First published on 24th November 2017

Since the first week of living in Finland, I have been warned about November being the hardest month as the days grow shorter and colder and now November is finally upon us, I cannot deny I’ve been affected when the sun doesn’t show up till half eight and becomes sleepy by three. We’re gearing up for the winter here, so does that mean we’re also gearing up for a seasonal mood change?

I’m ready for winter (just) but I’m not prepared to live through it with a dulled outlook on life in Helsinki. Unfortunately, my solution for this is not to relocate to Málaga. I’m not planning to change what I see, but change the way I see it. God’s challenged me to step into a season of daily thankfulness; fighting for gratitude in a place filled with hidden beauty. It say in 1 Thessalonians (5.18) to be ‘thankful in everything, in all circumstances’. Opportunities to show gratitude sometimes requires a little more reflection in order to see it.

Studies have shown that dedicating five minutes a day to writing down what you are thankful for increases your well-being just as much as doubling your annual salary would! If thankfulness is possible, then joy is possible. Tap beneath the surface of the everyday and you’ll find it scattered with delights to rejoice in. Put simply: daily thankfulness produces positive thoughts which improves your mood level.

But I’m not just saying this as a self-help suggestion to replace the benefits exposure to sunlight brings. If you know God as creator, then you have an extra gem of joy to benefit from during times of gratitude. We can direct all our thankfulness to our Father! Thanking God for the seemingly insignificant brings opportunity to discover the beautiful details God has created and weaved into our lives.

A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.
— Ann Voskamp

As we show our gratitude to our Father for the things we see and experience, we’ll unwrap more of God’s love for us. Our wonder blossoms and a desire to find beauty in the everyday evolves. Since being in Finland, I’ve felt challenged to simply be with Jesus. Spend time with Him. Be friends with Him. This includes not always having an agenda but instead, reflecting on life and enjoying his company. As we grow our relationship with God through gratitude, more of God’s glory will be revealed.

God is so worthy of taking the credit for our blessings! James (1.17) teaches us that ‘every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights. Who does not change like shifting shadows’. Seasons change, circumstances change, but God is constant and his overflow of blessings never cease, we just need to delve deeper to find them sometimes.

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