I am writing from a cozy, reddish-burgandy chair in the fireplace corner of my parent’s living room in Pennsylvania. The rain is pounding outside the window, and the wind is blowing in great gusts. It reminds me of the hurricane weather that we get the effects of in Georgia. But it’s a very cozy sort of day! A morning where I don’t feel guilty at all, sitting curled up on a chair with a blanket and hot coffee. :)

[my father and Olivia]

Penn. in March 031

[Zoe, reminding me of Dick & Jane :)]
Penn. in March 082

The past few weeks have been a quick change of plans, due to various circumstances. About two months ago, Ben’s employer informed him that there wouldn’t be much work at all for the next 6-8 weeks. That was a big gulp for us – not that it had anything to do with his employer, but work in general has been slowing down very much in our area, and we knew we were finally feeling it now too.

So in those 6-8 weeks there was some work that trickled in, and well, some days there was nothing. Ben had work probably 50% of the time, maybe a little more, due to little odd jobs popping up – which were not happenstance at all, but God’s provision for us.

[Pennsylvania has THE greatest Goodwills and consignment shops! I was more delighted than the girls with these finds there. :)]

Penn. in March 041

But two weeks ago he learned that there was nothing at all for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, my dad had offered him a temporary job would he need work. So, in the course of 1-2 days, we decided to load up our suitcases, jump in the car, and head up north. We thought we’d stay a week – we’re ended up staying two.

It’s been a great arrangement, and we are feeling incredibly blessed.
Blessed by the work that God has provided for Ben through my dad.
Blessed by the leisurely days of time with my family that normally feels so rushed when I come back home. Blessed by the friends and family that I’ve seen and have yet to see.
Blessed by the snow on 4/1 ~ I think it was God’s April Fool’s joke. :)
Just blessed by so many things….

[snow on April 1 in Pennsylvania]
Snow 3Snow 1

[Absolutely delighted little girls! Zoe groggily came down the stairs that morning and peered out the window. “What’s that white stuff?” she mumbled through sleepy eyes. Then she audibly GASPED and said, “IS THAT SNOW??!” :) It was precious. Her excitement was contagious, and we went out and played in all the one-inch delight of it!]

Snow 2

Snow 4

[we were so unprepared for snow! she got so cold in her pajamas, spring jacket, and sock mittens! but was she ever excited!]

Snow 5

I’ve been thinking lately how my quality of life is affected so much by our perspective on life. By how we view things. By how we see God in it, rather than seeing only the hard things…

I thought of it when I texted my neighbor, Lauren, one morning on her way to work, telling her I was thinking of her. I knew she had a huge detour to make on the way due to a forest fire in the neighboring town. She has a little girl, and leaving for work on a normal day is early. Leaving for work on a day where the drive takes an hour longer than usual is even earlier. But I loved her perspective when she texted back, saying that yes, the drive was long, but at least she had a house that was standing, and a family that was not suffering from smoke inhalation…. I love how she chose to see the good things that day…

Penn. in March 024Penn. in March 071

Penn. in March 066

I think of it when Ben doesn’t work much work, when pennies are pinched tighter than usual, when runs to the grocery store are mostly milk and eggs, and menus are planned around economical things instead of trying out new gourmet recipes. Hard? No, not really. Challenging? Sometimes.

But I really don’t think that I know what hard is. Hard is not eating eggs and casseroles instead of a French I-can’t-pronounce-it-food. [Not that I make many French-sounding things at all anyway! Ha!]

Penn. in March 048

[a bag that we saw while perusing/window shopping… isn’t it so great – out of a burlap coffee sack? i would love to make a similar one]

Penn. in March 060

Penn. in March 058

What hard is, is losing a family member…
…is having an earthquake wipe out a huge area of your country…
… is having a tsunami wash your children out to sea, never to be found again…
…is never ever feeling loved, by anyone….
… is feeling like there is no safe place on earth for your heart…
… is having your house and all your sentimental treasures burn to the ground, and be left with only the clothes on your back…
…is having not a bite of food for your children and watching them starve before your eyes…
… is having your country ravished by a people that seem more like savage animals than human beings…
… is being homeless, and having no where to go at night except a warm grate or a kind shelter.

Work for us hasn’t been steady, but you know, we are really so so blessed. God has been faithful to provide for us. We aren’t starving. At all. We might not have an abundance of material things, but we DO have an abundance of vast blessings of so many kinds!

I think there is so much emphasis placed on introspection that we can easily lose our attitude of gratefulness. We can get so caught up in the things that don’t go right and that have gone wrong that I forget to thank God for the many many things that are incredible blessings. In our North American/western-world mentality, we can get so upset about the things that go wrong, not realizing that on a bad day, we have much more than 80% of the world on their best day.

There is definitely a place for introspection, for being real about life and the hard things we face. I’m not discrediting that. I love people that are real and when asked, “Hey, how are you?” can answer honestly, “You know, my day is just rotten.” Or, “The last few weeks have just been HARD.” But what I don’t like is when people stay there. Their whole lives. And they can never get past the bad and the rotten.

It feels like God is calling me out and asking me to look for the blesssings that are sometimes in disguise. Not in a fake, pretensive way. But in a way that is calling me to look beyond right now, and trust His heart for today. Trusting that He sees the bigger picture. Fearless trust. And the more He calls me into this, the more I realize how little I know about trust. About fearless trust. But I want to live that way.

I want to live wanting GOD more than I want my life to be a certain way. I want to want God more than things to go well. I want God more than an easy life…

Perspective ~ choosing to see God in my days… Choosing to be grateful. Choosing GOD in the little moments of my days, those defining moments that could threaten to ruin my day or  walk forward with more knowledge of His faithfulness… So help me, God!

~clarita

 

43 thoughts on “Perspective and Gratitude

  1. inanorchard

    Perspective, it is so important! It is easy to get lost in the “poor me”, “why isn’t my life as easy as others” mind set. I find myself falling into it so often and then feeling ashamed of my ungratefulness. How it must hurt God when I respond to His abundant blessings with discontentment and envy. It’s an area of my life I need to work on.

    I love all you pictures! Clarita, you and your girls are so, SO beautiful! Great thrift store finds too, and that bag!… I might need to find a burlap coffee bag and do some replicating :) Enjoy this time with your family.

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  2. mellibella

    I just smiled reading this, I totally get it…it reminds me of the book I am reading….Glad you had happy snow time!  And sock mittens…made me smile we grew up wearing those!

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  3. fruitloops115

    true. so so true. so easy to loose perspective and get caught up in our little problem when much of the world is so much more worse off. Thanks for the reminder. Enjoy this unexpected blessing of extra time with your family. how fun wish our paths would somehow cross….

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  4. appalolly

    This totally resonates with me!  I have been thinking a lot of the same things lately and you put it so well!  Thanks for sharing what is going on in your heart.

    Perspective is of SUCH importance!

    I am so happy for you that you are getting to spend time with your family…unexpectedly.  What a blessing!  And so neat that your girls got to see some snow while they were there!

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  5. ABAHM

    Beautiful perspective, sweet girls! Been there many years ago, and I can look back at some of the sweetness, and some of the blessing that God worked out in those years. My boys have thanked us, it was God, we wouldn’t have been brave enough to sign up for lean times. It gives you a closeness, and a perspective of what is important. It also causes you to draw closer to God. Praying for provision.

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  6. seekinHISwisdom

    so true, beautiful reminder! sometimes being honest (to myself or someone who cares) about the yuck I am in helps brighten my perspective again. a lot of it simply is how grateful and thankful I am about where God has us, or what He has given us. I hear that thankfulness in you, and I love how you shared it.

    Glad your girls (and you) got to enjoy a little snow!! :)

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  7. Elizabethmarie_1

    Your site has been up all morning in my house…your playlist kept us entertained while we got dinner into the crockpot and dishes done. =)
    So glad you got to visit with your parents and have SNOW!!!  What a blessing!  God probably sent that snowstorm just for you and your snowy wishes!

    Yes, perspective means so much.  Especially when we are raising our kids, they will do what we do. If we look for the good in things, so will they. However, if we look for the bad in life, unfortunately they will do that too.
    God gives us so much to be thankful for. We are so spoiled in this country that we can’t even see it sometimes.

    Enjoy the time with your family!
    Oh yeah…and Sophia and I noticed the nutella mug…we LOVE nutella in this house…we just had it on our toast this morning!!!
    Happy Tuesday to you.

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  8. mytoesareblue

    wow clarita, another great post (like usual) i love the moments of your girls spending more time with your parents…i know how much they loved hanging out with your mom when you had your girls time. and what a beautiful family that your dad has some jobs lined up for your hubby when he knows there is a slow time at work. sooo blessed. and clearly God’s hand is seen in his provision….but i’m sure that there are days when its hard to trust. its hard to remember that we are so blessed…so thank you for this reminder. God has been using the most interesting things to remind me of this…i’ve been watching the ‘secret millionaire’ on tv with my parents where someone that has a tremendous amount of money choses to live like someone in a down and out area of their city and volunteer in some great places and then choose to donate money to them. its been fascinating to see how these people are soo challenged in life and yet they are willing to share with others and make a difference. i have been challenged more then once to just let go of so much that i hold onto…and look into ways that i can make a tangible difference in the community. i’m thinking of seeing if my shifts at work can just always be opens and while that means i’m up really early in the day…that frees me to have about 5 hours free for volunteering somewhere and making a difference. i’m excited to see if this pans out. thank you so much for sharing this.

    when i was thinking of the snow today…i was thinking back and i can’t remember if it was you or another one of my lovely xanga friends who had a daughter that really wanted to have snow this winter…and if it was you, what an awesome blessing that she could experience it ;) thank you for sharing these moments in your life my dear.

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  9. shellElynn

    Thanks for sharing this! Whether rich or poor, sick or well, steady work or not….we ALL need to remember to keep the right perspective! Good reminder.

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  10. erlinyoder

    So, so true…all that you said! Life is so much what we make it!  I often see my little trial as just trials, and not times of growing that I think God intends for them to be.

    Just love that you and the girls actually got to see snow!

    In “Jesup news”…We had quite the storm here last night.  Our neighbors carport blew over, and our trampoline blew through my washline and then into the woods.  It’s beautiful today though.

    You should come home now.(:  We want you back for our shopping excursion on Saturday!(:

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  11. lifeisadance

    @mytoesareblue – that little girl that wanted snow was my daughter! sweet of you to remember!

    @fruitloops115 – I was thinking too that I would love if our paths would cross!! But I didn’t want to be too forward… We’re leaving sometime this weekend, I’ll try to get back with you [and Bek] if I see I could make something work. I’d love to see your house. :)))

    @erlinyoder – no way! was it a tornado or something?? I don’t ever remember anything like that before! and yeah, it really pulls to not be there this saturday! :(

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  12. fruitloops115

    @lifeisadance –  too forward?? that’s funny. never. altho that’s how i kinda felt saying anything, i mean really, who am I, this stranger wanting to see you, when you have scads of real-life family and friends to see while you’re here It would be fun to get together with you and bek. my week is a teeny busy from here on out but Thurs. could work. Well, most afternoons are free, but that’s naptime for most kiddos if not this time, maybe another…

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  13. Anonymous

    Thank you for making a difference in my life. You have blessed and encouraged and made me smile so many times. Tho’ we don’t know each other, I want you to know how special you are and I hope God continues to bless, guide, teach, inspire, and hold you. Love, Regina (Ontario, Canada) :)

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  14. redladybug18

    I think stuff like you’re going through really grows your faith and even though I can’t say I’d want to be in your shoes, you get the reward which is so worth it in the end. Those trial really grow us and make us deepen our faith in Him.
    BTW LOVE that shot of you and Zoe? with the green background!

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  15. JsSteph7

    I’m sure it must be so nice to get to visit with your family! I understand what you’re going through, we were there before too. It certainly teaches you so much, especially perspective. And when you think you’ve learned that lesson, God brings something else along to show you you’ve only begun learning. : ) That’s me too. The Lord recently showed me too that He has to do these things to get us out of our comfort zone to use us in ways that normally wouldn’t be possible.

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  16. mel5680

    Wow! You have articulated my thoughts and feelings so well. It is also nice to know we are not the only ones eating alot of simple egg dishes:)

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  17. baileyandme

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Partly, because yesterday I was listening to Christian radio while cleaning, and I listened to 2 sermons in a row on contentment. I have just been LONGING for gratefulness to rule my life. Because if it does, how can I ever be down trodden?! It`s just a precious thing to think on… And your post goes right with it all… thank you! I had to smile at the pink shoes. My Elle has the ones that aren`t high tops– just like that. I love them but they are too small for her as of last week. :) Can we say growth spurt? Feeling really happy for you as you just ENJOY family. It`s precious.

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  18. grace_to_be

    in the last paragraph the word CHOOSE leaps off the screen at me. isn’t that what it’s all about? where i CHOOSE to put my focus~

    such powerful life changing truth to choose to see His blessings. so much where God has me right now. as Ann Voskamp says in her book, something like {don’t know exact quote} “every day is grace! the fact that we get ONE MORE…” instead i so often wake up thinking, “ugg. one more day of laundry.school.chores.HARD.” oh, to be able to have Him transform my attitude from i HAVE to do this, to, i GET to do this!! seeing the joy of NOW. i’m not there yet. but. i’m learning…

    and how i understand about the job stuff. the past few wks it’s been the same for shayne –
    he just started working again yesterday. :) yes. God always provides.

    so appreciate your heart~

    happy wednesday. enjoy the time w/ your parents!

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  19. lifeisadance

    @fruitloops115 – I’m afraid my mornings are rather filled up too. :( Afternoons are more free, but I’m not sure about dragging poor grouchy kids with me?? Maybe next time – unless I see a time I could squeeze in? Because I would *love* to meet you with you…

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  20. smilesbymiles

    I love these thoughts on perspective. It’s so hard to keep that in front of myself and to CHOOSE to believe truth and to let my emotions follow truth instead of fear. I’m so glad you get to be with your family during this time … I know it’s mixed but thank goodness there is some good mixed in with the bad of not having work at home!

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  21. fruitloops115

    @lifeisadance –  sounds good to meIt’s just one of those weeks where I’ll be glad to see the other side…dragging cranky kids around preatty much kills the joy of doing anything for me, I’d rather forgo then deal with kids who really should just be sleeping but anyway the thought that you thought of me makes me feel warm and fuzzy Have a great rest of the week.

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  22. justcallmeM

    Loved the perspective challenge. Amazing how sidetracked we can get! Reminds me of a movie quote: “Honey, a bad day is a broken nail. What we have here is a TRAIN WRECK!!!” (It was gum in the hair. :) Anyway, love the little pink Converse shoes! Hope you have a wonderful time with your family! :)

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  23. down_onthefarm

    i knew that i had been out of touch for while online. but. my word. i missed alot of posts here!
    so fun to see your beautiful sisters and you. and your happy porch and cuh-razy fork. :) love it.

    i’ve experienced a major jolt in perspective recently. while it does have me rethinking both the trivial and the important…
    i am surprised {and even embarrassed with myself} at how the ordinary everyday still has it’s hard. and of course. 
    and wondering…for me. what, “when the only way out is through it” means for me. and those who i love.

    your list of hard things hits really close to home. and funny.
    you can see some of those hard things. make a donation.
    and offer time and assistance in some way.
    but this one. the “feeling like there is no safe place on earth for your heart…”
    can quietly be right next to us.
    in the church pew.
    in the line at walmart.
    happily commenting with us in the blogging world…
    and we don’t even know.

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  24. lifeisadance

    @fruitloops115 – Oh my goodness, MY heart is warmed!! There are blogging friends I would have loved to see while I’m here, but I knew that THE Audrey Miller was just here and I didn’t want to be a wanna-be. :) But I will be looking forward to next time!

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  25. twofus_1

    A very beautiful post!!! So true that we lose perspective about what is hard, and can become negative about the little things in our lives that we make to be big things.

    I’m so happy for you for the time you get to be with your family…AND the time to catch up with old friends. I know so well how it is to have quick trips home where you do the most important things only. One summer we lived in VA for a month also because of work, and it did wonderful things for me! The catch up, and even having time to do special things around the area that we normally wouldn’t have time for. It was in the first couple years of marriage, and I think Steve saw the other (single) side of me and understood a lot more of who I was and how I came to be me. Staying for a long time can also have its stressful side, but I hope that this time it’s all happiness for you. :) I’ve been missing you online. :) Love you, and can’t wait for my turn to have you visit. :)

    PS Love the picture of you and Zoe!

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  26. beklovesjeremy

    SO good to see you while you were here. Feeling blessed that I got to see you twice!!! Wishing you a wonderful day as you say your good byes, pack up and make the not so fun trip home. Love you girl. Thanks for your friendship!!!! {hugs}

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  27. GratefulToGod

    Clarita, so glad that you are getting to enjoy some precious time with your family…amazing how God works! I often wonder what it would be like to live that far away from my family.

    And I love, love, love your post. This whole thing of gratefulness and living fully alive has been filling my thought so much lately. You know, I have experienced one of your list of hard things- our newborn daughter died 2 hours after birth in Nov.- and even in this very hard thing, I’m finding it is so much about choosing to be grateful, choosing to see the good that God has given us. The other week I posted this on Facebook, “Gratefulness- it’s amazing what it does for your outlook”. And that has really been my experience these last 5 months that have been excruciatingly hard at times, but also very grace filled.

    Sometimes I also think about how it’s so easy to ask “Why us?” and really that’s okay to ask. But at the same time we rarely ask “Why not us?” when we hear of people having terrible tragedies.

    And I especially love this paragraph- it challenged me so! “There is definitely a place for introspection, for being real about life and the hard things we face. I’m not discrediting that. I love people that are real and when asked, “Hey, how are you?” can answer honestly, “You know, my day is just rotten.” Or, “The last few weeks have just been HARD.” But what I don’t like is when people stay there. Their whole lives. And they can never get past the bad and the rotten.”

    Okay, enough…but thanks again for the challenge in gratitude.

    Ps. Have you ever read One Thousand Gifts? You’d love it. It’s all about this whole subject.

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  28. lifeisadance

    @GratefulToGod – Wow, your story gave me goosebumps… What an incredible journey you’ve been on! I think that losing a child just moments after birth would be one of the hardest things ever to go through. I cannot imagine the anguish! Your heart of worship through it amazes me, because I wonder what my response would be if I would go through something like that. Many MANY blessings on you, sweet woman, and may God be so near to your heart! Thanks so much sharing a bit of your story. ♥ And no, I haven’t read that book, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it!!  That is one that’s on my list for the near future!

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  29. Evangelist_Guy

    Welcome back and thanks for visiting my site again! Check out today’s post! God bless, ~ Pete

    “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you…” Isaiah 43:4 (ref. my Xanga post of 2/21/2011 AD)

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  30. mytoesareblue

    hey Clarita, i was just thinking about you yesterrday and wondering how you are doing? are you still visiting your family? i have seen you appearing in some friends posts since you’ve been in ‘town’ what a special treasure to  be able to spend time with friends. just wanted to let you know that you’re missed. May you be blessed.

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  31. lifeisadance

    @mytoesareblue – You’re very kind! Thanks for thinking of me! The time in Pennsylvania was delicious and special… We’ve been back home in Georgia almost two weeks, but I can down with a terrible case of strep throat right after we got back, and just today am finally feeling better! Hence why I fell off the face of the earth. :) Wishing you a great day too!

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  32. FOREVERLANE

    Thanks for your faithful comments on the “shelly posts” even tho I know my comment thing is a pain. I’m working to get something new and easy to use. Meanwhile I love anytime that I hear anything from you . . . seems like forever since we’ve talked/been together now. You poor dear down so long with illness! What was that all about?? Yes, the painting thing with D was too precious and several more incidents similar to that have happened in the last week. I think he’s just able to express himself better than ever, and it’s a reminder to me of how much he needs and I desire to have a close and loving relationship. Even at just 3+ years, I am needing to treat him more “relationally” instead of just telling him what to do, where to sit, do that, go there, stop that, do this . . . Caring for their hearts becomes a bigger deal, I think as they get older. About the bread, I would *love* to have you over to eat some, and for “baking lessons”. Thelma was asking me about bread-baking, and I told her I have taught a couple of others, so we plan to get together sometime. Wanna come too? Have a great weekend!

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