Friday, July 29, 2011

Hitting One Thousand

It's been right at seven months, and I've hit 1,000. One thousand gifts, that is.

I haven't been good about posting each gift here. Part of that is heat-induced laziness, and part of that is intentional because some of the gifts are too personal and make sense only to me.

But even when I wasn't posting them, I was capturing them in my spiral. And more importantly, I was on the lookout for the gifts throughout my days. The discipline is now firmly ingrained in my daily routine.

And since I'm not up for retyping all the easy-to-understand gifts sans the too-personal gifts, I thought I'd post a list of what I've learned from this discipline:

1. Some days, gifts are easy to spot; some days, they aren't.
For whatever reason, I have an easier time spotting gifts when I do things outside my daily routine, like taking a trip or going to a new event. But without fail, I spot a few gifts every day.

2. I really like food.
More of my gifts revolve around food than I'd like to admit. I'm thinking that it had something to do with the fact that I had the chance to try a lot of new restaurants this summer. And in my dreams, I'm a restaurant reviewer.

3. My list of gifts has become a great place for jotting down and remembering answered prayers.
I love being able to capture God at work like this.

4. Waking without an alarm clock (i.e., getting to sleep in) came up as a gift about every weekend.
I realize that if I had children, this would be a rarity. And so I view it as a gift.

5. Messages from family and friends via mail, email, text, and phone are not taken for granted.
God often encourages me through my family and friends, and I treasure that.

6. I should never admit that I love numbers or was once good at math.
I looked back at the list a few months ago and caught this: 343, 345, 344, 345, 346. So, it's possible that I hit 1,000 a long time ago and just have it misnumbered.

7. I still need to work on viewing the hard times as eucharisteo and giving thanks and capturing it among my gifts.

I'm already working on my next 1,000 gifts and hope you are continuing on this journey or will start if you haven't already.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Turning Point

It's been almost three months now without Annie. During this time, I've been adjusting to a new normal. One that is filled with a lot more silence but not nearly as much emptiness as I'd expected.

God has been so gracious to comfort me in a hundred ways that I never could have imagined. I've also felt a tugging reminding me that I need to seek comfort from Him when things upset me, which is when I normally would have turned to Annie. I didn't realize how often I looked to her for comfort, but now I'm keenly aware of it.

The time without her has not all been easy. Tears slide down my cheeks at unsuspecting moments, often right before bed. And there have been times when I've had to interrupt my autopilot to remind myself that routines have changed in her absence.

Part of me really wants to adopt another Golden right now. I've allowed myself to check the website for rescue Goldens, but in my heart, I know that now isn't the time. I'm trying to pay off some bills, but more than that, I want to get into the habit of turning to God instead of to a pet or a person for comfort. I would love for that to be my default before I adopt another dog. And I'm praying for God to show me whether it's wise for me to adopt again since I know that Annie will be the standard to which all other dogs will be compared.

So there's a lot of heart work going on right now. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just takes time to turn from old ways.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Time

Despite having been out of grad school for 11 years now, I still miss the feel of summer breaks. I think after all those years of schooling, my body got into a rhythm of studying hard and knowing that there'd be mandatory respites carved into the calendar.

Now, summers are usually one of the busiest times at work, and I seldom take off for a real break without combining it with a continuing education seminar. And so it feels like summers just slip away.

But I've realized that I need to make my own "summer time." Even if I can't take three months off, I can still enjoy summer's fun activities. I just need to be more intentional about scheduling them on evenings and weekends.

And while I was pondering this, I came across this list of "101 Bits of Summer Fun," thanks to Ann Voskamp, and had the perfect starting point. I love that the list includes service-oriented bits of fun, like taking books to a children's hospital, working in a soup kitchen, and taking cookies to a fire station. I've picked out some of the "bits" from the list and added some of my own.

I've penned the date-specific activities on the calendar and the rest I'll pick and choose from each week. I'm hoping that these last eight weeks of summer don't speed by as quickly as the first four did!