Gratitude. For me, this sentiment is a little bit like our paychecks. One minute you have it and the world seems great and dandy, the next minute it's all spent and you're at the bottom of your wallet (or emotional wallet, in this case). It's usually pretty easy to chose where and when to "spend" our gratitude...when the sun is shining and the dishes are done and there's leftover money in the coffee budget. But what about when we want to be stingy with our gratitude? Or we feel that our circumstances aren't worthy of receiving it?

In our culture, saturated with entitlement, it's SO easy to forget to say thank you. Not just for good service at a restaurant, or for our homes or families- but for the hard things too. Like when Evie wakes me up for the 3rd time, asking for "mama" and gripping the bars on her crib, refusing to fall back asleep unless I hold her...again. Or the last few days before payday when it seems like no matter how strictly we budget, the money always disappears. What about in the face of tragedy, or loss, or impossibilities? Is it possible to say "thank you" then?

I tend to be a little bit oblivious to things. When God wants me to learn something, I think he has to tell me at least 3 or 4 times. That's how I know I need to start paying attention.

This time- it's gratitude. First it was an article I read. Then a conversation with a friend. Then this blog post. And now this morning at small group, our chapter just happened to be about living gratefully. Ok, I'm listening now.

What areas of my life am I forgetting to say thank you for? How do I train myself to see the beauty in every situation, no matter how small, challenging or boring? I'm no expert, but I think a mere change of attitude is all it takes. Over and over and over again until it thankfulness becomes our go-to response instead of complaining or simply overlooking. Earlier, I called gratitude a "sentiment", but really I think it's more of a lifestyle. Because when I look back on my life, I don't want to see wasted moments. I don't want to take the 3 am snuggles for granted, or the empty wallet at the end of the month. I want to live every second of my life as a constant "thank you". Thank you for the things that come easy and thank you for the things that I wish I didn't have to face. Thank you for the burnt dinner and the late-night fireside conversation with AJ. For the sick weeks and the uninterrupted showers. For the bad and the good.

This year my goal is to see life as a "hopeful journey". And I think a huge part of realizing that phrase is by learning to be grateful in everything. Big goals, I know, but necessary. So thank you. Thank you for reading this, for following along and being a part of my hopeful journey. You inspire me, and I'm grateful for you.