Faith Teaches Us to Be Grateful

Faith Teaches Us to Be Grateful

Matthew Havertz

Faith Teaches Us to be grateful

I hate the “D” words: Discouragement, disappointment, dissatisfaction, depression. Like all of us, there are moments in my life where I feel stuck in a rut. It’s so easy to become unhappy with where I am or what I have. It’s “the grass is always greener on the other side” mentality.

Things really started to change for me after a religious conference I attended. A leader of my faith said, “Take an inventory of your life and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, you have received” (Thomas S. Monson, “Consider the Blessings”).

After hearing those words, I decided I would start a gratitude journal. In a little spiral notebook, I wrote down at least one thing I was grateful for every night. It started off being easy; I mentioned my family, living in America, and my faith. Soon I had to start getting more creative. As I kept doing it every night, I noticed a huge change in my happiness. I have come to realize that happiness and gratitude go hand in hand for me.

This is not a new concept. Religions around the world have taught us to be grateful for centuries.

In the Tanakh, Jewish scripture, it is written, “Come into His gates with thanksgiving, [into] His courtyards with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name” (Tehillim 100:4).

In the New Testament, Paul wrote to his fellow Christians, “With thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).

The Quran teaches, “God always rewards gratitude and He knows everything” (Quran 4:147).

The Book of Mormon says, “Live in thanksgiving daily for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38).

A Buddhist writing says, “Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude, and the timely hearing of the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha — this is the highest blessing” (Maha-mangala Sutta: Blessings).

Believe it or not, scientific studies have even confirmed what religion has been teaching us for so long.

According to the Harvard Health Publications, two psychologists have conducted studies showing the positive effects of gratitude. “In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them” (Harvey B. Simon, “Giving thanks can make you happier”).

Ten weeks later, the group who wrote about what they were grateful for had much better attitudes, were more optimistic, and they even visited the doctor’s office less often (Harvey B. Simon, “Giving thanks can make you happier”).

If we all lived what our faith taught about gratitude, we would be much happier!

Matthew Havertz loves storytelling and has worked for years in the media industry, specializing in videos and social media. He has a degree in digital media from Weber State University. He blogs his spiritual thoughts at HavertzPonders.blogspot.com.

A Celebration of Gratitude, Hindu Style

A Celebration of Gratitude, Hindu Style

By Steve Wunderli, FaithCounts.com Contributor

celebration-of-gratitude
Some 18 years ago I was filming life in a village about twenty kilometers inland of the Bay of Bengal. It sounds romantic, and it was…except for dysentery. We were with a small humanitarian group who had been petitioned by one of the village elders to make the trek from America to his tiny village of Vuudi Mudi. We tagged along to film. Little did we know about rural India: the bad roads, the lack of transportation, no infrastructure, no health care, mud everywhere.

We were greeted by a roadway into the village lined with painted white stones. A banner hung on poles welcoming us, and there were strings of flower petals everywhere. We were the first Americans to visit the village in nearly 50 years. The bus stopped at the center of the village, a small Hindu temple that was not much more than a concrete pergola. All 400 villagers gathered to see us. Their joy and fascination were overwhelming. There was dancing and music on makeshift instruments and everybody wanted to hug us. It lasted deep into the night: the women in layered, flowing colors of bright saris, little kids in cloth shorts or skirts, brass ankle bracelets that kept rhythm with drums and 3-stringed instruments and a cacophony of dented bells, brass horns and rhythm sticks. The night was clear. Coconut trees seemed to bend in on us. We were exhausted. They begged us to share some music of our own. We promised we would have a number ready for the next night and collapsed on the cement floor of a tiny hut. We woke to 30 or more children smiling at us through the window. It was cold. The sun was glowing through the damp haze. It was like waking up in the middle of a 3rd grade classroom. I quickly became attached to one boy in particular. We nicknamed him Coconut because his head was shaved due to lice. He had a deformed hand from falling in the fire as an infant. But his smile could light up the Ganges at night.

Our task was to film daily life: coconut harvesting, fabric dyeing, traveling vendors weighed down with baskets or brass. Our film crew of three bought a whole stock of bananas for breakfast. The vendor kept shaking his head at his good fortune. Coconut led the way, wrangling the other kids and proudly carrying our gear. We tried to pay him but he wouldn’t take so much as a banana. It was his honor to help, he told us.

As soon as the sun began to drop, villagers began gathering at the temple to hear the Americans perform. We had a guitar with a crooked neck and four strings. It was probably the first live performance of Beetles songs in a Hindu temple since the Fab Four visited the Maharishi. We sang the three songs we knew over and over while the kids laughed and danced.

Two days later we were walking the twenty kilometers to the Bay of Bengal for a huge Hindu celebration. Thousands of people thronged the streets. In the early morning it was a river of color, a procession that made its way to a courtyard to picnic and wait for their turn to walk through the temple, light incense, drop flower petals in reflecting pools and thank the gods for their good fortune. These were people who lived two seasons a year; the harvesting season where they worked long days, and the monsoon season, where they waited out the rains in dreary grayness. Their faith was remarkable. Even though they often had to rebuild their homes when the monsoons ended, they had faith that when the storms lifted, the gods would smile on them once again. And so they made the pilgrimage each year to express their gratitude. Most people lingered for days, sleeping around fires and visiting friends from other villages. I sat with a group of children who were listening to one of the village elders tell stories. Through a translator I got bits and pieces of one of the tales, the story of Dhaka Sietma. For many families, the trek takes days. They often travel at night if it is too hot during the day. Children grow nervous about being left behind and falling asleep in the dark. The elder was explaining what happens to such children. Before morning, Dhaka Sietma, a kind of goddess of lost children, collects all of the sleeping children along the roadside and places them by the warm fire of their families.

The morning we left the village, we found Coconut in the same place we found him every morning—curled up on the cold ground outside our hut, his legs pulled up close to his body and tucked under his ragged shirt to keep warm, waiting to carry camera gear. He insisted on serving us and we could do nothing about it. He would never come inside the hut, never take a sweatshirt or a blanket or even a woven mat in the cool evenings. We had even offered to buy him a bottle of Fanta from a roadside shack, a treat I’m sure he’d never had. His service to us was a great blessing he told us, and refused the drink. I have also come to suspect that he didn’t want to elevate himself above the other children in any way. His faith was all he needed–the assurance that whatever the seasons brought, all would be well. No social promotion could replace that. His gratitude, humility, and willingness to serve were the manifestations of that faith.

Love Requires Faith

Love Requires Faith

By Ariel Szuch, FaithCounts.com Contributor

love requires faith
Valentine’s Day.

Blech.

As a single person, I often have that visceral reaction to said holiday in February. Sometimes I wonder why I react that way. Sure, it’s often a reminder of what I don’t have, the gratuitous PDA, the boxes of chocolate with mystery centers that no one actually likes, the crushed expectations, and so on. But if I’m honest, sometimes it’s the idea of a relationship itself that triggers the rejection response.

You see, I hate risk. I don’t like roller coasters because of the out-of-control feeling. I don’t even like the game Risk because I hate staking my success on shaky odds. CERTAINTY. That’s what I’m about. But lots of things in life aren’t certain, and relationships are one of them. Frankly, as much as I say I feel lonely sometimes, when it comes down to it, being alone feels easier—or at least safer—than letting someone in. Granted, in dating relationships there are measures to keep yourself safe from physical and emotional abuse, but in any relationship there will ALWAYS be risk that you cannot control, and it’s that inherent risk in a relationship that makes me shy away.

Thus, I’ve come to realize that love—relationship—connection—requires faith in a few ways.

1. Faith in the value of connection.

The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV), “substance” meaning the “reality,” “the material part” (King James Dictionary). So faith is the concrete action that aligns with a belief in something greater than self. Faith in a relationship context is being willing to step into a place of uncertainty, because it’s in that space that a relationship has the opportunity to grow. Connection is the purpose of our existence, and we must risk pain with the belief that caring for someone is worthwhile, no matter the outcome. That belief helps us have the courage to step into that place of uncertainty.

In one of the first conversations of a recent relationship, I was fighting the tidal wave of fear that made me want to run for the hills when the thought came, “You can’t learn what you need to learn by yourself.” I can’t figure things out on my own and then step into the perfect relationship—it doesn’t work that way. We cultivate connection by moving forward in relationships with people and working on issues that come up in the process.

2. Faith in the power of my process.

I told the boy I liked him…and then immediately panicked. I can’t do this. I need more time. How do I know if I can trust him? The uncertainty and vulnerability of that first step was almost too much for me to handle. In those panicky moments I had to get curious about why I was reacting that way, and it led me to recognize the source as some deep-seated pain that I’ve been sitting on for a long time. I was grateful for loving friends that talked me out of running away and helped me feel my way through the pain to address the core issue. Getting at the root of those problems that block connection requires faith that facing the pain will get you where you want to be.

3. Faith in constant sources.

The ability to exercise faith is certainly influenced by the character of the person in whom you place your faith. I find that my faith in God, He who never turns away, gives me the foundation I need to be able to exercise my faith in relationships with other people. The strength of my relationship with Him determines how much I am able to stay open and vulnerable to other people, because if I base my worth and security off my inherent worth as His child, I can weather the storms of relationships with less perfect beings.

And so I move forward. I’m still scared sometimes, but if I value connection, believe that my process will work, and trust in a higher power, then this is what I have to do. If I want my life to be rich and full of meaning, I have to take a chance on people, because it’s only then that I can experience the exquisite sweetness of connection that comes from two people taking a chance on each other.

Ariel Szuch is a word nerd, writer, and compulsive reader who finds purpose in a life of faith.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Bad things happen to good people. Despite all our faith and prayers, things still go wrong. This last week alone one of my neighbors broke a leg, one pinched a nerve in their neck, and another’s barn burned down just when the hay was in. They were all good people. And misfortune found them just the same. But why?

dr-who

One of my favorite quotes comes from an episode of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who, when the beloved time-traveler and his companion, Amy, meet the artist Vincent Van Gogh. Although Amy hopes that their love and support would be enough for Van Gogh to overcome his depression, they return to the future to find that the now beloved genius still led a broken life which ended in suicide. Yet the Doctor comforts Amy, telling her, “Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.”

This statement struck me the first time I heard it. No matter what I or anyone else does, bad things still happen. Natural disasters don’t pick and choose who is good or bad. A failing economy is as likely to affect a kind person as it is a cruel one. However, these things don’t make life any less of a miracle or God any less real. Sometimes disaster is brought on by our own mistakes. Sometimes it comes as part of the course of life. These trials don’t mean that God doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. I believe they must have another purpose.

Perhaps one of those reasons is so that we can learn to add to the pile of good things. The pile of bad things may seem monumental, but that only makes the pile of good things that much more important. Someone who has felt terrible pain will feel joy all the more sweetly when the time comes. Each day we add small pieces to our piles, seemingly insignificant drops in the ocean as we notice the small blessings that God has brought into our lives—be it through a bouquet of sunflowers or a starry night. There are also those moments when we can add to someone else’s pile of good things at the same time, and our faith will magnify those drops. When the bad times come, and they will come, we can remember the ocean of blessings God has given us.

It is true, bad things happen to good people. It is also true that good things happen to good people; the bad things in life don’t necessarily spoil them or make them unimportant. So if you are in the midst of a trial, don’t give up. Don’t let the pain tarnish the pile of good things in your life. You will find that there was more good than you realized.

Camille Ward is a student of English Education at BYU. She loves to spend time with her family and is not to be trusted in bookstores or bakeries.

Three Ways Remembrance Can Change Your Life

Three Ways Remembrance Can Change Your Life

remembrance

It seems I forget things all the time. Names go in one ear and out the other—I’ve learned to just swallow my pride and ask for the third time if I have to. Depending on how much I have on my mind, I forget items like my keys, phone, and clothes in the laundry. In those instances, forgetting is often inconvenient (sometimes a LOT inconvenient), but there are other things, if forgotten, that bring greater consequences.

Forgetting (or neglecting) family and friends can lead to damaged relationships and isolation. Forgetting the lessons of the past and where we came from can lead to unnecessary mistakes and the loss of a sense of identity and belonging.

Forgetting the blessings we have can bring a sense of emptiness, discontent, and despair.

The antidote to these things?

Remembrance.

The following are three of the ways remembrance has changed my life.

1. Remembering can bring comfort and closeness with those we love.

My mom passed away from cancer two and a half years ago. Shortly after her passing, I was lying in bed, tears running down my face. How was I going to live the rest of my life without her? The world seemed so empty. Then, into my mind came this thought, as if it were my mother’s voice: “When you’re having a hard time, remember how much I love you.” The remembrance of my mother’s love has sustained me through many more lonely nights. In addition, when I feel alone, I’m often forgetting the support network of people who know and love me. It’s not always easy to reach out for help, but when I do, it’s healing, and I feel a greater sense of connection to the people I love.

Action Item: In moments of difficulty, think of someone who could use a kind word and send them a short text telling them how much they mean to you. Sometimes when I’m struggling, a text is all I have the emotional strength for, but this simple gesture uplifts and connects both people involved.

2. Remembering the past can give us strength to move forward.

I have the tendency to feel sorry for myself at times, particularly in regards to being single and/or not knowing what to do with my life. On one lonely day I was flipping through a family history when I came across the story of my sixth-great grandmother, Mary Fielding. She did many difficult things, much of the time without the support of a husband. After emigrating from England to the United States, she was widowed twice, crossed a thousand miles of prairie with her children, made a new life in a new place, and lived to be over a hundred years old. Strength and inspiration comes from knowing that someone who is part of your heritage pressed forward and overcame difficult obstacles. In moments of weakness, I can reflect on Mary’s story, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward.

Action Item: Find a story from the life of a family member or another person who inspires you. Read it often, especially when you’re feeling discouraged.

3. Remembering our blessings can help us be happy now and have hope for the future.

I used to think that when people said, “Be grateful,” it was just code for, “Stop whining.” I hated that. Over time, I’ve learned that cultivating gratitude isn’t minimizing difficulties and painting a falsely cheerful picture of the world. I’ve found that sometimes the most helpful way for me to practice gratitude is in specific “even though” statements: “Even though I miss my mother horribly right now, I’m grateful for the close relationships I’ve developed with my extended family because of this loss.” That way I acknowledge the pain, but am mindful of the good things that have come in the midst of it and can have faith in good things to come in the future.

Action Item: When you’re feeling negative or critical, flip the switch by saying or writing three “even though” statements with things you’re really, truly grateful for that day.

Remembrance seems simple, but is a principle of real power. As I’ve remembered the people who love me, what I’m grateful for, and lessons from the past, I have hope—the confidence that ultimately, everything is going to be okay.

Ariel Szuch is a word nerd, writer, and compulsive reader who finds purpose in a life of faith.

Five Ways to Find Light in the Darkness from Corrie ten Boom

Five Ways to Find Light in the Darkness from Corrie ten Boom

By Camille Ward, Faith Counts Contributor

light in darkness“In darkness, God’s light shines most clear.” Corrie ten Boom’s faith shone even in the darkness of the holocaust. This courageous Dutch watchmaker overcame the despair of the Ravensbrück concentration camp as she shared her light with her fellow prisoners throughout the war.

  1. Show Gratitude: “Prayer is the key for the day; the lock for the night” Despite illness, abuse, and grief, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, did their best to give thanks to God. Upon installment in the overcrowded Ravensbrück barracks, Betsie reminded Corrie that they were to “give thanks in every circumstance.” However, when Betsie gave thanks for the fleas, even Corrie balked. Yet she gave thanks, and in the months following, discovered that the same fleas that tormented them nightly kept guards from intruding upon the safety of the barracks during the day.
  2. Serve: “The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.” Even in prison, Corrie and Betsie prayed and read the Bible with those around them, bringing their light to the darkness of Ravensbrück. Though crippled by illness, they shared what they had and served those who could not help themselves. In serving others, Corrie found a purpose and a peace that would sustain her throughout the war.
  3. Love: When the love of her life married another woman and Corrie’s heart shattered, her father taught her this lesson: “’Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel . . . . Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way,” . . . He had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this; places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all.” Corrie learned to love God’s children so much that she sacrificed her freedom to rescue approximately 800 Jews. Later, when she entered those darker rooms of the holocaust, rather than curling in on herself, hiding from the pain, she brought the light of love with her.
  4. Forgive: When God “tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” Corrie discovered that while she felt pity for the abused, Betsie found it in herself to love the abusers. After the war, Corrie fulfilled both sisters’ dreams and founded homes for both former prisoners and guards, giving them the love and time they needed to heal. Later in her ministry, a Ravensbrück guard asked her for forgiveness. He did not recognize her, but she recognized him. In this moment of agony, she turned to God and He filled her with the forgiveness the man sought. In her own words, she taught that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
  5. Trust in God’s Purposes:Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” Corrie believed that “every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Instead of being angry at God for allowing her to suffer, Corrie had faith that God had prepared her to take the path she was on. If God willed that she labor in Ravensbrück, losing her sister and father along the way, she trusted that there was a purpose to her suffering. Corrie found the strength to bear her burdens by trusting that they filled God’s purposes. After her miraculous release, Corrie continued to use her experiences in Ravensbrück to share the light of God with people all over the world.

Corrie ten Boom died in 1983, having shone the light of God in some of the darkest moments in history.

You can read Corrie’s autobiography, The Hiding Place, to learn more about her life and faith.

Camille Ward is a student of English Education at BYU. She loves to spend time with her family and walk outside and is not to be trusted in bookstores or bakeries.

Let Gratitude Be Your Superpower

Let Gratitude Be Your Superpower

By Linda Clyde, Faith Counts Contributor

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Sometimes Gratitude Shows Up Late

Like anyone, I’ve had times in my life when it was hard to be grateful: like the eight or nine months as a poor newlywed living in an ancient camping trailer, in a blustery RV park, surrounded by sand—nearly every morning we woke up with sand in our teeth; or the time I sat helpless in the hospital next to my concussed 11-year-old after she suffered a terrible accident at recess; or when I went through a faith crisis and began to deeply question my religious beliefs. Gratitude doesn’t always come easy; in my case it has shown up months and even years later.

Gratitude Can Take You Places

Life has its lean times, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. But by remembering that the lean times are opportunities for learning, growth, and development, it becomes easier to feel grateful.

Gratitude can also be an incredible tool for life, if you’re able to keep pride from getting in the way. Gratitude is a launching pad for future growth. For example, if you lost your job, would you spend time being angry at the company or person that let you go, or would you focus on being grateful for what you learned during your employment? The first approach is a solid dead end; but the second approach can really lead somewhere.

The Superpower of Gratitude

We’ve all been around thankless, pessimistic folks. It’s hard to walk away from an encounter with an ungrateful person without feeling a subtle emptiness, like they’ve taken something from you. But if ingratitude and thanklessness leaves us feeling empty and closed off, we can be sure that gratitude and a thankful heart are their shining, glorious opposites. Consider the following:

  • Gratitude is attractive. People, who express gratitude for the simple things, like majestic sunsets or their love and appreciation for others are emotionally and spiritually attractive and they’re just plain nice to be around.
  • Gratitude strengthens faith. Being grateful has a way of opening up your heart and mind to the goodness surrounding you. It’s a positive, optimistic force that helps you believe that things will always work out for the best. Trusting that there’s a higher power out there that wishes only to bless you and strengthen you, can go a long way in building faith that lasts.
  • Gratitude is disarming. When someone is angry, expressing gratitude and appreciation for them can take the edge off of their anger, validate their feelings, and help them calm down.
  • Gratitude can serve as a reset button. When you’re hung up on the challenges and injustices of life, gratitude can help you refocus on what’s really important.
  • Gratitude gets easier. Like anything, finding things to be grateful for can become second nature when you practice.
  • Gratitude makes you more receptive to goodness. A focus on gratitude can help you suddenly appreciate things you haven’t noticed before: your best friend’s contagious smile, the happy wag of your dog’s tail, a refreshing rainstorm—anything! Goodness is everywhere.
  • Gratitude helps others see the bright side too. Your optimistic example of pointing out goodness can go a long way for everyone in your circles. Don’t hold back; talk about what makes you laugh, all the things you like, or just good things that happened to you throughout the day. You’re sure to lift someone and make them smile.

Better Late Than Never

I now look back with gratitude for the sand in my teeth because the love of my life was right there with me—and he had sand in his teeth too. I look at my happy, healthy daughter and my heart thrills that she’s still with me, and leading a normal life. Each week I attend my local congregation and I’m thankful for the wonderful gift of being able to choose what I believe. Over time I’ve learned that there’s something special to cherish in every moment and that learning to be grateful is a lot like having an emotional superpower.

Linda Clyde is passionate about faith and the power it has to brighten lives. She’s a wife, mother, writer, beautician, and above all, a believer. Contact her at colossalthought@gmail.com

50 Reasons to be Thankful for Faith

50 Reasons to be Thankful for Faith

Earlier this month we asked you to complete the sentence, “I’m grateful for my faith because…” We loved reading through all of your responses! Here are 50 of the more than 240 responses to the question. As you reflect on the many things you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving, consider these reasons to be thankful for faith:

Without my faith life would have no meaning. -Cheryl N.

My faith will carry me through the hardest times. -Mike P.

It brings me closer to God and gives me strength. -Candice I.

Without my faith I couldn’t make it day to day and couldn’t make it through the tough times. -Joyce D.

Because Faith is all I have. -Ti’Alice Y.

Im grateful results-01 Debra

Faith gives me strength to keep going – Debra L.

Jesus has brought me through all of my trials. -Michael D.

Life would be hopeless. -Carol C.

I can always hold on to it. -Gail C.

It gets me through problems. -Andrea B

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It brings me peace in good times AND bad. -Deonna T.

It’s what gets me by. -Julia S.

It gives me strength and helps me thru each day,we walk by faith not by sight! -Shirley G.

I have good people in my life. -Carla F.

It carries me thru the troubling times in life. -Dolores K.

Im grateful results-04

It showed me a way when it looked like there was no way. -Ricarda B.

It helps me get through the rough patches. -Melissa B.

It’s my life source. -Alexis W.

It never fails me! -Tomika A.

It fills me up with hope and understanding! -Amber R.

Im grateful results-03

It gives me stability. -Patricia S.

It is everything. -Sheri M.

God is awesome. -CJ G.

I would be lost without it. – Melissa C.

I’m truly blessed. -Christina B.

Im grateful results-07

It gives me peace in my heart- LJ T.

His wonderful blessings. -Jennifer L.

It is my refuge and my salvation. -Teresa S.

Without it I would be nothing. -Turk R.

It is what carries me. -Jacqueline W.

Im grateful results-09

It makes me a better person and life richer. -Austin J.

Without faith we wouldn’t find ourselves. -Maria A.

I’m alive. -Osi S.

I couldn’t face some of the things in my life if I didn’t have faith in God. -Joyce P.

It is my only way to get through my day … by faith and faith alone. -Pauline M.

Im grateful results-08

It gives me comfort. -Dorothy W.

God listens and heals. -Prem P.

It keeps me going! -Jenny D.

Through faith all things are possible. -Jane Y.

It’s always there for me!! -Pam D.

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It allows me to keep on going when I feel like throwing in the towel! -Tay S.

It helps me get stronger, more positive. -Gabriel G.

I would not be the way I am. -Misty B.

Because it is love not hate. -Chester M.

Without it, I would be a total mess. -Yashica H.

Im grateful results-05 Ruth

It sustains me.-Ruth M.

It’s everything! -Emily R.

I am so Blessed. -Diann E

My life & family. -Demitrice G.

Gives me hope. -Karla G.

50 Reasons to be Thankful for FaithDiscover More:

Gratitude in the Hardest of Times

Have Faith in the Little Things

Finding Peace in Every Moment

Gratitude in the Hardest of Times

Gratitude in the Hardest of Times

By Jen Fallon, FaithCounts.com Contributor

It had been a difficult two months since my husband and I moved from Salt Lake City to Boston for graduate school. Although we had saved meticulously, our expenses were twice what we anticipated. We also found out that my four-month pregnancy was considered extremely high risk, and the doctors called me in every week for blood tests and extensive procedures. Chances were high that I would have to deliver prematurely or risk serious health consequences.
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While my husband put in long hours for an accelerated graduate degree, I remained unemployed despite a strong resume and numerous applications for positions. We were living in one of the top-five most expensive cities in the nation and had to make do with only my meager freelance salary.

Things were beginning to look up, though. We were adjusting to our hectic schedule and making do with cheap pasta and potato dinners. We were relishing the joyous details of our lives—like a warm cup of tea on a New England autumn evening.

Then I received news that my oldest brother had taken his own life, one week before his birthday and two weeks before Thanksgiving. Nobody in my family knew the extent of his mental and physical illness because he had resisted our efforts to reach out. His passing shook my family to its core, especially my parents. The whirlwind of his funeral left us in shocked grief, and we knew that the pathway to healing would be long and arduous.

With the holiday of thankfulness approaching, I had no idea how I could face the heavy burdens of my personal and professional life without caving. However, as I began to take stock of my life, I also felt a deeper sense of gratitude to and connection with God. Because I was desperate for comfort and relief, I could more easily recognize God’s hand guiding my life. This expanded my vision from focusing on everything that was going wrong to recognizing how much God was sustaining me in small but significant ways.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Be grateful for poverty. Making the cents stretch helped to feel grateful for the smallest blessings that I had taken for granted before. Desperate for a treat of some kind, my husband and I went to the grocery store one night and found hot chocolate on the discount shelves. We savored every sip. Being strapped for cash also gave us the chance to benefit from the kindness and generosity of others.

2. Be grateful for health. When I found out that my pregnancy could be life-threatening, I began to treasure every moment. I no longer took my breath or my heartbeat for granted. Every time I went to the doctor and came away with a clean blood test, I would listen to the rhythm of my heartbeat all the way home from the hospital. I was so grateful just to be alive and to have another day with the people I loved most.

3. Be grateful for learning. Although I couldn’t find full-time work, my freelance work allowed me to expand my perspective and increase my initiative. I had to work harder to earn projects that would provide for my family, and I was forced to develop expertise in unfamiliar situations. When I looked back on this work experience, I was amazed at how much I had grown professionally.

4. Be grateful for friends and family. As difficult as my brother’s death was, my family took it as a signal to draw closer together and express love and appreciation for one another. We learned that it is always worth it to show love, even when it can be hard.

5. Be grateful for God. Although God allowed me to carry these burdens, He never left me comfortless. He showed up in the details—whether in a much needed paycheck, through a generous family member, or in quiet moments of grief or serenity. God makes it possible for us to have peace, even in the darkest times. And that truly is a blessing that deserves our deepest gratitude.

Being Grateful Even in the Hardest of TimesDiscover More:

5 Ways to Share Your Faith

At Home with a Higher Power: What Nature Can Tell Us about God

Skateboards and Faith: Finding Balance on the Board and in Life

#FaithServes October

#FaithServes October

By Maddie Wiley, FaithCounts.com Contributor

#faithserves october

Make the commitment this month to do some service amidst the busy school schedules, Halloween costume making and leaf raking! Find opportunities to do more service during your daily routines and inspire others to do the same.

#FaithServes is a social media event to inspire people to serve their friends, families and communities. Pick service ideas from the following list to complete throughout the month of October and as you serve, take pictures and post your stories to social media using #FaithServes. And if you see service happening, to you or to others, post about those using #FaithServes. We will be “reposting” participant pictures throughout the month and will share service stories at the end of the event. You can also follow @MyFaithCounts on Twitter for daily service reminders!

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” –Ghandi

Service Ideas

  1. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard
  2. Donate warm clothes to a shelter
  3. Bake Halloween cookies for a neighbor
  4. Send a treat to teachers
  5. Visit a nursing home
  6. Make Halloween crafts for friends
  7. Volunteer to tutor children at a library
  8. Help an elderly person cross the street
  9. Leave a kind note on a coworkers desk
  10. Compliment a stranger
  11. Tip a street performer
  12. Bring up a neighbor’s trash can
  13. Make an extra lunch to giveaway
  14. Carve a pumpkin for a neighbor
  15. Donate old Halloween costumes to children in need
  16. Volunteer to decorate pumpkins with the elderly
  17. Volunteer to decorate placemats for homeless shelters
  18. Make fleece tie blankets for shelters
  19. Organize a neighborhood garage sale for your favorite cause
  20. Collect old DVD’s and video games to donate to a local children’s hospital
  21. Collect used sporting equipment to donate to your local children’s club
  22. Collect unused cosmetics for a women’s shelter
  23. Support Breast Cancer Awareness month by wearing pink and donating to the cause
  24. Make a bird bath or animal feeder for your backyard
  25. Volunteer to wash your neighbor’s dog
  26. Go for a walk with an elderly neighbor
  27. Volunteer to pass out water at a local charity race
  28. Bring dog treats and toys to an animal shelter
  29. Volunteer to help a neighbor collect their mail
  30. Call an old friend to catch up
  31. Leave flowers for your neighbor

October #FaithServesDiscover More:

A Rare Disease, a Rarer Faith
Keeping Faith in College
Sacred Spaces: Recognizing What We Share