Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday was January 11th.  I had an epiphany that day that I’d like to share…  I love the new year.  I get so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas that the new year often becomes this beacon of hope shining out in promise and rest and newness.  I’m not so big into new year’s resolutions, but I do sense a feeling of starting over every January 1st.

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

The trouble is, my Christmas vacation is usually still going on when January 1st hit.  Now, the only “trouble” with this is that I’m usually out of pocket, not at home, with my family, still indulging on sweets and such, etc.  Then I arrive home around the 5th and have to get my home back in order, unpack, go to the grocery store, etc. before I can think about applying anything of the new things I want to do or the undone things I want to pick back up.  I wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else…

Anyway, I often find that on my birthday, I look up and think, “Geez!  We’re 11 days into this new year and I haven’t begun ________ or _______ or finished ________.”

Birthday Dinner at Chuy's

This year, I had a different thought:  January 11th is my new year.  That is so often the day I’m ready to jump in with both feet and do all the things I’ve been wanting to do.  Talk about a sense of relief!

One of those things I planned to do in the new year was take part in Anne Voskamp’s Joy Dare.  To hit the goal of 1000 listed gifts in a year, I need to do about three a day, but by my birthday, I had done zero.  I started to feel behind.  “I should give up!  I can’t even stay current this early in the year!  Oh well…it’s too late now.”  (I know, a little melodramatic, but some of you are with me, right?)  The birthday epiphany gave me the encouragement I needed when I realized I always feel behind when I hit my birthday and haven’t hit my stride for the new year.

So I started where I was and have my list underway.  I’m finding it easiest to post my Joy Dare list in Facebook, but I’d like to keep a running list somewhere, so maybe here…my first 20:

1. delicious Paleo meals
2. the first Hope Student Life of 2014 last night
3. coconut soup for lunch
4. tulips in the morning sunlight on my kitchen table
5. allergies (yes, I’m thankful for them because they remind me me of how good I normally feel when I don’t have them…and *everything* from God’s hand is a gift…)
6. successfully resisting temptation
7. forgiveness for failing to resist temptation
8. Braving the allergens to enjoy this beautiful day
9. Lunch with great, fun, and silly friends
10. Church at Hope Chapel with these fine folks (and a few others…):
11. yet another beautiful day in Austin
12. persistent faith that clings to God’s promises in His Word
13. an optimistic tree already in bloom as if it’s spring
14. lessons from Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath”
15. parents who are willing to learn new things, despite their children giving them a hard time!
16. homemade laundry detergent
17. fresh flowers on the kitchen table
18. sunlight through purple bottles on the windowsill
19. prayers to a loving, compassionate Father
20. ending a list on a nice round number…

What are you thankful for?

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Joy Dare

joyJoy.  Exuberance.  Bliss.  Delight.  Elation.  Wonder.

Dare.  Challenge.  Provoke.  Entice.

I am taking a dare that was issued to my heart quite awhile back.  A dare to look for joy daily.  A dare to find in the everyday-ness of life the treasures God has planted for me to find.  A challenge to see beyond the “in your face” stuff of life to the things that sing songs to my soul.  It has also been called gratitude, but Joy is a lovelier word to my heart.

Inspired by Ann Voskamp and her One Thousand Gifts, I am taking her up on her dare in the new year.  It is my only resolution.  (I thought of quoting her – of explaining her one thousand gifts / joy dare, but I decided to let her do that for herself through her blog and books and instead, I will simply (!) take the dare for myself.)

The dare is to face each and every day with expectation and an eye to the gifts God gives every moment of every day.  Some are obvious, blue-skies-and-sunshine type gifts.  Others seem to be nothing but pain until you peel back a few layers that remind that God is always and only ever seeking our best.

But I am waiting to start.  I’m waiting until January 1, 2014.  I know, seems doomed if it becomes a New Year’s Resolution, but as I have pondered the idea, I find myself needing to wait.  Everywhere I look, I am surrounded by Advent – this season of waiting, of anticipation.  Waiting for the coming of the Christ-child.  Waiting for His perfect timing to birth a new thing in me.  It isn’t about the date so much as it is about my heart.  I feel a sense of needing to wait; the kind of wait that builds anticipation and longing.  The kind of wait that lives through the initial excitement of a new thing and sustains it past the newness of a thing.  A wait that outlives the honeymoon and blossoms into a happily-ever-after marriage of commitment and devotion.

Yes, I’m striving to list 1000 Gifts. Yes, I’m going to number them.  As for where they will be…I’m not entirely sure.  Some will be here, most will be on Facebook.  Boy, I sure would like to say that you will be able to find the entire list in one place and I hope to make that the case, but you’ll forgive me if some end up not together.  Let me think on that some more an give you an update in the next post…