As the holiday season approaches, picks up momentum, and kicks into full speed, there is a wonderful sense of joy and excitement. Warmth and happiness surrounds my heart as I think about what fun gifts I’m going to give and the precious time I get to spend with those that I love. The theme and experience that envelopes me is one of gratitude.

As I ponder this idea of gratitude I can recall chapters of my life when it was the farthest thing from me, when other feelings and experiences consumed me and it was hard see beyond them. I can think back two years ago when my life suddenly made a very hard change. My husband became ill and was forced to leave his job. This illness prevented him from returning to a job in which he had invested 20 years, causing him to start over and find a new path. During this time, there were several emergency hospital trips where the outcome was uncertain. With the main financial supporter of our household without a job and vocational path, our future was unclear. It was a very painful chapter to walk through that required a strength that only God can give.

In this difficult time God challenged me, and continues to challenge me, to rise above the circumstances, find gratitude, and remove the focus from myself. In moments of pain and unfortunate circumstance, this is a strenuous and forced exercise – anything but easy. But when I chose to look for gratitude and go down the list, I find there is always something to be grateful for, even if the only thing I find is God. The part of the exercise that always surprises me, is the peace that comes with finding gratitude. It’s as if through this process, all the unpleasant feelings get kicked out and peace comes in and takes over.

As I move forward in my journey of life, I know one thing is for certain. There will always be storms and hard things to walk through, but with God there can also be peace in the midst of it. The choice becomes mine to allow my heart and mind to be consumed with the circumstance or to choose to focus on gratitude and God. What I have found is that choosing the path of gratitude brings satisfaction, contentment and peace to my soul, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3b) When troubles come, I know where I can go to find my peace!

Join in this season of gratitude at the Thanksgiving Mass, Thursday, November 24th from 8:30 – 9:30 am. A very special opportunity to prepare the heart before preparing for the festivities!

Written by Megan Stanton, Communications Coordinator.