highlights.

well, a little determination seems to be paying off.

i guess my life’s pretty fortunate, so maybe it’s easier for me than some others, but still, i can’t help but think that a little bit of what i’ve reaped is from what i’ve sown.

it came to my attention a few months ago that if you start intentionally inclining your mind towards good things, then good things will be more easily recalled. If you look for highlights, you will find highlights.

with the inspiration of a dear friend (who makes a weekly post on Fridays about celebration) i decided to take a chance every Tuesday – i was going to ask people to share good news about their life. this could be old news or new news – something they’re glad for that’s happened a while ago (or that exists in general) or for something that’s new and exciting.

part of the thinking in this is to give people an avenue to share, but also to give me (and others) a chance to rejoice with people who are rejoicing.

 

i think it’s helping.

 

i think it’s helping me think of “little things” as big highlights – i’m happier as a consequence. i don’t feel the necessity to have something big and monumental happen  when i’m happy about the fact that i had a good conversation with a friend on tuesday night and got to watch jeopardy! on wednesday.

 

i like the things people share, and i notice they’re usually one of a few things: spending time with people they love, reaching a goal, making a yummy meal, doing something they enjoy. i get a lot more of those “little” things than i do of those “big” things, and i love it.

it helps me in weeks like this one, when i’m getting 3 to 3.5 hours of sleep a night, feeling tired and a little disconnected from God, to find the small things that have happened that make me realize it’s not been a bad week, it’s not even been an “ehh” week – it’s been a good week.

a preview of this week’s highlights:

Monday and Tuesday night, my indoor soccer team won their games. on Tuesday, we went to Denny’s after to eat (at 10:30pm, mind you) and I had us do something that my friend Hayley introduced me to: you go around the table and everyone says something they like about each person. So, we started with one person and everyone went around and said what they like about them – INCLUDING THEM. Then we moved on to the next person and the next person and it took us TWO HOURS to say everything we liked about each other. a few of them were relative strangers, but they found things.

Thursday night, i went to training for Amachi – an organization that pairs up kids whose families are affected by incarceration – and they told me they’ve found my kid. they say he’s a sweetheart named Don, and i can’t wait to take him to the coffee shop to meet our Don, an 81-year-old sweetheart who has adopted all of the staff as his “grand-brats.” We call him gramps. can’t wait for them to meet, and can’t wait to have so much fun with this kid.

Friday afternoon i went hiking with a couple of friends and we didn’t even talk too much but that’s so okay because we were SPENT after a good six hours of hiking and then pizza-eating and singing along to great songs in the car on the way home. I got the best night of sleep I had all week.

 

it’s easier now – easier to see the good. easier to be thankful. easier to rejoice and easier to rejoice with others.

 

try it. remember the small things. take notes. write it in your journal or document it on your social media. joy is a habit.

the industry of grace.

i think we think of bondage almost too specifically sometimes – like, i think there are things that we don’t consider bondage that very well may be bondage.

it’s the same type of mentality that makes us think that our testimonies aren’t worth telling – you know, like those of us who don’t have some horror story to tell about how we were a drug addict or how hard times led us to doing really bad things like hurting people or if we had really good parents and didn’t have an abusive past to recover from.

i’m learning more and more that people are people – and we all screw up and we therefore all have a story.

i’m also realizing that there’s a certain mentality that some of us have (and i’m raising my hand here) that we make mistakes very, very consciously and therefore don’t deserve the grace or supernatural providence of God to help us in the situation. allow me to give all of this rambling a name.

this morning, i got to thinking about my debt. i’m mildly obsessed with it. i’m infuriated by it. i’m frustrated by it. i’m tired of it. i make a habit of checking on my bank account when i don’t know what else to do, because worrying about my finances has become a hobby of mine. i’ve allowed my debt to become a big mental problem – i’ve let it deter me from trying to travel, from returning to Honduras this summer (i went on a trip last year and wanted to make a return,) from investing in a new car or fixing my current one, and i’ve used it to talk myself out of donating to certain causes (like people’s missions trips or from helping people who need money.)

i’ve given a lot of hypothetical thought to the question: what if i were out of debt? would i do more things that mattered to me? would i give more? would i be more generous? more spontaneous? save more? travel more? i don’t necessarily know. but i know that this, like a lot of other problems, won’t get solved by sitting around and thinking about it, but by doing something about it.

in that, i’ve become acutely aware that debt is bondage. it’s bondage because i keep identifying by it, i keep giving it power, i keep attending to it in the way you would any other obsession.

but i don’t think of it as bondage because i know i put myself in the situation. i guess i adopt a conservative, school-of-hard-knocks style of thinking that says, “well, you’ve gotta live with it.” for some reason i give a different evaluation of financial issues (or perhaps i only currently think of it with finances because that’s the flavor of the month) than i would other types of sin – alcoholism, sexual sin, verbal abuse, anger, jealousy, greed, etc – i see debt as often times self-imposed and therefore avoidable, even though it is from the same deceitful human heart as any other thing would be.

 

and it’s with that revelation that i come to understand that i need grace for that as much as anything else – more specifically, that God has grace for that as long as anything else. grace may be toughest to receive on the things that are perpetual – the fruits of our mistakes that aren’t going away or won’t go away for a while. but it’s there. it’s available. it’s ready and waiting for us to say, “hey, i need this.” it’s ok to need grace. we all do. it doesn’t matter if you’re smart or dumb or social or socially awkward or tall or short or whatever, because no matter what you are you are ultimately human and you will screw up, even if your screwing up is not realizing that you screw up.

 

so i tell myself just as much as i’m telling any reader: posture yourself to receive grace. know that you need it. know it’s ok to need it. know that the sooner you accept it, the sooner you’ll be able to sort through the things that hold you back, and know that God is and has always been in the grace industry.

i just got done reading “Love Does” by Bob Goff.

there’s no good reason for me to be critical of the book – i’ll just say that i’m sipping on the kool-aid (as opposed to drinking it outright) and i think if i’d read it when i was 18, i would have responded in crisis, thinking that it was supposed to be a prescriptive book instead of being simply descriptive.

but you learn over time to eat the meat and spit out the bones.

anyway, if you haven’t read the book, you should – it may change your mind in some good ways.

if you’re wondering what it’s about – it’s basically exactly what the title says, with the inflection on the word does.

in other words, love doesn’t sit around and think about how it could help someone. it goes and helps someone. love doesn’t sit around and think about how to solve the world’s problem. it goes out and tries to address them, one at a time, one step at a time.

the point that i’ve been unable to stop chewing on since finishing it is the idea of picking your fights – and which fights will we pick?

i’m writing not because i have an end in mind – i write today because i’m cluelessly inspired.

for a long time, the fights i’ve been picking have been over questions like “what will i do for fun? how will i spend my free time? how do i get out of debt? what am i supposed to do with my life?” in other words – a lot of self-centered causes…not selfish in its worst form, just limited in their perspective.

maybe we should pick a bigger, better, more wide-reaching fight. maybe we (i) should worry about feeding people, or making them feel welcome, or making sure they have a place to stay.