"We got oranges at the church," Aunt Naomi said. "We each got an orange at Christmas time."

She said this with pride, and why shouldn't she? I felt a bit envious that she grew up in a world where she was grateful for oranges and unworn shoes and toys that were pre-owned . . . by her. Now, I could imagine getting over the loss of presents at Christmas. If I had no gifts come December, I would be confused, but it wouldn't rank as a crisis. Yet, there's a tremendous difference between acceptance and gratitude. This is where I fall short.

My life is a happy one. I have a lot to be crazy grateful for. And you will never catch me banging my head on the wall asking why God chose me to endure this nightmare of a life. Even so, I have fallen into the disgusting habit of viewing my life as some sort of limbo. I am in transition . . . in transition to a full-time writing career, on the verge of meeting someone wonderful, on the cusp of a brand new life, a brand new me, a brand new era of gratitude that will arise naturally out of the miracle of finally having the life I dream of.

If I'm going to be honest with myself, however, I need to acknowledge that gratitude is not something that shows up naturally when goals are attained. Or if it does, it doesn't stay long. Life is, in many ways, a series of transitions. The acquisition of one goal paves the way for the formation of another.

So it's time to give up on gratitude as a natural phenomenon and acknowledge that it is a lifestyle achieved through patient cultivation. I may have to offer up a few forced thank you's each morning when I wake and find that God has left the same playing cards on my doorstep yet again. But with practice, I will finally learn to understand that familiarity does not change the blessing that they are.

There are things
I don't understand,
but I count on them.
A compass.

Things that light my way
and take me where I need to be.
Common sense.

Things I count on to
keep my feet on the ground.
A butterfly's gossamer wing.
Things I hold in my heart
when life looks bleak.

Make me pause each day to
remember these bountiful blessings.
Soften my heart when
small slights distract me.

Make me worthy of Your grace
as I live every day.



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