Gratitude Archive

I Am…………… Who Are You?

It’s been over four years since I started Grateful Gratitude. I knew that God was calling me to be a better, more grateful person and thought I was just in this to better myself. I had no idea He was going to use me in ways I had never imagined or thought would be conceivable for me.

I soon realized after founding Grateful Gratitude that it wasn’t God trying to grow me by practicing more gratitude but that He was drawing me into His plan to serve Him. I thought I was the least likely person to be able to minister to others. I didn’t know the Bible inside and out, and I barely knew The Gospels. How was I going to minister? I had no training. Although, I did know and understand 1 Peter 4:10.

1 Peter 4:10
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace

Yes, each has received a gift. What was my gift? What was God’s plan for me? I didn’t know. As I began navigating my new nonprofit, I saw God revealing His plan and my gift. He opened my eyes and I understood.

Ephesians 1:18
Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
,

I realized my gift was not just one special talent God gave me but it was many experiences in my life that allowed me the gift of ministry. Let me explain.

I knew there were many unpleasant things that had happened in my life. Many of these walks were before I understood God’s love for me and His intentions of using me. I sat down and made a list of all the experiences I have walked through just mainly for my own knowledge. Below is the list.

  1. I was the wife of a man that was an alcoholic and addicted to methamphetamine.
  2. I am an alcoholic and sober for 6 years.
  3. I am a woman who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks.
  4. I am the daughter of parents that have had cancer.
  5. I am the daughter of a father that died from pancreatic cancer.
  6. I am a divorced woman.
  7. I am a woman that had an addiction to spending money recklessly.
  8. I am a mother of a child with ADD, anxiety, and OCD.
  9. I am a woman that was obese for many years.
  10. I am a woman that struggled with self-esteem.
  11. I am a woman that strongly speaks her mind.

In the Bible Jesus said, I AM.” We have to understand who Jesus is to understand who we are. Jesus spoke the I AMs and I had to speak mine too to find my purpose and ministry.

Just as Jesus laid out each statement and explained each one I needed to do the same so I can serve God here through my life experiences. I also had to realize that even though these things are in my past they are still who I am and not a past tense of my life. No matter what walk I have been through, I am still that person, wiser but just the same it is still my identity and my ministry.

I am the ex-wife of a man that was an alcoholic and addicted to methamphetamine. This was a very dark time in my life. I lived every day in darkness and fear. What would my husband do that day? Would he be under the influence and kill someone as he drove dazed and confused from the drugs? Would he stay at another woman’s house instead of coming home to his family? Would he sit and pick at his hands because he thought worms were under his skin? I didn’t know but living through that marriage now allows me to help women experiencing the same problems.

I am an alcoholic and have been sober for 6 years. I will tell you that I never had formal treatment for my addiction to alcohol but I did make a promise to God that has kept me sober. My use of alcohol started as an occasional glass of wine with dinner or socially. As I became unhappy with my weight and appearance I turned to alcohol to allow me to forget about my displeasure. I noticed that at 4:00 pm I started pouring a glass of wine as if it was just part of my daily routine. The 10 ounces occasionally were now a 750ML bottle on most days. I overdrank one afternoon and I decided to get in my car and drive home drunk. I prayed over and over as I drove that if God got me home safely I would never drink again. I said I knew I had a problem that I need Him to help with and I would be obedient if He answered that prayer.

I am a woman who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. My anxiety and panic attacks began after I was divorced. My marriage had failed and I was so ashamed and fearful I would lose something else in my life. The only thing I had left was my daughter. I became a “helicopter mom” which means a mom that “hovers” over their child. I was the room mother at school, the mom volunteer at dance, and I was the mom that would do anything needed that involved my daughter’s outside activities. I was so fearful something would happen to her that I wanted to always be present. This fear led to constant anxiety. Once I understood God’s love for me I was able to let my daughter be free to live her life her way. I now know God is watching over her and would protect her.

I am the daughter of a father that died from pancreatic cancer. The walk with a family member with cancer is a tough walk but pancreatic cancer is a really tough one. This type of cancer is aggressive and unpredictable. My dad got his diagnosis on a telemedicine call during the pandemic. The doctor’s first words were, “I am sorry I have to tell you this but, you have pancreatic cancer.”. It broke my heart, my dad was going to die. I cried my eyes out and then took a deep breath and realized that God had told me that I had time with my dad. I felt God in my heart urging me to enjoy each second of every day with my dad. I looked daily for something to be grateful for during this walk. I memorized my dad’s smile, enjoyed conversations with him over coffee, and at the end told him I wanted him to be welcoming me into Heaven when it was my time to go.

I could go on with my I AM explanations but the most important message I have to share is this:

Use your life and experiences to minister to others. Testify how God has brought you through each experience. Show others that you are still standing and they will be too. Encourage others to trust in God. I did and He still stands by me in every situation.

I also knew that no matter the experience or outcome it was my history. I learned to not be shamed by my trials but to show gratitude in each situation. My marriage brought my daughter. Quitting drinking improved my physical and mental health. Trusting in God brought peace to my anxiety. Understanding cancer better helps me understand how diet and exercise help reduce cancer risks.

I pray you see your ministry in your difficult times and know that God has asked you to walk with Him on this earth experiencing His purpose for your life. Each day see others and strengthen them through His love for you. My love and gratitude-LoLo

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

H-O-P-E Spells Hope

“As a follower of Christ, hope is within us even when we don’t feel it.” I heard these words and they hung in the air before me. I stopped and sat as if I was frozen in time.

Pete Wilson of Northridge Church spoke on hope at a time I needed the words he shared. He said, “Hope is a simple concept that no matter what is happening, you have the belief it will get better.” Powerful. I have always believed that hope leads to faith. If I truly believe genuinely that my situation will get better then the door of faith opens. Faith is placing my trust in God. All my trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Pete moved on to say that hope requires growth. I understand this. There have been so many times I have been riddled with anxiety and worry. I was so fearful of not being able to control my situation. I would almost make myself sick overanalyzing and thinking of plan B. C, D for how I would control things. Then a wake of peace came over me. God’s peace reminds me I am not in control. God is.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The last few weeks have been tough. I stood again at the hospital with a sick parent. Another time that life stopped and I prayed constantly for healing. Healing for my mom, healing for my ministry, healing for my family. God, I know you heard my prayers. How are You going to grow me in this situation? How will You pull me closer to You and deepen my relationship with you in this illness?

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Every time I go through these hospital walks, once with my dad with pancreatic cancer, once with my granddaughter with gastroschisis, and now with my mom with a severe vaccine reaction, I reach for God’s hand. I know He is near and I draw on hope to get me through. I sit at the bedside praying and pulling peace from God’s love I recognize that He is with me. I remember another one of God’s promises.

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

God is always one step ahead of me. He knows where I am going and He prepares the way. He never stops and moves to the side for me to pass Him. He never expects me to go it alone. This gives me hope. Hope that leads to faith. Faith that leads to peace.

Pete went on to remind us of Acts 2:42-47. It was a time when Jesus had died yet the small group of followers was full of hope. Jesus had told them that He would be gone and they continued to focus on growth. Growth of new members, growth in their love, and God’s truth. They pulled together at the most difficult time. Jesus was gone and they were few.

Acts 2:42-47 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Hopelessness is crippling and if we fall into hopelessness we lose the biggest gift God gives us. The gift of peace in our lives. God is Our loving Father. He wants the best for us and when it’s not the best, He wants us to lean on Him. I am leaning Father. I am taking a deep breath before I pray to clear my mind and open my heart. I am handing over my problems to You and I am hoping in faith and knowledge that You will take them. You have so many times before and I am grateful. You are my refuge.

Psalm 121:1-4 reminds me of how I always need to focus on God and know He never takes a break. He never shuts an eye or falls asleep leaving me to fend for myself.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The other day my husband and I were driving in a significantly heavy downpour of rain. I could barely see past the windshield. I stated that I thought we should pull over until the rain stopped and he said no we needed to move on. After about 20 minutes of driving in this torrential rain, we reached our destination. I realized that my husband was focused on getting us to our destination. Just like the walk I am taking right now, I need to stay focused on God. I can’t see tomorrow but the focus on God will have me arrive as He moves ahead of me. He knows my destination through this rain.

Everyone quotes Jeremiah 29:11 but I quote Jeremiah 29:11-13. It is more complete.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Thank you once again for meeting me here. I pray you know God’s peace and that you practice hope which will lead you to faith. My love and gratitude-LoLo

Life in Constant Flux

October seems to be a tough month for my family. Last October we were stationed at the hospital with my dad battling pancreatic cancer followed by hospice at home and then his funeral. This October I am staying with my mom after a severe vaccine reaction 13 days ago.

It was a beautiful October day on Tuesday the 12th. Mom and I went to her internist for her yearly visit and he remarked that she was in such good condition and was pleased she was still living independently. She decided that since we were at UT Southwestern that she would get her vaccine boosters and check that off her to-do list. We finished the vaccines and enjoyed Starbucks on the way home.

At approximately 7pm my mom texted me asking if my boosters make me weak and dizzy. I responded that I was just a little sore but nothing else. She said she was tired and would probably go to bed earlier than normal to rest.

The next morning I was at my daughter’s house watching my grandkids for the day when at 9:12 am my mom called me and all I hear is moaning on the other end. I kept saying “MOM!” over and over and she didn’t reply. I called her right back and she answered saying, “I’m too weak to talk, okay?” and put the phone down.

I immediately called my husband and ask him to come right away to sit with our grandkid because I needed to check on my mom. He arrived about 25 minutes later which seemed like an eternity which led to another eternity getting to my mom’s house.

I arrived as quickly as I safely could and multitasked on the drive calling my brother in Illinois as to what was happening. I said if she didn’t look good I was calling the paramedics to transport her. As I opened her front door, I called out to her but there was no answer. I ran up the stairs to her bedroom calling her name. As I approached the bed, I saw my mom pale and weak. She had difficulty speaking and she couldn’t lift herself out of bed.

I told my mom we needed to call the paramedics to look at her and possibly go to the hospital. My husband notified me he had reached our son-in-law to watch the kids and he was on his way. Once he arrived we were able to convince my mom that she needed medical help and I dialed 911.

It was only a few minutes when the paramedics arrived and determined that mom was dehydrated, too weak to get out of bed, and needed to be transported to the hospital. This was the beginning of an ordeal we are still walking through.

We sat in the ER for hours as a CT Scan was run, blood was collected, questions were asked, documents were signed, and so on as we all know what the ER visits bring. As I sat in the ER treatment room while mom was having a CT Scan I saw something I had never seen before. It was a police processional with a casket covered in the American flag. There were 2 officers before the casket, many family members following the casket, and officers behind the family closing out the processional. I am sure they didn’t realize our treatment room door was open with me inside. I realized this was the police officer that had been hit by the drunk driver just a few days before. It broke my heart. My husband’s sister was killed by a drunk driver when he was 16.

I immediately began praying for the family and officers that we now grieving. I knew their grief from losing my dad just a year ago. I prayed for their peace and comfort and strength as a family to support each other. I also said a prayer again for about the hundredth time for my mom’s healing and recovery.

No one else saw the procession, not my husband, not my mom, but I knew God had me see it for a reason. It allowed me to pray for others I did not know and in gratitude, for the help my mom was receiving.

I spent all night with mom in her room catching vomit time after time. She was so nauseous. The day after my mom was moved from ER to a hospital room things became very scary. My mom slept all day and when I tried to ask her questions she just rolled her eyes open, mumbled, and went right back to sleep. This lasted about 10 hours straight. She slept through ultrasounds, chest X-rays, and multiple blood draws. Hours went by without any movement but with constant unconscious moans.

My aunt and uncle saw that my husband and I needed help juggling life, his work, and being at the hospital 24/7. I am so grateful they came to sleep at the hospital with mom so I could be in my own bed for a few nights.

Mom slowly began to be awake more but wouldn’t really eat much. Her arm was swelling from the IV and when they placed the IV they hit a nerve causing a “Trigger Finger”, and losing the ability for her middle finger on her left hand to move freely. Her finger would lock either in an open or closed position and she would have to manually “unlock” it with her right hand. This continues to this day.

We spent several days at the hospital as mom received treatment for the reaction.

We began to see the doctors all say that mom was medically fine and just suffered from the vaccine reaction. She would need rehab to correct the weakness that still lingered after laying in a hospital bed for 6 days. My husband, uncle, and I went to tour an inpatient rehab facility to move my mom to so she could finish rehabbing for a week. The facility was nice and I could stay overnight with her so we spoke to the social worker to begin the paperwork and transport. Then came the craziest news I have ever heard. “We are sorry but Medicare declined your mom for inpatient rehab. She is too healthy and her stay would be too short.”

Oh my goodness, denied help to rehab????? This now became a family endeavor to do PT, OT, and nursing care at home. We learned with my dad that we are not trained nor capable of doing this care. We have no option, we will have to do this. I never thought a hospital would say that someone is too well to stay even though they wouldn’t get out of bed or walk or care for them but this was the case.

So home we went and here I sit blogging. This road ahead of us will take some time but if you know me at all I am confident in my faith that God is with us. I have found through this journey God has given me a tender heart in caring for my mom as she cared for me as a baby. I am releasing my daily obligations to be present for my family. Just as Jesus cared for all while on this earth I will do the same.

Galatians 6:2
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ

As I see this tornado circling around me I remember Jesus’ words in the Bible about the Holy Spirit blowing in. I know His wind will push out this tornado and produce a rainbow for me.

John 3:8
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Thank you for reading my blog and may God bless you today. My love and gratitude, LoLo

Purging-A purifying process.

I am beginning to look at things differently. Material things, changing friendships, and things that me pulling me down and away from being Christlike.

As I sit and look around at all the “things” I have bought to “fulfill” a void in me that sits and collects dust. Clutter and wasted money surround me. Things I bought that caused instant gratification that have been used once or never at all. Why did I buy these things? I bought them to fill an emptiness. Emptiness in my heart before I truly knew God’s love for me. I used paper money and plastic money to make me feel “more” like everyone else.

Amazon was my best friend. I could sit and look at the beautiful pictures and in one click have them shipped to my house. Clothes, makeup, baby toys, food, etc. would come quickly to my door. It made me feel important that someone and something was coming to my front door in just one click.

I bought things that arrived and I soon saw the quality wasn’t good or the color wasn’t as it appeared in the picture. The sizing was crazy and never consistent. Amazon didn’t have an easy return policy when I first started buying so nothing was returned. It was just wasted and became clutter. I justified the buying because I was supporting Grateful Gratitude, my nonprofit.

I am blessed to be a part of Amazon Smile giveback but If you understand that Amazon gives your charity .05% of the purchases made designated to the chosen charity. You can do the math on what I have spent. I would say about 35% were legitimate and good purchases during the pandemic. The rest were not.

I fell into the rut of “on-sale”, “get it today”, “I don’t have time to go to the store”, and “I have a void that needs to be filled”. One of the blessings that God gives us is every day is a new day and a new start. I am pulling away from Amazon. I am learning to wait until I go to the store to look at and touch what I am contemplating buying. I want to start seeing the quality and stop searching online. I want interaction with people in stores instead of isolation and a computer screen.

Today I am stopping the practice of impulse buying and then being dissatisfied with my purchase. I am asking some questions now before buying.

  1. How does this item make my family better?
  2. Would God approve of me spending His money this way?
  3. Does this company support the USA and our workers?
  4. What could I do with this money if I don’t buy this item?

“No servant can be the slave of two masters; such a slave will hate one and love the other or will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” –Luke 16:13

I was becoming a slave to money. I was losing control of my life. I am building up “clutter” and it’s time to “declutter” in God’s name. I have bags and bags of clothes with tags to donate, I have stacks of items in my gift closest heading to the nearest charity, as well as new grocery items that are unopened because of a diet change. Purging in God’s name.

I also understand that recently I have purged myself from people I struggle to be around. People may call me pious and too righteous in what I am about to say so I apologize in advance. I have removed myself from those that drink excessively, shop endlessly, or gossip constantly. Alcohol, shopping, and gossip drag me down to Satan’s level. I have struggled with all three of these things. Each one came from temptation and attempting to elevate me above others. God has clearly shown me that these things are not from Him and only from the devil. These things, for me, are a waste of my time here on earth. The time God has given me to do His work that has been planned.

I am not speaking down to those who enjoy these things, I am just saying I see God saying there is a better use of my time. Satan and his minions are always around us. He tries constantly to pull us away from God in temptations and the act of fulfilling the flesh. We have to stay strong and say “NO!”.

And do not give the Devil an opportunity to work. Ephesians4:27

I know this will sound gross but as I prep for my colonoscopy, I better understand purging. : ) Purging is never pleasant no matter the situation but I know one thing for sure, my body, soul, and mind always feel refreshed. I feel like it’s a new opportunity to not fill myself with clutter but to know only God provided the fulfillment I need in life.

Consider today what may need purging from your life. Is it wasted time scrolling, gossiping about others, overeating, overspending, lusting for another? So many traps we fall into. Stay strong my friends and realize that today is a new day and a gift from God. My love and gratitude for you-LoLo

Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:21-22

Gratitude as a Cushion in Life

As a gratitude coach, I constantly look at ways of explaining gratitude and how to use it. I feel if I can find simple analogies that maybe it will help others understand gratitude and how it can change their lives. I was reflecting this morning about how many times a day I use a cushion for comfort and support just as I do gratitude.

Let me explain. Years ago when working in a veterinary surgical center I had a very unruly and large German Shephard that threw me around as I tried to hold it for a blood draw. This dog was about 85-90 pounds and I was only 138 pounds at the time. It thrashed and pulled away as we attempted to do a blood draw for a heartworm test. Needless to say by the end of the process my back was throbbing in pain. It took me about 10 minutes to be able to attempt to stand upright. Since this time I have always had back soreness and tenderness.

Daily as I sit on my sofa or at my desk I require a lumbar cushion to support my back. The cushion offers a soft surface for my tender back to lean against. It fills and supports my lower back which was injured 24 years ago. Without this cushion, my back feels shooting pains off and on as I sit. I require the cushion to get me through the day.

Just like the cushion to comfort my back, I rely on gratitude to comfort my life. Gratitude is a cushion for anxiety, worry, or despair. As the cushion comforts an ailment I have lived with for more than half my life, gratitude comforts me for my daily heart and mind ailments.

I lean into gratitude when I hear sad news involving my friends or the struggles of a victim I am working with in my ministry. I know Jesus told us we will have trials in our lives but that He has overcome the world. We are safe in His arms. I approach those I minister to with this comfort. Gratitude, like a cushion, supports me in my weakness. Where my back is weak it fills the gap allowing comfort. Gratitude fills our weaknesses when we find the good in every situation.

John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world”

When my grandbaby, Mila was diagnosed intrauterine with gastroschisis I was initially fearful and shocked. You are supposed to get pregnant, percolate for nine months, and be joyous when you deliver the baby. This pregnancy wasn’t going to happen this way. How was I going to cushion this situation and find gratitude? First, I remember what God taught me in the Bible. In all circumstances be thankful and with prayer and supplication for this is the will of God.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I asked my daughter and son-in-law who were on the phone delivering the news, “Can I pray for you?” Immediately my daughter responded, “Yes.”. I began a prayer asking our Gracious and loving God to bring us together in this walk. Our sweet growing baby was in need of miraculous healing. We need Him to protect our baby and her little developing intestines. Allow our family to be confident in Your goodness and to never lose trust in You. Let us feel your love for us daily in comfort and may we be grateful for this blessing you are sending us no matter the walk. In Jesus’ name, I offered the prayer.

I then prepared small green (the awareness color of gastroschisis) gratitude hearts with Mila’s name on them to share with our prayer warriors. We asked friends and family to take a heart and pray for Mila’s development and delivery. We shared over 50 Mila hearts. My daughter’s fetal medicine team took hearts which allowed me to see God’s love in them.

Mila Prayer Hearts

With every doctor’s appointment and ultrasound examination, I prayed for the best outcome and for our sweet baby to be protected and not arrive too early. On December 3rd, our baby girl was born by emergency C-section. There was a team of fetal medicine doctors, a surgeon, and staff called together to deliver this high-risk pregnancy. My husband and I rushed to the hospital to be with Lexie and Ty. My husband stayed in the lobby because this was during Covid and only 1 immediate family member could be in the maternity ward.

As I saw my beautiful daughter preparing for labor I prayed in my heart. “God, I am prepared for whatever walk this night brings. I know You have planned this walk for me. I trust and love You and will be grateful and obedient in any outcome. I know You will guide this delivery and immediate surgery of my sweet Mila. You know what is best for all of us and I am in peace because You are with me and in me. In Jesus’ name, I pray for my family. Amen.”.

They rolled Lexie away with Ty following behind. It wasn’t long and a NICU nurse came to tell me Mila had arrived and Lexie was doing well. She took me to a hallway where they would be transporting Mila to the NICU and I could catch a quick glimpse of her. It seemed like an eternity waiting in that back hallway. It was awkward trying to make conversation when all I wanted to do was see my granddaughter and Lexie. I am one of those people that needs to see my family members to understand they are okay. I looked down the double doors that stood before me and saw the team coming toward me. In an incubator was my beautiful, tiny Mila. My heart was at peace, my eyes filled with tears, and gratitude washed over me.

Baby Mila 2 hours old

There was our little baby that was at high risk for many months before me. Her surgery was a success, my daughter doing well in recovery, and God is by my side. Gratitude cushioned me through a very uncertain situation and walk. I allowed myself to see gratitude in this walk that cushioned my day-to-day uncertainty.

This is a recent picture of Mila. Her intestines are healthy, she loves all foods, we have not seen any complications from gastroschisis and we are grateful for God’s goodness.

Mila 9 months

If you are having difficulty today, find your cushion of gratitude. Be thankful for something in your situation. God is with you and where gratitude lives anxiety cannot. We can always find gratitude when we look. May God bless You today. My love and gratitude-LoLo