I woke up this morning…first thing on my mind was the fact that today is our pastor’s last Sunday. God has called him to leave.

As sadness and regret began to well up within me, I found God challenging me immediately to choose joy. To me, this means, praising and thanking God for His blessings and His character. I wrote about that here this morning.

When I showed up for worship team practice at 8:30 this morning and Pastor Tony(the pastor of worship and youth ministries) asked me how I was doing, I smiled genuinely and said “I am choosing joy!” He asked me to explain…Rationally, I figure if the scriptures say “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4), or “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2), or “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), then I must have some sway over my own ability to be joyful. If that is the case, then HOW do I choose joy?

I believe gratitude is the path to joy. Setting aside my choice to grumble or complain…and choosing instead to praise him and thank him…well, it does something to my soul. Deep inside something changes.

For over a year, I have kept a gratitude blog. Well, that isn’t accurate. I haven’t “kept” it up to date at all! I can’t help but wonder if this doesn’t reflect a heart that hasn’t been practicing gratitude. If I haven’t been practicing gratitude, I dare say, I have likely been practicing something else…like griping and complaining…or elevating MY will, MY desires, MY problems above everything else. I really wonder what I have been magnifying! Whatever I magnify is what will fill my vision. If I magnify God, HE fills my vision. If I magnify something else…well, that is what will fill my vision and seem SO huge.

Today, this has been proven. I have been filled with joy as I have practiced gratitude. My husband may have left to go out of town, my pastor may be leaving, my presentation of special music at church less than what I had hoped it would be vocally :-), but I have joy. I praise him! I give thanks for a voice that can sing at all, for a job for my husband that provides for us, for Pastor Mike having 11 years at Cool Community Church!

In the past, I have found that when I practice forgiveness and gratitude, so much of what drives me to ungodly choices–including eating outside of 0 and 5–disappears.

I think these are the basics I need to return to. Again. 🙂 Truly, gratitude is the path to joy. When I am joyful in the Lord, I don’t look to other things to make me happy. It really works.