I’m very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is “turn”. My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set, 

It’s not uncommon to hear someone reference the gifts they’ve been given. Their children, their spouse, living in this wonderful country (USA) and enjoying so many freedoms that residents of far too many other countries are denied, etc.

Take me for example. Much of my adult life, I tossed the word “gift” around quite liberally. You may know what I mean. I’d glibly say, “I’m so grateful for the gifts God has given me”. Or I’d be praying through the ACTS acronym (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and rattle off a quick “thank you, God, for” this or that so I could zip along to telling Him all the things I needed Him to do for me that day.

Between you and me, I bet God got a little tired of me thanking Him for my kids. I mean, I am grateful for them and always have been, and they are the most wonderful, fantastic gift I’ve ever been given. But honestly, they were my go-to gift to be thankful for when praying. If it was early in the morning and not much had happened to me that I could think of to be grateful for, I’d trot out my son and daughter and often, my husband.

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I reminded myself that I was to be thankful in all things, and I tried. I thanked God he wasn’t in lots of pain, I thanked Him for the time we’d had together. But I wasn’t really thankful. I was just saying what I knew I was supposed to say. In the back of my mind, I was hoping God would reward my wonderful attitude with a miraculous healing.

He didn’t. I stilled tried to be thankful. A year or so after my husband passed away, I read a wonderful book (the clock is ticking so I can’t go to the bookshelf to check the title) about a woman who focused on the gifts she was given and kept a gratitude journal.

I followed her example, hoping that by focusing on the gifts I had and was receiving, I could escape the blanket of despair to weighed me down.

Some days I was tempted to fall back on my old stand-bys of kids, country, and health. But I resisted 99% of the time.

Slowly, sometimes with a one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back dance, the despair lessened.

I’ve become more aware of the many gifts I’ve been blessed with. Some — seeing my son graduate from medical school and my daughter with her Masters, for example — are huge. Others, not so much.

But by focusing on gifts, and on being grateful, I’ve . . .

Time’s up!