Grateful, Courageous, and Cheerful

I see through new lenses these days. No, I didn’t get new glasses.

I have a new way of life. One that still consists of the family I treasure and work that I love—ministering to people. But one which now includes numerous therapies, doctors’ appointments, calculated outings, and even trips to be measured for the “electric chair.” Sounds scary—but I am referring to a motorized wheelchair, complete with accompanying accessible van. Bars and ramps have already been installed in our home as we live out our “new normal.”

I must choose how I view this change in life. An assortment of viewpoints and attitudes hover around my head and are readily accessible. Which lens shall I choose?20161121_150413

My husband no longer has mobility, and suffers from a progressive neurological disease. Yes. It’s hard and sobering.

However (for a completely none other than God-given reason) we have peace. And we have so much we are thankful for. I find myself surprised to feel this reality so keenly and deeply—but I’ve never felt closer to God, my husband, or my family. And, I’m extremely thankful as I approach my country’s Thanksgiving holiday.

This really doesn’t make sense. I am quite aware this contentment is only because of many prayers being prayed—and a commitment and prayer from my husband to live each day…grateful, courageous, and cheerful.

How do you do that when you lose your physical capabilities and/or when life radically changes?

By choice.  Choosing to be grateful this time of year. This day. This moment. Tomorrow.

And choosing to be courageous and cheerful.

Each day.

The alternative choice is to become bitter, fearful, and depressed…and that, dear friends, is not an encouraging choice.

My husband chooses the former, and it spurs me on to choose the same. The Bible calls me to this. It’s a vital way to think—and it’s possible. This way of thinking doesn’t mean I hide my head in the sand to all that is hard in life while whistling “Pollyanna.”  In fact, Jesus’ tells us we will have troubles in this world. Expect them. There are all kinds of troubles here in this “short minute” of life on earth. Yet, it’s the perfect and trouble free eternal years for which I live. Aaaahhhh.

If we are waiting for life on earth to be “fair” and to always make sense to us we are in for a long and impossible wait.

Despite our troubles, we can know we know and hold to someone who is all powerful and completely loving.

I can’t see what he sees. I also can’t deny the truth of the following scripture. God’s peace exceeds anything and everything I can understand.
4  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
5  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8  And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
9  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:4-9 NLT)

Today, I feel grateful. The ability to stand, to walk, to climb, and to run feels very pertinent to me. To quickly “fetch” a drink of water when I’m thirsty is a privilege, and to take steps into a friend’s home is a blessing.  I may not always have these abilities, but while I do I’m thankful for them. My once fast and agile husband can no longer do these things, but he is a grateful man. He knows and lives love; receives and offers forgiveness; experiences peace in heart and mind; has the love of an amazing family; holds to a purpose and hope that nothing can destroy; and joyfully functions within a diverse church family that loves deeply and from the heart.

His attitude is contagious to me. And it’s a good contagiousness—no need for covering the mouth with a tissue here. This attitude shows in the big stuff and in the mundane. For instance: While pumping gas, I now stop to be thankful for the fact I have a car, and money to power it.  Each time I’m at the grocery store and slip that debit card chip into the proper slot I’m reminded of the amazing food I am able to buy, and I feel thankful.  I realize this is a luxury for many. I’ve seen, met, and spoken to many who would long for such an opportunity. I am truly blessed. Before this recent struggle, I felt less gratitude for such “mundane” things.

And who could have courage if they didn’t face fears?  Fearfulness has dogged me throughout my life, yet God has not let me down. Ever. This doesn’t mean I haven’t faced hard or even life threatening situations and felt fear. Yet, it was in those times of deepest fears God empowered me to feel the most courage.

Funny thing— this is what God’s promises have always told us. Just re-read Psalm 23. Maybe a more unfamiliar wording of this psalm will feed your soul:
4  Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5  You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6  Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.
(Psalm 23:4-6 MSG)

And cheerfulness?

Deep down in the heart joy supersedes circumstances.

17  Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
18  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

18  When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me.
19  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.  
               (Psalm 94:18-19)

And that is something to smile about. Cheerfulness begets cheerfulness.  It feels good, too.

22  A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
(Pr. 17:22)

Join us in a commitment to leave each day with gratitude, courage, and cheerfulness.

…And have a wonderful Thanksgiving day—and life!

12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12)


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  1. jackfrederick

    An amazing & inspiring perspective. I knew this was coming because I know you both. We’ve prayed much about Wyndham’s health, and for both of you to receive and share God’s wisdom on overcoming such challenges so the rest of us can benefit. You taught us so much over nearly 30 years of friendship & discipling, we need to learn from your faith in this as we all face the challenges of this most wonderful part of life. We love you both so much – Jack & Gail Frederick

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks for your kind words, but most of all your friendship and prayers. You and Gail and your entire family mean more to us than I can express. Love you. Jeanie

  2. Debbie

    Amazing faithful words that fill my soul and challenge my weakness. Thank you Jeanie and Wyndham for your courage, gratitude and cheerfulness which inspires and encourages me. Much love and prayers for you as you navigate this new reality. Debbie and Jim

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you, Debbie. You are such a ray of warmth and sunshine. We love you both and so appreciate your faith and friendship over many years.

  3. Jennifer Lambert

    I am grateful for this post! You have definitely given me an example and scriptures with which to truly REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks, Jennifer. I’m very grateful for you and your family. Love you!

  4. Robin Weidner

    So beautifully said Jeannie. You and Wyndham’s perspective is such a bright light. Thanks for being heroes for all of us. Sending a prayer that God continues showering you with spiritual blessings and that he gives a heaping dose of comfort for the especially challenging days. (And yes, I want to join in your commitment to gratitude, cheerfulness and courage.) Hugs! robin

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks for your kind words, Robin. And…thanks for all the ways you give to so many. Thanks for the prayers. Love you, Jeanie

  5. Lilian HIslop

    THis is such an encouraging and inspiring lesson. I love you,

  6. Stan Morehead

    Such strength of faith you both show! If I could only have half of that as I face the difficulties of old age. Memories of our friendship in Boston and since will be treasured forever. We love you and continue to pray for you.
    Stan and Betty Morehead

    • jeanieshaw

      So great to hear from you. You and Betty are such dear and faithful friends. Love you and thanks for the prayers!

  7. Kela Bolduc

    Thank you Jeanie for sharing not only your heart and thoughts but your life with so many people. I can relate to being more grateful for mundane things now then a few years ago.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks for your kinds words. And…Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. 🙂

  8. Sciascia

    You and Wyndham have been such heroes in the faith from the time Gary and I met you in Charlotte. Thank you for your continuing example of loving God even when life doesn’t go as we had planned. I loved your point about it being a choice to live in gratefulness or bitterness. I was feeling sad about some things and your blog helped me to see the abundant blessings God has placed in my life and to choose gratefulness, every day. I can’t wait to share this. Love you much.
    Gail Sciascia

    • jeanieshaw

      So good to hear from you. Thanks for your encouraging words. They mean a lot. We love you and Gary so much. Love, Jeanie

  9. Lori Bynum

    Jeanie, So inspired by your trust in the goodness of God no matter what the circumstances. I have been praying for you because I have come to see how very much we need each other’s prayers when we must bear the unbearable. You and Wyndham inspire me and so many by your faithful perspective. I appreciate you so much. I love you, Lori Bynum

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks for reaching out. Your love and faith inspire me. Yes, you are so right. The prayers are invaluable. Love you very much. Jeanie

  10. Sharon Gauthier

    Thank you, Jeanie, for your inspiring and enlightening words! God has blessed you with an amazing gift of words–to speak & write to the heart. Darren and I love and admire you and Wyndham deeply, and pray for you every day. Thanks again for sharing your insights along your journey. You both remain in our prayers. Love, Sharon

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. We love you both very much. Thanks for the prayers! Love, Jeanie

  11. Lisa Denise

    Hello, there is so much here to ponder, your amazing example and attitude is what I needed today. Thank you for sharing

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Love, Jeanie

  12. Steve Mwaniki

    Am so encouraged and may God continue to give you more wisdom, power and courage to continue with this inspiring articles, may God bless you.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you so much, Steve. I appreciate your kind words.

  13. Teresa Tang

    Thank you, Jeanie, for continuing to inspire us with your faith & example. We are there with you in heart & prayer. We are walking this journey together. We love you both…Tak-Sing & Teresa

    • jeanieshaw

      Thank you so much, Teresa. That means a lot. Love, Jeanie

  14. Marilyn Otto

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your deep convictions and reminding me of what God’s Word says. It’s all about what we choose to do in spite of our circumstances. Today, I choose to imitate your example and commit to living each day with gratitude, courage and cheerfulness. I tend to overlook the mundane things but I will express my gratitude to God for everything going forward. I don’t know you personally but I’ve heard of you and your husband as heroes in the faith. May God continue to bless you both in the days ahead.Thank you for the many ways you have served in God’s church. Thank you for inspiring me all the way here in Laurel, Maryland!

    • jeanieshaw

      And thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot. Love, Jeanie

  15. Katherine Pugh

    Jeanie, I finally took time to read this. God is an amazing God, always, no matter the struggle. Thank you for reminding us. I am sorry for the health struggles Wyndham is facing. But I know God will continue to bless you with peace and strength. Hugs to both of you.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks so much, Katherine. That’s very encouraging. Love to you and Phil. Love, Jeanie

  16. aladyinfrance

    We are going through a lot right now and I needed this perspective today. Keeping you and your courageously cheerful husband in my prayers.

    • jeanieshaw

      Thanks, Jenny. I will pray for you. You are a true encourager. Love, Jeanie


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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