      Jana

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  19. Hi Jana, I'm happy to meet you here and read this powerful encouragement.
    In our seeming lack, gratitude can make a huge difference. Seeing God in lack through thanksgiiving means He turns the situation into more than enough....Learning to do it the Jesus way of offering a prayer of thanksgiving despite or inspite of very obvious impossible circumstances...and like Jesus and those he fed we will see God as More Than Enough.
    God Bless you both ladies.
    Thank you Bev.

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    1. Hello Ifeoma,
      I love the way you word this! So powerful and heartfelt! How I wish we could sit down and have a conversation together. I am happy that the blog post was an encouragement to you. Your response is an encouragement to me.

      God bless you too, beautiful lady!

      Jana

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  20. Glad to be visiting from #HeartEncouragement Thursday, loved this reminder about the powerful connection thankfulness and joy have, in fact, lifting thanks for this good-words reminder right now! Thank you, Jana, and Bev! Lord bless you bigger than big today!

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    1. Christine,
      Thanks so much for your encouragement here. I am consistently blown away by God's ways of weaving us all together like one giant tapestry and using us to bless and encourage one another. He's so good. May the Lord bless you, too, my friend!

      Warmly,
      Jana

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  21. Jana, thank you so much for sharing here at Bev's place and thank you Bev for hosting! I love this idea. I first learned about doing this in Ann Voskamp's book, 1000 Gifts. I have have kept a gratitude journal off and on in the past and I always find myself naturally more joyful when I do! You've inspired me to pick it back up again.

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    1. Abby,
      I'm so happy that this inspired you to reclaim an old habit! It's such a simple practice that yields such big returns. I don't know if you've read Ann Voskamp's latest book, The Broken Way, but it's another one that is really inspiring me.

      Many blessings on your gratitude journey!

      Jana

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  22. I need to make this a habit. Thanks so much for sharing this!
    The Lord bless you and help you as you continue walking in thanksgiving.

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    1. Ruth,
      You're very welcome. I hope the Lord blesses you abundantly as you begin cultivating the daily habit of gratitude. Father, give us open eyes to see the gifts all around us!

      Warm regards,
      Jana

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  23. I began counting my gifts a few years back and got distracted. I started over again and list them on my blog each Monday. It really has opened my eyes to how truly blessed I am. Thank you for sharing your words here in this space.

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    1. Hi Barbie,
      What a great practice to share your gifts each Monday on your blog! Naming your blessings on a consistent basis is a mood-changer and ultimately a life-changer. And in the process you're reminding your readers to do the same. Thank you for sharing this.

      God bless,
      Jana

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