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Roxane B. Salonen, Published September 20 2013

Living Faith: Gratitude coming from a bottle of hairspray

She glided into my bedroom decked out in her garb for “Hick Day,” part of our school’s spirit week for homecoming. Her pigtails needed a dousing of hairspray, but she promised to return the bottle.

Doubtful, I thought. Still sleepy, I’d begun bemoaning the life of parenting teen girls and how I can never find a hairbrush anymore.

It didn’t help that my veins were dry of caffeine, allowing “stinking thinking” to take hold.

But I then I stopped. You are so fortunate to have two other girls in the house.

Suddenly, I was on a different track altogether, owed to a simple twist of thought. What a blessing to have two ladies with whom I can share my life, here with me now.

A grateful heart can make all the difference.

Thanks to the “lemons to lemonade” pattern my mother modeled throughout my childhood and into the present, I know how to do this, and yet there were years when I lost track of gratitude. With a husband working long hours and energetic little kids that left me depleted, I felt overburdened and became convinced almost everyone else had it a little better than I.

Then one day, while driving through immaculately manicured neighborhoods on the way to school, a thought hit me. “Every single person living in those perfect-looking homes has some kind of heartache.”

Yes, I carried a big load but so did my husband. And how many fellow parents did I know whose spouses traveled a lot, not to mention the few who had no jobs at all?

Thank you, God, for what we have. Help me endure it when it gets tough.

As I began to employ this revised way of thinking, my life changed. I can’t say enough about how much it helps to find reasons to give thanks each and every day.

While we’re on the topic of gratitude, I’m overdue for thanking you, dear readers. The response to Living Faith, which launched in January, has been beautifully received. Each week as I sit down to write my column, I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share my faith thoughts with you.

Indeed, gratitude really isn’t complete until we allow ourselves to not only feel the blessing but also take time to nod to the source of it. Even the most rotten day contains cause for gratitude for those who believe we’re not here by accident, for true gifts don’t come without a generous thought from a giver.

In that way, each moment becomes a reason to celebrate, to look up to the heavens to whisper a word of thanks for the most profound gift of all: life. For as long as breath comes forth, we have the opportunity to learn, live and love.

Even our darkest moments cannot extinguish the fact that life means hope, and hope means everything.

And if truth be told, having hair that stays in place doesn’t hurt, either.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com