Thursday, December 22, 2011

The List Grows

I’ve missed writing.  I took a week’s vacation, worked hard this week, and I’ll be out of commission again next week.  So, I’m squeezing in a post before I go to my Internet-free home for a week.  I’m also successfully procrastinating doing some financial data entry that I’ve put off all week.  Maybe I’ll get to it at 4:50 p.m.
 I literally have a list of things I want to write about from spiritual experiences, to reflections on worship and prayer, to more word study poems I hope to write, to my thoughts on reading Hebrews, to Sabbath.  But, I don’t have time to go after any of those topics right now.
So, here are more additions to the list of things I’m thankful for.  This particular list is largely about my husband and our marriage.  Like many couples, we have differences that cause frustration, lack of understanding, and outright anger at times.  But, recently we got to spend some time together as his Christmas present.  I got us tickets to see Seinfeld do stand-up comedy at a theatre in town.  I also got us a 15th-floor, corner hotel room at a nice hotel downtown.  It was decorated for Christmas, and we had the best view of Richmond I’ve ever seen.  The hotel was literally right across the street from the restaurant where we ate the night he proposed.  After Seinfeld, we had to hang out there for a while.  Of course, our room had cable or satellite—either of which is a gift when you get three channels via antenna at home.  He got to see The Daily Show and Colbert Report, and he got to stay in bed until 9 a.m.  All of these count as mini Christmas presents.  The verdict—best Christmas present(s) he’s received from me ever AND best 20 hours of 2011.  Success!  During our time together, I was reminded of some of the things we share, and some of the reasons I’m thankful for him:
76.  for a husband who likes to travel to new places.
77.  for a husband who enjoys a night at a hotel.
78.  for a husband who has a great sense of direction.
79.  that even though I have no internal compass, I’ve picked up some navigation skills.  I successfully oriented three women around NYC for a couple of days.
80.  for a husband who likes to try new food—at restaurants and at home.
81.  for a husband who likes to get out of the house and do and see and have fun.
82.  that we still find things to talk about.
83.  that my husband is not the “strong, silent type;” he wouldn’t be my husband if he were.
84.  for his organizational skills, particularly in the realm of personal finance.  You should see the 3” binders with dividers and sheet protectors.
85.  that sometimes date nights can be extravagant, and sometimes some chips, salsa, and flan will do.
86.  that even though he’s been looking at me since first grade, he still says I’m beautiful.
87.  that I found another Powhatan person who enjoys a night, or week or two, in a big city as much as I do.  New York—check.  Paris—check.
88.  for a night to forget that we have a one-year-old and three-year-old at home.
89.  for a Nana that makes such forgetfulness possible; I really don’t give it a second thought.
90.  that I get to experience Christmas with a husband and son who both LOVE Christmas.
91.  that my daughter is literally learning new words every day.  Today:  zebra.
92.  for my mom’s homemade toffee:  To. Die. For.
93.  for an opportunity to see my sister dance like I always dreamed one of us would.
94.  that if I had to get my butt kicked in my first Words With Friends game, it was against my sister.  (Guess who’s winning match #2 so far?)
95.  that I got to meet a virtual friend, “Monroe Park,” and that he got to come to my church.
It’s 4:49, time to do that financial data entry. 
Merry Christmas!  Check out my Christmas morning devotional at www.pccwiredlive.net on—you guessed it—Christmas morning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Unexpected Advent Reading

As I prepare for Christmas, I’m reading some Scripture.   Pretty good idea I think.  But I’m not reading in Matthew or Luke.  I’m in Hebrews.  It is turning out to be much more fitting for Advent than I anticipated.
First, there’s a lot of talk about angels in chapter one, and I’ve never really studied angels in the Bible before.  I highly recommend reading Hebrews 1 in conjunction with the angel stories in the Christmas narrative (Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 2:19, Luke 1:11-20, 1:26-38, 2:8-15).  Sometimes angels appear in dreams, sometimes in holy places like the temple, and sometimes in everyday places—like a field where shepherds watch their sheep.  Sometimes angels appear to “holy” people like Zechariah (and Elijah, Abraham, Peter, and of course, Jesus).  Sometimes they appear to “regular” people like shepherds and Mary, and even idiots like Balaam.  This gives me hope.  Often, angels announce births, especially unexpected ones, like pregnancies for old, barren women, and of course, for a virgin named Mary.  I'm kinda hoping I never receive an angel visit like this.
Sometimes these angels appear and leave quickly.  Sometimes they stick around long enough to answer questions, but they may get mad about that.  Often, they invoke fear, particularly Gabriel (not the image of a sweet cherub). 
One thing they all do, as their name means, is relay messages from God.  They are “messengers.”  That’s who they are and what they do.  Hebrews 1:14 also says they’re ministers and servants:  Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Now, I’m not angel—not even close.  But, my parents did bestow on me the name “Angela,” which comes straight from angelos, the Greek work in these passages of the New Testament for “angel.”  That got me to thinking—I wonder if I could be like an angel.  Couldn’t I share God’s messages with people?  Couldn’t I be a minister sent to serve others?  Isn’t that what I try to do?
A few days ago, my son said to me, “I wish you’d been a firefighter, Mom.” 
Now, if you know me and what I look like, you may be smiling, chuckling, or laughing right now.  I doubt they make fire coats and pants this short, and I wouldn’t be able to stand under all that gear anyway.
I responded to my son, “I’m sorry.  That would’ve been cool.  I decided to teach people about Jesus instead.”
My son approved of that answer.  In fact, he made his dad come into his “classroom” so he could teach him about God and the Bible.  Again, if you know his dad, you may be smiling, chuckling, or laughing right now.  His dad knows more about the Bible than anyone I know, save seminary professors.   But our son doesn’t know that yet, so he went on to teach his dad:  This is the Bible.  It is God’s words.  You have to read it all the time!  This is a picture of God making the world…This is Jesus telling those men to let the kids come see him.  Jesus loves kids.  Jesus loves me.  God loves me.”
My son may be well on his way to sharing God’s messages with people himself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blue Suede Shoes

I have a pair of blue-fake-suede shoes.  They’re 9-years-old.  They’re still in my closet.  No, I’m not a hoarder; there’s a reason I still have these shoes.  These shoes represent part of what I love the most about my husband.  He makes me have fun.  He makes me put aside the ultra-responsible Angie that sometimes appears.  He makes me stop—stop cleaning, stop rushing, stop talking, stop working, stop fretting—stop missing out on some of the best parts of life.
On a Friday afternoon in the fall of 2002, I drove for two hours and fifteen minutes from my college to his, Virginia Tech.  I’d remembered to pack my Shakespeare book.  I’d forgotten to pack comfortable shoes.  This shows my priorities. 
I was a senior English major taking the required senior-level Shakespeare course.   We had to read a Shakespeare play a week.  When you were a high school freshman, you probably spent an entire nine weeks on Romeo and Juliet.   You probably spent four weeks on a Mid-summer Night’s Dream or Hamlet as a sophomore, and maybe four weeks on Othello as a senior.  I was reading one of those each week, while hearing lectures and essays on the play I’d read the previous week.  It was great mental exercise, and it was hard.  Of course, I was also in a few other senior-level English courses at the time, including my all-time favorite—Romantic Poetry and Prose (although Victorian British novels is a close second). 
I knew that a road trip to Tech for the weekend would have to include some Shakespeare.  I’d forgotten that it was going to involve my first hike to the Cascades, an infamous weekend outing amongst the college crowd.  So, I went to Payless (college budget) and bought these shoes. 
I vividly remember sitting on my then-boyfriend’s futon reading Shakespeare while he napped, after giving up on my napping, too.  There was just no time for that!  I also vividly remember when he kinda made me put down Shakespeare, put on the newly-purchased shoes, and go for a relaxing, scenic drive, and then a romantic, scenic hike to the Cascades.
I am grateful.  I am grateful that he is still the man who says, “Go through the Starbucks drive-thru and get the tall white chocolate mocha already!”  It’s a frivolous, unnecessary purchase.  It makes life (and waistbands) thicker.  My husband wants me to enjoy life…and its indulgences… 
…except right now.  Right now we’re doing that personal finance program I wrote about in my last blog.  That means there’s no money for Starbucks runs or other little indulgences.  I know my husband still wants to give me everything I need and lots that I want.  But he cannot right now.  I’m sure he misses it.  I do, too. 

Self-Denial

I’m cranky about denying myself.  Self-denial is for the birds.  Of course, it’s also commanded for Christ followers, so I guess I’d better learn how to fly, build a nest, and regurgitate food for my babies.
There are two things I’ve been denying myself intentionally.  One is unhealthy food.  Two is spending money.  I’ve been inconsistent at best with #1.  I’m doing well with #2.  I’m angry about both, and they’re related, and I’m mad about that, too.
The first issue—the diet.  That’s a four-letter word I’ve never used before.  But, a week or so ago, I stepped on the scales.  I suspected they’d tell me I weighed as much as I ever have (non-prego).  What they told me was much more difficult—I weigh FIVE POUNDS MORE than I’ve ever weighed before.  Now some of you are sneering at the “five pounds,” but I ask—Are you 5’2” with a tiny bone structure?  There’s not much room for five pounds to hide, and they’re not hiding very well.  I cried when I looked at the scale.  I knew I hadn’t been to the gym in a while (They mistakenly de-activated our account, and re-activating it will involve paperwork that’s just too hard to do with two kids in tow.), and I was now very motivated to go.  This gets us to the second issue…
Money.  We’re doing Financial Peace University right now.  It involves living on a budget, which we’ve successfully and unsuccessfully done at different times in our marriage.  I can live on a budget.  I’m having  a hard time living on THIS budget.  In THIS budget, there’s no money for a gym membership.  That realization catalyzed an onslaught of tears.  It is extremely frustrating to want to the right, hard thing but not be able to do it.  Of course, following the budget is another right, hard thing to do.  Ugh!
The reason there’s no money in the budget for a gym membership is because we’re paying down credit card debt.  I’ve had a credit card for twelve years, and this is the first year it’s ever had a balance.  There’s no reason it should.  Our spending got out of hand, and I wasn’t responsibly following our finances, and we ended up in credit card debt.  Being in debt means no gym membership, which leads me to another issue…
Self-image.  This is not an issue I’ve struggled with much.  In fact, I often roll my eyes at females who have Eeyore’s attitude when it comes to their appearance.   I want to say, “You’re beautiful.  Accept it, and move the heck along!”  I’m no knock-out, and I’ve certainly gone through my share of ugly duckling phases.  Sure there are things about my appearance I could do without, but it’s not something that affects me…until now.  For the first time, I’m struggling with the image in the mirror.  This doesn’t make me angry; it makes me sad; it makes me cry. 
I don’t want to deny myself good food.  I’m an “everything in moderation” kind of girl.  I can pig out on Thanksgiving, and eat a mostly egg-white omelet with veggies the next morning, and be happy about it.  The idea and practice of moderating my diet all the time makes me want to eat a bag of Tostitos.
I don’t want to deny myself a gym membership.  I know that when we get the debt paid down, we’ll be in better shape financially.  But that’ll be well into 2012, and I could be in awful shape physically by then. 
Through all of this, I hear the Bible in my head:  If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)  Why did Jesus have to say that?!  Why does that if/then, conditional statement have to be so absolutely essential to being a Christian?! 
I also hear the fruit of the Spirit in my head, and I can have the “self-control piece,” but having it AT THE SAME TIME as the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness,”—having a hard time with that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Haven't Stopped Hammering Nails

As a reminder, I'm driving out nails of discontent and replacing them with nails of thanksgiving.  Last night, I got some 9th and 10th graders in on the action--literally.  They selected a nail for each thing they're discontent about, and then they hammered them into wood, thinking of something they were thankful for instead.  (I learned that prior to this summer's mission trips, we will teach them how to hammer nails.)

56.       For a sizable student ministry, because then different ages and social groups can find their places.  I take this for granted.
57.       For gingerbread
58.       And pumpkin
59.       And cinnamon
60.       And apple
61.       And caramel
62.       And vanilla
63.       And pecan…my favorite scents and flavors, and they’re everywhere right now!
64.       For some women who are sharing this journey of “female youth pastor” with me.
65.   That I get to teach my son how to pray and to hear his precious words of thanksgiving and requests for help.
66.   That my son thanks God for me every night; I know this won’t last forever.
67.   For random comments that someone is thinking about me.
68.   For a process forcing my family not to just write our budget, but to live by it again.
69.   For chances to laugh with (and be flung across the floor by) teenagers.
70.   For encouragement from a friend that I look pretty, that I should write more, and that I’ve made a difference.  Made my day.
71.   For an unexpected lunch with a friend.
72.   For the guts to cut my own hair to save money for Christmas.  I didn’t think I could do it.
73.   That my daughter looks a little bit like me, since my son looks nothing like me, save his pale skin and munchkin size.
74.   That my husband found $5 extra and gave it to me; this is HUGE in our current budget.
75.   That I’ll be with my family EVERY night next week—that usually only happens on vacation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I Am" student version

I am not what I do,
                how much I do,
                or how well I do it.          
I am not how pretty I am,
                how young I am,
                or how fit I am.
I am not my GPA,
                my SAT score,
                my weight,
                my complexion,
                or my teeth.
I am not my phone,
                my profile pic,
                or my Facebook status.
I am not drum line,
                football,
                dance,
                track,
                or show choir.
I am not my failures or successes,
                my weaknesses or strengths,
                my regrets or dreams.  
                                                                               

I am a child of God,
                created by Him,
                in His image,
                to do His good works.
I am a sinner
                made into a new creation,
                free and forgiven,
                if I confess and turn away.
I am part of the body of Christ,
                and my body is His temple.
I am salt,
                preserving the weak,
                adding flavor to the bland.
I am light,
                showing others the goodness of God,
                that they may praise Him.
I am loved
                despite life and death,
                good and evil,
                present and future,
                mountains and canyons,
                power and weakness;
I am loved.

"I am"

Time for more poetry:)  The second half comes from Scripture.

"I Am"

I am not what I do,
                how much I do,
                or how well I do it.          
I am not how pretty I am,
                how old I am,
                or how fit I am.
I am not my IQ,
                my kids,
                my home,
                my salary,
                or my education.
I am not my failures or successes,
                my weaknesses or strengths,
                my regrets or dreams.  
                                                                               


I am a child of God,
                created by Him,
                in His image,
                to do His good works.
I am a sinner
                made into a new creation,
                free and forgiven,
                if I confess and turn away.
I am part of the body of Christ,
                and my body is His temple,
His dwelling place,
where He is revered.
I am salt,
                sustaining the fragile,
                giving life to the lifeless.
I am light,
                showing others the goodness of God,
                that they may praise Him.
I am loved
                despite life and death,
                good and evil,
                present and future,
                mountains and canyons,
                power and weakness;
I am loved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Notable Week

Last week was notable.  I should've posted about it before now, seeing as how this week is winding down, but that's the pace of life. 

First on the agenda last week was Halloween.  I talk a lot about being a mom on this blog; I think it's time to show you.
As I've already mentioned, last week marked 14 years since my husband and I started dating.  I don't have a problem being 30; I've felt the responsibility of adulthood in my head and heart for a while.  But it is hard to believe that WE are 30.  WE were 16 and stupid and gushy romantic and attached at the hip and idealistic about our future together.  WE are still together.  WE are different.  I'm thankful I'm still part of WE.

Finally, but probably most anticipated, last week marked my baby girl's 1st birthday!  Wow, time goes so much faster with the second one!  Lily was a blast, and all the grandparents behaved at her party.  She is precious, loving, fiesty, stubborn, dramatic, loud, and an absolute ham.  She totally loves her big brother, but she's not afraid to give him a piece of her mind if he takes away a toy, leaves the room, or--her least favorite--takes a nap.  We say, "Looks like Mom, acts like Dad."  Her dad adds, "...the perfect human being."  Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Written Words

Like anyone who’s been educated in the Western world in recent history, I’ve been surrounded by written words my whole life.  We work hard to teach our children how to form letters and words and how to read those words, because those skills are essential for our society.  My son is three.  He can spell his name and “Mom,” “Dad,” and “STOP.”  We start this process early.
I volunteered for double and triple doses of these written words when I pursued an undergraduate degree in English, a minor in history, and a Masters of Divinity degree.  I’ve read.  I’ve written.  A LOT!  Trust me on this one. 
Probably since I’ve been so engulfed with written words, I’ve taken them for granted and failed to recognize their power.  So, I’m reflecting and remembering.
I remember my freshman year of college and how my long-distance boyfriend and I wrote each other EVERY DAY.  Yes, really.  This was before Skype and Facebook (although he wouldn’t have been on it), even before every student had a cell phone and communicated constantly via texting.  We were stuck with e-mail, land lines, and snail mail.  I spent every afternoon between class and dinner writing my beloved.  We have boxes of evidence recounting every up and down of that first year apart. 
I used to write my beloved every day.  But it’s been twelve years since my freshman year of college and those daily notes of love.  Last week marked the fourteenth year since our love story began.  I decided that was a good time to write another love letter.  It was nothing special, just a list of little things that I love about the man he is now—at thirty-years-old, as a husband, father, son, and pastor.  I hope it mattered.
Last night I met a mother of a student who recently visited my student ministry for the first time.  When her son visited a month ago, I wrote him a personal note thanking him for his visit, reminding him of our next gatherings, and giving him my contact information.  I do this every month.  I think little about it.  But this mom thought a lot about it.  When the card came in the mail for her son from the church, she read it.  Her husband came home and seeing the torrent of tears, asked if someone had died.  That’s how much my four-sentence note card meant to her.  Unbeknownst to me, she’s leaving a painful church experience, and written words that offered thanks and welcome and a friend without asking for anything were words she needed to read.
I’m trying to schedule coffee with a dear, intimate friend.  She was a student in my ministry.  I used to write her notes periodically, reminding her of my prayers and love and acceptance and belief in her.  Years ago, I wrote a note to another member of her family.  She recognized my handwriting on the envelope, and I received a sharp note from her, “I miss seeing your handwriting.”  What she was saying was that my words, written in my unique, feminine script, were important to her.  They mattered, and their absence did, too.
I’ve also discovered that written words matter to the writer.  This blog has become a way for me to process.  It matters to me.  It takes a mind swirling with ideas and gives it release and structure.  That frees my mind to still and to focus and to be present.  And that makes me better…at every role I play. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Haiku

This morning Jackie devoted us.  She made us write haiku.  All of them were very good.  Some were funny.  Some were deep.  Some were practical.  Here's mine:

Worthy

To break seals and chains,
Of praise, glory, and honor,
Sharing worth with us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Processing Preaching

This summer I preached at my church for the first time in about three-and-a-half years.  That was months ago, and I’m still processing: 
First, I enjoy writing.  So, I enjoyed writing my message.  I practiced it in front of other preachers at my church, and they made suggestions.  I also had my own gut instincts.  So I did something I’ve never done before—I edited, extensively.  I re-wrote, and then re-wrote again, although the feedback over my practice run through was quite good.  Now, as a student, I always finished writing papers the morning they were due.  I planned to finish 2-3 hours before the paper was due.  I’d finish.  I’d nap for an hour or two, and then I’d get up and turn in said paper.  I never proofread, much less edited.  I knew there’d be some typos and maybe wrong words, but I also knew those mistakes would be too few to drop my grade.  So, I had never really edited anything I’d written before.  It was a good experience.
Second, I enjoy being on stage, but I’d forgotten that.  I danced a lot as a high school student, and one of my hallmarks was a fun, energetic, sassy persona.  Put me in a flapper costume and some tap shoes, and I’m good.  Put me in a tutu and ask me to put on a pleasant, but neither smiling nor serious face, and I’m in trouble.  So, I was terrified to approach the stage.  Then I got on it.  Then I spent five minutes on it, and I was having a great time. 
Third, I’ve written before about how “safe” a person I am.  There’s not a risk-taking bone in my body.  A band of students and former students from my student ministry led worship the day I preached, and that made me proud and joyful and comfortable.  They sang a song with a line, “Let’s risk the ocean; there’s only grace.  Where you go we will follow; I’m on my knees.  Where you go we will follow; O God, send me.”  That song had become a staple on a student mission trip to Macedonia just weeks earlier.  As I heard the song, I thought about the teenagers and college students who went on that trip, about the adults who led it, about the parents who nervously stayed stateside.  And I thought, “If they can literally risk the ocean, then I can risk a 25-minute sermon.”
I also had a husband who told me the night before the big day, “You know this sermon more than you think you do.  Deliver it.  Go for the jokes; they’re funny; people will laugh.  Don’t look at your notes; you don’t need them.”  Going for jokes and not looking at my notes were scary ideas to me.  I have to feel very safe to crack a joke; that is a vulnerable experience for me.  Not looking at my notes could mean getting very off track, and that scared me.
But, I listened to my husband, and I listened to the voice telling me it wasn’t a flight over the Atlantic; it was a sermon, and it would be over in 25 minutes—for better or worse.
I went for the jokes, and they worked.
I didn’t look at my notes much, and it worked.  In fact, I can still recite whole paragraphs from that sermon.  My husband was right; I did know it well.
Nail #56--I'm thankful for this experience.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Still Hammering...

43.  For college football.
44.  For memories of growing up at a little league football field.
45.  For hot apple cider.
46.  For Kleenex; I’d hate to imagine my last week with only handkerchiefs.
47.  For the brisk smell and chill of autumn; they make me happy and contemplative.
48.  For a skill and ability to cook and to bake.  Yum!
49.  For time with Angie Sposa, Erik Edwards, and Mandy James; they make me better.
50.  For pajama pants.  I think the shift from sweatpants to pj pants happened around 1999, and I’m grateful.
51.  For a sure way to go to sleep—reading a college history text.
52.  For a warm bed, a firm pillow, and a hot shower.  These are givens, but sinus issues make me appreciate them more.
53.  That my husband will be home with me and our kids tonight.
54.  That my family will buy anything my kids need—shoes, clothes, formula, diapers—with generous spirits, without my asking.
55.  For the joy of a baby’s first, second….seventh, eighth steps.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yes, more nails...

Not feeling particularly discontent or thankful today, but I have much to be thankful for.  So, it's time to be disciplined and thoughtful and thankful:

33.  That I sometimes get to eat out for lunch, and I remember teachers who never get to do that.
34.  That days and weeks do end.
35.   For sleep.
36.   For novels that take me to other places, inside other heads, and feeling with others’ hearts.
37.   For opportunities to “hear” some friends through their blogs.
38.   For leftovers, because they mean more time with my kids.
39.   For pillow talk with Tristan.
40.   For my passion for teenagers.
41.   That God gives others passion for babies, preschoolers, and kids.
42.   For the sense of security having a cell phone provides.

Monday, October 3, 2011

...More Nails...

22.      That I live a mile from church.
23.       That I get to see my sister every Sunday.
24.       That Daniel Hughes makes hours 3 & 4 at church fun for my son.
25.       For people who will walk with my baby girl when I think my back will break.
26.       For a husband who responds with grace when a long-overdue date night is interrupted and ruined by work.
27.       For baby “kisses”—loving, violent attempts to bite my face Hannibal-style.
28.       For opportunities to listen to people and to hear their pain.
29.       For a church that says it supports women in ministry—and actually does.
30.       For take-out at home with family
31.      That family will come eat with me, when I’m disheveled, ugly, and cranky.
32.       For a Nana who does laundry—my laundry.  No, I'm not sharing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Nails

Hammering more nails, but thankfully not with the flushed face this time, just with a desire to be thankful:

11.       For pasta.  Haven’t met one I didn’t like.
12.       For opportunities to fall asleep on the couch.
13.       For TV shows that make this uptight girl laugh, like “Modern Family.”
14.       For high school students who willingly spend 90 minutes a week with me.
15.       For a natural gift for writing discussion questions that help me learn about students and help them learn about themselves.
16.       For drowsy, morning cuddles with any of my three family members.
17.       That I look like my mom…more and more the older I get.
18.       For my fingernails; yes, I’m vain; see former posts.
19.       That I took “Keyboarding” in high school.
20.      For a little boy who says, “Don’t take a shower!  Cuddle with me for a long time!”
21.      That my son is able to speak.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

1,000 Nails

Today my friend Lindsay led our weekly staff devotional.  It was very good!  One of the things she shared is from a woman, Ann Voskamp, who found herself quite discontent with life, particuarly its busyness.  She decided to do something about her spirit of discontent.  She decided to drive out nails of discontent and to replace them with nails of thanksgiving.  We all know that you can't stop a habit; you must replace it.

A few hours after this devotional, I had that flushed face, knot in the gut, discontent feeling.  I'd vented to my husband, who both has my back and tells me the truth.  I gained a lot of clarity from that 10-minute venting session.  But I still had the knot and flushed face.

So, I started my list of 1,000 nails:  (I'll probably never complete the list; I'm really good at not finishing projects.)

I am thankful:
1.       For a husband and sister who hear my venting and love me anyway
2.       For big, blue eyes full of love
3.       For a baby’s giggle
4.       For a Nana whom I trust to watch my kids more than I trust myself
5.       That I get to influence lives…for a living
6.       For the gift of traveling—seeing, experiencing, and making memories
7.       For photographs
8.       That at least for now, my kids think the safest place in the world is my arms
9.       For a husband who knows what it’s like to do my job, where I do my job, with whom I do my job
10.   For an engagement ring that is more perfect than what I would’ve chosen myself

As I've said before on this blog, I especially stink at letting things go.  So, I'm reading this list over and over again--every time the pink flush returns to my jawbones.