100 Beautiful Days – Day 30

Day thirty –

The sun is just coming up. It was a late night, last night followed by an early morning.  There is a pile of laundry in a chair nearby that needs folding, another load in the dryer and one in the wash. The dishwasher needs to be started, the dogs need food and the morning workout isn’t going to tackle itself. There are plenty of things that I should be accomplishing right now but I’m just sitting here in my office chair being very, very thankful for…sticky notes.

Sticky notes keep me sane! I have them plastered on the wall near my desk, you can find them on my bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator and even in my car.  They remind me of projects I need to accomplish, bills that need to be paid and phone calls that I should make.  I post them with quotes that inspire me, names of those I’m praying for and I write my favorite verses on them and place them in strategic places where I can be reminded of God’s love.  I even have sticky notes inside my bible and in my purse that others have given me with words of kindness and affirmation.

They come in all colors, sizes and styles and I love them with my whole heart.  So today on Day 30 of 100 beautiful days I find joy in my journey with the sticky note.  It’s a simple thing but in a world of chaos and crazy, sticky notes bring order and help keep me on track.

Do you use sticky notes? If you don’t, you should!  Go straight away and buy some.  Write notes to yourself, draw a happy face, remind yourself to call a friend.  Find a color that makes you happy or find one with a design that makes you smile.  Jot down a note to a co-worker and stick it to their computer or leave a note to your spouse.  Use them to inspire, motivate, remind and organize.  The sticky note can handle it all and is up to the task.  Sticky note – we salute you.  Thank you for being you!!

100 Beautiful Days – Day 29

Day twenty-nine,

It’s been over a month since I’ve had the opportunity to focus on 100 Beautiful Days. Over the course of those weeks I’ve sat down multiple times and attempted to type out the next entry but each time I found myself staring at the blank page, the little black cursor flashing in my face, and the words just rambling around in my head but not making a lick of sense.  Each attempt resulted in me typing a few lines, backspacing, typing a few more, and finally shaking my head in frustration, closing the computer and walking away.

You see, sometimes, in the middle of something really good you have to push the pause button. Not stop, not delete, just pause. Life gets hard, it gets messy and priorities have to shift and change as life comes at you.  Life came at me a few weeks ago when we found ourselves walking through some difficult days with one member of our tribe.  Watching someone struggle is always difficult but when it is someone you love so very much, it makes it that much harder. When you feel helpless to make it better – that much worse!

Even though I haven’t had the time or the ability to adequately express words on a page, I’ve been paying attention to the joy in the middle of this journey and my heart has been taking notes. I’ve got a page in my phone filled with positives that I’ve witnessed over the past few weeks and little moments when, in the middle of the mess, I’ve felt God wrap his arms around me and remind me that he sees me, sees my family, loves us and has a plan.

What I wish that everyone could know is that a blessed life is not without hardship and hardships are not without blessings. When seasons of difficulty come your way the work that you’ve done with God in the days before kicks in. When you’ve sat at His feet in the good times, learning about His character, diving deep in to the nature that makes Him a good, good father, then during the hard days you can lean in to that knowledge and trust Him.  I tell people all the time, it’s not about feelings, it’s about knowledge. Knowledge doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it possible.

The darkness that we are walking through hasn’t lifted yet but when my eyes haven’t been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel God has sent a little flashlight to remind me he is on the journey with us. Just little moments that make you look up and say – wow God – thanks!

What difficulty are you walking through right now?  Are you remembering to find God in the middle or are you feeling like He has left you all alone?  Of the things I know, He promises to never leave us alone.  In the middle of your trial take note of the positives.  Grab a sheet of paper, make a note in your phone, keep sticky notes on a wall or mirror where you can see them.  Back those up with scripture and cling to God’s unfailing word.  Whatever works best for you…do that!  Do whatever it takes to remember He sees you, He loves you and He has a plan.

100 Beautiful Days – Day 28

Day twenty-eight,

Road trips – Day 28 of 100 Beautiful Days found me squeezed in a car like sardines, flying down the interstate with all my people minus one but plus one of someone else’s. Going on a journey is one of my favorite things and this day, this very day, we headed out on a journey.

We sang songs, played I’m Going on a Picnic, chowed down on take out Mexican food (maybe not a good idea) played Who Am I and stopped for countless bathroom breaks.  There has been rain, fog and a winter storm.

This morning started out tough.  The skies were gray, rain was falling and news came that another precious lady went home to be with the Lord.  February has been a hard month with four funerals in just a matter of weeks.  I have friends awaiting test results, other friends are walking with their parents on their final journey home and my own loved ones are fighting a few battles of their own. There has been a heaviness this month and it has often settled in my spirit and weighed on my heart.

As I’ve traveled down the road today, amidst the joy and the fun I’ve been contemplative and reflective. Life is such a gift and some place such little value on it while others have it ripped away too soon.  Some seem like they are on the fastest track possible to destruction while others work diligently to survive to no avail.

I will never have the answers to the why’s or how comes and if I think about it too much I just feel like stomping my feet and shaking my fist at the unfairness of it all.  But thankfully I know the one who numbers our days, who holds the answers and I can trust him with those details.  I also know that often the journey we find ourselves on is not the easiest or even because of the best circumstances.  Sometimes we find ourselves picking up the pieces, dusting ourselves off and starting again.  Sometimes we find ourselves helping someone else pick up the pieces and get back on their feet.

When this happens, and it will happen, I think it is pretty important to take a look around and count our blessings.  Be thankful for the people that are committed to this journey with us and count it all joy when we can lend a helping hand.  We should make the best of a bad situation, take nothing for granted and love as big as we possibly can. And in the middle of it all we should have fun, lots and lots of fun!

So tonight, as my road crew snuggles in to our hotel room tired from our travels, I’m looking around at them, reflecting back on the day, taking a long deep breath and being incredibly thankful. Thankful for the laughter, joy, good attitudes, laughter, good health, safe travels and oh, did I mention laughter? I’m counting my blessings, and just like that picnic game we played in the car, I’m naming them one by one.

We are all going on a journey, sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but we do get to decide what we take with us.  Attitude, Belief, Compassion, Dedication, Empathy…So, as you work your way through to the end of the alphabet, choose wisely what you take with you on this journey of life – it can make all the difference in the world.

100 Beautiful Days – Day 27

Day Twenty–Seven,

Sometimes in the middle of a freezing cold, pouring rain, dreary kind of day you catch a glimpse of something and it makes you smile.  Yesterday – as I was braving the cold to pick up groceries, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a big red and black bus parked in the shopping center near the local McDonalds.

Now, living in a college town, it isn’t unusual at all to see buses from schools across the state all around town.  They come here from miles away for academic events, choir and band competitions, sports camps and other contests, hosted at the college.

But on this dreary day, when I caught a glimpse of the red and black bus, I knew, even through the pouring rain, that it was my hometown people! I waited until I got in a place where I had a better view, did a quick glance over and sure enough it was.  A smile came across my face and my heart instantly filled with pride.

Now hear me on this, I’ve been out of high school for 30 years.  3-0! But still, no matter where I am, if I pass a hometown bus on the interstate or see it in a parking lot or end up at a local event where my hometown team is participating, my heart is happy and I can’t help but smile. I flash back to pep rallies, livestock shows, struggling through math, stinky hallways, choir competitions, being late for class, football games, homecoming parades and so much more.  It was a pretty simple time and my hometown was a pretty great place.

So on day twenty seven of 100 Beautiful Days, like a crazy lady, I circled back around, car full of groceries and all, and stealthily (or maybe creepily), found a way to snap a picture of that beautiful bus.  I’m sure the bus driver, sitting patiently in the driver’s seat waiting on the students to return from lunch, wanted to call the cops on this strange lady, but I was determined to capture the moment.

What simple thing brought joy to your heart today?  It doesn’t have to be something fancy or perfect or wonderful.  Just simple.  Like your hometown school bus parked at McDonalds.  Looking for the tiny moments throughout our day is what makes life beautiful. When they happen, notice them, capture them and hold on to them in your heart.

100 Beautiful Days – Day 26

Day Twenty-Six

Lunch – let’s talk about it. I love to eat and I especially love to eat with people I love!

I love the look of the food spread across the table, the aromas filling the air, the clanking of the silverware, the little side conversations taking place at the table or in the kitchen and just the overall energy that comes with gathering together.

Even on those occasions when we go out to eat I still love the tables pushed together to make room for everyone, the laughter as those of us who are decision challenged try to choose what we want and the little conversations and games that go on all around the table.

Gathering together for a meal is one of my most favorite things! 

On Sunday, we gathered together for lunch.  It wasn’t a large crowd, just six of us but it was six of the people I love.  The food had been prepared with us in mind, there were desserts to celebrate my husband’s recent birthday and there was time to step away from the normal every day and just relax with family.  We enjoyed laughter, a little razzing and teasing, some environmental debates all punctuated with delicious barbecue ribs, fried okra and giant twice baked potatoes!  Oh, the joy!

My kids are all mostly grown now and it has become more and more difficult to get them all gathered around the table at once. Time passes and I know the days of gathering together will not be as often as it once was. So, as I looked around the table Sunday and watched as my girls helped my mom in the kitchen, I was so thankful for the beauty of coming together.  Thankful for the guidance that I could see and overhear, words of advice and wisdom being passed along and for the laughter.

Life gets busy but I encourage you to take time to sit around the table.  Gather together, play table games, eat good food and make great memories. Put away the cell phones, turn off the TV and linger around the table. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t even have to be homemade it just needs to be together! Let gathering together make your day beautiful!  I believe you will be glad you did!

100 Beautiful Days – Day 25

Day Twenty-Five

Can we just talk about Llamas for a minute!  I’m pretty crazy about the fuzzy critters and next to giraffes I would say that they are my favorite land dwelling animal.  Well, wait maybe not, maybe cows are my favorite and giraffes are my second or is it elephants second and llamas first, but where would that leave dogs and horses and my goodness I forgot pigs.  Oh, good grief!  I’m not sure and it doesn’t even matter!  I love animals and llamas are right there at the top of the list!

I also love children’s books.  Yes, I’m a full grown soon to be 48-year old woman who, no matter what book store or library she enters, goes straight to the children’s book section. Don’t judge me! Among my all-time absolute favorite children’s books are the Llama, Llama series. From Llama, Llama Red Pajama to Llama, Llama Mad at Mama and every Llama, Llama book in between…I love them all!

That ornery little llama has made me laugh over the years as I’ve read his adventures to my children. Made me smile with excitement as I’ve picked out copies for my grandchild and made me fall in love with llamas in general.

Today, God made me smile with the unexpected gift of llamas. No, he did not give me actual live llamas. He gave me the surprise of turning to the back of my planner to a page I had not yet seen and discover that it was filled with llamas!

On the surface, this may seem like such a simple and innocent thing but let me tell you, it made my day! I’m in a season of seeking God for some really big stuff.  I’ve got some big prayers and I need some big answers. But, while I’m in this season, I cannot get so busy watching for the big stuff that I forget to notice the little stuff along the journey.  Like the way that he shows me, through the tiniest little gifts, that He sees me and He knows me so very well.

Some would say that page of llamas was just a fluke, a little design by the planner people and has nothing to do with God.  Well, I guess in my children’s book brain I just believe that everything has something to do with God.

So today, on this 25thday of 100 Beautiful Days I’m thankful for that page full of llamas. They made me smile, made me feel loved and made my heart oh so very happy.

What big stuff are you seeking God for today?  Where in your life are you reminded that God sees you and loves you?  While you wait for the big answers are there little gifts that He gives you to let you know He’s still working in your life?  Write them down, look back on them in trying days and let your heart be filled with happiness in the waiting.

100 Beautiful Days – Day 24

Day Twenty-Four

I don’t know about you but I’m just awe struck with all that God allows us to take part in! The way that He lets our lives crisscross with others and how He uses simple interactions to connect us to people who bless us and who we can bless. Honestly when I stop to think about it I’m overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.

When we keep our eyes open and walk right in to all that He invites us to, we have the chance to be a part of some amazing moments.  The opportunity to pray with others who deeply need us, to lift one another up with kind words and encouragement and to share in the joy, the sadness, the progress, the love…the journey!

It really is amazing, exciting and quite humbling!

 I think sometimes we muddy the waters and make faith harder than it has to be.  I think we put it all in a box like there has to be a perfect plan or perfect circumstances in order for us to love people the way that God would have us to.   When honestly, we really just need to remain childlike, be awake and ready – watching for how God wants to move in the tiniest of moments and the most monumental.  Oh, he doesn’t need us to do the work, He could do it without us but He draws us in, invites us to come along and as we say “YES”, we get to be amazed by all that He is doing.  It might get a little messy at times but it’s a beautiful mess and oh so worth it!

If God impresses on your heart today to bless someone, I hope that you will.  I hope that you won’t overthink it or over analyze it. Can I?, Should I? Will they laugh at me? What if?  Just listen to that little tugging on your heart and walk across the room.   Get in the middle of all that God is up to and then look around you at what He is doing.  Be prepared for goosebumps and tears because He’s a big God, an amazing God and being on His team is crazy amazing!  But what a team it is!!

Now go be a blessing…and be blessed!