Grateful Journal

 

Through the month of January, I had about fifteen distinct blog topics floating around in my head. Some were life updates, like that Subaru Outback WITH a sunroof that I bought — woot woot! — or weekend trips up to Richmond and Roanoke to visit Abby and Kayla.

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Other blog intentions included evaluations on Trump’s first week in office and podcasts I’ve listened to; some entertaining babysitting anecdotes; the decision to move to and teach in Greenville this fall, and the peace and excitement I’ve felt about it.

All of which, however, were completely neglected when it came to opening my laptop. Instead, I’ve gotten sucked into the cyber vortex of  incognito windows and Kayak flight research, itinerary spreadsheets and Google maps. In my house organization escapades, the overwhelming compulsion to clean out the fridge or repurpose a kitchen cabinet solely for coffee and tea consumes chunks of my day. My beloved whiteboard to-do lists stretch on.

While I have made time for my body, eating particularly well and exercising often, and though I am not stressed or pressed for time, my soul has suffered. It needs attention and moments of calm, because it keeps my spiritual and relational life in check. It recalibrates my priorities and causes my thoughts and actions to reflect God’s desires, rather than my own. It gives me time to intentionally pray and consider the way that the Holy Spirit is moving amidst my life and those around me, how Jesus hears me and is with me. The longer I neglect that time, the more arrogant I become in believing I can get on and be fine without it and Him.

At the outset of the New Year, I went to a women’s ministry evening about “decluttering” our (spiritual) lives. (Ironic, since I’ve also been decluttering our house so vigorously this past month.) I’ve carried two takeaways into 2017: First, to lean on the words “Thank you” and “Help Me” in my prayer life. The speaker shared how she uses a small calendar planner and writes down one thing each day she is grateful for. Though I am not the most disciplined person, several weeks of January have lists and lists of everyday things I would have not given thanks to God for had I not simply taken the time and been mindful enough to recognize both the Giver and the gift. I’ve written about gratitude several times on the blog, but it keeps coming back. There is so much to be thankful for, and the more aware I become, I see even more blessings. That attitude of gratitude – it’s powerful.

Second, the speaker talked about Love and Good Deeds. As a child, her grandmother used to take care of her, and after morning chores were complete, she asked her, “Now, who should we do something nice for today?” I haven’t done something nice everyday, but in my own gratitude journal, I’ve consciously pondered what kind, unnecessary deed I could bestow on someone each week. So far, it has taken the form of small notes of encouragement to amazing women I admire. It’s just fun to love others, however small the action may be. Scripturally, it’s what I’m called to do anyway, and it brightens the life of both me and the other person.

I finally had a solid journal catch up on this slow, chilly (45 degrees, haha) Saturday. While the entry does update on the happenings of my life, what immediately ended up on the pages was an overflow of gratitude. Amidst a seemingly humdrum life, there is so much goodness. I’m too far behind to write about all my thoughts in January, but I do want to share the majority of that journal entry. It’s easier and better to share this than to attempt to retrace January thoughts, or to write nothing at all. Because my journal isn’t intended for any audience, the writing isn’t exquisite, but it is an outpouring of my heart and what my life is like right now.

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I have tragically failed on the journaling, slow-it-down life lately. There’s just so much to do! I love living at home still. I’m not stressed, but I am thoroughly occupied. I love grocery shopping and cleaning, babysitting and family dinners. I love that all I want on a Friday night is to watch a movie with my parents. I love the weather and the fact that I am making Mama’s life more peaceful. I love this Fast Metabolism diet, how good I feel (and look!). The time and opportunity to go to the gym, to help with wedding plans, to redecorate my room, and to plan heaps of adventures. I love that last Saturday Mama helped me repaint my chest of drawers, and that I’ve taken small gifts/actions more seriously. Last week I wrote a note to Carey, this week to Elizabeth Lenes.

I hate that we have an idiot of a president, racist and bigoted, unthinkingly banning all refugees and lots of immigrants from our country. Amidst this happy, sheltered life I’m currently living, there is a genuinely alarming world.

I’m thankful for sweet friends and Jesus’ continued blessings. That Anderson and I ran errands together and then had a chill lunch, that I got to share happy hour with both Larkin and Lizzy and Chris this week, that I’m still connected to Hayley (however loosely), and that Audrey and I somehow manage to keep up, even though she is a Dan connection and lives in Houston.

I’m grateful that I have maternal instincts and enjoy time with kids; that my parents are in a small group that is truly my second family; that Mariah, Tracey, and I make such a good trio; and that I am BACK in the US, and so happy and content to be home. I’m thankful for such a rockin’ little brother – his calm, steady kindness. AND for my future brother-in-law, that not only is Duncan just a good guy who I adore, but also someone who will continue to be a mediating balance between Georgia and me. I’m thankful for coffees and breakfasts and dinners out with Mama and Hoffa, and for the prospect of Greenville and teacher contacts.

AND I am grateful (and dubious) that…WE ARE GOING TO HAVASUPAI!!! I cannot believe it. It’s going to be such a good trip. And Duncan did it; he got the permits. He probably called more than I did. I had honestly given up. But he did it. “This is gonna happen,” he texted. I kind of had a “Yeah, right” mentality. But it was a small lesson in keeping the faith and answered prayers (just like the Subaru). I felt a little guilty/weird praying for it, but I did. “Jesus, we really want to go to Havasupai. Please let us get a phone call through. I don’t know how you will be glorified through this…but we’ve waited so long already, and it would just be so awesome. Please.”

AND HOMEBOY CAME THROUGH!

Granted, not on Wednesday when I had hoped. I had recruited the calling troops and sent out detailed instructions, and still there was nothing. God let me lose faith and get depressed and crabby that night. But it kind of made getting the permits the next day all that much more of a miracle to be grateful for.

And I still don’t know if this is just another good gift or if amazing things are going to happen that only Jesus could orchestrate. But I just can’t believe what an awesome Spring string of trips is falling into place. Eeep! Thank you, Lord!

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img_0561To fill you in, Havasupai is an Indian Reservation in Arizona, humbly hiding some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world. Permits open up February 1, so all possible travel plans were on hold until we attempted to get a permit. Which is nearly impossible, since the phone is literally off the hook all day long. But, after well over three or four hundred calls, Duncan miraculously got through. Unreal. Ready for the best spring break ever!

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So that’s life in the New Year – the slow calm back in my childhood home and the recognition of the blessings present in this incubated season before a lineup of crazy trips commences in a couple of weeks. As it does, my prayer is to adventure well, but to stay focused on Jesus, and to stay grateful. Amen!

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