The other day me and my family went to the park after dinner to enjoy the warmer weather before bath and bed time. The kids were playing with daddy and I was sitting on the swings. I had a thought that was very unlike me: "I wonder how high I can swing on this swing?" I got a good running start, hopped up, pulled myself back onto the swing and started pumping my legs. My hair was blowing in the wind and I noticed Isaac was watching me, looking amazed. Even Jeff was watching me with a big smile. I was swinging high above them all, it was a strange feeling to be acting that way. I normally would just sit on a bench, or sit on the swing and resist everyone's attempt to get mommy to play. "I just want to rest!" is my usual response. But not that day.
I just started reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts, and I'm only half-way through, but it's already had an impact on the way I see my every day life. The gist of it is that thankfulness is at the root of living a joy-filled life; seeing the gifts in the every day. The book birthed a Joy Dare, where every day of the month you write down 3 gifts. At her blog, A Holy Experience, Voskamp has some pretty (free) printables to help you to write you gifts down for that day. I have printed out each month's ideas and glued them into a journal specifically for this purpose. I have only started in January and didn't write every day, but I am already up to 55 gifts (and those are just the ones I took the time to write down!).
This exercise does two things for me: one, it helps me to really see things in my life as opposed to just going through the motions, (or trying to get everything done that needs to be done and get the kids to bed for Pete's sake!) Instead, I am looking for the things in my every day life that I take for granted. Most days, I have my journal and pen lying in the dining room so I can jot something down at the moment I recognize it. Secondly, doing this is like building up your spiritual bank account. I acknowledge that God is good, and everything I have is a gift (James 1:17 says "Every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.") But what about on the hard days? When I get horrible news? When things go terribly wrong? I haven't had one of those days in a while and it's not a matter of if but when. What will my response be? When I'm going on a week of depression and discouragement? Hopefully I'll have a tangible, visual record of all the grace God's shown me in my arsenal to combat the lies I'll be subjecting myself to in those dark times (because they will come). I will need reminders that God is and has always been good. As the book talks about, even in the dark times he is STILL good.
So if you still haven't figured out your new year's resolution, or like to take "challenges", try this one. I can sometimes struggle with contentment, and get so bogged down in the daily to-do that I forget I am ALIVE! My time on this earth is not guaranteed to be as long as I plan on it being. I may not live to write another blog post. I may not wake up in the morning. The time is now to recognize how good and graciously God has dealt with me. My kids pulling at my shirt tail for juice is a gift; the beautiful brown shades in our hardwood floors is a gift; the smell of a candle burning, a wet kiss from my toddler, a hot shower, eating dinner together, a car that's worn out because of all the places it's taken our fmaily: all good gifts that I may never live to see again.
So that's my speil. Just thought I would share it with you because I think a lot of other people are like me and need to realize today is a gift, tomorrow isn't for certain: stop taking everything for granted and LIVE.