What I Have

Reflecting on my life and its wonders has become something I try to do every night before I go to sleep.  Of course, often times I find myself dozing off in my chair while lesson planning and grading – whoopsies.  But those few peaceful moments before my head hits the pillow, I thank God for all He has given me that day. I’m lucky enough to say I’ve found someone who loves me enough to be with me forever, but He has blessed me/us beyond, because we have these three things:

Slide3I have immeasurable joy. Through life’s tumultuous turns and dips, I am thankful for the simple joys.  It’s amazing to me the amount of thought God puts into each of our lives.  When life is a year of fat or a year of thin, God never lets us forget Him.  Joy is the light within my heart.  It is a constant reminder that even times of tribulation and sadness I have the power to delight in Him.

GraceI am flawed and broken, but not unseemly.  For the simple truth that my life is drenched in grace, I am lovable and capable. My faith may falter, but His love never does.

HopeAnd hope. Strength to know my tomorrows are taken care of and my heart is safe. Knowledge to believe in things not happened yet, but wisdom to know they will. Hope is such a small word and carries such a terrific meaning.  It is what makes my tears dry and brings my soul peace. Resting on my Lord and knowing He will provide all things through all weather.  All I feel I can do is praise and give thanks.

At times, it’s easy to feel like there isn’t much that we do have. Money, belongings, friends, whatever it may be, but when I remember all the things God has given me just because I am his daughter my mind is flooded with gratitude and all bitterness is washed away.  Worldly riches may never be mine, but I have something greater.

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Finding the Joy Inside

In our world their are constant distractions calling our name showing us all the ways to be unhappy.  These may come in the form of people speak from selfishness – not realizing their words are stronger than actions.  Or our own thoughts tricking us into believing we don’t have the perfect clothing, hair, or makeup to deserve to be loved. Or dwelling on negatives so much our heart becomes hard and bitter. I’ve succumbed to all three of these more than once. Definitely. But there is always a voice in the back of my head whispering this verse as a reminder:

“The man whose heart is unmoved you will keep in peace, because his hope is in you.”

Isaiah 26:3

My husband is known for his calm demeanor. You know the phrase “be like duck and let it roll off your back?” He’s like that…but better. Crazy better.  In a season of thanks, I’d like to think that’s all I’ve been, but it’s far from the truth.  I’ve been the complete opposite of Tyler. I’ve let external circumstances steal my joy.  I finally asked him why he could let things roll of his back, and he said “I just know I have better things to think about.” And so I’ve decided to make a list.  A list of 5 ways to find our joy and keep it.

1.  Surround yourself with happy people – The best times I’ve had in my life all include the people who love and value me.  Walking out of those homes or gatherings, always left me with a sense of security and purpose.  When we are with people who share the same uplifting spirit we have, it grows.  Joy is contagious.

2. Never give up – People who have joy on the inside don’t crumble when failure presents itself. Failure is just the world’s way of saying we’re closer to our success than before.  As a teacher, negative comments are more common than thought. I’ve learned that if the comment is not constructive, I don’t need to let it weigh on my heart.  I’ve also learned if I want to keep my joy, I have to know I’m not perfect. We will fall and we are faulted, but these moments help us become better if we let them. Remember Fall down seven times, but stand up eight.

3.  Hold onto the good – Joyful people find the beauty in simple pleasures and moments. They share and celebrate their small victories.  When we remember and hold onto all we have been blessed with, we have a greater sense of accomplishment. Who cares if the good is something as small as waking up on time or making your tea perfectly? Enjoy the blessings.

4.  Participate in a jam session – Music is known for reducing anxiety and stress.  Make your own “Walking on Sunshine” playlist and uplift your mood by dancing around the house in just your jammies and trying out your silly dance moves. Here are a few of my favorite songs. (Anything Could Happen, Walk of Life, Two Princes)

5.  Indulge – Get lost in the moments you spend with those people who you love.  Indulge in a special treat for yourself.  Pamper and give to others.  It’s okay to indulge, I promise.

Beauty in the Unknown

I’ve been a planner since the day I was born.  Graduate, college, marriage, career, babies.  All in that order.  I planned to be adamantly happy with each choice I made during those times and never have any problems, because I had been planning it forever. There is no time for problems if you plan forever, right? But life has had me call and cry out more than I care to admit in my times of “super-duper planned to the t” times; my heart has been soothed plenty knowing He is greater in me than in he that’s in the world and I’ve been blessed with a life that has kept many hardships at bay. Trials and tears have coursed their way through, but I’ve maintained confidence through the comfort of family and friends.

As I’ve grown older – the big TWENTY THREE in a few weeks – I’ve been hit hard with the fact that not all of my plans are perfect.  I still have so many unknowns.  Where will my family be in twenty years? Can we have children? When should we have children? Will I still teach when we start our family? Do I want to teach forever? Is Tennessee the place for us? Do I really want ten children? Am I being the wife I promised to be? Am I who I want to be? Who do I even want to be? There’s just SO MANY.  Some of them give in to the insecurities the world slips into our thinking.  Others are questions prompted by the stepping stones I see colleagues and family face. The rest are often comparisons of myself to someone else.  But what they have in common is that they are unknown and they are doubts and worries.  Worries that I’ve come to trust about the unknown, instead of hoping during times of unknown.

To be square, I feel right now I’m in a whirlwind of passions.  Passions I’ve had a long time are evolving or fading while others maintain their constant burn in my soul.  It’s been these kinds of days that I try to remind myself of the constants my life does have:

1. God – I have a God who was faithful yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow.  He holds me in His right hand constantly whispering His promises in my ear and showing me the ways I am precious in His sight.  He fulfills my life and His word gives me hope and courage to face every day. Every unknown.  I’m drenched in the truth that He made me beautiful – with talents and life only I can handle and accomplish.  I am secure knowing through His love there is no reason to compare myself – strengths and shortcomings – to anyone else.

2. My husband – There is nothing in this world that gives me more satisfaction or delight than knowing he is stuck with me, forever!  I swear he sees me better than my best especially when I’m at my worst.  On those days where the only words in my vocabulary are those not appropriate for PG-13 movies.  In my moments of exhaustion where I forget to stick the coffee cup under the Keurig, or simply when nothing in my closet seems to fit right. He tenderly reminds me that we were made to do something great together.  Our biggest accomplishment might be impacting our community so strongly we have a public honor, it might be showing our love every day of our life, heck – it might just be raising our family the best way we know how.  But, it’s our lot in life. Together.

 Isn’t it in P.S I Love You, Patricia says “I know what it is, not to feel like you’re in the room, until he looks at you or touches your hand or even makes a joke at your expense, just to let everyone know… you’re with him. You’re his.”

And it’s true.  I feel whole when I am with him, and when I’m not I’m still me, but in a different way. He makes me feel like I’m the only person of true importance to him.  He encourages me to find my happiness, to quit or begin or just go out on a whim. To know everything will be okay, no….better than okay because we have whats really important.  We’ve found the person whom we can “pour out the contents of our heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” We’ve found real, messy, wonderful love.

3. My family and friends – My family and friends are the keepers of every good and wonderful memory.  They’ve helped shaped me into the woman I am today.  Sometimes providing me with a much needed wake up call or the consolation I was seeking.  Every person has given me an overabundance of love, which I am forever thankful for.

In a sea of unknown, its hard to always find the beauty.  But I promise its there.

Sweet as Honeycomb

adc3d6d4c9c0dc2ae20575b50fb1ec0cObstacles become much easier to overcome when you realize that God gave it to you because you were the perfect person to handle it.  This is something I need hold closer to my soul.  Recently, it has been very easy to pull a massive, three year-old temper tantrum, stomping, sobbing and all.  Life comes at you fast and doesn’t let up.  Work can easily become your life and stress overtakes joy.  But only if you let it. That’s the key. So here is for today, making sure our hearts are full of all things good and pure.  Knowing that that word impossible is only a big word thrown around by small men, because we are already victorious through God.