Project 52

52 Wednesdays :: Gratitude

November 28, 2012

I’m Marla
Sprinkled throughout this journey are the little joys, moments of inspiration, and snippets of life that add color to our human experience. Join me as we embrace the beauty of imperfect perfection, the magic of a beautiful moment, and the endless possibilities of creativity.

I am a person who knows I have an abundance to be grateful for.  Sometimes when we struggle, or have one bad thing happen after another, it can be a challenge to remember this–I am intentional about this gratitude thing regardless of my season.  There is a quote I read a long time ago that I keep handy and it embodies so much of what I believe about life, which to me goes hand-in-hand with gratefulness.


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me is more important than facts.  It is more important that the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

 It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

 The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.

 The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.  I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.  And so it is with you…

 -Charles Swindoll

I believe that gratitude stems from this ideal, and that when I go through life grateful for everything that is wonderful, lovely, and kind, and place my focus on those things–everything becomes better and my heart and mind are more peaceful, even in the midst of trial or hardship.  So I thought I would take the opportunity to make a little list of things I’m currently grateful for.  Here goes…

1)  This might sound cheesy and cliche, but I’m grateful to be alive.  Honestly.  I think life is amazing and I feel immensely grateful just to have the privilege to experience it.  I wasn’t a planned child.  My mother was young, irresponsible, and suffered (still does) from intense bipolar disorder, and was not in any semblance of a relationship when she became pregnant with me.  The only reason she didn’t have an abortion was because she had previously taken that route and couldn’t bear it again.  Thank you mother, for choosing life for me, even if you didn’t want to.

Here she is with my daughter, this July:


2)  I am grateful for the most amazing friends ever, ever.  I don’t have much family, and really Eva is the best family I could ask for, but my friends have really filled that empty space throughout my life.  Through God’s grace, I always had friends growing up who had the best families and this continues to be true in my life.  I have had so many wonderful influences and examples of what families should be like, what mothers and fathers should be like through my friends.  For Thanksgiving this year, I went to the childhood home of my friend Monica.  I have’t been to that house many times since high school, but I sat reflecting on how much time I spent there from 12-18 and was amazed at how much I grew and learned in her parents’ home.  My friends’ parents have always offered so much love and stability throughout my life, and the quality of my friendships through these amazing friends of mine is of the highest caliber.  I could not feel more blessed in that regard.  Here are a few of those ladies:


3)  I am grateful for life’s simple pleasures.  For me it really is the encompassing of all the little things that make life grand.  Hugs and kisses, cozy beds, beautiful flowers, delicious meals, heart-warming smiles, peppermint ice cream and chai tea… you know, just a few short list items.  I really could go on and on, but we’d be here all day.  Sometimes I take pictures of the simple pleasures, don’t judge. 😉  This has been my favorite Starbucks cup, by the way.  It perfectly labels my affection for what is inside.


4)  I’m grateful for photography and my clients.  Simply put, I am a single mother and I am the only one I know who gets to work at home and take their child/ren to school but still be there when they get home.  Aside from the creative aspect of photography (which I LOVE), my life is fully supported by what I do with it, and I am crazy grateful for that.  This is only possible because people see my craft as a valuable service and continually hire me and refer others as well.  It is so humbling, especially at a time when so many people are photographers these days.  I do not always have cushy months, but we have been successfully living off of my business alone for the last four years and not a day goes by where I don’t think about how wonderful it all is.  Even if I am staying up till odd hours of the night and my bathroom goes temporarily uncleaned, I cannot imagine the alternative.


5)  I’m grateful, beyond measure for this girl.  She saves me everyday.

She is my greatest supporter; she loves me the best; she exudes kindness, gentleness, creativity, charisma, veracity, and a strong helping of spunk in every situation of her still young life; she is the tamer of hard hearts and dragonflies; and she is my greatest masterpiece.  I’m convinced she holds the keys to the universe and I am amazed and honored that God entrusted her to me.  My life is immeasurably great just because of her.

6) And lastly for tonight, I am grateful for redemptive love stories.  I’m grateful for the redemptive love story that has been written over my life since before I was born and those that I witness and experience on a daily basis.  Nothing in life is greater than love and it fills us much more when there has been loss, heartache, and sorrow.  I am grateful for second chances.


Here is my friend Christina, who just celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary yesterday two weeks after her 3rd brain surgery, and three weeks after the birth of her son.  Her redemptive love story can be found here.


Happy Wednesday friends. =)
Next in our gratitude train is my friend Karen Porter from Austin, Texas.  You can find her post on gratitude here:
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  1. Pamela Joye says:

    well don’t i feel incredibly small for the tiny bit i shared. your openness and honesty from your bones is heartwarming. thank you for trusting us (and others) with this. it’s beautiful. and i’d imagine the reason why your images are so filled with the love that lives in your heart. your gratitude is ever present in the most beautiful of ways.

  2. Marsette says:

    Oh Marla! There are no words that can describe how much this post touched my heart! Tears streaming down my cheeks!

  3. Heather Robinson says:

    Your honesty is so refreshing. I think I may have mentioned this in the past. I get so invested in reading your posts (the stories, the images, the feelings), that I do not want them to end. Each week, your posts feel like reading a favorite book.

  4. amy grace says:

    you are someone so special, marla. when i look at my kids, i think they throw of light. i feel the same way reading through these words, which are so much more than words. you are brave, you heart is exceptional, and i want everything good for you because you are amazing. i feel so incredibly connected to you that it is so hard to believe i’ve never seen you face to face. but life is more than that. so grateful to know you.

  5. Laurie Schultz says:

    tears in my eyes, what a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing these images and words with us. You are so inspiring, and I am so glad to have met you through this group. I don’t know your whole story but from the pieces you have shared, it is so amazing to see how God has placed such amazing people in your life. You are blessed!

  6. Kaari Misclevitz says:

    I love you Marla! Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. Kaari

  7. Kristiana De La Cruz says:

    Friend! You made me cry! I am far more blessed to have met you and, as I have expressed to you before in crazy rambling text messages, you amaze me. Everything about you just amazes me. I cherish the time I get to spend with you and miss you terribly in between our visits. I love you dearly Mar. Hugs!

  8. Amber says:

    Marla. You are such a beautiful, beautiful soul. I remember your beauty and grace from very long ago days, and reading of you now, I am more and more convinced that you are a work of art and grace and love. I just wish I could live near you again, because each time I read your posts and see your art, I get this feeling in my heart that I just want to spend time with you. Thank you, for sharing these bits of you.

  9. Karen Porter says:

    Marla, a visit to your weekly posts always sets me straight. In the best way possible. I adore your thoughts, images and heart. Thank you for sharing so many things you are grateful for – I share many of them in my heart. The icing of it all are your amazing images. 🙂

  10. Marla-
    What a beautiful post this week…brought tears to my eyes. You are beautiful inside and out and I loved learning a little more about you.

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