The Return of the Joy

The Return of the Joy

By Wodline Hippolyte

Over the last few years, the holiday season has been difficult for me. It was during this time three years ago that my world was turned upside-down. As a result, I didn’t care for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. I was holding on to the pain I experienced during those holidays.  

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The Power and Wisdom of Thanks-Giving

The Power and Wisdom of Thanks-Giving

By Kim Hyland

Some may question giving thanks when our hearts are weary worn, as if it’s disingenuous or even delusional. But I’d argue the opposite. The delusion happens when we allow our problems to consume and define our reality. Gratitude restores a proper perspective.

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Six Ways to Vanquish the Unappreciation Woes

Six Ways to Vanquish the Unappreciation Woes

By Susan Panzica

“Mom!! He didn’t say his thank you!” [Eyes blazing, finger pointing, hand on hip, you get the picture.]

From the time they could speak, I drilled my kids with the importance of saying their “thank yous.” So when a classmate didn’t express his appreciation to my then four-year-old son, AJ was duly indignant. 

What’s a mom to do? Think quick! 

I answered that if we get a “thank you” here on earth, that’ll be all the thanks we get, but if we don’t receive a “thank you” here on earth, God will reward us in heaven. And that’s even better than an earthly “thank you.” (Matt. 6:1-4) [Continue Reading…]

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by Kimberly Coyle

When the judges at the dance competition asked him his name, he stuttered. Each question they asked brought on another short, halting answer. The judges smiled, they knew he was there to show off what he could do with his feet, not to give a speech, and they said, “Let’s see what you can do.” What he could do when the music set his body free, brought tears to the eyes of the panel.  [Continue Reading...]

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Help. Thanks. Wow. The 3 Essential Prayers

Help. Thanks. Wow. The 3 Essential Prayers

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:6 (NIV)

Author Anne Lamott, whose words regularly bring me to tears, writes that the first two of the three essential prayers are “Help” and “Thanks.”

Interesting. The hospital chapel again.

We’ve spent more than our fair share of time there lately. We are no strangers to praying together, this family. When we walk, when we play, in the car, before we rest, we pray together. [Continue Reading...}

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Where Does Your Faith Come From?

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Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5

On St. Patrick’s Day, I can’t help but think of my beloved Grandma who traveled here, a young girl, barely 20, to the United States from Ireland 90+ years ago.

I wish I could talk to her today, but she is long gone. She died in 1972. There is so much I’d like to know more about.

What was it like for her to leave her mother and father in one country to join brothers and sisters in a new land that lay across the sea? To go to an unknown city, leaving behind the stone farmhouse in the country hills of Fermanagh, the only home she had ever known?

Was she scared? Excited? Did she feel courageous and brave…she surely was!

There are things I know about Grandma, but so much more I wish I knew.

When Grandma arrived here in the U.S., about 1920, she went to live with her sister in New York. I recall Grandma telling me she met her husband, Grandpa Daly, a.k.a. Charlie Daly, through her brother Patrick, who used to drive an ice truck back in the day when there were ice boxes.

I don’t know what Grandpa did for a living. I only know that he had difficulty keeping a job during the Great Depression. And, in fact, grew quite literally depressed from lack of work. Grandpa fell ill, was hospitalized, and never returned home. He died when my dad was 13.

Around this time, Grandma started working as, basically, an “Irish washerwoman” or “domestic” for wealthy doctors. Once Grandpa died, Grandma couldn’t keep her home and she and Dad moved in with one of the doctor’s families…living in the back rooms of the doctor’s office.

Dad was a good boy, but the class clown. He was being educated for free at St. Peter’s Prep School as a poor student of promise. Because of his antics, Grandma had to cry to the dean of students more than once, begging Dad back into the dean’s good graces…and allowing Dad to graduate by the skin of his teeth.

Dad went to St. Peter’s College at night, so he could earn money during the day. Eventually, he did not fall short of Grandma’s high expectations and belief that the only way up out of poverty was through education. Dad had a very successful publishing career and was most assuredly the apple of his mother’s eye.

Meanwhile, Grandma went from washerwoman to nanny of another doctor’s family. She worked hard, scraped by many times, and when she was too old to work anymore, at the age of 65, Grandma came to live with us. She walked with a cane due to a leg that had broken in two places and never healed quite right. Her hands were gnarled with arthritis and her back bowed in pain much of the time. She could barely see from the effects of macular degeneration.

BUT Grandma was the most thankful person I have ever met.

She was positive and encouraging. She was an advocate for…everyone. She prayed wholeheartedly for all she knew. In fact, when she could no longer do much besides help care for the crazy brood of five children that were the Daly Kids, prayer became her life’s work.

Whenever I picture Grandma, I see her in her big plaid buffalo chair in her corner of the sun porch in heaven. There is a line of people waiting just to share their prayer requests with her, knowing she is a constant, consistent, powerful prayer warrior.

Grandma had nothing of material worth…yet for many years she was everything to me. In the midst of my parents’ messed up marriage, Grandma was an anchor in the storm. In the midst of middle school insecurity, she was blessed assurance that I was loved. In the midst of my growing need for something bigger, surer, more certain, she was a glimpse of the Jesus she so loved, the God I have come to know.

Grandma never preached. She just lived…quiet, prayerful, sure, faithful. And she passed this legacy on to me.

I wish I knew when and how Grandma came to such strong faith. I will never know this side of heaven.

But I am thankful every day for her gift of faith that keeps on giving to me.

Is there someone who left you a legacy of faith? Someone who was a beacon of Light in your life, whose faith drew you to faith? Tell us HERE

photo credit: Randy Durrum via photopincc

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Elise has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, familly, friends...and really likes travel!

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Changing Perspective

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I love throwing parties. I love Mexican food. Give me a reason to throw a Mexican-themed party and I am elated. I have a handful of go-to serving dishes, tablecloths, and decorations just waiting for the next social gathering. Recently, my husband and I were throwing a party with a Spanish flair for our daughter’s birthday and I wanted to serve chips and salsa, one of our family’s favorite munchies. I looked everywhere for our large blue, red, and orange chip and dip bowl but couldn't seem to locate it. I could not believe I had the perfect piece to present the snacks, but could not find it anywhere. The party went off without a hitch even though the presentation wasn’t exactly what I had in my mind.

It is so frustrating when you can’t find what you are looking for.

Our basement is a catch-all for the things that have no place in the rooms above ground. It's the space that’s served as a playroom for the big toys, laundry, gift wrap station, storage, etc. At one time, it also housed a Pilates machine; a late-night purchase from the HSN Shopping Network. For months it went untouched except of course for the kids playing on it, and we always shooed them off.  Filled with promises of lean muscles in half the time, I decided I was finally going to give it a try. I turned on the little TV, popped in the DVD that came with the machine, and laid down ready to transform my body. As I lay there and looked up, my eyes were drawn to the top shelf of the wire racks that ran along the wall…and I saw it! It was the infamous chips and salsa dish that went MIA months before.

In changing my perspective, what seemed lost was found.

I was no longer looking at eye level. I was seeing through a worm’s eye. Perspective is an important element in art. In photography, for example, it adds to the story and perfects the shot. By changing my perspective I saw more. My limits were removed.

You can take a picture of the same subject, engage in the same activity, look in the same places, yet have a different outcome when you change perspective.

A shifted perspective reveals that there is more than meets the eye at first. One of the things that will radically change your perspective is a heart of gratitude. 

We talk a lot about thankfulness during the month of November, but what if we talked about it all year round?

I certainly could stand a little more gratitude thrown my way in my home. I am tired of making meals that are met with complaints or cleaning the house only for it to be littered with stuff soon thereafter. Yet, I realize, if I want the climate in my home to change, thankfulness has to start with me and be intentionally modeled to my kids. The thankfulness I practice now is often reactionary. It is in response to what I have, nice things done for me, and my comfort. That's the stuff of greeting cards. The gratitude tends to be fleeting…it doesn't contain power to change our perspective or produce joy.

 In the book One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp says:

"The practice of giving thanks...eucharisteo...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see."

What if I didn’t wait for the perfect scenarios to give thanks?

I am now on the hunt for that which I have not noticed before. I am looking beyond the obvious and being proactive in giving thanks. This Thanksgiving, my family will not be wrapping up a month of thankfulness but will be kicking off a new journey of partaking in willed eucharisteo in hopes of transforming our perspective. My husband and I will be leading our kids each day in writing down those things that we are grateful for and keeping that list in a place that can be see on a daily basis and by others who enter our home.

How do you participate in giving thanks in your home?

 photo credit: lovesonic via photopincc


Kimberly is an enthusiastic and dedicated founding member of the Circles of Faith team. She is known for her creativity, strong faith, and commitment to living life with purpose and passion. Kimberly is a writer and community builder whose desire is for hearts to be healed, minds to be renewed and women to be connected in fellowship just as God intended.

You can follow Kimberly in her journey to discovering the Sweet Spot of God’s success for her everyday life on her blog at Living in the Sweet Spot. or on twitter @kimberlyamici.Click here for her full bio.

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Counting My Complaints Instead of Blessings in the Wake of Hurricane Sand

Counting My Complaints Instead of Blessings in the Wake of Hurricane Sand

 "Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”   Philippians 2:14

Complaining, weary, grumbling, impatient…I’m skipping down the path of least resistance. Almost giddy as my negative emotions pick up momentum. Oh, it’s so easy to go there.

* No power, day 6. And the predictions are power may not be restored for another week. [Continue Reading...]

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