Diane Paddison, founder of 4word, and Marion Medina, Director of Programs at 4word, conclude this month’s discussion on gratitude by sharing what they are grateful for at 4word this year, and cast hopeful dreams of what they anticipate being thankful for in 2024.
You can listen to this conversation with Diane and Marion on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.
What are some ways that you not only show gratitude but also acknowledge it in your own life?
Marion: I start my day with a practice of gratitude every morning before I get out of bed. One of the first things I do when I wake up and my dear husband brings me coffee in bed, is I sit with my coffee and I say, ‘Thank you, God for…’ and I just start naming everything. Thank you that my husband brought me coffee. Thank you for the good night’s sleep. Thank you for the dumbest little things and then the big things. I just lie there and express gratitude to God for a long time, and it does change the trajectory of my day.
Another thing I’ve gotten in the habit of doing is sending a note when I think of someone who had an impact on my life. I’ve actually had to track people down to find addresses! But a memory will come to mind and I realize that someone made such a difference in my life that I’m going to express my gratitude for that.
And then lastly, when you think of something you’re grateful for, say it—right away. We don’t know how long we’re going to have with people. It’s important to express gratitude to friends, family, and coworkers in the moment that you are feeling it, because when it passes you, you’re not likely to express that gratitude anymore.
Diane: Annie, my daughter, had a medical crisis that started 9 years ago and it continues today. The start of that journey was a time that I was totally out of my comfort zone, because I’m not naturally a 24/7 caregiver. My gifts are definitely in other areas. It was also something I had no control over. I had never had anyone in my immediate family be in such a tough health situation. So I thought, ‘I have got to get myself in a much better place during this time, so that I can be good for her.’
And so that was when I started, every morning, putting on my computer what I was grateful for. I started with what I was grateful for related to Annie, whether she had a good night’s sleep or whether we got through to a doctor. Then I would go to what brought me joy, or what had brought something really good to a member of our immediate family. Then the third thing (because I was the founder of 4word at the same time) was thanking God for providing for 4word. I still do that to this day. My husband, Chris, and I also pray together in the morning. I think prayer has been a big part of us expressing gratitude, but also being able to know what each other is grateful for because we’re verbalizing it together.
What is one thing that you are most grateful for at 4word this year?
Diane: When I thought of this question, I wanted to really think about what has helped us move forward. And really, this year has been a challenge. However, the financial challenge we’ve had has really helped 4word move in the direction that it really needs to go. I feel like the team has embraced that. I felt like we needed to make these moves and changes for a long time, but it really took the challenge of this year to get everybody in the same boat. So I’m grateful for the challenge we’ve had.
Marion: I was thinking through all of the stories I’ve heard over the past year of how Community Groups, mentors, the Executive Women4Christ Forum, to name a few, are helping so many women find life-giving relationships that are taking them through really difficult times. But it’s not just the women of 4word who are being impacted; the women of 4word are impacting the world. Our New York City Community Group leader recently told me the story of how she’s in a couple of secular networking groups, but she talks about 4word all the time. She had a couple of women ask her about her 4word group and she invited them, not knowing if they were Jesus followers or not, and they came! So what that tells us is that when we just invite people in, we are inviting them into the presence of Jesus, because as Diane so beautifully said earlier, we are emulating Jesus in community and gratitude in all of these ways. 4word is making a difference in the workplace and the world by introducing women to Jesus.
When you get to November of next year, what are you hopeful you will be grateful for then, both personally and at 4word?
Marion: I’m going to quote another Psalm, because I love all the Psalms that talk about thankfulness! Psalm 107 begins with these words: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His faithful love endures forever, has the Lord redeemed you, then speak out,’ and then it goes on to talk about God’s mercy in multiple situations, but it ends with these words: ‘Those who are wise will take all this to heart. They will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord.’ So I know that at the end of the year, I’m going to be grateful for God’s goodness and faithfulness, regardless of the shifting circumstances in my life or in 4word, because God is good and God is faithful. The unquestionable evidence of that is Jesus and what He did for us on the cross by taking the consequences of our rebellion so that we could be set free to have new life and a relationship with God. Next year, I hope to see more and more women strengthened and encouraged by this amazing 4word community, and I want to see women rise in their influence and continue to make a positive kingdom difference in the world.
Diane: What Marian said actually brings tears to my eyes. I thought of my favorite verse, which is Ephesians 3:20-21, which says, ‘God can do more than you can ever ask or imagine.’ I’m going to share two things that I know will happen by next November. First, it is miraculous that my daughter Annie is pregnant and due in January 2024, and I have my daughter-in-law, Laura, who is also pregnant and due this month. So I am expecting two healthy babies and two healthy moms by next November.
Second, as it relates to 4word, um, many of you know that I am going to be bringing in a new executive director, so that we can bring new energy and new leadership to 4word. I’m going to remain involved and still serve as the founder, but I’ll have more time to be in a season of being present for my four grandchildren. I know that we will have very successful and Christ-following woman leading 4word by next November.
Do you have a favorite tip for showing gratitude that you would share with our readers?
Diane: I actually asked my husband Chris what I should share and his response was my response, which was to ‘give instant feedback.’ That ties to what Marian said earlier about how you never know if you’re ever going to have a chance to say or write it again. I’ll share a couple examples of instant feedback, because these are very unique. As Marian said, we get a lot of stories and notes from women who are touched by 4word’s community in many different ways through our content, mentorship, and Community Groups.
During our Giving Week this year, I immediately electronically responded to everybody who donated to 4word to let them know that I would be writing them a formal note but that I was so thankful for their gift. Many donors responded and I wanted to read a couple of them to you. One of my good friends from Trammell Crow responded and said, ‘My wife, Wendy, and I believe in the mission of 4word.’ Another response from one of our Executive Women4Christ women read, ‘4word has an amazing staff and community.’
I think that just giving that instant ‘thank you’ allowed our donors to say back why they wanted to give their gifts to 4word. Instant feedback is really important.
Marion: I’m going to underscore what Diane just said: When you feel it, say it or write it. You don’t know if you’re going to have the chance to again. Telling somebody about the difference they made or are making in your life is a tremendous gift to them, but it’s a tremendous gift to you, as well. Also, whether you feel gratitude or not, always express gratitude to God. It is a game changer to make that a daily practice. Gratitude is a gift that goes both ways. It’s a blessing. When you express gratitude, you are blessing somebody else, and the nature of blessing is that when you give it, it comes back to you.
Diane Paddison, 4word Founder and President, is a Harvard MBA, former global executive of two Fortune 500 companies, CBRE and ProLogis, and one Fortune 1000 company, Trammell Crow Company, and serves as an independent director for one corporate and four not-for-profit boards.
Diane is a leading advocate for Christian women in the workplace. Diane published Work, Love, Pray in 2011, and Be Refreshed . . . a year of devotions for women in the workplace in 2017, laying the foundation for 4word.
She authors weekly posts at 4wordwomen.org and is a featured columnist for The Washington Times and the 4word Mentor Program has been highlighted in The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.
Diane and her husband, Chris, have four children and two grandchildren and live in Dallas, Texas.
Marion Medina served in pastoral ministry for 17 years at three local churches including, most recently, Willow Creek Community Church. During her church ministry, she incorporated her organizational development skills with her practical knowledge of effective discipleship to create growth strategies that focused on the equipping and mobilization of congregations on the mission of Jesus. She holds degrees from Trinity International University and Wheaton College in Organizational Leadership and Missional Church Movements.
She directed vision and strategy for the Alpha Chicago Board during her tenure as Chairman of the Board, and she partnered with Dr. Rick Richardson to develop and launch the nation-wide Church Evangelism Institute, a ministry of the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College. As a member of the Christ Together Midwest Board, she provided guidance, training and strategy and individual coaching for pastors and church leaders throughout the central United States.
Marion and her husband, Ray, reside in Dallas and have two adult children and three amazing grandchildren.