What are you thankful for?

By Joe Castaneda

We moved to Michigan in March of 2013. There was snow on the ground. There was snow on the ground in April. We actually celebrated our first Michigan Easter by visiting a church, and Celina did an Easter egg hunt with snow boots, heavy coat and gloves. On Mothers Day, May 12, 2013, we had a huge snowfall with big flakes and an inch of accumulation.


Snow 10:14 months

Since we moved to Michigan, 14 months ago, we’ve had snow on the ground for 10 of those months!

The snow was gone in June, July, August and September, but in October of 2013, we had our first snowfall of “winter”. It didn’t last, but we had several days of snow and understood that when people in northern Michigan said, “Make a Halloween costume that can fit over your snow gear”…they weren’t joking. The snow came to stay in November, and that means, as we near April of 2014, that in the 14 months we have been in Michigan, we have had snow on the ground in ten of those months!

I don’t love the cold and snow like some, but I have certainly come to enjoy it. The snow is beautiful while it is falling and our family has learned to have a lot of fun in this Winter Wonderland we now call home. This particular winter has been very snowy and particularly cold, so that even the most diehard winter fans are ready for the warmth of spring and summer to hit.

When we chose to follow God to Michigan, I knew that I was probably going to be the family member that had the biggest adjustments to make. Tati, our 16-year-old, probably dislikes the cold even more, but she and I have both had ample opportunity to be stretched by this experience. My wife has great childhood memories of the snow, and she has brought a fair amount of joy to all of us as we’ve experienced real winter. But the reality is, cold or no cold, snow or snow, my ability to thank God for my circumstances rests entirely in the freedom God has given me through Christ.

Bottom line, every single moment of every single day, my state of thankfulness is does not have to be hampered by the morning’s weather report.

Since we moved, I’ve prayed and worked hard on being thankful for our situation. Today, for example, thinking about another month of cold and snow, I intentionally thought about those things for which I’m thankful. My list? I am thankful for the amazing beauty of the snow, especially in the morning as the sun comes up over our frozen lake and shines in our kitchen window. I’m thankful for my awesome family that has embraced this journey with courage, joy, laughter, faith and commitment to each other. I’m thankful now — probably more than ever! — for the warmth of summer and sunshine. I doubt you’ll ever read a post on this blog about the oppressive heat of summer (please feel free to digi-slap me if you do!).

Paul commands in 1 Thessalonians 5 to, “be thankful always.” One translation says it this way: “Be thankful in all circumstances.” If thankfulness is a command, that means it is also a choice. I can choose to be thankful for where I am in God’s plan, or I can play the victim, and whine and complain about the things I can’t change. You can’t live the Overboard Life as a victim — you must embrace the journey with thankfulness!

What do you need to thank God for, today? Whatever your state or present circumstance, can you list five reasons why you can give thanks to Him?

Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!

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5 Responses to What are you thankful for?

  1. Bev says:

    Joe –

    My word for the year is thankful. At work I put up a 2 foot by 3 foot piece of paper on my office door, at the top it says “Today I am thankful for . . . ” Every day before I enter my office I write something I am thankful for. I thought this paper would last for the year and I would have a great visual of all the things I was thankful for through the year. My staff has started to join in, so much so I am on my 4th sheet of paper since January. It is so exciting and fun, it makes me smile everyday to see what others are thankful for and starts my day out with a great and thankful attitude.

    Great post!

    • joeacast says:

      What a great story, funny how thankfulness can spread! I love the idea of walking into my office and starting the day with that mindset. Might have to steal that 🙂

      • Bev says:

        Steal away, it is a great exercise that has become a habit. I have found that practicing thankfulness is very different than just saying I am thankful. It has changed my outlook and given me a new energy that in turn has caused me to try new “stretching” things.

  2. David Hall says:

    have to admit this is the first blog of yours I’ve read. interesting.

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