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I always find January a difficult month. I think it is a bit of lag from the excitement and busy-ness of the Christmas season. I think it is partially that I really struggle with the winter season – I don’t like having to put on hat, scarf, mitts, coat and sensible boots every time I want to go outside. I love that in summer all I have to do is grab a pair of flipflops and go.

Right now, in my town, there is ice EVERYWHERE. As a dedicated walker, this makes my day much more difficult. I am managing to get my walks in, but I am only going half the distance I usually would, and a good part of the time on my walk is spent concentrating on not wiping out.

I think it is also a little bit of the fact that it gets dark early and the days are often grey and dull here. I don’t think I have full-on Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I know I struggle more during the winter months.

I was thinking on this morning’s walk that I need to spend some time in gratitude. That is usually a great solution for the difficult days or the times of struggle.

And then, I found this on pinterest:

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 9.06.19 PM

Can I tell you how much I love this theology? For me, any time of struggle is an opportunity to draw closer to God, to depend upon Him, to learn from Him. And any time spent drawing closer, depending upon and learning from God results in cleansing. Sometimes the learning is as simple as: I have forgotten gratitude, and I need to return to it. Sometimes it’s more difficult to figure out what the learning is meant to be.

But either way, I believe that any time we are facing trials – whether we’d term them troubled waters, wandering in the wilderness, or something else entirely – God has a good purpose to redeem our suffering.That doesn’t make the suffering easy, it doesn’t make it fun, but it does make it worth going through.

So today I choose to be thankful. And here’s my list of things I am thankful for on this day:
-good friends who speak wise, comforting and supportive words (you know who you are!)
-my best friend, a boxer-mix named Koski who always knows when I need an extra cuddle (how DOES she do that?)
-a community of faith that reminds me that I never walk this journey alone
-improvement (slow though it may be) in the state of the sidewalks where Koski and I walk each day (improvement, slow or fast, is always a good thing…it’s moving in the right direction)
-a gym that is close by, has a great class schedule, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (take any one of those details away, and I bet my fitness routine would tank!)
-sunshine on our walk this morning – the light shines in the darkness, my friends, and the darkness has never been able to put it out.

I encourage you to take a moment to think about things you are grateful for this day. Try to be specific. For example, “faith” is always a reason for gratitude, but focusing that down to something like “the knowledge that God is with me and others are praying for me,” will help you see the details that make “faith” a reason for gratitude.

And I leave you today, with this – my life verse, which always reminds me that even in tough moments, God is with me and for me:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

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