Samantha Tennant: Winter Sun

It’s cold.

It’s dark.

It’s winter.

And then….

there’s this:

Wonderful, sweet, juicy, fruit in the dead of winter when we need it most.  Coincidence? I think not.
Citrus is a gift.  Truly.  It’s a mood lifting, body protecting, thirst quenching, aromatherapy session,  all wrapped up into one little, perfectly packaged, orb of joy.

My grandmother used to tell stories of receiving an orange in her Christmas stocking. It was a big deal.  So special, that she never forgot.

When I was in school, my best friend Carrie used to tease me.  An orange (or two) accompanied me at every lunch, field trip, choir competition…She would ask, “did you bring anything BESIDES an orange?”  I would just shrug, smile, peel it, and pass it around. I loved them.

Years later when I was pregnant with my first child, morning sickness was my 24 hour nemesis for 7 months. Enter the beloved clementine. It was the only thing I could keep down and I bought them by the boxful.  My mother joked that we should name my daughter after the little those little, orange, life savers.  Even the skins were medicinal. When a  wave of nausea would come, I would pinch a piece of saved clementine skin between my fingers and the smell would calm my stomach.

Nowadays, I keep a bowl of them on the counter. Piles of sweet, orange snacks that  are beautiful in their own right. My kids toss them in their lunches, and we share them after meals. The perfect dessert !

A grapefruit for breakfast, a dash of juice with olive oil on a winter salad, a tangerine snack, or just a slow simmer of saved rinds and a stick of cinnamon on the stove.  I am so grateful for this bright, winter gift.
You can learn more about Samantha and follow her on Facebook 


Christie Murrow: Freedom to Worship

I am profoundly grateful today for the freedom to worship as I choose in this country of ours. It is something I take for granted far too often. Not too long ago, I was horrified to see pictures like this:

of these men being lead to their death because they refused to renounce their belief in God when threatened with death by ISIS. When faced with a decision to deny Him and live, they chose to remain true to the One in Whom they had placed their trust.

And so today, because we DO have the freedom and liberty to publicly worship without fear of reprisal, I want to honor these men who paid the ultimate price for their belief. There are so many places around the world where fellow Christians pay a heavy price for their faith. I am grateful, so very grateful, that here in America, we can worship freely.

You can learn more about Christie Murrow on her blog, Charis Designs Jewelry


Shawnee Penkacik: Grateful

Mornings in my house are extra busy. A typical morning in my house involves getting five children off to school, breakfast for the rest of the children, then stopping feeding pumps, dressing children, and then finally getting my cup of morning coffee. 

Everyone in my house knows that I need to have my morning coffee, including our amazing respite care provider. Coffee is the fuel besides my time with the Lord that keeps me going on the long days of being a busy mom. 
I love the sound of my Keurig brewing a fresh cup of hot coffee that I know will help me start the day. 

One of the things I’m thankful for right now is the beautiful mugs that my coffee is kept in.  Each mug tells a story of either a place my family has been like my Memphis Starbucks mug:

A verse that means so much to me like my Jeremiah 29:11 one, my mug from my church:

And even one with all my family on it.  This mug is one of my favorites as it has wonderful memories on it:

These mugs are reminders to me of how blessed I am.  I am blessed that I have people to take care of, I am blessed to have a church to call home, I am blessed because well just because God says so. 

It is also a reminder that God gives good gifts to His children as it says in James:
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.James 1:17, NLT
So as you sip your morning coffee, tea, or whatever you are drinking, remember to count your blessings and that God is faithful. 

I hope your day is abundantly blessed. 


You can read more about Shawnee on her blog, Blessed on the Bright Side


Shelley Smith: Firsts

I am thankful for this girl, our first!

Allison is our first.  This year she’s a sophomore in high school.

I remember many firsts with her:  first time with a babysitter, first visit to the church nursery, first day of kindergarten, first sleepover, first field trip, first summer camp, first day of high school, and the list goes on.

Firsts are painful.  Letting go is hard.  I worry.  I want to protect her and control her situations and her surroundings.  I don’t want her to see anything or hear anything or experience anything negative.

I could…for a while.

I could keep her with me all the time and not let her go anywhere or do anything (she’d probably hate me).   But greater than my desire to control her, I want her to go.

I want her to be unafraid and bold.

I want her to do great things.

I want her to become who God has designed her to be.

I want her to develop relationships with other people who love her and encourage her in her faith.

I want her to make decisions for herself.

I want her relationship with Christ to be her own.

I want her to live.

Allison is one of the most outgoing, confident, independent girls I know.  She is a leader.  She is unafraid to share her faith and knows why she believes what she believes.  She invites everyone she knows to church.

She is our first.

I am beyond thankful that God put her in our lives.

She is not afraid; but I sometimes am.

I am thankful she is our first.  She’s teaching us how to be parents.  She’s teaching us to love, trust, forgive...

...and PRAY!
You can learn more about Shelley on her blog, Laughter, Lyrics and Life


Teresa Roberts: The Possibilities Are Grand!

I recently went through a major life event - a divorce - after raising three beautiful children, going through his job losses, a horrific automobile accident he was involved in and nearly 30 years of marriage.  And even though the change was instigated by me, it wasn't without many, many tears, second (and third, and fourth . . . ) thoughts, angst and LOTS of praying!

But once the decision was finally made, a huge weight lifted off of me and I knew in my heart it was the right decision for me.  And on that Monday, the day the divorce was final, I came home from the courthouse, sat in my living room and just breathed . . .  sitting in stunned silence, basking in my newborn freedom.  And me, being a planner, suddenly panicked about what was I going to do next.  I had been so focused on getting through this painful event, that I hadn't thought beyond this very moment!

And as I sat there thinking what should I do next, which way should I go, how will I manage everything, will this all work out ??????????. . . on and on, spinning myself into a tizzy . . . it suddenly dawned on me that I DIDN'T have to make any decisions right then.  That the rest of my life was a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with the artwork of my future life.  And then I began to glow inside as I thought of all the possibilities . . . and my, oh my, were they grand!

And so, with a new-found love of writing poetry and stories, I wrote this poem to remind myself of all the positive things I had to look forward to.  I hope that any of you that are dealing with a sudden change in your life will read this and realize that YOU control how you react to that change . . . how you frame your thoughts around whether it's a positive event or not . . . how you decide to move forward in spite of the change . . . how you let go and let God walk with you down this new road you are traveling on.  And I hope and pray that you can see even just one grand possibility to lead you through the situation you face . . . and I hope in some small way this poem inspires you to move forward, keeping your mind open to the myriad of possibilities in this beautiful world God has provided us.

Have a joyous day!

TA Roberts

The Possibilities Are Grand!

My future is spread out before me I
can go anywhere, be who I want to be ,
and the possibilities are grand it
doesn’t even have to be planned!

I might take it one day at a time
and experiment with paints and rhyme.
Or I might write a story or two the
good thing is it doesn’t matter what I do!

I need to work hard and save my money
so I can travel and see my honey!
And I want to take some classes
to learn how to illustrate for the masses.

I’d love to see my name on a book
and ask my friends to take a look.
Or see my artwork on a gallery wall
or hanging in a fancy dining hall.

I want to learn how to create a website,
to sell my art and what my honey can write.
And maybe selling the coding I’ve learned
is a way some travel money can be earned!

I want to go to a beach and tan
and swim in the ocean and play in the sand.
And find a cause I can really support
like Habitat for Humanity or veterans at a fort.

The key to it all is the freedom I’ll have
to pick and choose and not need a salve
anymore to heal my heart
and this week has been a great start!

My new life started one day ago
and there’s one thing I know it
already feels good,
just like I hoped it would!

And as I move forward and take care of me,
I hope that my friends and family can see
that this hard decision was the right one
and I’m so happy now the marriage is done!

Now I need to work on my mind embrace
the positive, leave the negative behind!
I need to learn patience and how to wait
while I hope that friendly visits become a date!

But for now, I’ll just continue along,
smiling and singing a favorite song,
or painting an owl or maybe some flowers
while God in his grace, happiness he showers!

You can learn more about Teresa on Facebook


Christie Murrow: Counting My Blessings

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all the ways we’ve been blessed, but the premise of this blog is to live in such a way that gratitude becomes an inherent, and ongoing, part of our lives. As I was thinking about this the other day and wondering what to write about, I realized I had a doctor’s appointment.

I happen to love my new primary; she’s encouraging, and trustworthy. This time I got a great report. Two years ago, that wasn’t the case. I was in the midst of a season of some heart issues, and it was scary, exhausting, and overwhelming. I was a compliant patient but it took several months, and lots of tests, to get my body to settle down.  Then this past fall, I went in to see my new doctor, and she expressed her concern with my weight, blood pressure, and lab values. I realized it was time for a change, and no one else could do that for me.

So, I joined Weight Watchers online, joined a friend committed to walk at least two times a week, and ordered a Jawbone to track my activity and sleep. I truly didn’t have much hope for losing weight because everything seemed ineffective. However, 10 weeks later, I am down ten pounds (even with the holidays), my labs are the best they’ve ever been, and I’m feeling better and moving a whole lot more.  I still have a long ways to go, but what a difference from a couple of years ago!

So, I’m counting my blessings, and naming them one by one.

I’m delighted, and excited, to be a regular contributor here, and trust that it will keep me looking for blessings that are all around me, and help me live in a lot more gratitude.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the midst of difficult situations; oh, I how get that. But today?

Start with five things you’re grateful for, and see how that changes your outlook. 

If you like the picture above, it is a free a printable from Landelu:  http://www.landeeseelandeedo.com/2013/11/sunday-encouragement-grateful-11-24-13.html

So, take a few minutes and let your list help you segue from gratitude to joy, and embrace, even if only for a few minutes, some grateful living.

You can learn more about Christie Murrow on her blog, Charis Designs Jewelry

What are you grateful for today? Leave a comment and let us know!


Karen Baruth: The Well-Spent Life

Hi, I'm Karen.  I am a Christ Follower.  The definition of Christian has gotten murky in recent years, so Christ Follower is clearer, I think.  I have a wonderful husband named Ken and we have been married 34 years.  He too is a Christ Follower. We also have two grown daughters who give us joy and blessing.  

Our family recently has had to process the unexpected loss of my Mother in Law.  She was 80 and not in perfect health, but her death came as a surprise to us all.  You always have it laid out in your mind how the scenario will happen.  It never does. I'm not really sure why we even bother to "work it out" ahead of time.  I think it's probably our human nature to have some illusion of control over our circumstances.  

My Mother in Law was also a Christ Follower.  I'd say she was the spiritual leader of the family, always active in her church, studying the Bible and teaching children about Jesus.  That lady knew her scripture.  She would listen to many ministers on the radio and it often was her spiritual lifeline.  She wasn't the perfect Mom or Mother-in-Law at times.  She often struggled with getting victory over difficult circumstances in her life.  She loved Jesus, though, and always came back to that truth.  

She would sit and play the piano on her upright Steinway.  It was precious to her.  I think it was hers from a small child.  She loved the history of her family and ALL the mementos that came along with that.  She had a hard time letting go of most of those things.  It used to frustrate me that she held on to so much, but then I look around my house and see that I have no room to talk.  

I am grateful for the wonderful mother she was to my husband.  There have been some things I've had to "train" him in that she somehow missed.  :-)  Maybe it was more that he listened to me and not her, I'm sure.  I'm really just joking as he is a gift to me.  We are excited to know that we will see her again some day.  We are confident of that.  I will even get to meet her mother and father that she spoke so highly of.  I'm so glad we will have eternity to get to know all the people and stories that we missed out on here on earth.  I think there will be tears of joy.

She had a life well spent.  

You can learn more about Karen on her blog, Elderberry Street


Samantha Tennant: Out with the New and In with the Old?

The holiday season is fast retreating and everyone is sold on healthier eating…

No, this isn’t the start of a poem. It’s a fact. I walked into Trader Joes the other day and the fresh veggie section was literally wiped out. I’m a familiar face in that store, so I grabbed one of the employees and asked…

"Hey Jeff, what’s the deal with the empty shelves?"  He explained that it was always like this the first two weeks of January.  “Everyone goes on a health kick, but don’t worry, it will be over in about a week or so when folks go back to junk food.”

I had to think about that for a minute. We always eat a hefty amount of fruits and veg. I can’t imagine feasting on all of that luscious greenery and then putting it all aside for a box of Frosted Flakies or bag of Cheezie Crisps.  Why not stick with the new? Why go back to the old?

Especially when you know how it makes you feel… lacking.

Why do we continue to make choices that we know aren’t good for us, when we have true goodness all around us? I am not just talking about food but about all the lovely and unlovely bits and pieces of our lives.

There is goodness everywhere, you just have to look for it.  It may not always be in flashing, hot pink neon, but trust me it’s there.

I am so grateful that I live in a country where there is healthy food, medicines, nurses, doctors, clean water, safe neighborhoods, freedom of speech, of religion.

We truly want for nothing.

So, this year I want to want what is right, to stand up for what is right, to fight for what is right.

This year I want to say out with the old and in with a healthful, grateful heart.


Welcome Back to Grateful Living! So..what is this blog all about?

Friends sharing together, doing our best to define grateful living as:

Seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Finding the small blessings in the big storms.

Waking up, breathing in, and recognizing that each day is a gift.

Seeing the glass as half-full.

Stepping off the treadmill of life and standing still for a moment to stop and smell the roses.

Looking beyond faults and recognizing the good in others.

Being thankful for what you have and not worrying away all your time wishing for what you don't.

and so much more,
 is what grateful living is all about.

Please join us as we share pieces and parts of our personal experiences with you as we do our best to walk on the sunny side of the street.