Gratitude Monday! Tuesday!

At the risk of sounding smarmy, I just have to tell you guys I am kind of brimming full of gratitude these days. And at the risk of over-sharing, I’ll tell you why.

We lived through some very difficult times last year. It seems so far away now, but actually it wasn’t terribly long ago. It was, to paraphrase Queen Elizabeth, my “annus horribilis.” (That is Latin for “horrible year’, but when I typed it out just now it looked more like ‘horrible anus’, which kind of skews the meaning, so let’s just call it ‘The Year of the Great Tsunami of Suckage’.) Life is just ridiculously hard sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, and we all have our stuff to deal with. But last year just felt a little excessive, ya know?! There were plenty of opportunities for despair and I would be lying if I said I didn’t give in to it now and again. It was one of those times where the rubber meets the road as far as faith is concerned. Do I really believe what I have always said I believe? Is there any tangible evidence that I am not in this alone, that there truly is a power greater than myself that is going to come through for me? Will my faith hold up– and hold me up? The answer to all of those questions was a resounding yes. It wasn’t always pretty, and we didn’t do it all perfectly, but we made it through. Limping maybe, but here!

This past week I have watched some friends of ours go through hell. Actually, they’re still going through it. I am hurting for them, and worried about them and it brought back a lot of those feelings that I experienced last year. It has made me realize how fragile our happiness is, how temporal and subject to change. And while my heart is full of empathy and compassion as I watch them trying to find their way through their own particular dark night of the soul, I am also full of immeasurable gratitude for the hard-fought love and renewal and redemption that my family has found is still in the process of finding. I am so grateful that when my faith was tested, it was real and palpable and strong, and it didn’t fail me. Even though I bitched and moaned and raged at my circumstances, I was never abandoned, never left alone in my fear and pain. I would just as soon have learned that lesson in a nice, comfortable, non-horribilis way, but apparently that is rarely how faith works. Dang it.

These days my prayers contain more “Thank you’s” than “Help me’s”. I’m not an idiot– I know that life will inevitably take me down again. But I also know, through the crucible of experience, that I will get up again. And again. So I’m choosing to stay in that place of gratitude. It allows me to get out of my own way and opens me up to all kinds of possibilities. I like myself better that way than when I am completely obsessed with my own life and my own pain and my own blah blah blah…

And now I want to give you guys a chance to express a little gratitude of your own. You don’t have to spill your guts or write an epic– just take a minute, even just a sentence if you want, to express something or someone you are grateful for today. It can be a sainted grandmother or a cup of coffee– no rules!

(By the way, this would be a PRIME OPPORTUNITY for all of you silent readers out there to join the conversation! Yes I am talking to you, unnamed-family-members and friends-who-have-told-me-they-don’t-have-the-nerve-to-comment… and yes, even YOU, Jess Darnell! Come on, de-lurk and gimme some love!)

 I’ll start with three of my biggest reasons to be grateful

OK– your turn!

16 Responses

  1. gracelynn

    First and foremost, I am grateful to have a God that was willing to forgive a fool like myself. I am grateful to have both of my parents alive and still married after 38 years together (that’s rare today folks). I am grateful to have extended family that I can go to when the 3 I live with cannot help me with issues that I face. I am very VERY grateful for my Christian family like Russ and Tori and the many other artists I have been blessed to meet and get to know over the past several years. I am grateful to have a house to live in, a bed to sleep in at night, food on the table, a job and a steady salary (even if it isn’t much it does pay the bills every month) and a car that will get me from home to work daily. And if this economy does go bust, I’m grateful to live on a farm where I can raise my own food and to have been raised by a father and mother who have taught me how to do that.

  2. belinda

    We are thankful that you guys are doing so good and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. We all have tough years, but you guys had your share and then some. It makes me smile and I sit here and say “THANK YOU GOD FOR BEING SO FAITHFUL TO OUR VERY SPECIAL FRIENDS”. We love all of you and have prayed a lot of prayers for the Taff Family. We are thankful that God still remains faithful. When we go through the bad times, HE is always there and brings special people into our lives to help us make it from day to day. Thank you Father, for hearing our prayers!

    Our year has been rough, but God has remained faithful and I know he will continue to be faithful. I’m like you Tori, I don’t understand it and we have talked about this. All I know is we just have to lean on each other and on HIM and HE will always see us through.

    Love you guys! Great Blog!!!!

  3. LindaB

    I’m thankful for a 40 year marriage that gets better every day.

    I’m thankful for children that I love and that love me and enrich our lives so much. And that goes double for those sweet grandbabies.

    I’m thankful for good health at sixty. There are a few little problems, but all of them are “do-able”.

    I’m thankful that I still have my mother, who is so precious to me—even though she thinks I don’t call her enough. And I’m thankful that all five of us “kids” are alive and close.

    I’m thankful that all our needs are supplied, and a lot of our “wants” too.

    I’m thankful for the dear and delightful friends I have acquired while hangin’ out on my computer. You know who you are. And, I love this blog of yours, Tori! You and your “commentors” entertain me every day.

    I’m thankful for a faith in God that lifts and inspires me, that comforts me in times of trouble, and helps me make sense of the universe. And when something wonderful comes my way, I have Someone to thank!

    I’m thankful that, according to scripture, God loves me! That is totally awesome! It gives me hope. It makes this journey from cradle to grave an amazing trip! I can never exhaust all there is to learn about Him.

    And I’m thankful you asked this question because now that I’ve listed what I’m thankful for, I’m pretty happy tonight!!!

  4. CarolynR

    What an encouraging post Tori, thanks. You mentioning the crucible of experience made me think of Job 23:10 “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Yes sometimes (well actually a lot of the time) we can feel so alone. Is He really there with us?

    My family has had a pretty tough few years and we don’t see too much changing this side of eternity unless a miracle happens. To be honest, at times, it has only been the Gaither Homecoming DVDs that have kept us going through all the cr*p. What they did though was remind us that Yes He is there, Yes He is with us, and Yes we are going to see Him one day …. soon :)

  5. auburn60

    That’s a great picture of Russ!

    Well-wow- you guys are blowing me away.

    I heard a song by Olivia Newton John last year called ‘Grace and Gratitude’ and decided to make it my life’s anthem. She pretty much covers it–but I’ll try to add something.

    I am grateful for every quirky member of my immediate family. For my daughters’ independence and humor and continued desire to share their lives with me, for Matthew’s funny, sweet side while trying to ‘become a man’ and for my husband who still loves me after all these years and makes me laugh every day. And because he just lets me be me. And continues to live with me!
    One person I am very grateful for is Gordon Mote. I have become friends with him somewhat in the last few years and he is one of the wisest,Godly, men I know and I am so grateful that he lets me talk on and on about football and stuff and has such an amazing attitude toward life.I think God brought him to us.
    I am INCREDIBLY grateful for my church family. The sweetness of being associated with people who just want to ‘be Jesus’ to others moves me to tears on a regular basis.
    I am grateful for every kid involved in my life. I have known some amazing kids and teens,both personally and professionally, and love watching them grow and change and I am so proud of all of them.
    I am grateful that God has given us more than we need. In this economy,we never know what will happen to our employment,but we’ve been there before and know God will provide.
    I am grateful for on-line friends who stop what they are doing to reassure me when I get a little crazy. And I’m grateful that I get to see them at least once a year.
    And I’m grateful that God in His wisdom gives us those glimpses of what Heaven will be like so we can keep going till that time.
    And I’m grateful that Tori is laying off the bacon and pomegranates.

  6. angelnorman

    I’m grateful for the following:
    – my relationship with my God, the Father, without which I would be empty
    – my amazing little family
    – my extraordinary bigger family (every. single. last. one.)
    – the love that I see all around me.
    – quiet.
    – Tuesdays and Thursdays, when my son is at his MDO having a blast and I can catch up on housework or zzzs if I so choose.
    – Being able to afford to stay home with my son. It’s not easy, but we’re scraping by somehow and lovin’ every minute of being together (‘cept when we’re on each other’s nerves, of course.)
    – The color green.
    – Halloween! Actually, I’m thankful for most holidays. They’re so fun. I love stuff like that.

  7. tammy961

    WOWIE!! this is deep..I am so very thankful/grateful for a faithful God…who never leaves or forsakes me no matter the circumstance…and there have been some circumstances that would definitely test my ability to remain faithful unto Him….Due to illness, I have been forced into retirement 20 years early from a job that I Loved..and on top of that–it is one of the “invisible” illnesses that no one can tell you have but it can leave you virtually a cripple at time (diabetic peripheral neuropathy)Through the entire process of all this, He has remained faithful unto me, all my needs have been met and I have been allowed to use my illness as a testimony of the goodness of my God….Ya know, when I think back on my life as a single mom and elementary school teacher God has been there the entire trip–He hasn’t missed a single mile of the trip…Oh yes friends-God has been better to me than I have often deserved…oh, how I love Him!!

  8. rockin robyn

    Prayers and well wishes go out to your friends in “life’s valley” right now, Tori… I’m sure they know they have the best support system having you and Russ on their side.

    I am so blessed and thankful for my family. We’ve come upon some tests and struggles here and there but mostly I know whose watching over us. He never gives us more than we can bear.

    I am thankful for my job. It’s tough out there right now and I am so very fortunate to have been with this company for 26 years. That kind of stability isn’t too common in the business world but God has truly blessed me with the talent and knowledge needed to be able to withstand changes… (in short to keep “yuppies” from taking my job!)

    Many times… many times – we see friends and family struggle through things, through personal “hells” and we feel our arms are too short to reach out to them, but quite differently I watched a miracle happen to some very dear, dear friends of mine. Cancer had come back to threaten the only kidney he had after losing one kidney 13 years ago. This couple – they are such wonderful christians and without a doubt just turned it over to Our Heavenly Father and although after surgery, he now only has 80 percent of “a” kidney the doctors are amazed how healthy he is and no dialasis (spelling?) is needed. I praise God for that and for my friends.

    God doesn’t make bad things happen but I know he uses them to teach us of His love and mercy. I am so thankful that now, as my spirituality has matured over the years He has allowed me to see this – even if it is through someone elses struggles.

  9. BrownEyedGirl

    I thankful for so much.

    – God , who is truly my best friend and the ONLY one who truly knows all about me and understands me. I let no one else get that close, ( sorry hubby, not even you)

    – my husband ,kids and family

    – music – which plays a part in every aspect of my life. Ask my kids, everything reminds me of a song. Of course none of that would be possible without the artists sharing their God given talent with us ( thank you ,Russ :o)

    – all of my online friends that mean so much to me – you have no idea. God Bless you all..

  10. morgitta

    I am greatful for support that comes from unexpected angles, like today’s blog. And for music that touches my soul, like Russes.
    You guys are in my daily prayers.
    Speaking about dark nights, there is a book called ‘the long dark teatime of the soul”. I’m greatful for humor. And smiling at you all right now.

  11. nancy

    I’ve been walking in my own valley the last 4 months but the one thing I keep thinking about is the fact that this valley doesn’t have to define who I am or how I feel. Most days its a struggle but I know that at the end of the day GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL – HE STILL LOVES ME NO MATTER MY POOR ATTITUDE OR LACK OF FAITH – AND I HAVE THE PROMISE OF ETERNITY WITH HIM. That’s something neither Obama or McCain can promise. I’m better than blessed!!!!!!


  12. tori

    I love this! I am slowly reading each of your comments, and then going back and reading them again– kind of like a meditation. Gives me that ‘attitude of gratitude’ I’m trying to live in these days…

  13. nancy

    I just posted but had to come back for round two! Tori I just have to tell you what a blessing this blog has been to me – when you started this you probably didn’t think you were embarking on a “ministry” of sorts but I would argue this is as much your ministry as singing is your husbands! Isn’t the Lord AMAZING how He reaches out and meets our needs in the most UNEXPECTED ways sometimes! I’m just feeling so sappy tonight I wish I could hug your neck! Considered yourself hugged from this Iowa girl!


  14. Barbara M. Lloyd

    As I come to these late years of life, I have so many, many things for which to be grateful.A God Who has been with me for as long as I can remember. Christian parents who walked their talk even when I didn’t always see it their way in those early years. A husband who, even on a dark day, I knew loved me unconditionally. Three children who have long since given their hearts to Jesus (thank you, Jesus) and who are always thinking of their old mom. A precious church family who will never quite understand my decorated refrigerator and assorted doors. Family members and friends, both old and new, with whom sorrows and joys are easily shared. And an adorable adopted family who will love me even if they aren’t included in the will. Just as in the Bible, there is that ribbon of love that is woven inbetween and through all of the above over a span of almost 78 years. God has been so good to me.

  15. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Sorry guys, this is Betty NOT Barbara. I am at her house, and don’t dare log her out and have tried everything I kmow to post under my name without logging her out.
    I am thankful:

    ~for a Dad who did not live as long as I needed him, but somehow instilled in me a right spirit, a love for God, and the character, goals, and determination that would carry me thru life without him, and who taught me how to live one day at a time.

    ~for all of my life experiences, joys, sorrows, and the people that have been a part of it.

    ~ for the miracle of healing… The doctors gave me 5 years to live in 1959.

    ~ for a husband who told my parents while I was still under sedation that he wanted to marry me for however long we had and is still with me. There have been many times that I am sure he has said to himself that he didn’t bargain for my living for 50 years. l o l

    ~ for beating the system and adopting to beautiful babies against all odds because of my short life expectancy.

    ~ for two loving granddaughters who enjoy being with me now that they are teenagers.

    ~ for friends who have been faithful for years, and for recent friendships that have become just as important as some of the old.

    ~ for food to eat, a home to come home to, a hot shower and a comfortable bed. Working with the homeless made me appreciate these comforts of life that I took for granted.

    ~ for God’s nudging me to take a stand, and reach out in His name when the opportunity came… and who made sure the opportunities did come.

    ~…..and for a friend who has come thru the valley of the shadow of death and can now say I am “Happy and Healthy”.

    Praise God From Whom ALL Blessings Flow!

  16. Ben Jones

    Boy can I say AMEN to this entry.
    To say the last couple of years have been rough is such an understatement, but I too have to count my blessings instead of sheep (A song from White Christmas). I won’t bore all of you with any details, but I will give you a microscopic list of things to be thankful for.
    An absolutely amazing Sovereign GOD, who loves me!!!
    My wife Astrea, of almost 21 years ( That blessing list would take me forever to list)
    Molly 19
    Elizabeth 17
    Zachary 14
    Abigail 11
    Grace 8
    Faith 6
    Meg 4
    Ethan 2
    #9 (in the oven)
    A great Church
    Great Friends
    A Great Job
    A Great roof over our heads (a log cabin built in 1929)
    Food in our stomaches,
    Oh this could get long,
    I must add however,getting to meet my Icon Bill Gaither and his illigitimate son, our beloved Russ, both in the same evening.
    I will also add as a blessing for me, this blog!!!
    Ben Jones

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