Today Steve and I celebrated faux Christmas. We will be in NY with family on the actual day of Christmas, so we decided to open our gifts to each other today. I have a very sweet and generous husband, and he gave me many wonderful gifts, but perhaps the most meaningful one was my new giving key with my word for this upcoming year. I’ve written before that my word for this past year has been thankful. I keep a daily gratitude journal and wear the word on a key around my neck. As I intentionally practiced being thankful this year, I noticed my attitude begin to change. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect in this practice, I still see the ungrateful monster rear his ugly head in many a situation. But at the same time, I have truly began to see my perspective change.

For example, a few weeks ago I was taking my husband’s car to work. I put the key in the ignition and turned… and then… NOTHING HAPPENED. This wasn’t the first time this had occurred… the first time I was in a turning lane at a stop light. I was put my foot on the gas to go and then the car shut off. So during the second time around my initial reaction was, “WHAT THE HECK?! This stupid car, I’m going to kick it.” But then after a few minutes I thought… “Lord, thank you for letting this god forsaken vehicle break down in the driveway instead of on the road. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for a kind and wonderful boss who will go out of her way to pick me up.” And then we found out that the part that was broken was actually the same one we had just replaced. And that part was under warranty, so we were able to get a new one for free and the company even paid for some of the labor. So I said, “Thank you Lord that this is an inexpensive fix! Thank you for the money to pay for it!” It’s in these moments that I really see the way my thinking has changed. Cultivating a grateful heart has also cultivated more joy and forgiveness and grace. The practice of thanksgiving isn’t always easy or natural, but my life is so much richer when I remember to GIVE THANKS!

So, because of this I decided I would continue with having a word for the year. I thought for a few weeks about what it should be. What area in my heart and life needs some extra attention this year? As I thought about the adventures awaiting Steve and I, I realized what I’m really going to need a lot of is courage. Courage to move to a new town where I don’t know anyone. Courage to change the way I eat and see food. Courage to put myself out there in meeting new people. Courage to begin to pursue dreams. I NEED LOTS OF COURAGE! But I also know there is no magic wand that will just make me suddenly be courageous. I know that just like thanksgiving, courage is something that must be developed and grown intentionally. My hope is that when I am in hard and scary situations where I want to turn around and run in the opposite direction,that I will hear in my head, “Be courageous Sarah! Do not be afraid!” and that I will face my fears head on. I need to remember that I can do hard things that require great bravery, and I can do those things because not only with God give me the courage to do them, but He will be with me throughout it all. So, here’s to a year filled with courage. Ironically enough I approach that thought with trembling and a little bit of fear, because when you ask God to give you situations to grow courage (or thanksgiving), He is faithful to do it.. and honestly that’s a little scary. But I don’t want to allow fear to hold me back from anything. Fear, I’m takin you DOWN!