I have a secret file that I keep on my computer. I know that makes me sound a bit like a CIA operative working on top secret missions. (I cannot confirm or deny this). Admittedly, I have a pretty good cover. A married mother of two who writes about Jesus, hangs out with cats, and moonlights for the government while wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt. You can’t make this stuff up. Or, can you?
Anyway, back to reality. I have this file that I keep on my computer labeled “encouragement.” I know you thought it was going to say “delusions of a Christian writer,” but it doesn’t. It simply reads encouragement. If you were to open it, you would find emails I saved from people who took the time to tell me how my writing touched them. I am not sure what compelled me to start it. (Maybe because I was consumed with self-doubt, terrified that the vulnerabilities I shared would humiliate myself and my family, and perhaps, worse of all, that I was leaving a paper trail of evidence supporting an extended stay in a mental health facility. You know, just your small, everyday concerns). When I would get an email of appreciation or encouragement, it made me feel less alone, braver, and best of all, that I was making a difference. I cherish them. Each kindness feels like a gift from God, encouragement made holy through the sacred gift of love in which it was made. Deleting them felt akin to throwing a fresh bouquet of flowers in the trash. I couldn’t do it. So, I started my secret file, a hoarder of happy words. Read more →
I just celebrated another birthday. Besides wilting skin, the imaginary birthday girl tiara on my head, and the presents I intend to buy myself, I think of the song Birthday by the Beatles on my 365th day of orbit around the sun. Anthony Michael Hall sings it to Molly Ringwald in the film, Sixteen Candles.“They say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too, yeah!”
Whether it’s your birthday too, or just another day when age sixteen feels really far away, there are a lot of lessons birthdays teach.
This is what I learned from mine:
Birthday lists are important: Every year my husband pesters me to tell him what I want for my birthday, and every year I can’t think of one single thing to get. Yet, there are many things I want. I just talk myself out of them because I don’t want to clean puppy pee off the floor. Birthdays give us a chance to consider what we want. For many of us, that feels uncomfortable. Still, it’s important to know what you want in life, because it’s short, and precious, and as far as we know, we only get one shot at it. What do you want?
Gifts are great: Who doesn’t like opening presents?! It’s so fun to size up the box, give it a little shake, and then rip the pretty paper off that is suffocating the thoughtful gift inside. I haven’t always thought of my life as a gift. I have taken it for granted, given away too many days to sour thoughts and staid reflections. But, birthdays remind me to give gratitude to the ultimate gift-giver. I always try to offer thanksgiving to God, but on my birthday, I am especially humbled by his goodness. I see the gift of each day: the sorrows, joys, trials, and the spaces in between. All of it, a gift. All of it inspires me to try to be a gift to others. Read more →
I like the month of June because I finally have time to think about new year’s resolutions. I can’t deal with them at the end of December when I am recovering from the Christmas frenzy. The months that follow feel like I am running just ahead of falling dominos. But now that summer is officially here, my year sprawls out in front of me like a beach towel on the sand. (Okay, half a beach towel.)
I am feeling so optimistic, I bought a new calendar. It was no easy feat, since apparently most stores quit selling them by the time Cupid starts shooting arrows through month-old resolutions to get its candy on the shelves.
**This is a repost from five years ago. I have once again started a gratitude journal and am really hoping that it is something I can sustain long after all the turkey’s been eaten. I hope you will try it too!
It’s been decades since I have been in grammar school, so when I think of Thanksgiving and the gratitude it’s designed to evoke, pilgrims or Indians don’t generally come to mind. I think of whose bringing what, where am I supposed to go, when will I get my Christmas shopping done and why, oh why, do men watch so much football.
Back in 1621, there were no parades, no Black Friday circulars, and no grocery stores to buy the bounty. There were just groups of people from different cultures celebrating thanks. Read more →
Guess who has a birthday coming up?! No! Not Beyonce! Well, okay she does, but I am not talking about her or any other celebrity born in September — Pippa Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keanu Reeves or Harry Connick Jr.
Mercy me! I am talking about my own birthday!
As it turns out, I am not going to be 40 forever. Who knew? Read more →