Welcome I don’t know about where you live, but here in the Midwest it has been H-O-T this summer! We also went several weeks without any rain, which is really scary. Fortunately, last week we had several big rains and the rain brought cooler temperatures with it. As I was moping about not getting to go on any big vacations or fun trips this summer, I realized I had lost my daily focus of gratitude. I decided there was no better time to start being grateful than on a day with temperatures in the upper 90’s and a heat index of 116. Sound crazy? Not from my point of view.
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Food For Thought There may be thousands of wonderful gratitude quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
“It’s not happiness that brings gratitude, but gratitude that brings happiness.”
“A moment of gratitude makes a difference in attitude.”
Even though I’ve always been taught to be grateful, both from my parents and through church and faith, I have not always expressed my gratitude, especially in times of difficulty. When I was seeking non-medicinal treatments for my depression and anxiety, I was enlightened in a few areas, including gratitude.
One of the activities I turned to was yoga. What does yoga have to do with gratitude? Well, my instructor took a particular interest in my story and recommended some books and additional helps that could improve my mental state. Another suggestion was to begin keeping a gratitude journal. By focusing on things that were going well or right in my life, and expressing gratitude accordingly, I would shift my focus from the negative. I started keeping my gratitude journal in May of 2014.
I still have empty pages in that journal because I lost my momentum. I began taking the good things in my life for granted again. My home. My car. My clothes. My food. My job. Days when I didn’t cry or have a panic attack. Even “little” things like running water and electricity. Most of us have A LOT to be grateful for each and every day, if we really stop and think about it.
This summer, I was moping around my house, feeling sorry for myself as I watched “everyone I know” post awesome vacation pictures to social media. I knew I needed to get to a place of contentment or this could spiral quickly into self-pity and even depression. What’s the best way to become content with where I am and with what I have? Think of all the amazing things to be grateful for. It’s easy to give a generic “family” response here, but there’s so many things, more specific and personal.
This particular moping day was crazy hot in our area. The temperature was 98 degrees and the heat index was 116. My husband was out working in it, doing what he does every day, rain or shine, hot or cold. I, on the other hand, was sitting at home in our 72 degree air-conditioned home, playing with my daughter and drinking ice cold water. I was not out in the heat and I wasn’t working hard, either. I began to think about all the people I know who have to be out working in this scorching summer heat. Utility workers, construction workers, roofers, and firefighters, just to name a few. So it was indeed time to say a gratitude prayer and be thankful for things I have and even some I do not. Here is what my gratitude prayer looked like on that day:
Dear Heavenly Father,
I am offering up a prayer of gratitude today. I want to thank you for the many luxuries I have in my life that offer me cool and comfort in the heat of the season. I thank you for our comfortable home and its working air conditioning system. I thank you that it has needed no service or repairs and is providing us with a cool and comfortable living space this hot summer. As the temperatures continue to climb, it is an engineering wonder in my mind that we can control our climates with a touch of a button. I thank you for all of the buildings and cars that have air conditioning so that we don’t have to experience much discomfort at all. Forgive me for complaining about such things, when I have been given so much.
I thank you that I do not have to work in such conditions. I thank you for the choice I have about where I spend my time when the weather conditions are not ideal. I pray for the health and safety of those who do not have that choice.
Lord, I ask that you watch over my husband and protect him as he works in dangerous heat conditions today. I ask for you to watch over the thousands and thousands of others who must endure the harshness of this heat for the sake of their jobs or the safety of others. Bless them and protect them.
I pray these things in Jesus’ Name, Amen
And you know as well as I do it doesn’t have to be about air conditioning. Maybe it’s the much needed rainfall. Maybe it’s the fact that we wash our clothes with electric washing machines now, instead of washboards. Maybe it’s having enough money to buy this year’s school supplies. Maybe it’s the fact that I can get another couple thousand miles out of my old car. The important thing is, BE GRATEFUL. Every. Single. Day.
Today’s Recipe Well, who wouldn’t want an icy cold treat on a hot summer day? There’s everything from ice cold watermelon to homemade ice cream and granitas. Ice pops and fudge pops abound. But one of my favorite summer treats is a frozen chocolate-dipped banana. Today’s 4-ingredient treat is even better with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate!
I got my very first cookbook I got when I was five years old. It was a Junior Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I loved that book until it literally fell to pieces! One of my earliest “all by myself” recipes was this chocolate-dipped banana. Today I dress it up a little with a peanut butter drizzle, but you can easily omit the drizzle, or as my first cookbook directed, roll the freshly dipped bananas in chopped peanuts.
Frozen Chocolate & Peanut Butter Banana Pops (makes 8 pops)
- 4 bananas, cut in half
- 4 TBS creamy peanut butter
- 2 7-oz containers microwavable dipping chocolate (I used Baker’s brand milk chocolate flavor)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
- 8 cookie or cake pop sticks
- wax paper
Cut the four bananas in half and insert cake pop sticks through center of banana. Remove the banana peels.
Spread about a half tablespoon of peanut butter on each banana half. Place on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer for one hour.
Melt chocolate in microwave according to package directions. Stir until smooth. Hint: I used two cups of microwavable chocolate and then poured them into a tall narrow glass to stick the bananas into to get a full coating of chocolate.
Place dipped bananas back on wax paper sheet. The cold bananas and pan will help the chocolate set quickly.
In microwave-safe container, melt the peanut butter chips. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the chocolate coated bananas. Return to freezer for another hour.
I find this to be a delicious alternative to ice cream bars in the summer!
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