Updated: Oct 29
Featured on pages 56-61 of Our Story Magazine • Autumn 2022 • Issue No.4
It's an honor to introduce you to Twyla Franz, the host of Begin Within: A gratitude Series and founder of The Uncommon Normal. Twyla loves to help imperfectly ready people take baby steps into neighborhood missional living. And she hosts Begin Within: A Gratitude Series to inspire a year-round practice of gratitude that impacts not only the lives of readers but of their neighbors as well.
Twyla and her family live in Lexington, Kentucky, where they host a neighborhood missional community. When Twyla is not writing or talking to her neighbors, she is probably baking sourdough bread or at the dance studio.
Connect with Twyla at theuncommonnormal.com. You may also find her on Instagram or Facebook, and Pinterest.
Twyla shares in our Autumn 2022 Issue on pages 56-61 about the importance of gratitude and inspires us to begin a year-round practice of gratitude that impacts our lives and our neighbors’ lives.
Before we move on to excerpts from Twyla's article and her library of free resources, we invite you:
1. To wish Twyla a happy two-year anniversary of the Begin Within: A Gratitude Series by entering her giveaway!
2. Check out Twyla's 2022 #GratitudeRipples Challenge: Gratitude Affects More Than Just Me
Here are several excerpts from Twyla's article,
Begin Within: How to begin a year-round practice of gratitude.
Rain runs in rivers down the window pane and seeps slow and steady into the soil. I take notice, breathe in, and pause to take it all in.
But it wasn’t always this way. Longer than the list of things I’ve written down the past few years that I’m grateful for is the list of gifts I’ve never noticed. I’d jump in late to a November gratitude challenge, miss some days, get discouraged, and look forward to Thanksgiving so I didn’t need to feel guilty about my spotty participation.
As a kid, I was apt to look for the silver lining. I remember shyly walking up to receive the “Most Positive Student” award the first year I lived on my college campus. But adulting has a way of wearing us down, and I became adept at spotting the negative and not-right.
I’d walk into a room and, first thing, notice the haven’ts—and goodness knows, there are always plenty of haven’ts:
The floors I haven’t vacuumed.
The counter I haven’t cleared.
The towering basket of clean but crumpled clothes I haven’t folded.
The things I haven’t scheduled, returned, or finished yet.
And fixating on the haven’ts breeds discontentment.
It leaks into my words.
It changes my tone.
It turns my heart in the wrong direction.
Maybe you’ve felt that slow turning of your heart too. The way it makes you more critical, more defensive, and harder on yourself and everyone else.
Maybe there are frayed edges in your marriage, a dream full of fissures and shards, or a life you wake up to every day that’s far from what you imagined. And maybe you’re carrying the weight of all those haven’ts and the heaviness makes it:
Hard to sleep at night.
Hard to wake up in the morning.
Hard to keep pretending you’re okay.
Or maybe you’re just worn out, exhausted from trying to push aside the negativity like darkness out of a room, and ready for a change.
What if we’ve been trying too hard at the wrong things? Are we trying to correct what comes out of our mouths without looking at what’s filling our hearts? Or, trying to fix the way we feel without coming first to the One who tells us what we’re worth and how much we matter?
Then on page 58:
Perhaps the secret to gratitude is to offer our thanks in the middle of the story. Perhaps, it is the thanks that changes the story—because gratitude always changes us.
And concludes on page 59:
Gratitude, I’ve discovered, is so much more than an Instagram challenge in November. It’s an invitation to praise God always because if thanks changes the story because it changes us, why would we want that for just a fraction of the year?
Year-round gratitude. For me, it began as a personal practice, starting a gratitude journal at entry #1 with no end goal but to keep going. But the more gratitude changed my heart, and thus the way I approached my life, the more I wanted it for others too.
I wondered if hearing real-life stories of how others are practicing gratitude, and what it changed for them, could inspire those hesitant to give gratitude a try. This question prompted me to launch Begin Within: A Gratitude Series. Every week I get the privilege of sharing stories of gratitude changing marriages, alleviating anxiety, softening perfectionism, and teaching unexpected lessons. I love the front-seat view I get by hosting the series, but I love even more that each story shared starts a ripple effect.
The thing about gratitude is that it doesn’t change only us. It spills over into the lives of those near us. The people who live under the same roof. The neighbors who observe us, both up close and at a distance. The door-greeter and check-out clerk and bank-teller, and UPS delivery driver. The rhythms we choose to cultivate affect all whose lives intersect with ours.
Imagine what would happen if we looked beyond the here-and-now to the God who is here right now? Where would we find God if we looked for Him in the ordinary and small things, the still-unraveling stories, the losses and the letting go? Where would we find that He’s been holding us the whole time?
And lastly, what might change in your life if you started a gratitude practice?
It might look like pulling out an unused journal or notebook, feeling the weight of the pen in your hand, taking a deep breath, and then writing down the first thing that comes to mind that you’re thankful for.
It might look like reading some of the stories on Begin Within: A Gratitude Series.
It might look like curling up next to Papa God and whispering your thanks for only Him to hear.
More about The Uncommon Normal
As the founder of The Uncommon Normal, Twyla loves helping imperfectly ready people take baby steps into neighborhood missional living.
Do you think you have nothing to offer your neighbors? Take her short quiz to discover what makes you uniquely invaluable to your neighborhood! Unsure where to begin?
She’s broken down the idea of missional living into bite-sized devotions in her book which is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.
Cultivating a Missional Life: A 30-Day Devotional to Gently Help You Open Your Heart, Home, and Life to Your Neighbors.
Twyla says, to read the first week of the devotions FREE, to just let her know [sign up here] where to send the unlock code to the For You library of missional living resources. You will gain access to part 1 of Cultivating a Missional Life: A 30-Day Devotional to Gently Help You Open Your Heart, Home, and Life to Your Neighbors, which includes the accompanying group study questions for week 1.
PLUS, these other resources:
Get the weekly “Begin Within: A Gratitude Series” stories sent to your inbox.
Take the quiz, “What Kind of Neighbor Are You?"
Unlock the “FOR YOU” resource library to gain access to:
Gratitude and Inspirational Phone Wallpaper Sets
10 Psalms About Gratitude (From The Passion Translation)
One Week of Cultivating a Missional Life
10 Things You Might Be Doing That Keep Your Friendships Shallow (+ 1 Simple Habit to Shift Your Direction)
The Uncommon Normal Manifesto
And so much more!
Get “Tuesdays with Twyla,” her weekly note special for her email community.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Twyla!
Give her a follow and a share!
Check out Twyla's series theuncommonnormal.com/category/gratitude-series.
And wish her a happy two-year anniversary of the Begin Within: A Gratitude Series by entering her giveaway!
Twyla is hosting the 2022 #GratitudeRipples Challenge: Gratitude Affects More Than Just Me
Women serving women—this is how we build community.
For more of Twyla's story and hope-filled articles, inspirational fiction, reflective journaling spaces, recipes, fun activities, and more, purchase a Print or Digital Edition of Our Story Magazine, Autumn 2022.
Click here for more details, and photos, and to download the pdf from our shop.
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