Thanks-Living: The Real Wonder Women

Thanks-Living: The Real Wonder Women

Confession: I absolutely loved this past summer’s blockbuster – Wonder Woman.

It thrilled audiences and captured my heart. My favorite scene is when Diana (aka Wonder Woman), out of the compassion of her heart for a captured people, steps into her identity and onto the battlefield. Taking all the enemy fire, she leans into the opposition to allow her team to overthrow the unwanted militia.

One particular image stands out in this scene. Diana crouching down behind her shield. Face grimacing. Muscles flexing.  Bullets pounding. Yet despite the opposition, she is resolving to push through and press on for the people.

As much as I love this movie, wonder women in real life are way more inspiring. Women whose lives testify that though “we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Wonder women who live out this verse with joy, gratitude and strength. Women who embody thanks-livingThey capture our attention and move us to action. They envision us. Change us. Grow us.

This past year I have gotten to know two such wonder women right where I live. They have inspired me, encouraged me, and challenged me to grow in joy, faith and this thing we are calling thanks-living.

Without much further ado, Shannon, a single mom of 2 beauties, sees gratitude as an open invitation for joy. “More than just happiness, it is an invitation to pure joy. Looking for the good, even in the bad.” She encourages us that no matter the situation or circumstance we can find hope, looking for the good, even in that moment.

When asked about any obstacles that hinder gratitude, Shannon’s definitive response was, “Balance and giving up control. I get overwhelmed with things really easily and it is hard to know if my priorities are good enough for my family.” However, when she makes the conscious choice to shift her perspective, release control and trust, she experiences more gratitude. “Its so hard to do, but so peaceful too.”

By checking in with a friend, Shannon regularly practices gratitude. She journals and writes reminders. As a full-time realtor, she has even had classes on how practicing gratitude can impact business. “Practicing gratitude has become a habit, but one I am still fine tuning.”

If you look around Shannon’s walls you will see pictures with messages like Choose Joy, Blessed and My Dog Thinks I’m Awesome :). “I wanted it to be an explosion of reminders to help me feel optimistic,” explains Shannon.

These reminders shape Shannon’s perspective. “Looking back at where we were (her and the girls) and how far we have come. Realizing goals and dreams. Keeps me grateful.” You can tell that Shannon truly enjoys and experiences thanks-living.

Across the street from Shannon lives Ever. As a mother of four, Ever (pronounced “Eva”) shares the key to her gratitude is the sunrise. In her beautiful Zambian accent she says, “I am just thankful for the sunrise. Another new day that I don’t deserve. A new opportunity.”

Eight years ago, with her new husband Ryan, Ever moved to the States from Zambia where she was born and raised. Accustomed to challenging circumstances, I asked Ever how she lives with such a spirit of thanks-living. She replied, “Being at your lowest, like, if you have completely nothing. I mean nothing. But then you look at someone else who has less and see them smiling. I think I should be smiling too.”

With a personal memory she continued, “I remember my mom being really sick. She was malnourished because she was choosing to feed us, the kids. Even though she was going through all that, she never drew attention toward herself. She never acted like we should be concerned for her. She was just so thankful and overjoyed. Always praising God. She is a reminder to me to be thankful. She has taught me faith, that no matter what, God has got it. No matter how dark it is, God has got it! I can be thankful, even when I am crying!”

Two great gifts she embraces from her culture and childhood are faith and optimism. “Zambian’s are optimistic,” Ever says. “If someone is struggling with an illness we always keep trying. We never give up.” In getting to know Ever, I second that. I can see her resilience and joy!

“Since I was a little girl, I have learned to lean on God. When we prayed Lord give us today our daily bread, like He said to do, we really meant it. It was for today, not tomorrow.  I have had periods of doubt, but then right away I know things are going to work out.”

And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Shannon – perspective.

Ever – faith.

So I may live with a heart of thanks-living thru thick and thin my learnings from my lovely friends are two-fold:

  1. Fix my focus – get perspective. Search my past for God’s faithfulness and set my gaze, not on the things that will be gone, but on that which goes from glory to glory.
  2. Focus on faith – No matter what, God’s got has it!

No matter what. God has got us!

And as Thanksgiving rolls around in just a couple days, my hope and prayer for you is that you find your inner wonder woman.

Fix your focus.

Focus on faith.

And, in Him, find true thanks-living

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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About Erin Nicole Thompson

Erin Nicole Thompson is a fun-loving and authentic momma to 4 littles, wife of a ruggedly handsome Pastor, and as she likes to think, the CEO of her home operations. She delights in worship, cooking with good music, the sweet faces of her sleeping children, adult conversations, and some quiet time at Starbucks. She loves to serve alongside, encourage, and equip young and seasoned women. Erin is grateful to be part of what God is doing at The Chapel, a multi-campus church in Northern Chicago-land where her husband, Dave, pastors the Lake Zurich Campus. Presently, she lives to dream and follow God as he writes her story.