Posted in Holidays, Poetry

T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G.

Thanksgiving, an American holiday celebrated with parades, football, games, food (lots), and family

Holidays spent alone aren’t much fun when you’re barely out of college trying to pay bills and rent in a new city by yourself

Asking yourself how can I afford to pay my student loans back, thousands of dollars that will take years to pay off

Not that there aren’t ways to see your family, Facetime you know, but it’s not the same as being home for the holiday

Kisses and hugs don’t travel long distance, physical actions don’t work like that

So, go to work then head home. Make the most of your situation and call your family, pretend that you’re there with them

Give thanks that we have the technology to hear their voices and see their faces. Be glad that you can laugh and  pray and talk with them.

It isn’t the same. But it’s not really lonely

Verify that you’ll be home for Christmas and realize that’s how it’ll probably be from now on

If you only see them once a year, Christmas is a good time for being together

Never forget how they’ve supported you and loved you so that you could make it to this point

Give thanks to God for His provisions for your well-being, and for the family and friends you have.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Posted in Christianity, Holidays

The Standard Setter – Thoughts from the Week Following Valentines’ Day

Last Sunday was Valentines’ Day. As a single college-aged woman, that holiday can be tough. It seems many single women either have the attitude of “I’m a strong, independent woman; I have no need of a man, he’ll only hold me back!” or that of “I wish I had a man; is there something wrong with me that prevents my being  in a relationship?” and may choose to ignore any other kind of reason for being single.

I’m not shaming women who are single. I’m not shaming the romantics who dream of having a great guy. I’m not shaming the strong, independent women out there. If I were, I’d be shaming myself. I am single, and a romantic, and strong and independent. That’s what got me thinking this week (when all the chocolate’s on the Valentines’ sale).

What if, rather than focusing on how loved I feel, I focused on how loved I make others feel? How would that change the atmosphere of Valentines’, I wonder? But that’s not what I was going to write about.

Here’s the main thing that I realized…ready for this?

I recognized that I have high standards. Some people may say that that’s why I’m not in a relationship. Low standards are often what lead to toxic relationships…that’s what I think. But, we all get our standards from somewhere, right? I figured out where I got mine.

My father is my standard setter. And why not? He’s funny, hard-working, kind, loving, energetic, thoughtful, discerning, and handsome just to name a few things about my dad. But it’s more than that.

I know that my daddy sets his eyes on God.

He’s raised my siblings and me to do our best. Live a life of excellence so that others have no root to pull you down by. Think things through carefully, especially the financial dealings in life. Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

He’s built walls, put in hardwood floors, painted houses, helped us in the garden…he showed me in so many ways that he isn’t “too good” to get down and help with physical labor. He always pushed me to claim my dreams, but he encouraged me to research them to be sure that those dreams would be worthwhile.

Above all, I know my father is a man of God. He’s shown me many ways to live out my faith in my daily work. A smile here, a  word of encouragement there, the willingness to listen and pray, the nurturing and mentoring of many – these are just a few of the ways I’ve seen him living for God, living out his faith. He is respected by many people, and loved by his family.

My standards for a man, who wishes to call me his partner (or his girl), are high because I expect him to be striving for excellence as my daddy does. I expect him to love God most of all so God’s love is clearly evident in his life. I expect him to learn to love me for who I am, with all my romantic notions and my quirks and my independence. I expect him to treat me with respect as my father treats my mother. I expect him to be a man of God.

“But,” you might say, “those are some high standards!!”

I know they are high, but I’ve met so many men who meet them that I know it is possible. I’m not discouraged that I haven’t met him yet. I have soon-to-be wed friends who I can encourage and watch with a smile, they’re so in love. I have my schooling to attend to. I have my relationship with God to strengthen. I have excellence to continue striving for. The standards set by my dad, I don’t just expect them of “my man,” I expect them of myself as well. A life of excellence, that of a godly man or woman, is what should set the standards because it is, to me, rooted in God Almighty, the most excellent of all.

Posted in Holidays, Life phases

On Resolutions

A new year has started…welcome to 2016. A new year usually means New Year’s Resolutions. As I started thinking about what I may need to improve, change, etc. or what kind of resolutions I should make, I thought about how many people make resolutions but don’t keep them. So I wondered, “what is a resolution?” and why do many people not keep theirs. To define the action of making a resolution, a couple definitions are needed – resolution and resolve.

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, resolution is defined as the following: the act or process of resolving/answering/determining, something that is resolved, a formal expression of opinion, intent, or will by an official body or assembled group. To resolve is to deal with successfully, reach a firm decision about, declare or decide by a formal resolution and vote; a strong determination to do something. Two of the above definitions (the underlined) describe what we do when we make our New Year’s Resolutions.

A resolution could be a problem that can be fixed or solved immediately or it could be an issue that can only be resolved through a process. I think New Year’s Resolutions are generally a process. But these resolutions take a strong determination for us to deal with the issue successfully. Many resolutions appear simple: work out every day, give up soda for a year, only watch one episode of any show per week, no more than one cup of caffeine per day, etc.

I was watching a Phineas and Ferb episode the other day that focused on New Year’s Day. The joke at the end was that New Year’s Resolutions are meant to be broken. At first I laughed, but it occurred to me that many people do view their resolutions that way or in a similar way. Quite a few people make resolutions, as if it is expected on New Year’s Day, with the expectation that they will not be able to keep to it. I would say that this kind of belief stems from a lack of confidence in one’s self and possibly a lack of determination.

Determination is a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end, a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult.  Determination is what keeps us from giving up. It’s what keeps you going even when you can’t see how you can reach the end. Those aren’t the only reasons that one might not keep a resolution. Sometimes there are circumstances outside your control that prevent you from holding to your resolution.

What if a college student made the resolution to read at least one leisure book every two weeks for a year? An extra busy semester could eat up that student’s leisure time that was originally going to be used for reading. What if you planned to work out every day for a year? An injury could prevent that from happening.  There are times when you are prevented from accomplishing your resolution the way that you originally planned.

There is another part that I think prevents people from completing their resolutions. That would be the stumbles or slips that bring disappointment in oneself. You vowed not to drink any soda for a year and on a bad day you drank a Coca-Cola. Rather than giving up because of one slip, you should use that as your motivation to keep trying.

So this year, what are you resolutions? Do you have one or several? Did you set them for yourself or did you let someone else set them for you? Whatever the case I hope that you chose one that will benefit you and, possibly, those around you. In any case, Happy New Year and I look forward to learning what this year has in store. God bless!

Posted in Christianity, Holidays

Why I’m Thankful

Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone posts on social media about what they’re thankful for. Often times, it’s the stuff they have, their possessions, that they are thankful for. The other common one is family and friends. There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for our possessions, for family and friends…but I wonder, how many of us stop to discern why we’re thankful.

So, I thought about it…My favorite holiday is Christmas. Because it reminds me of the why behind my thankful. The why behind my thankful is Jesus. He loved me enough to come in the form of a man, in the weakest form – a baby. He came that I might be saved…often times from myself. Christmas tells us the story of how He came, of the people who were involved and how hard it was for them. What we have in the Bible is only a glimpse of what they dealt with bringing the King into the world, of raising Him, of following Him. Jesus is my why I’m thankful. Let me tell you why He’s the answer to that question of “why are you thankful?”

He loves me. He died for me. He is my Shepherd (Psalm 23:1) and as such protects and guides me. He is my Redeemer and I join with Job in praising Him in the knowledge that He is alive! (Job 19:25) He won’t ever leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5) and because of this I can be content. He is my Provider, my Savior, the Lover of my soul, my Creator, my King! Nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39), not my mistakes, or my struggles, my pain, my joy, my happiness, my dreams, no one and nothing, good or bad, can take His love from me. If that isn’t a reason to be thankful, I don’t know what is. If that isn’t a source of joy, than what is? In all that I’ve seen and experienced (and I know I’m not very old) nothing gives me as much joy as my King, no one loves me more than the One who loved me first.  He is why I’m thankful for all I have, all I know, all I hold dear, all I’ve experienced…He is my soul source of thanks.

My King gave me a Daddy who doesn’t give up on me. My Daddy loves me, I know he prays for me, he let me follow him around. He supports me to follow where God leads, wherever that may be. He knows my mistakes and my issues and my dreams and my hopes, and he lets me learn from them all. He speaks when needed and loves so much more. He’s supplies what I need and sometimes what I wanted. He’s taken me on adventures and I can’t wait for those that come from my love of traveling that he instilled in me. I can never be thankful enough for my earthly father, my Daddy.

My Provider gave me a Mommy who trusts me and lets me learn. I’m old enough now to recognize that her rules were well-founded and I still carry many of them around with me. She always knows more about me and what I’m up to then I think she knows. She recognizes things in me before I do. She supports me, prays for me, loves me, and pushes me to be excellent in my King and to give my best in all that I do. My thanks for my Mommy will never end.

My parents are two of my biggest fans and encourage me when I’m ready to give up. They offer me wisdom, discernment, love, and prayers. They’ve done more for me than I can ever hope to do for them.

My Ruler knew I would need challenges and laughter and gave me that in my 4 siblings.

My older brother is my confidant and loves me fiercely and I him. I know I can always turn to him when I’m too afraid to turn to my parents. He’s my closest and dearest and oldest friend. All my life he’s protected me and tormented me in turn, but he almost never fails to make me laugh and to know when to keep everyone out of my way. We’ve been on crazy adventures that I’ll never forget and I hope to go on many more. I love my Big Brother and thank God for him.

My middle brother is my buddy and my nerd. He’s smart in so many ways that I’m not that I know he’ll help me when I’m stuck. He’s quirky and silly. His jokes and dances and songs fill my heart with laughter. Underneath all that nerd and silliness, is a godly young man who is developing in wisdom and discernment. He is the laughter in my life and my companion in school and I wouldn’t part with him for anything or anyone other than my God. I love my Middle Brother!

My youngest brother is my Teddy Bear. He is a source of comfort and understanding. In many ways, he is my “mini-me” we are alike in so many ways. He always looked up to me, watched my dance movies with me and my action movies and cartoons and Disney when no one else wanted to. He is a rock in my life, solid in our Heavenly Father and in his support of me. He has grown so fast and soon I’ll see godly young man in the place of my little cuddle buddy. I love my Youngest Brother more than words can express.

Last, loudest, most obnoxious and most endearing is my sister. She makes life an adventure of joy, laughter, and forehead smacking. She’s always followed me around like a little puppy wanting to be like her big sister. She never realized how much she has taught me. She taught me how to be patient, how to control my anger, and to remember to let people know that you love them. She’s blossoming into a beautiful young woman of God and I’m thankful that she’s here and that she looks up to me because it helps me watch my step. I love my Little Sister and refuse to let her go.

I have so many others to be thankful for. Bosom sisters (Anne of Greene Gables reference) whom I’ve met on this road who encourage and pray for me as I do them. Friends who are like family away from home. Mentors, teachers, advisers, and counselors who help me in so many ways. People I haven’t met who share their thoughts and wisdom that I see because of a friend’s post or a book that I’ve read. The possessions I have are just that…they break, stop working, rip, fade, etc. But they help me to grow in little ways. Hobbies, talents, and gifts offer me ideas of how I might live out my life to the glory of God.

What are you thankful for? What is the why behind your thankful? Have you thought about it?

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1) I can and do join King David in his proclamation of thanks to God. My thanks is not limited to just one day of the year, it overwhelms my heart hundreds of days many times over.