Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shifting my Focus to Gratitude

I had this huge list of stuff that I wanted for the house, organized and categorized by room. I'd been keeping it in my purse so I could keep adding to it when I thought of something, or cross it off when the item was had: A large piece of carpet for my cave-room, bookshelves for the school room, a vacuum with a hose attachment, a computer chair for my desk, rugs for the bathroom, and on and on..... Nothing on my list was essential to our survival, yet I've been longing to get more organized and feel more settled in our new home.

There were so many things we had to get rid of before we moved here, and many of them were sold cheaply and quickly. We didn't really make enough money at our yard sale to replace all the things we'd lost, and to be honest, there are some of those material things that I really miss. (Dear magical laminator and flat screen TV, I miss you!)
On one particular day last week I looked at my long list and just cried in exasperation because I knew there was no way we'd have enough money to replace any of those things right now. Even with shopping second-hand and through craigslist, the money starts to add up. And not only did I have a long list of wants, but I also had a long list of needs! 

The truth is that moving overseas is an expensive operation, and one that has left us in the negative digits for finances. Although we're happy to be here and don't regret moving one bit, I've had to realize that it's going to take awhile to get back on our feet financially. We're going to have to make-do without things like televisions and laminators while we focus on putting food on the table and investing in warm clothes for the winter.

So, I threw out the old list that was nagging desperately at my mind, and I made a new list. This time I only included the things that we needed the most- the things  that are most essential to our family's survival, like winter boots, warm coats, snow hats, and such. I also decided that since my list of wants was just going to have to wait, I would start a list of all the things I was grateful for, which we already had.

It's amazing what can happen when you completely shift your focus. In just one day I went from feeling overwhelmed and under-privileged to feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the immense blessings in my life. As I've been prayerfully asking God to help me to get the things we need, I feel that He has been directing me to receive those things. 
Just today I felt impressed to visit the little Catholic thrift store near our house. I rarely ever go there usually because they don't carry many children's items, yet today I knew I needed to visit. We walked over to the children's shoe section and lo and behold, there sat the perfect-sized snow boots for my 5 year old, which was on my immediate list of needs. They were in great shape, barely used, and cost me three dollars. I know it doesn't seem like much of a miracle, but I felt the Lords hand in my life in that moment. I knew that I would continue to receive the things we needed as I continued to focus on my blessings.

I wanted to take a moment to list some of the things I am grateful for, that I've been pondering on this last week:

*I am grateful for this beautiful quilt that sits in my living room. 
My dear friend back in Hilo sewed it for me and sent it here to Utah after we moved. I had sold her my sewing machine along with all these squares of Hawaiian fabric I'd been saving, and what did she do? She sewed me the most beautiful, heartwarming, and touching Hawaii-keepsake I could've ever asked for. I nearly cry tears of happiness everytime I look at it because  It not only reminds me of beautiful Hilo, but also reminds me everyday that there are wonderful, thoughtful people out there whom I call friends.

**I am also grateful for all the little fluffy animals that have come into our lives. We started off by getting the two puppies, the bird, and the abandoned cat, and have now adopted two more abandoned kitties we found down by the river. I know it seems like a lot to care for, but the joy and fulfillment that comes with nurturing these little souls more than makes up for it. I have seen my boys faces light up as they've learned how to lovingly care for and  handle these little creatures. Welcome to the family, kitties. You were meant to be ours, ya know.

***Next up I am extremely grateful for all the fresh vegetables we've received from neighbors, friends, and Micah's co-workers. It seems like every week someone is generously giving us a big bag of produce from their gardens. I live for those mouth watering tomatoes from the vine, and those giant, green zucchinis for making my favorite zucchini dish! One day we came outside to find a basket of produce with all the ingredients inside to make fresh salsa. I LOVE fresh salsa. I am so grateful to live in a town where people value the goodness of homegrown food, and then share with their neighbor.

****Lastly, (for now) I am so grateful for my job as music chorister in our children's Sunday Primary. I never imagined that I would ever get called to serve in this capacity because I'm not musically talented, but I love it so, so, so much! (I had this same calling before we left Hilo, too!) I love planning the singing time lessons, I love reviewing the songs, I love spending time with the children on Sundays, and I love that you don't need to be musically talented to enjoy all these things. I feel that God has blessed me with this calling so that I can continually focus on the things that bring me the most joy--children and serving others, because when I keep my mind pointed towards these things, instead of what material things I am missing in my life, I feel fulfilled beyond measure.

What things are you grateful for right now? Do you keep a gratitude journal? I need to do that!


arianne said...

I totally miss the Catholic thrift shop. I love that store. And the Cedar City DI. I loved running into you there. Now I have to drive all the way to Provo to get to the DI and it's sooooo crowded. There have been so many times we've been stretched and I find just what we need thrift shopping. Be patient. What you need. And what you want, will slowly find it's way to you. I always wanted a room full of beautiful Montessori things to homeschool my kids. I was patient. Then one day it all fell out of heaven, literally, at a garage sale. I LOVE that quilt. I want to make a quilt with all the island fabric I brought home from Samoa. You've inspired me. I miss you, by the way.

Sally Jackson said...

Oh Arianne, I think of you everytime I go in there! Thats one of many things I love about you-your love for all things second hand and thrifty! It's been an amazing experience this week watching as things have made their way slowly to us. A friend gave us a TV this week. I went to DI and found really nice snow jackets for the kids for 5 dollars each.....I feel blessed. WE are settling in and feeling good. So yes, when you finish your Samoan fabric project post pictures!