Patty GriffinPsalm 103:2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

In just a little over a week, most Americans will gather with their family, friends, and loved ones to share a meal and ponder their blessings. And sure, it’s easy for most to do so, even amid crisis or stress - on one day a year, when your belly is fully and you’re surrounded by people, it’s easy to recognize your blessings and be grateful.

But what about the other 364 days in the year? At my church here in Nashville, we’re in the middle of a series called “Better Days,” which focuses on maintaining hope and optimism when we are otherwise bombarded with worry, fear, and pessimism, whether internally or from outside media. On the first day of the series, a few weeks before most folks were thinking about Thanksgiving, my pastor Pete spoke about gratitude and what a difference it can make in your life if you actually sit down and literally list out what you are grateful for on a daily basis. This is not just a God thing, but something psychologists get behind, and something that I can now say, after a few weeks of doing so, can change your outlook. He presented the church with a challenge, asking us to share our gratitude via Facebook, Twitter, or our blogs if we are so inclined, and I think everyone was overwhelmed by the outpouring of responses throughout our community.

So with that being said, I urge you to do this... pay attention to your blessings, even list them. And in the meantime, check out the #betterdayschallenge tags on Twitter. (Others trending right now are #givethanks and #thankful.) So if you have a bad day and can’t come up with a thing you’re grateful for... I assure you that you’ll find reading others’ posts can bring you joy and inspiration. You can also read Pete’s thoughts here, and my more detailed ramblings here.

So what am I thankful for? Right now, I’m thankful for a faithful God and hindsight. I’ve personally received some big news lately, which I’ll be sharing on my personal blog.

I’m also thankful for Patty Griffin, because on a rainy day like the one we’re experiencing here today (and any given sunny day as well), she’s just about as perfect as it gets.

Cover of "Downtown Church"

Not familiar with Patty? You’re in for a real treat. I was first introduced to her music as a teenager, when I got my hands on my first Live in the X Lounge album and heard her song “Tony.” It remains one of my favorite songs (I also imagine she had no idea back in the 90s that it would be used often in the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaigns of today.)

Patty is a Grammy winner and has won tons of other awards for her writing and recording, but none of that matters to me. She has an indescribable talent to write songs that speak straight to your soul. She’s a storyteller who has tackled pop, gospel, and folk. Her latest album, Downtown Church, is a traditional gospel album with original songs as well as covers of songs by gospel greats. And it was all recorded live in the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Nashville.

Here are a few of my favorites. Give ‘em a listen, and let me know what you think.

“Long Ride Home” from 1000 Kisses, which also was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Elizabethtown (my all-time favorite film) [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNJRdMYLz3E]

“Let Him Fly” from Living With Ghosts (covered by the Dixie Chicks later) [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBv9btSaTu8]

“Mary” from Flaming Red [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFAOJnfM6g8]

“Little Fire” from Downtown Church [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDJ_BTmBFtQ]

What are you thankful for today?

-Lauren

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