Best Parts of the Day

Each day at the supper table, we have a little tradition called “Best Parts of the Day”. Everybody has to share at least one thing that brought joy during the day. There are a few rules – you have to say SOMETHING, no matter how small it is, and you can’t say the same thing every day (this rule was made after Ben said “Coming home from work” a few too many times in a row – but it’s true, we do have a pretty great place to come home to!). You are allowed to say your favorite part hasn’t happened yet, if you are really looking forward to something coming up that evening (which sometimes has included “bedtime” for me).

I love this. I love that it’s part of our family, I love watching our kids learn the skill of searching for joy in the little things, I love hearing their thoughts. It’s hard sometimes – when Kaylia was younger, she went through a stage where she kept saying her favorite part was “climbing trees”, even though there isn’t a tree big enough to climb anywhere in our area. She just couldn’t bring herself to say something serious. But as she got older, she opened up more, and I love the glimpse it gives me into her thoughts. She is a deep, deep well, that one.

Everett is currently learning the art of “Best Parts of the Day”. Right now he says, “Paying wiff Anka”, or “All day” every time. Then he turns to me and says, “Best part day, Mommy?” I can hardly handle the cuteness of it.

K&EK&EKayliaEverettKayliaMy life at home with these sweet kids is wonderful and beautiful and amazing, but it’s not perfect – there are still times when sickness, lack of sleep, or whatever else can creep in, and we forget how blessed we are. We can become so focused on a hard challenge we’re facing that we get tunnel vision, and can’t see the joy around us, waiting to be discovered in the little things.

Ben and EverettSome days, it’s very easy to think of best parts of the day, but other days, it’s a bit harder. Those are the days when it’s even more important to find something to appreciate.

Kaylia and EverettTogether, we are learning to pay attention. We’re choosing to notice the good things instead of taking them for granted. There are lots of things I hope to pass on to my children, and this habit is definitely one of them.

Blessedsource

 So if you had to say what your best part of today is, what would it be?! I want to hear it!

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Finally Accepting One Thousand Gifts

So there’s this little book on the New York Time’s Bestseller List…. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Actually, it’s huge. It seems to have taken over almost every Christian woman’s blog out there. I bump into it everywhere I go on the internet.

I really wanted to read the book. I was very drawn to the idea of it – recognizing God’s gifts in everyday life and keeping a list. And I love Ann Voskamp’s blog. Plus, the cover looks so pretty. And I love books. I was totally going to read it….someday. I just wasn’t sure when I would get around to it.

But then, a few things happened.

First of all, I read this post by Ann Voskamp.

The two big lessons God has been teaching me in the last year have been choosing to control my attitude and emotions, and getting rid of the habit of worry and fear. When I read that listing your blessings has been scientifically proven to eliminate worry, and increase joy, I decided I needed to start my list of daily gifts from God ASAP, even though I hadn’t read the book.

And then, when I arrived at my parents’ house here in the Florida, there lay One Thousand Gifts on my mom’s desk. I’ve been reading it in snatches here and there, trying to finish it before it’s time to go home. Two chapters left! And my life may never be the same.

So dramatic, hey? But seriously. It’s so good.

Why could this be life-changing?

Well, I love the idea of eliminating the worry and increasing the joy in my life by making a habit of thankfulness. Listing our blessings is a spiritual discipline, and it draws us closer to God. It opens our eyes to all that He is doing, every moment of the day.

Ann Voskamp quotes:

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. (Sarah Ban Breathnach, p. 42)

Reverence sounds good. So do everyday epiphanies. I’ll take some of those, please.

But even more than that, I have connected with the idea that when we practice thankfulness in the small things, and practice joy in the easier moments, we are strengthening our ability to thank God in the hard times, as well.

Start small, and an attitude of thankfulness, trust, and worship will grow, until we can accept anything life sends our way with faith and peace, knowing that God is in everything.

I had never considered that something as simple as making a list would help me trust God more. It seems too easy to grab a pen and paper, and have that become the answer to so many of the problems I’ve struggled with my whole life.

And yet, Ann writes,

Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life – even the hard – is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.(p. 57)

When I go through a time of crisis, I keep looking at the big picture. I fill my mind with thoughts of how I will never be able to make it, and it is much too hard to bear, etc, etc.

Who could possibly learn thankfulness and joy with that kind of mindset? 

But when you break it down into very small, manageable chunks, and surrender each chunk to God, then in that little moment, anything is possible.

So…if you want in on all the wonderful benefits of listing one thousand gifts, you could just start right now, and skip the book, but really, the book is making all the difference for me. Ann Voskamp’s list keeps going long, long after 1,000, and she’s still going strong. She’s like the thankfulness expert. I am loving the glimpse at the way she thinks, and how she searches out joy each day.

I want to search out joy each day. I want to notice the little things, and train my eye to see God in it all.

So inspired, love the book, and excited to see where this is all going to go.

What about you? Have you read it? Do you make a list?

Travelling Home

I love coming home.

Driving 2 hours to get anywhere is sometimes a big pain, but often, it is such a great time to unwind, and leave behind all of the busyness.

By the time we pull up the camp driveway, it almost feels like we’re entering another world – the smooth lake to my right, the homey lodge lights straight ahead, and scattered throughout are happy people talking, laughing, and relaxing.

And then we get to our house, and there really is nothing in the world like getting home.

I am very thankful for all that we’ve been able to do while we’ve been gone -seeing family and friends, and getting things done in the city, but I am so happy to be home!