Wow. There has been so much going on around here. The holidays arrived and left, along with all of the visits and activities that accompany the season. I have also reorganized some space upstairs and put my home office into place--so exciting! Just a few more finishing touches, and it will be complete.
Where to begin? I've been thinking about where I was this time last year and where I am now. I was teaching full time, getting ready for grad classes, serving in ministries at church, and trying to run a household. As I have previously stated, I did it all. My type A made sure things were finished, lists were checked off, and things were as near to my version of perfect as they could be. Of course, we know how THAT all turned out.
This year, I am still serving at church (and may be changing my ministries), running a household, working from home part time, and learning. Not in the sense of grad courses--which I will be discontinuing for a while due to finances--but in the sense of self. I've been striving to learn more about myself and what God has in store for me. What are His plans for me? How do I reach the goals He has for me? How do I learn to appreciate His grace in all things? How do I show gratitude?
This notion of gratitude in all things has been part of my journey since this time last year. I had read a book titled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The cover challenges the reader to a "dare to live fully right where you are." If you've not read the book, Voskamp takes the reader through her quest to find what she calls the "beautiful in the ugly." Meaning, finding God in the midst of all that occurs. During her quest, she accepts a challenge from a friend to write down 1,000 things for which she can show gratitude. As you read the book, you find that gratitude is not always easy to find, especially when things are not going as they should. But it can be found.
When I read this book last year, I needed something to sort of keep me afloat. I was looking for something that would help me make sense of what I was feeling in the midst of all that was happening. I read it, and it was good. It was eye-opening. But it wasn't enough. I was so busy I couldn't truly appreciate what Voskamp was saying. After the year I have lived, I am preparing to read it again, with new eyes and new appreciation. I simply wasn't ready to receive the message inside.
As part of the journey, I have decided to take the dare. I tried last year, but found that I ran out of time or forgot or didn't have my journal nearby. No excuses this time. On her website, you can download an app that will allow you to write down your gifts as you experience them. Since my phone is always nearby, I put the app there so I don't miss a thing. I started Monday and have eight gifts already, including the gift of heat. Why heat? Because Sunday morning we woke up to cooler temperatures in the house, courtesy of a malfunctioning sensor in the furnace. Sunday was cold, in the 30s. I thanked God for heat because we were able to have someone come out that afternoon, the part needed was already in the house thanks to a forward-thinking owner, and we did not have to spend the night below 30 temps. I could have griped and complained. But I didn't. I made a warm meal, put on an extra layer, and chose to thank God in the midst in appreciation of what I did have.
Along with gratitude, I am learning about grace. My pastor has been speaking on the topic of grace as we (as a church) have been reading through The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll. Through this series I am learning how to recognize grace, show grace to others, and receive grace (even when it may not be deserved).
It has been an adventure and I can't wait to see what happens next!