Gratitude Challenge

Each year in October the social media community challenges itself to post, share and declare one gratitude per day for 40 days. From what I understand, the effort started eight years ago by Tisha Poncia, who blogs at On the Wings of Gratitude
Usually, I shrug away from social media challenges. However, the more I thought about this one, the more I realized, I needed to do this. Although I didn’t post it anywhere, I thought I’d share my first seven days with you.

Day 1: Toilets. I’m thankful for toilets—indoor plumbing, I should say. The first five years of my life, we had an outhouse. Words can not describe the terror and nightmares I still have about that place. Every time I clean my bathroom, I thank the Lord for indoor plumbing. It’s truly a blessing. Thankful, so thankful. 
Day 2: Grocery Stores—all of them—around every corner. When I walk in, I have lots of choices. What kind of apple should I buy today? What kind of cereal?  And then I wonder, Can others walk into any grocery store and buy what they want?
So God tells me, Buy extra cans of vegetables, buy the five different types of apples and pick up some cereal—the good stuff—take it over to the nearest food pantry so someone can walk in and make choices too. Thankful for grocery stores, food pantries and God’s provision for all His people.
Day 3: Flatiron. Long before I discovered this wonderful piece of machinery, I had big, fluffy, wild hair. My hair belongs forever in the 80’s. However, it’s 2015, so enter my flatiron. It smooths away all of the crazy hair and gives the illusion I have straight hair. Without it, I look messy. But like grace, it straightens things out for me, and I look good. Thankful for my flatiron today and especially grateful for God’s grace. 
Day 4: iPad, iPhone, FaceTime. So many blogs and articles warn against spending too much time on these Apple products. Yes, they can hinder and break relationships. However, like any tool, if properly used, it can open up opportunities for communication. I love that I can text, call, FaceTime others. Try it. Text a word of encouragement or call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile and see what happens. Thankful for the opportunities God places in our hands.
Day 5: Makeup and True Beauty. Aging stinks, but with a little dab of this, I look presentable. My concealed dark circles and freshly brightened skin can now walk out publicly without shame. I have to make sure I touch up here and there throughout the day, or it vanishes away. 
It’s a great reminder. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Thankful for makeup, concealer and lipstick because they remind me God loves me no matter how I look. He remains the same today, tomorrow and forever. True beauty comes from Him—only Him and He’s mine forever! 
Day 6: Gifts and Shoeboxes. My sister-in-law buys me a purse every year for my birthday or Christmas or whenever she feels like it. I’ve never told her this before, but I feel so pampered whenever I open any gift from her. She does gift giving so well and I’ve learned the art of gifting from her. 
So this year, I decided to take her approach when I get my shoeboxes ready for Samaritan’s Purse. I’ll think about the little girl who will delicately open the shoebox anticipating a bracelet. I’ll pray for the little boy who will Hulk smash through his shoebox to find the Avengers waiting for him. Grateful—for purses, my sister-in-law, shoeboxes and Samaritan’s Purse. Oh, the blessings that come with giving and receiving! 
Day 7: Challenges. I don’t like challenges—blogging, writing, change. I’m thankful however God constantly examines my heart and encourages me to grow. Sometimes I’m lazy, other times I’m frightened. Almost always I have to trust God with everything. 
From now on, I’ll participate in the 40 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Honestly, I’m grateful for how it has changed my perspective on so many things. I’m thankful for the constant reminder of God’s sovereignty, God’s faithfulness and God’s endless supply of love for His people. It's a challenge worth taking every single day. 

Raquel Wroten (MAMC, Dallas Theological Seminary) was born in McAllen, Texas but has lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area most of her life. Raised by a single mother, Raquel grew up knowing the meaning of diversity, creativity, and chaos through her four brothers and three sisters. The greatest gift she ever received came from her mother who taught her that living as a believer doesn’t mean perfection, it means grace. Raquel met her husband Rick at a church retreat in Oklahoma on a cold November weekend. They dated for a year and got married in June 1992. A couple of years later, Rick graduated with his ThM, and they welcomed Joshua. . .then Abby. . .and surprise, it’s Anna! Intermixing their cultures, the Wrotens have established a variety of traditions along with interesting combinations of food. Raquel believes that ministry begins at home so she finds new ways of serving those she calls her own. Raquel serves as editor of DTS Magazine and enjoys writing (in English, Spanish and Spanglish), cooking, coffee, education and serving up a feast for her friends and family.