Gratitude

Hey, it’s cold!

It’s finally cold outside. I slept with the window open, and it was amazing to wake up and be freezing. I stepped on the bathroom tile, and the floors were so cold which was great! I was finally able to take a hot shower without ending up sweating more. Needless to say, I’m in a really happy mood.

I know that I’m in the minority here. Sure, a lot of people love fall: flannels, pumpkin spice, leaves, Halloween, Reformation, bonfires, etc. But do a lot of people actually like the cold? Not that I’ve heard, at least.

Most people that I hear from absolutely hate the cold and long for year-round summers. They dread the arrival of fall and the impending gloom of winter, just as I dread spring and the impending doom of summer.

This struck me as I was writing in my prayer journal, listing my thanks and praises to God. On a morning like today, I had no trouble coming up with endless thanks and praises. I’m incredibly happy because the chill is finally in the air! But what about people who hate cold?

My challenge to you who hates the cold is to (I know it’s cliche) count your blessings. Even the little ones make a huge difference. Each day when you’re cold, think of five things that you’re grateful for: even just a warm bowl of soup or a steaming mug of coffee.

I’m challenging myself too. Come summer when its a million degrees (honestly, come this weekend when the weather changes again, and it’s back in the 90s), I’m going to list things I’m grateful for when I can’t choke down my coffee because the world is burning.

We have so much to be grateful for, warm or cold. I think it will help our attitudes tremendously if we just remember to be grateful.

Today I’m thankful for

  • Flannels
  • Fall
  • Chilly, breezy mornings
  • The changing of seasons (how cool is our Creator that he came up with four completely unique seasons?)
  • Hot coffee
  • Hot showers
  • Clothes to keep me warm

 

Image taken from Lucky Number 13Virtual Coffee

 

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Faith

Show God’s Love by Loving

I love people watching. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit somewhere: a mall, a park bench, a library, a restaurant and watch. I like seeing how people interact with one another, how people act in uncomfortable situations, how people show their different emotions, etc.

It makes me wonder how often I’m being watched. How many people watchers have their eyes on me? What do they see in my actions and what are they led to believe about me?

I’m studying 1 Peter, and this week we looked at chapter three, which talks a lot about relationships. We read about relationships between husband and wives and relationships with others.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8-9

We are called to love. We are called to have sympathy and a tender heart for those around us, blessing those who do evil against us. How hard is that?

Christians are kind of under the spotlight. People are always watching us, waiting for us to do something “un-christian” so that they can pounce on us and critique us. We’re expected to lead perfect, Christian lives. And that’s impossible. We are sinners, after all.

But we can use this “spotlight” to spread God’s love. If we are sympathetic and tender to someone who has harmed us, what will that person think? If people watching us in a mall see us loving those around us, what will they see and learn? If we Christians can’t even get along with each other, why would an outsider be tempted to join? Instead of arguing, instead of gossiping, instead of rejecting, we need to focus on loving.

People will notice. People will notice if we are the kindness in a world full of impatience and rudeness. People will notice if we’re the tenderness in a sharp world. People will notice if we’re the humility in a self-centered world. People will see our light if we are bold enough and courageous enough to shine it.

People will ask, “Why are you so different from the world?” And that is our opening, our moment to share Jesus with them.

Love one another.

 

Image taken from Young Adult Author Rendezvous “Character Inspiration: People Watching

Monologue · Personal Reflection

My Miserable Mondays Are Over

Why are Mondays so difficult? I ask myself every Sunday night, when I accidentally start thinking about the next day. It’s hard to wake up, it’s hard to get out of bed, it’s hard to prepare myself for a day of work, and it’s hard to do that day of work. I get so used to lazing around the weekend (or am so busy not lazing around that I miss the actual weekend), so facing reality on a Sunday evening is never great.

The thing is, life would be a lot more pleasant if I didn’t dread Mondays so much. A big reason why Mondays are hard is because of my attitude towards them. Really, it’s just another day, not unlike all the others. My goal for the next few weeks is to think positively about Mondays (gah. Even just typing that left a sour taste in my mouth…). I need to get better about looking at the bright side of life, and I think I should start with Mondays.

On Mondays, I get to meet with the Bible study group I’ve been meeting with for a year now. I love this group, and I love the conversations we have. We dig into Scripture, learn together, and encourage and strengthen each other. I’m excited for that. Mondays are good because that’s when we meet. I can be happy today and enjoy today, because I’ll end it doing one of my very favorite things: studying God’s Word.

 

Image taken from Twitter ActNeed motivation for Monday morning? You should read this again and again

Gratitude

My Number One Fan

I wanted to take today to appreciate my number one fan. It is Thursday after all, so I can call this Thankful Thursday, and I am so thankful for my number one fan, Ma.

Before I go into all the details of her fandom, I want everyone to know that my mom is seriously the most amazing person. She’s an incredible mother and fantastic woman. I honestly had the best childhood, and she’s 50% of the reason why (the other half, being my dad, of course)!

I don’t think I’ve ever gone a single day without talking to her (mostly because I need help with almost every recipe I attempt but also just because I love her dearly). We’re trying to get out Snapchat streak super high, and really, she’s the only reason I have Snapchat. She’s the only one I ever snap or chat. But because of the way Snapchat does it, we’re only at 36. We can’t quite figure out when we have to snap, and when we think we’ve got it, we end up losing the streak. And also when we visit each other, we forget to snap. But we’re getting better. I think our record so far is 50ish, and the only reason we lost that is because we snapped early one morning and then late the next day… which is silly.

I plan to be exactly like my mom when I grow up. If I ever have children, I plan to follow my mom’s (and dad’s) parenting methods. There were times when I was a kid that I thought they were being super unfair and rude and cruel, but I was a dramatic pre-teen and they really were being awesome.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is that if you don’t know my ma, you really should know her because she’s the coolest.

And she’s my number one fan. She reads this little blog and lets me know what she thought of it, shares it on Facebook, or sends me a letter containing an in-depth exploration of the thing I wrote on. She never fails to let me know that she thinks I’m awesome, and it’s really great to have such an unconditional fan.

She’s even my biggest fan outside of blogs. When I make something, like cinnamon rolls or a crocheted blanket, she’s the first to say I did well, even if I forget the cinnamon and have cinna-less rolls…

I even have the proof to show that she really is my biggest fan:

Snapchat-799865521

(this is from my mom’s Facebook).

This is all to say, thanks, Ma, for being my biggest and best fan. I love you!

Experiences

Big Cities Small Towns

For 20 years, give or take the time I was living at college, I lived in a town with about 800 other people. My dad was the pastor of one of the four churches, and everyone knew it. My brothers and I couldn’t even throw snow balls at passing cars without the driver knowing exactly who it was and exactly who the parents were, and proceeding to call said parents (that only happened once, I think…).
All through high school, I dreamed of living in New York City. I thought it would be an amazing place to live. I thought about all the coffee shops and bookstores and libraries, and picnics in the park. I wanted to be an editor, and there are plenty of opportunities for that in NYC. I love musicals and wanted to be near Broadway.
Then I realized how expensive that would be. Then I moved to St. Louis and realized I don’t actually like city life. At all. Granted, St. Louis and New York City are very difficult to compare, but I can’t imagine I’d actually enjoy living in the Big Apple.
Part of the issue for high school me was that I watched Gossip Girl and thought that’s what life would be like for anyone who moved to NYC.
When I visited New York City for the first time when I was 20, I fell in love. It is an incredible place to be, even for the handful of days that I was there. So admitting to myself that I wouldn’t enjoy life in the city was difficult, and I struggled to figure out why. How could I love a city so much, but know deep down that I would hate living there?
This is what I’ve discovered.
Growing up in a small town was a great experience. There were days I didn’t like it so much, but now, I look back and know that I had it good. I could stay out until it got dark, and after a certain age, it didn’t matter if it was dark, I could stay out as long as my parents knew where I was. I never ever worried about walking anywhere by myself, and I frequently did. I walked to the library, to the pool, to school, I walked/ran/biked the trail all around town, and I was never afraid to be alone, even after dark. Here, I’m not even comfortable walking around the seminary campus by myself after dark!
Even though we had to drive 45 minutes to get to Walmart, it was 45 minutes on a highway, with no traffic lights and no traffic. Here, to get to Walmart, it takes about the same time, just because of all the red lights and traffic, and it’s less than 10 miles away!
When I was growing up, it was a treat to spend the day shopping. Even just going to Walmart was exciting because you only went a few times a month. Now, shopping is more of a chore, and it’s so easily accessible that it’s not that exciting or fun. It’s a “been there done that” kind of thing.
I like small town life. It’s much simpler, much more care-free, much more pleasant, much cheaper. Even contacts are more expensive in the city!
Traveling to cities is such a fun time. Like I said, I loved visiting NYC. But part of the appeal for me is knowing that I get to go back home to my quiet life. No one in the city knew me, and I’d probably never see most of the people I encountered again, which was fun and exciting. But sometimes (most of the time, actually), I wanna go where everybody knows my name.

Image taken from crazy4fiction. “Are you Small Town or Big City?”

Personal Reflection

Choose to be great.

I’m reading Good to Great by Jim Collins, and although most of it is focused on companies and economics and other stuff I really have no idea about, some of it is very applicable for a person.

The book has me thinking about how often I settle for “good.” If something is good, I typically leave it be. What would happen if instead of settling, I strive for great? What would happen if instead of accepting where things are, I push for something better? I often settle for fear of making something worse or fear of admitting that I’m not great and can’t be great without even trying. But maybe, if I didn’t settle, if I give it a shot, I might accomplish something that’s not just good, it’s great. Frosted Flakes did it. I can do it too.

“To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.”

Often, we view competence as a good thing. If someone calls you competent, we usually take it to mean capable of completing a task. Usually, we use it as a compliment. But is it? Is competence all we should strive for? Collins doesn’t think so. And I’m finding myself agreeing with him. We have the opportunity to be so much more than competent. We have many opportunities to be excellent. Why aren’t we? Too often, our reason is “Oh, I’m good.”

Collins has several points on how to become great, but the one I want to share here is The Hedgehog Concept. In an essay called “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” Isaiah Berlin talks about a fox and a hedgehog. The fox keeps trying to attack the hedgehog, using different plans and strategies, and the hedgehog keeps using his quills in defense, and the fox gets nowhere. He then divides people into foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes are chasing several different ends and are often scattering their focus onto different concepts and ideas. Hedgehogs focus on a single organizing idea and anything that doesn’t relate to that one idea is irrelevant.

We have to find that one idea, that one thing that we can be the best at. Then, we are able to focus all our efforts on that one thing. Collins is careful to point out that this shouldn’t be a goal to be the best, rather it’s finding what you can be the best at and focusing on that.

My challenge for the next few months is to find that idea, to discover what I can be the best at. Then I can focus on becoming the best at that one thing and achieve greatness instead of settling for good.

 

Collins, Jim. Good to Great. 2001. Collins.

Image taken from Meditations of My Heart They’re More Than Good; They’re GRRREAT.”

Faith · Personal Reflection

I’m sad but it is well with my soul!

Today I was feeling blue. It felt like a Monday when I woke up, and already the week is feeling long.

I’m feeling sad about a lot of things today: the cloudy skies with no rain and massive humidity is one of the minor contributing factors. I moped around the apartment until it was time to leave, resigning myself to just being miserable today.

At work, I read a blog post by a friend which gave me comfort, even though it didn’t necessarily turn around my gloom.

“It is Well” is one of my all-time favorite hymns. There is never a time where it isn’t fitting. It’s one that I’m trying to memorize on the piano so that whenever I come across a piano, wherever I am, I can just play it out.

Reading this post helped me realize and accept my blues of the day. Sure, I’m sad. I’m mopey, and I’m unhappy. But that’s just surface level feelings. In the grand scheme of things, they don’t really matter. Above what I’m feeling right now, it is well with my soul.

I can be miserable and heartbroken and lonely. I can be joyous and uplifting and energetic. I can be blah. But ultimately, most importantly, unfailingly, it is well with my soul.

That will never change. My mood will. Tomorrow I might be the happiest I’ve ever been. Or I might be sadder than I am today. But because of Jesus and his actions on the cross, it is well with my soul.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know/say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Nothing can change that.

 

Image taken from hymnary.org. Christ in Song #516.”