100 Things I’m Thankful For

This past weekend I was sitting around at a “Friendsgiving”-themed party shamelessly indulging in laughter-inducing, silly conversation when a close girlfriend of mine smiled at me from across the coffee table and said, “Nat, you’ve got to start blogging again!” And I thought, “Gee wiz, I do. I miss that.” So, hello world, I’m back from another mini hiatus. 

This blogger’s “1,300 Things to Be Thankful For” Series inspired today’s post. Over the course of one year she wrote 1,300 things she was thankful for. Thanksgiving week is the perfect time to practice “being thankful always.” So, in that spirit, I wrote down 100 things I’m thankful for. It encouraged my heart greatly and reset my perspective. We have so many blessings to count, so much goodness in our lives, if we would just open our eyes to see it. Enjoy, and then sit down with a hot drink and make your own list!

1. Candles burning in every room of the house.

2. Laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.

3. Pumpkin pie flavored ice cream.

4. A fresh out of the toaster Bruegger’s Bagel dipped in hot chocolate.

5. Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath.

6. Breakfast for dinner.

7. When you see a balloon floating way up in the sky.

8. The color burnt orange.

9. Realizing you already have all the ingredients for a recipe.

10. The smell of fresh washed sheets.

11. A really, really good Amber Ale or Stout.

12. Hugging someone and starting to let go and realizing they haven’t let go of the hug yet.

13. Bright nail colors.

14. Really amazing sneezes.

15. Bubble wrap.

16. The smell of new leather.

17. The click of high heels.

18. Getting caught up in a really good fiction book.

19. When a wind blows in the fall and you can watch loads of leaves fall from a single tree all at once.

20. Calligraphy.

21. Crunchy foods.

22. Laughing and accidentally tooting at the same time and realizing you’re the only one who heard.

23. Seeing old couples holding hands and walking together.

24. Being just far enough away from the city to where the stars get really clear at night.

25. Black mascara. Plain and simple.

26. Alison Krauss.

27. Coming home to Dad on the back porch just sitting and picking at his old guitar.

28. The way baked things make the whole house smell good. 

29. Friends that give you perspective about yourself you couldn’t have seen otherwise. 

30. Home videos.

31. Seeing a funny movie in a full theatre where everyone is laughing at the same things.

32. When a real wood fire pops and crackles.

33. Putting ruffle potato chips on Turkey Sandwich.

34. Humming to myself.

35. Eating with a spoon tiny enough that you have to savor the meal. :)

36. Showering off in an outside shower after spending all day on the beach.

37. Spending an entire afternoon watching episodes of Gilmore Girls.

38. How siblings, especially sisters, can just “get it.”

39. Getting an unexpected handwritten note or letter.

40. The movie It’s a Wonderful Life.

41. Baby’s skin.

42. The way newborns smell (when they’re not, well, pooping).

43. A litter of puppies.

44. When little kids talk so fast you can’t understand what they’re saying.

45. Talking with complete strangers and realizing you have something in common. 

46. The kid’s cup of vanilla ice cream at Goodberry’s. And how they’d put an extra teddy graham on top if you asked.

47. Horses. I have always wanted one.

48. Chris Farley.

49. That feeling when a drink is so hot that it literally warms your toes!

50. Being able to see the steam coming out of your coffee cup.

51. Having someone tell you something good about yourself and actually believing it for the first time.

52. A/C

53. Dandelions.

54. Fishing all day, finally getting a bite and REELING in that stinker. Then eating him for dinner.

55. Red Wine. White Wine. All wine.

56. Men opening the door or offering to carry something.

57. Having clothes warm enough for cold days.

58. Having enough money to live.

59. Fresh, juicy pears. And honeycrisp apples.

60. Scars with stories.

61. Finally getting past surface level conversation with a new friend.

62. Saying it’s someone’s birthday at a restaurant (even if it’s not) and having the wait staff embarrass them. 

63. Singing my favorite songs really, really loud when no one is home.

64. Taking a risk with total abandon!

65. Thunderstorms.

66. Homemade Kettle Corn.

67. Really awesome smelling perfume. Or cologne.

68. When you hear a sermon and you fall in love with the bible all over again.

69. Appreciating clean humor. 

70. When someone looks you in the eyes, listens and gives you their full attention. 

71. Those silly inflatable giant squiggly blow up gumby looking things that furniture stores use to get your attention when you drive by (anyone?)…

72. Hitting a bulls eye in darts.

73. Running downhill because you feel super accomplished and fast.

74. British accents.

75. How amazing simplicity is.

76. Newborn babies. 

77. Dressing up and going to a musical or play.

78. The combination of sweet and salty.

79. When someone you’ve known for a long time says, “Remember that time you…” and reminds you of something really funny

80. Homes that are clean and well decorated, but inviting and homey all at once. That’s my dream.

81. Bubble baths just because.

82. The smell of burning leaves or charcoal.

83. Cinnamon graham Crackers + Peanut Butter.

84. Being the first one awake in the house, when it’s in total silence.

85. Total silence.

86. When an old song comes on the radio you totally forgot about and still love.

87. White boys dancing.

88. When someone asks you a really thought provoking question that actually has an effect on you.

89. Really clearly answered prayers.

90. When babies stare at you in public for no reason at all.

91. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

92. Smiling at strangers, and strangers smiling kindly at you.

93. Being comfortable sitting at dinner and talking for a long time after the meal is done without pressure to clean right away, go somewhere or end the evening.

94. The London skyline.

95. Putting my toes in the ocean in Spain for the first time.

96. The feeling of really missing someone.

97. The tiny marshmallows in Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.

98. How the light comes into my room in the mornings.

99. Riding with the windows down and the music all the way up.

100. When you have a really, really awesome dream. The kind that makes you want to fall back asleep.

Gosh…100 was easy. I could list 1,000 more right now. Once you get on a roll you can go on forever. Now go make your own list!

Feelings and Dignity

We live in a society where emotions are hand in hand with fragility. Tears exhibit weakness and if we’re hurt by something, we’re probably just being overly sensitive. We’re told we should toughen up and not let feelings rule us, much less EVER let others know we’re hurt lest we become labeled as fragile, weak or needy.

 

We’re all doing it; avoiding being “that girl” or “that guy.” The one who’s always got something on his or her chest. The expectation that we should be flawlessly resilient, using “mind over matter” to “get over it” has made emotional burial the standard. I think millions of us are walking around with open, unresolved wounds, whether from a humiliating event in middle school or a deeply hurtful comment from a spouse last week, as a result.

As a woman, it’s no wonder that doesn’t feel good to me. Most females are at the very least aware that emotions influence their daily experience in the world. But guys, I know you’ve got em’ too.The reasons we bag our emotions might differ. As a woman, I tend to fear that emotions will expose me and my imperfections, letting the world know that I don’t “have it all together.” I think men, bombarded with cultural messages that perpetual “strength and toughness” are the bedrock qualities of manhood, fear being perceived as weak.

I forget so often how important it is to hold up what culture and society are telling me against God’s truth. Are my emotions really bad? Should I feel guilty or weak for experiencing them? Or wanting to tell someone about them? Am I the only one out there who’s emotionally affected?

I was speaking about this with a woman who’s had her fair share of deeply painful experiences in her life. She said something that stuck:

“I don’t feel like I’m walking as a dignified woman if I’m ignoring my feelings or giving them too much credit. I don’t want to fall in either camp. I think being assertive and meeting someone in vulnerability by stating how they made me feel is walking as a dignified woman of God. I maintain my dignity by maintaining that my emotions matter and have value.”

I thought that was so profound. And it clicked, after I held it up against the Bible. This woman was so right; as a human, we each have intrinsic value because we are made in the image of God (see Genesis 1: 27, Psalm 139). If God created me to have feelings, then they have proper place in my life. Therefore, we all have the right and privilege to feel and be emotionally affected; moreover, we owe it to ourselves and one another to maintain authenticity by recognizing our feelings and using them to love one another better. It’s possible to graciously share how someone or something made you feel, expressing your needs without moving to blame. Those who love us will want to know how we feel and how they can love us better. How can they know how to love us best if we don’t recognize what we feel and why we feel it, and graciously share our hearts?

Phew. What a refreshing realization. But nonetheless moving from passiveness or aggressiveness to the middle of the road – assertiveness and vulnerability – is hard work. In a society that tells my girlfriends they should be tightlipped when someone hurts their feelings, that tells my father, brother and guy friends that they should always be “strong,” we’re encouraged not to be vulnerable with one another.

But I think of how much that would change a marriage if both parties were assertive with their emotions. Imagine two Christians, who’ve believed that each of them should be unshakeable rocks – sifting out emotions out of their lives completely. But what if the man could share that he was feeling anxiety about holding up the finances of the household, and being the leader and husband God has called him to be. And what if the woman could feel okay sharing the pressure she feels to compete with every other young mom on the planet with her husband, rather than just dealing with it on her own? What if they met each other in their vulnerability and weaknesses? Wouldn’t that just be an opportunity to be real? To be authentic? And, more importantly, wouldn’t it open a door to share each others burdens, hurt with and for one another, pray for one another and ask the Holy Spirit to enter in and provide Truth to lift each of their heads up from what they feel, making the emotions no less valid but rather providing hope in the midst of them?

The same principle applies in friendships, with significant others and close family members – those who we know care about us and are closest in our lives. The first step is fully feeling our emotions – our fears, the stinging comments, painful comparisons. The second is letting them OUT when appropriate. Emotions are not meant to be felt and then folded up, and placed into a lock box. They are meant for us to react to mindfully, to think through and to catalyze change in our lives, relationships with other people and our relationship with God.

As for me, I want to be a woman of dignity, and I recognize now that giving emotions their proper place in my life is a part of that. I also realize this is hard work, in a world that says I should toughen up and suck it up or lash out aggressively. And, for men that are still hanging in there with this post, I think I can speak for a LOT of women to stay that, to me, I find men who recognize their weaknesses stronger than those who don’t.

But, because of Christ, there is a middle ground. There is graceful assertiveness. When I find that I’m feeling an emotion that could better a relationship if shared with the third party, I can do that, trusting that God will honor my vulnerability and praying that the Holy Spirit will enter in and use it to make us each more Christ-like and to bring Himself glory. And, if it’s an emotion I don’t feel I can share with the third party or, as may be the case for many of us, won’t be able to, because it resulted from someone who’s passed or we’ll never speak to or see again, I can feel that emotion with God, in the truth that the Holy Spirit just “gets it.” (Psalm 56:6: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”).

So, this is a challenge for me. But I want to be a woman of dignity who gives proper place to her emotions, and I want to enable my friends and loved ones to appropriately feel, too. Won’t you join me?