A Pair of New Year Glasses
In December 2013, after 17 long years, we had a dream fulfilled. Christmas in Sri Lanka with my beloved Mama and our family in Sri Lanka. The three glorious weeks in our homeland were all we hoped they would be. We returned home with hearts that overflowed with thanksgiving and spirits refreshed by loved ones. The next Christmas was a little different. This time we had the joy of spending it with our Aussie extended family. There were 5 couples, 1 young man, 2 little people and 1 dog. A sure recipe for happiness.
We met in the lush green Pennyroyal boasting beaches, forests, trees, mountains and perfect weather. The Farmhouse we stayed in was set in 60 acres of farmland – with a group of Alpacas for company. There were rolling green hills around us – a cosy timbre farmhouse to settle in; green grass, blue skies, cool nights, sunshine and family. We spent 4 magical days together – filled with chatter, laughter, games, singing, music, sightseeing, picnics and enjoyed another thrilling Christmas.
I breathed prayers of thanksgiving as we romped through the stream of colourful days and nights. 2 ½ year old Rufus and 1 year old Rosie added to our joy – because of course Christmas is never complete without children. Murphy, my niece’s dog was fun to have around. Yes, it was a beautiful Christmas. I kept wishing Mum was there with us – because the beauty of our surrounds and family gathered around her would have filled her with joy. She was delighted that we all spent Christmas together and revelled in all the pictures we sent to her afterwards.
On Christmas day when we exchanged our cards and gifts – I made a happy discovery. My husband and I usually exchange funny cards on special occasions. They’d usually have a string of pictures and humorous sayings. This Christmas was no exception. What interested me though was that both our cards ended in the same manner.
“But though you are the better half, as everyone can see,
There isn’t any doubt at all; the (lucky) blessed half is me.’
It was gratifying to see that we both felt similarly towards each other. As I reflected on how blessed I was through the wise, loving, amazing husband whom God had gifted me with – I knew it was the right theme to carry into the New Year. Gratitude. The simple truth is that life is never simple and rarely problem-free. So if we wait to express gratitude only when life is going our way - it's probably like waiting for a brightly flowering garden in the midst of the Sahara desert. No - joy and gratitude need to be grasped no matter what the season and no matter what the tide brings our way - pearls or seaweed; a dolphin or an octopus!
Gratitude, I believe is one of the most life giving emotions and the perfect spectacles through which to view the world. In my own life, the first 2 weeks of 2015 have disappeared in a blur; filled with bushfires, loss, grief, travel and an unexpected farewell. My beloved Mama and my most long-standing friend (of 57 years) passed away suddenly on the 4th of January 2015. How can life ever be the same again? I grieve her loss today and remember her love– an ocean that flowed in ceaselessly throughout my life, refreshing me and blessing me through every season. I began to grieve in earnest on my way back from Sri Lanka as I sat sipping a cup of tea in my hotel room. The tears fell fast and kept falling. It doesn't take much to make me cry these days. No doubt I will continue to grieve for many months on. But through my grief I can also view and embrace the big picture. Using the same glasses she gifted me with - the glasses of gratitude.
I've discovered that gratitude opens the doorway to the right kind of living. My Mum - who was deeply appreciative of every little blessing in her life – who very rarely complained – who lived with a wonderful air of gratitude, can be best honoured by my choosing gratitude today. When I aim to be grateful I am able to focus on what’s right in the world and in my life. And have you noticed? Gratitude unlocks amazing doors that would otherwise stay shut.
The ability to be joyful doesn’t happen because of our circumstances. It arrives instead through a choice we make every day. Whenever I've gazed on all that’s difficult in my life, I’ve felt sadder and more hopeless still. But when I gaze instead at Jesus with thanksgiving and gratitude for the way He has blessed me, I am filled with peace. Not because my life is exempt from sadness or worries. But because God in His loving kindness, sustains me with a deep inner joy that no circumstance can dim.
And so this brand New Year – let us focus on the myriad ways we are blessed. The many reasons to praise Him. Let’s remember all He has done for us. Let’s focus on what’s right in others’ lives and express our thanks to them. As I continue to grieve the loss of one special, irreplaceable person in my life, my beloved, one and only Mama, I can also continue to praise God for giving her to us – and am filled with gratitude for the way she enriched my life and blessed me.
Are you the blessed one? I know you are.
Am I the blessed one? Of course I am.
Let’s choose gratitude’s perspective today.
Let us filter out the moments that cause us to moan and complain.
Let’s discover instead, sparkling gems in the sand and red roses in December.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you ….. singing to God with
in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:15-17