Simple Pleasures, Simple Joys

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Nurturing a Grateful Spirit


By Dianna Kasprzak



"Simple Joys" Photo credit: Jodi Rae

Recently I texted a dear friend to tell her about the rainbow I had seen at 6:34 am in the western sky. It was unusual to (1) see a rainbow at that time of morning, and (2) to see it in the western sky. I noted to her that it was a "special surprise gift from my heavenly Father." To this, she instantly replied,


"He gives us gifts EVERY day.

We just need to keep open to Him to see

and receive them."


I was stopped in my tracks. She was absolutely right. In that moment, I realized how often I go about my life, not seeing all the beautiful gifts that are daily given to me. I can wake up in the morning with my big "list of things to do," and hurry on, not stopping long enough to open my eyes to see the beauty around me.


One trait I loved about my Mother was how she saw beauty in other people. I observed her as she greeted a neighbor strolling by their house, a small child waiting in line at the store and the young mother juggling her little one. Or an older woman hobbling along and Mom commenting to her, "These aren't exactly golden years -- they're old rusty years.!" Of course, it was always with a smile. In fact, she always had a smile and a kind greeting or word to give to anyone she met as she went about her day-to-day activities. It was all so natural to her, practiced from her young adult years, all the way to her "old rusty years."


Both of my parents found beauty in the four seasons as we experience them in Minnesota -- beautiful spring flowers, the colors of autumn, the first snowfall -- along with the hot, humid days, and the harsh, cold wintry nights. Mom and Dad cherished the seasons and moved gracefully from one to the next, embracing the beauty -- and hardships -- of each one. I want to be more like them and take the advice of my dear friend, to "open my eyes and see the beauty around me." Some "blessings" I've noted recently are:


  • A dandelion or single daisy, tenderly clutched in the chubby hand of a grandchild, offered as a gift to take home....


  • The fragrance of spring lilacs or summer marigolds...

  • The beauty of a sunrise....and sunset....

  • The earthy fragrance of freshly stirred compost...

  • The crispness of the first cucumber or zucchini from my garden...

  • A prolific, potted herb garden!



  • Hanging laundry on my clothesline and watching it flutter in the breeze...

  • The coolness of the river water, flowing through my hand, or tickling my toes...

  • Abundant organic produce and ingredients that inspire me to cook, bringing nourishment to my body and for my family...

  • Dear ones who share a muffin -- or homemade jam -- just to brighten my day!


  • An email from a friend, bringing good news from a faraway land...

  • Visiting my parents' graves whenever I feel the need to "talk" to them...

  • Friends that understand when you cannot be in frequent touch; yet, pick up in a moment, right where you left off...

  • A "body" that moves when I get up in the morning, and "keeps up" with me throughout the day...

  • Loved ones who keep on loving and showing grace, despite my imperfections...

  • A God who understands when I hurt and feel pain, who is ready to listen and comfort...


The daily gifts of "good things" is unlimited! I'm reminded of Psalm 107:1,


"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,

For His lovingkindness is forever."

How great Thou art!



Practicing thanksgiving on a daily basis is not always easy. Life throws curveballs -- the unexpected. We can count on this every day. It might be a sick child or loved one, a car that won't start, a water pump that won't pump, a deadline we can't meet, a disappointment -- or simply growing older, and seeing that others around are growing older, too, bringing us to a greater awareness of the brevity of life. But despite the up's and down's of life, having a thankful, grateful heart for all that is, lifts us up-and-out-of-the-present-pain and concerns, into a place of refuge, a place where we can find a sense of security, joy and comfort. It's been my experience that I don't have to feel a particular emotion (such as peace or joy or happiness) before I begin my list of thanksgivings -- but when I begin verbally saying (out loud, sometimes shouting!) the things I am thankful for, emotions soon follow; I'm lifted up out of the pit and brought to a safe place.


Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman whose family hid Jewish families, students and intellectuals in their home during World War II, beautifully exemplifies this spirit of gratefulness. Their home was raided on February 24, 1944, and she was captured by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp where her sister, Betsy and their father died. She and her sister were an encouragement to the other prisoners, experiencing firsthand,


"There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still."




One particular story Corrie told that exemplifies being thankful "in all things," was when their barracks became infested with lice. Anyone who has dealt with lice knows what a difficult experience this is. But due to the lice problem, the guards did not want to go into their barracks, and the women had a respite from their cruelty.


After Corrie's release at the age of 52, she went on to have a worldwide ministry, sharing the love of Christ and message of forgiveness in over 60 countries. My husband and I were privileged to meet and serve Corrie ten Boom in 1975 when she visited Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the release of the movie The Hiding Place, which tells the story of her family's efforts to hide and protect those being hunted down by the German Gestapo. What a grand lady! Five years before her death at age 91, she experienced a series of strokes, which left her unable to speak. In the last "silent" years of her life when she had to be cared for by others, she finished as she had lived, ministering to others from her bed the message of thankfulness, hope and endurance. (The Silent Years, by Pamela Rosewell, and Biography.)


Her message still speaks loudly today. She inspires me to rise above the mundaneness of daily living, stepping out of my own tendency to whining and complaining, to see the beauty around me, and practice a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness.




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