“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God and what he has given us. And he has given us everything.”
There are only three days left of the 30 days of gratitude. Josie Robinson and her son Lucas have been engaged in the activity for 27 days. Coming up with new 'thankful things' is getting harder for the four year old. He’s started to be thankful for his headboard and now the wooden balls at the end of the bed. Josie tries to reel him in. She begins to discuss what she’s thankful for.
“I’m thankful for Daddy,” said Josie. “Because of daddy, I have you and baby Davis.” Lucas said, “That’s very, very good Mommy.”
As the 30 days is nearing the end, Josie starts to get nervous. She wonders if she’ll fall back into the black hole again. Though, she believes it probably wouldn’t happen, there's still that fear. But by all accounts, she’s joyous, content, and alive.
She begins to reflect on the journey. Thinking back to when she fell down on her knees and prayed for God’s intervention. She thought back to how she used to feel. But now, she has gratitude for everything. “God answered my prayers with a psychic, a jar, and a four year old,” said Josie.
Day 27: Lucas is thankful for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And, he really likes PB&J. Josie said, “It’s good to be thankful for food. Tonight I’m thankful for mother earth because she brings us food.” Josie made a notation that she’s often thankful for food. Sometimes when she’s having trouble thinking of a ‘thankful thing’ food will come up.
There were two major shifts, other than showing basic gratitude, that happened over the past several weeks. Josie’s taken the time to notice earth. Something she’d taken for granted. The beauty of it all. Something she had noticed after the first slip of paper landed in the gratitude jar. She was seeing earth as never before. Sometimes she would pull the car over on the side of the road to sit and marvel at the glistening water on the lake or a tree blowing in the wind.
The second shift she felt was the presence of God. He was with her all of the time. She was touched by a presence greater than herself. “This is the day the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24.
Josie found that saying ‘thank you’ to God was easier than the way she used to pray. Before the gratitude jar she would always pray for help or ask God to fix it. “Love God not for what he can do for me but what he simply was.”
“I would spend the rest of my life thanking God. I was free of myself at last,” said Josie.
Day 30: “What are you thankful for today?” asked Lucas. “I’m thankful for this awesome Easter Sunday,” said Josie.
The 30 days of gratitude is the perfect amount of time to turn a practice into a habit. A few minutes everyday is all the required time to rid yourself of destructive thinking. “A little goes a long way,” said Josie. It’s best to choose the same time everyday...to schedule it in. Are you ready to change your life?
T Think about what you’re grateful for (have a daily routine. Same time every day)
H Have an open mind (Let yourself be free. Don’t judge what comes up)
A Allow yourself to feel gratitude (discuss reasons why you chose it)
N Note your gratitude (Send it into the world and the world will send it back)
K Keep it in a jar (find a prominent place to see the slips of paper)
S Share it with someone else (happiness shared is happiness doubled)
Sharing this activity is what makes it different than most other exercises. Share it with a child, make a phone call with your mom, put it by your bedside and share it with your partner, try mealtime, during church group, the book club, a team building exercise...just find someone to share it with.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38.
“Thinking about and giving thanks for what you want produces more of it. While thinking and complaining about what you don’t want produces more of it.”
Life for Josie Robinson was looking up. Emotionally she felt better. Her relationships were improving. There was still one area that ‘desperately needed improving’ thought Robinson. Money needed fixing NOW.
There was a perpetual knot in Robinson’s stomach due to financial stress. As the CEO of the household, she was doing everything she could to cut the budget. Some of the cuts included cable television, eating out, buying new clothes (second-hand only), and wearing sweaters and covering with blankets in the colder months to save on energy cost (the family lived in Minnesota and the winters were brutal).
No matter what she did, the family would come up short every month. At the time, the country was in the middle of a recession. The couple even considered walking away from the mortgage payment until they found out their monthly payment was lower than any of the rentals in the tri-cities.
Robinson couldn’t tell you the number of times she looked at the grocery budget trying to find ways to spend less. She finally resolved to let go of meat and cheese. She would get out her cookbooks and try to create as many dishes as she could out of potatoes and pasta. No one complained.
As a part-time school counselor, Robinson’s hours had been cut to one day a week. The savings had been depleted and it became clear that she was going to have to look for another part-time job. The family couldn’t afford for Robinson to work full time because the cost of daycare was outrageous in Minnesota. Sean’s mom, Robinson’s husband, made herself available for part-time babysitting as opposed to having the children go to daycare.
The more she applied for jobs, the more she was turned away. The family needed money NOW. Giving thanks and faithfully committing to the gratitude jar concept helped improve Robinson’s anxiety, however, because of the financial stress, it was starting to kick in again.
Robinson and Lucas (her four year old) were in the middle of the 30 days of gratitude. She decided that it was time to quit complaining and start showing gratitude. As she and Lucas sat down to share, Robinson said, “I’m thankful both your daddy and I have jobs. It gives us money for the house, food, and clothes..” Typically, Robinson was really negative about money and her job. She said it felt weird to give thanks for these things.
The gratitude statements continued. “I’m thankful for having jobs that help kids feel better and do better.” Sean was a teacher and Robinson a school counselor. Lucas chimed in, “I’m thankful because I’m a nice kid and being a nice kid I can help people too.”
It was time to turn that frown upside down. Time to turn it around and make negatives into positives. Instead of thinking there’s not enough money to buy groceries, she started being thankful for the skills she learned from being frugal, growing her own vegetables, and making her own products. The thing Robinson realized is that she was having these thoughts all day long. It seemed like every five minutes she was having to turn a negative into a positive.
Day 22 of the gratitude jar. Both she and Lucas sat in silence for a minute to think of ‘thankful things’ as Lucas called it. Lucas started, “I’m thankful for doors. You get to go in places. Some places are in my house.” Robinson said, “I’m thankful that we’re all healthy.”
As a few weeks passed, turning negatives into positives helped to relieve Robinson’s anxiety even more. While attending a school staff meeting, Robinson had a gratitude explosion. She became overwhelmed with love for the people around her and those at work.
Suddenly, miraculously, Robinson started saying “I love my job.” I have a house, clothes, food and no more anxiety attacks.
Then, it was as if the universe opened up and asked Robinson exactly what she wanted. Things started to happen. Her boss offered her more hours, more money, and a better opportunity. The hours she was going to get would help feed her family. She went out and celebrated by bringing home meat and cheese.
The act of being thankful for what you have instead of complaining about it really started to change Robinson’s life. Robinson said she’s come a long way from the person that used to stair at the ceiling dreading the day’s events.
God knows we have trials and tribulations. When we’re in the middle of a storm, it’s important to seek God’s help. I realize that calling out to God only when there’s a storm isn’t ideal, but knowing when we need him the most that He will be there is very comforting. It’s important to remember that no matter what happens in our lives, we can be confident that God is in COMPLETE control.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” James 1:2
“Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to HIs will, He hears us.” John 5:14
So be at peace. Be positive. God will be with you. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:7
"Some days a candle and a cup of tea is all you need...." (Contentment and joy)
photo by: Tammy Smith Holt
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward
After giving birth to her second child, Josie Robinson became depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. To numb the pain, she started drinking, and drinking heavily. She hated her life and she hated that she hated it. One day, she dropped to her knees and prayed to God. She asked for help.
Three days later, Robinson's sister Emma came for a visit. She gave her a Christmas gift. A gift that set into motion a life filled with contentment and joy.
The gift was a free session with a spiritual healer, Maleah. After the first session, Robinson’s life started to change. She quit drinking. She said she read a book called, “The easy way to quit drinking’ by Alan Carr and she stopped. Without the alcohol, Robinson had more energy, a lighter mood, and decreased anxiety. Without the booze she could think more clearly, make better decisions, and when needed...ask for help.
Before the intervention, every morning Robinson would awaken with a deep, dark sadness. Everyday was the same; laundry, meals, diapers, and dishes. There was nothing to look forward to. Maleah shared with Robinson a bit of wisdom, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything." She suggested certain changes be implemented to help with the drudgery of the daily routine.
If there were chores to do around the house, crank up the music. Instead of doing laundry everyday of the week, choose one day a week to do all the laundry. Even if it piled up, crank up the 80’s music and celebrate until it was all washed, dried, folded, and put away.
Life was looking up. Robinson was feeling good. She had more energy. The days were brighter. Maleah asked, “Are you writing all of these good things down?” In Robinson’s mind, this was journaling and it sounded like work. Maleah then suggested she start a gratitude jar for these good and positive things. She said to ‘put down all your blessings on little slips of paper and put them in the jar.’ This was doable, thought Robinson.
Since Robinson was just getting started, Maleah said there would be ‘yin’ days. Days when Maleah wasn’t ‘feeling it’. Then, she could pull blessings out of the jar to remind herself that she’s supported, that she’s got this. On these little scraps of paper, would be blessings, gifts, little gratitude's or just a ‘win’.
There were a lot of positives happening in Robinson’s life. Her life was working. She had quit drinking. House chores were getting done. Kitchen, closets, life was getting organized. She would ask husband Sean for help when feeling overwhelmed. The only missing link was her connection with the children. Since baby Davis was born, Robinson hadn’t spent much time with her four year old son Lucas and she could sense the disconnect.
Robinson spoke to Maleah about doing the gratitude jar with Lucas. Maleah thought about it and said, “That’s brilliant.” She suggested recording the conversations with Lucas and writing those conversations down on paper for 30 days. So it began, 30 days of gratitude with a four year old.
The 30 days of gratitude started with simple blessings. Lucas would say he was thankful for his blanket, stuffed animals, or mom, dad, and baby Davis. As the days turned into weeks, Lucas gave thanks for his heart because ‘it keeps him going and holds love in it.’ As Robinson began giving thanks and gratitude, she started noticing the world around her. For instance, the sun didn’t provide only light but warmth, sustenance, and energy. She began to go through her day in a completely different way.
Little by little, Robinson noticed a bounce in her step. Even friends and Sean described her mood as joyous and content. Robinson said those two words had never been used to describe her before the gratitude jar. The grass had always looked greener on the other side. But now, “I had everything I needed.” said Robinson.
One day, around day 17 of the gratitude jar, Robinson was in the car with her two boys. Out of the blue, Lucas said, “I like my life.” A four year old said, “I like my life”. How amazing is that? Robinson was completely taken off guard by his comment. That evening, she and Lucas shared the gratitude jar with Sean and baby Davis. Their love, joy, contentment was spilling over and they wanted to share the feeling.
How many of us can say, “I like my life?” Can we admit we are content? Do we feel joy?
The Bible has a lot to say about being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. In today’s world, many are displeased with their jobs, their marriage, finances, a whole host of issues that many of us could say was less than optimal. When feeling overwhelmed, trapped, or unhappy, apply these verses to your routine.
Bible verses for contentment:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” First Timothy 6: 6-8
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
Bible verses for joy:
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
As we consider the gratitude jar and continue this journey retelling Robinson’s story, take a moment to envision how it feels to be content and joyful.
Contentment is one of those feelings that completely envelopes your mind, body, and spirit. It can make you feel like you’re in a bubble, you're own little world. A bubble that can never be popped as long as we have Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds. And then there’s joy. Joy to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life.
We’ll continue next week with more chapters from the book, “The Gratitude Jar” by Josie Robinson. Look around and see all things lovely.
The gratitude jar can turn life into miracles.
‘The Gratitude Jar’ is a book written by author Josie Robinson. It was published in small quantities over six years ago and has since become a national phenomenon. I became curious about the gratitude jar when I saw a post from a friend in early January. There was a picture of my friend’s blue and white ceramic jar sitting on the floor surrounded by little pieces of folded paper. Since the jar is a gratitude jar, I assumed little messages were written on each tiny piece of paper that had something to do with being grateful.
After seeing this post, I decided to find out more about the concept. That’s when I stumbled upon the book written by Robinson. For this particular journey, I decided to order the audible copy so I could easily take notes as I listened. I had a feeling it would be a subject that would require note taking. After all, the project would be ongoing and require forethought and mindfulness.
The author opened with some background information. Robinson was a young mother, wife, and part-time counselor. She didn't log many hours as a counselor, so the majority of her time was spent as a stay-at-home mom. Most of her friends worked and had careers outside the home and imagined Robinson's life to be a fairy tale. One in which she got to stay home all day everyday with her children.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a blessing to Robinson. She said that everyday she woke up with a ‘knot of dread about the day ahead.' In fact, she hated her life and said, ‘she hated that she hated it.’
To deal with the depression she started drinking heavily. The drinking actually started after her four year old son, Lucas was born. She called her mental state after giving birth to Lucas as ‘the postpartum blackhole.’
Robinson said she suffered from anxiety as well. Hence, the drinking. She couldn’t wait until after 5 pm when her husband got home from work to hand over childcare responsibilities and start the party. 'The party' that would last through two bottles of wine or a tumbler of whiskey until the next morning when it was time to start again. The knot in her stomach and the dread of endless laundry continued day-in and day-out.
Then, she hit rock bottom. After attending a party with friends, she got incredibly drunk, embarrassed herself and her family, cursed, stumbled over furniture, and really blew her cover as this together mom that everyone thought had it so easy at home with the kids.
The next day, she fell to her knees and prayed. She hadn’t prayed to God in a decade. Her idea of prayer was to talk to God like she was talking to her best friend, very conversational.
Three days later, her sister Emma told her about a psychic or ‘spiritual healer’ named Maleah. Robinson received a free session as a gift from her sister Emma for Christmas. Robinson was skeptical. After speaking with Maleah on the phone for only a few minutes, Robinson said she knew too much to not be the 'real deal.'
Maleah said Robinson needs to work on receiving help. She needs to ‘ask and then receive.’ Robinson admitted she wasn’t good at this concept. She considered herself ‘scrappy’. Maleah told her that she’s not scrappy. She needs to learn how to lean on people, people like her husband. She needed to receive help joyfully.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” said Maleah. For instance, the laundry was something Robinson dreaded. She said it was the ‘bane of her existence.” The advice given by Maleah was to Do it Differently. Crank up the music. Listen to 80’s tunes. Make it fun. Robinson thought, 'I could try that.'
The answered prayer from God was bringing Maleah into Robinson's life. It had been a decade since she’d prayed but our God is a forgiving God. He will take you back anytime as long as you come to Him with a willing heart. Robinson knew of God’s power. And in three days’ time, he answered her prayers.
Bold, persistent prayer that is prayed according to the will of God will get God’s answer. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “Pray without ceasing.”
You will find yourself praying without ceasing when your desire is to:
To glorify God
To seek God’s wisdom
To be set free from the guilt of sin
To sync deeply in fellowship with God
Believing that God will meet all your needs
To be delivered from temptation, worry, and anxiety
To grow in Christ-likeness and become a fruitful believer
In the coming chapters, we’ll learn more about the gratitude jar.
"Brad Smith is a former police officer and detective raising money through his fine woodworking business for LOTUS children's advocacy and sexual abuse center."
"There's a lot of character in this old slab of wood." said retired detective Brad Smith. As a former police officer and detective, Smith has seen more than his fair share of ugliness in the world. In hopes of providing a bright spot, he's selling his beautifully crafted, solid oak, eight foot accent table to the highest bidder.
Smith is auctioning off his table to the highest bidder and all the proceeds will go to LOTUS in Paducah. LOTUS is Kentucky's regional children's advocacy and sexual abuse center serving eight counties in the Purchase area. "Having dealt with children that have been molested or sexually assaulted...those kids will break your heart." said Smith.
In a video shot by Smith, he said the sexual abuse of children is one of the toughest things to talk about but 'it's a reality'. "Some of the toughest things you can imagine happens to these kids." he said. What LOTUS does is help children go from victim to survivor.
Smith went on to discuss his personal experiences with LOTUS as an advocacy organization and 'safe haven' for children. Nearly 700,000 children in the U.S. are abused or neglected every year. Based on a Norton's Children's study, Kentucky ranks among the top in the nation for child abuse. Statistics show that 23 out of every 1,000 children are abused in Kentucky.
Smith's personal Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/brad.smith.355 has the bidding ability. Opening bid started at $250 with the highest bid (as of early afternoon January 5) is $650. At 5:02 pm it's at $1,000. The hope is to raise as much money as possible and the winning bidder is prompted to write the check directly to LOTUS located at 1605 N. Friendship Rd., Paducah, KY 42001.
Bidding on the table will end on January 9, 2021. All you need to do is go to his Facebook page and place your bid in the comments. Smith said, you're invited to go by the shop and check out the table. The shop is located at 4161 State Route 1124, Mayfield, KY. And, if you're not interested in bidding on the solid oak table made from reclaimed wood, make a donation to LOTUS. Nothing is too small.