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....