Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the side of love // a thankful heart leaves room

Back when I met with Sister Kathleen (Met once a week for over two years.), gratitude was the pinnacle of our conversations. Prayer and grace were also big contenders, but thankful hearts were mentioned in each visit because they lend to prayer and grace and all the things of virtue that would be kind of awesome to acquire.

Scriptures that rang of His Love for us because she wanted me to recognize how He loves me. Scripture of Trusting in Him, because she wanted to challenge me to love Him in a way that trusted Him with my whole self. All of this and more always led back to hopefully inspiring a thankful heart in me.

With Christmas just around the corner, so many things come to heart while anticipating the celebration of the birth of Our Lord. The child that was and is Our Savior. The One who came to save us. Our King! It's His birthday!

Slowly but surely we are drawn into this time, every year. A time that is meant to draw us into the reality of His Flesh. The same Flesh that was nourished and nurtured in the perfect womb of Our beautiful Lady. The same Flesh that walked this earth sharing miracles and love beyond comprehension. So so much to take in, and all a midst so. much. crazy!

As we all gear up to fight our urges to let the stream of our present culture of materialism and all. the. things. I am reminded of Sister and a story she once shared as well as some scripture we spent some time on. 
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
-Colossians 3:16 
See, I need this reminder every time this season rolls around. It's so tempting for me to receive a gift and think that I don't need it. Or, if only they had gotten me this other thing that I could use, or whatever other thought of ingratitude you could fathom. This just happens sometimes. Call it sleep-deprived neurosis or call it just a moment that happens because. sin. Regardless, all of this comes from a place of selfishness, pride, and not having a thankful heart. 

Which leads me to that story Sister shared with me once.

I forget what the occasion was (or if there even was an occasion) but I remember that Sister had a friend that brought a box of goods - mostly clothing - to the convent. This woman brought the box of goods specifically to Sister and encouraged her to sift through the items because surely there would be something Sister could put to good use. 

Sister began rummaging through all of the items and found that all the sizes were size Large and up. Now if you know Sister, you know that she is a tiny, frail, lovely Irish woman that maybe touches 100 lbs but packs a punch of Jesus that makes you want to stay with her forever and ever just so you can feel His Goodness. She left the box in frustration. Sister felt it incredulous that this friend would think that she could use any item in the box and was frustrated at the time spent sifting through it. Surely she could have been off praying or tending to another chore, while another who would be able to use the items sifted.

After leaving the box and spending time in prayer, she felt disappointed with herself. Her friend had nothing but kind and good intentions for Sister, even if the items were twice to big for her. In turn, Sister sifted again and found a beautiful knit sweater. One that fit her largely but perfectly. It turned into her most cozy and worn item, especially because she was always cold in the building where she spent a lot of her time. A gift she found because of her change of heart. 

She later told me that, had she approached the box with a thankful heart, she wouldn't have had the temptation to react the way she originally did. She told me, had she only opened the box with grateful eyes and a grateful heart, she would have known to be thankful for the gift before even opening the box, because it was a gift given in love from a friend, and that was more than enough (Her friend really did want her to find something for herself, so she told me).

At the end of Sister sharing her story, she told me that because she did not have gratitude in her heart upon receiving her gift, she ultimately did not leave room for Him.

Thereafter, so many times she would remind me that a thankful heart leaves room for Our Lord to work in us. In our hearts. For Him to surprise us in ways that we never would have anticipated. For Him to prepare us to respond in love.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 
-Colossians 3:15
This season, I pray that we all can open our gifts with thankful hearts and eyes. Pray that we open our gifts with gratitude in our heart so that we can be open and ready to receive goodness from our loved ones and in turn from the One who first loved us. Pray that we be able to carry the hymn of gratitude this Christmas so that we can leave room for Him to be born into this world. His gift. The beginning of His ultimate gift for us! Pray that we can welcome Him into a little manger of gratitude gathered in our hearts.

Because in receiving with a thankful heart, we truly are not only receiving but also gifting our loved ones, friends, and in turn Our Lord, with love, goodness, and joy.

Pray you and your families have a Merry Christmas! I'll be over here hoping and praying for the grace to be gracious and thankful this season for all that is to come! What are your prayers this season?

I'll be over on Instagram till after Christmas. Hope you'll join me, but either way, till then, Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  1. So beautiful. I am SO bad at gratitude. I instinctively critique rather than accept gratefully and with joy. I need so much work on this!

    1. Gosh, Mary, so am I! I'm terrible at coming up with things for people to get me which doesn't help either. Goal this Christmas is to be joyful and grateful like you say. I can be quite the criticizer too! Pray for me and I'll pray for you? Hugs and hope you and that baby are feeling well!!

  2. I love this! It is very true. I wrote about gift giving and receiving yesterday. Many of us are pondering what a gift truly is and how we should give and receive with a good attitude. :)

    1. Erica, I absolutely loved your post. So very much! Thank you for stopping by and sharing that you posted! So glad I got to read yours!

  3. BEAUTIFUL!! My spiritual director in college told me that when I struggle with feeling unhappy or frustrated with life it is because I lack the virtue of gratitude, and should spend some quiet time in prayer just thanking the Lord for EVERYTHING. His wisdom remains with me all these years later....a thankful heart is a happy heart. God bless you! :)

    1. Our spiritual directors sound so very similar! Do you still meet with her or keep in touch? I do as often as I can and it's always such a breathe of fresh air. Also, Susan, please know I am praying for you, your husband and your beautiful family! Such a hard year you all have had! I can't even imagine but know that I will continue to pray and keep up with y'all to see how everything goes. So many prayers for healing and the grace to embrace your everyday as you said in your incredibly beautiful post sharing your husband's birthday. Hugs to you!!

  4. My friend. Your words have touched my heart is just the way it needed at just the right time. I could hug you. <3 Thank you. I'm going to share this.

    1. So glad this was something you needed. I really do miss sister and am forever thankful for the years I got to spend with her! But, now I just miss her tons! Guess that just means I need to share more of the gems she shared with me! :)

  5. and p.s.- Somehow I need to figure out how to subscribe to comments! I'm probably not seeing if/when you comment back because I don't have a subscribe to the comments. ;)

    1. And, I really don't know what's going on with that? Are you commenting from computer or phone? Maybe that makes a difference? Not that it should. I will definitely take a look at it sometime this week!


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