THREE REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL IN 2016

The Thanksgiving leftovers are disappearing, family members are flying back home, and I find myself left with the reflections of the holiday and the question we all asked ourselves: What am I thankful for? I'm going to lay my heart bare here for a moment and be honest. With my holiday wish list getting longer and the Christmas commercials enticing me with the latest must-have items, it is increasingly challenging to maintain a thankful heart. Even now as I am attempting to ponder on the blessings of this year, I have already been distracted by a Pandora ad featuring a Caribbean getaway, opened two tabs on my laptop to check on any last minute sales, and gnawed on two king-size Kit Kat bars, all to no avail of completing this post. Is it possible that there is something more to my silly distractions? Could I be avoiding the challenge to still my mind, silence the noise, and search my heart? That being said, this post may be the most raw one I have written yet. In an unedited fashion, I will be using this time as an intentional meditation on the top three reasons I am grateful in 2016 (in no particular order!).

#1: FREEDOM TO EXPRESS THROUGH STYLE

As a child, I was often ostracized for my fashion choices. At an early age, my choices were bold and included metallic purple bell bottoms, bright colorful butterfly hair clips, and pink hair extensions.  No matter how outlandish I appeared to outsiders, for whatever reason I felt most like myself in my creative element. I am so grateful to my mother and father who always supported my inclination towards quirky fashion despite what I'm sure the other "straight laced" and conservative parents thought on the playground. Looking back today, my style as a little girl freed me to discover the woman I am today. The eccentricities of my childhood served as a looking glass into who I am now. I am BOLD. I am FEARLESS. I am COLORFULLY PASSIONATE. And because of the freedom to express through style, long before I found the words to articulate my heart and soul, fashion spoke for me. 

#2: GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS

I have always believed that God gifts us with angels in the form of family and friends. I am also convinced that my husband may be the most special type of angel; handcrafted lovingly just for me. I became a wife to Emeka Ihedigbo on June 16, 2016, and my life has never been quite the same. I have a home in my little family with my husband and have the joy of two step children who have their father's laugh and eyes. My marriage is by no means perfect but the beauty is that in the challenges I find a strength and commitment in my husband I am convinced I never would have witnessed otherwise. Every day that we as a unit choose to say "I do", we continue to transform more into the man and woman God designed us to be in all His perfect glory. Grateful doesn't begin to scratch the surface.

If you take apart my heart, you will find pieces of my family- my warrior of a father, my relentlessly loving mother, and all the beauty the world can hold in my sister. I must say it has been the biggest relief during my transition into marriage to look back and feel the love and presence of my family in the most tangible way. No doubt our relationship has shifted as my primary home now resides with my husband, but I have found so much comfort in knowing that I will forever be a baby girl to my parents and have a life-long best friend in my sister. To have an unbreakable bond in family is indeed more precious than all the gemstones in the world. I am rich in my family's love and for that I am eternally grateful.

Friends are the family members you get to choose. Most of my fondest memories carry the echoing laughter of my friends. One of my top priorities has become a fierce commitment to genuine friendships. Unlike a husband or family members, friends are so precious because keeping one another in your lives is a choice. Therefore there must be an active decision to nurture the relationship and walk alongside that person in prayer during both the good and bad times. I had this deep rooted fear within me that as soon as I got married, my friends would disappear and we would have less and less reason to get together. To my delight, the contrary is true; an up swelling and deepening in friendship has been the result. There is something so sweet about walking with a friend by your side before and after a major life transition. It enables you to know one another in such an honest capacity that fortifies a bond as powerful as sisterhood. For my sisters from other misters and for our chosen journey together, I am grateful.

#3: BREATH IN OUR LUNGS

I am currently sitting in my father's church office and outside in the sanctuary I can hear the praise team singing, "It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, pour out our praise!." How powerful is this profound truth that we too often ignore?! Thousands of innocent people around the world did not wake up to see another day and by the grace of God my breathe sustained me faithfully into the morning. "For in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) My prayer in closing 2016 would be that the eyes of my heart would be open to see that every day is a gift not promised but given by the goodness of God. That even in the darkest of times the light of living would outweigh all else and cause an outpouring of thankfulness within me. 

Even in this moment I can feel a release of tension and anxiety being replaced by a grateful heart. I am finding more and more that a posture of gratefulness is most often found by choice and not a feeling. The heart can be so misleading sometimes and with greed corrupting the world around us it is increasingly imperative to stop and count your blessings. I challenge you to find a quiet space to turn off all electronics, grab a pen and paper, and write down three reasons you are grateful. And moving forward, would you join me in setting a daily alarm on your phone with a reminder to pause wherever you are in your day to recount one item you are grateful for. I would love to hear your three reasons! Comment down below and share!

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Xoxo, Diwa Doll

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Photography: Jiashen Huang