postheadericon Day 40: Give Thanks

My family's Thanksgiving got kind of exciting today. Our furnace is out. Right now, the house is being heated by two fire places and the temperature in the bedrooms upstairs is about 57 degrees. I'm currently huddled under a down comforter that's folded in half with a heated mattress pad on full blast. The water bottle I took out of the fridge last night is still cold...more than 24 hours later.

But there is still so much to be thankful for!

"Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I had so much fun with my family today. They are the number one thing I am thankful for. I assisted my Dad in making apple crisp when I first woke up this morning. Even if I was slightly OCD when laying the apples in the pan, at least it led to some laughs. I helped my mom set the table and do dishes. I ran to Walmart with my brother and bought way more than was on our list. We even bought four times as much pumpkin as we needed so we made a double batch of pumpkin bread (and will make another double batch at Christmas!). It was delicious, by the way.
And outside of the kitchen, we had some other fun. My brother and I helped our mom bag up some clothes to donate. We found a stack of Free After Rebate t-shirts from Menards in our dad's closet...still in their packaging. And found out that Mom has at least 5 suede shirts/jackets. We started trying to organize the closet in my old bedroom and found so many old VHS tapes that I don't even know where to begin. I found old scrapbooks and gifts and books. And we laughed. Gosh did we laugh.
I got to end my night chatting away with both my sister and my brother. As cold as we may have been, we were together. The memories of today will be with us all forever. And that is what I am thankful for today.
I made it to day 40 and blogged each and every one of those forty days. I didn't even set out to do that, but that's where I ended up. And what's cool about it is how much God has changed me in these forty days. One conversation on October 16th was a catalyst to an incredible 40 day journey. And that journey isn't over yet.
For now, I'm going to enjoy some more family time this weekend and then be back next week. I'm thinking up something fun to do in December to bring CHRIST to the center of Christmas, like He should be. So you can all look forward to that!
I'll close with some things that I got in some text messages from a friend yesterday. I am so blessed to have so many people encouraging me!
"It's breathtaking to watch The Lord work in your life! Amazing what The Lord uncovers when we run to His feet. The lies we have believed about ourselves. And one by one, He reshapes them and replaces them with the truth about who we are as the Beloved. Keep seeking Him first! God's doin some good stuff! That sounds like the work of the Holy Spirit inside you, lady! Woop! He changes us from the inside out. And isn't it beautiful and miraculous!"

postheadericon Day 39: Frozen

Notification: This is a long post. As a word document, it's two and a half pages. Consider yourself warned.

I may be slightly obsessed with the movie Frozen. I saw it multiple times in the theater and then bought it right away when it came out in stores. The songs get stuck in my head for days and I just love the magic of it. I think one of my favorite things is that the "true love" featured in the story is all about the relationship between the two sisters. I still cry every time the movie gets to the end.
In the past month, Minnesota has turned into a frozen and snowy tundra. We're getting pounded by snow and have already experienced below zero wind chills. It's slightly scary considering the fact that it's only November, but I'll look on the positive side of things. The weather has put me in a Frozen�kind of a mood. I've watched it twice in the last three days.

I've been thinking a lot about the movie and what we can learn from it. I used Frozen�for a Bible study right after I bought the DVD and we found a lot of great lessons. Both about life, and about faith. Always fun to do that. But anyway, I'm going to focus on one today. It's probably clich�, but my favorite song is "Let it Go." So we're going to use that for inspiration on this beautiful snow-filled day in Minnesota!

Spoiler alert, if you haven't seen Frozen, I do apologize for anything I give away. This post sort of assumes that you've seen it or at least know a little bit about the characters. And if you haven't seen it, do you live under a rock?! Watch it!

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I'm the queen

Elsa lives in a state of constant fear. She has built huge walls around her heart and her life. Her fear has essentially isolated her from everyone, including her sister who desperately wants to be let in.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried

I think most of us can probably relate to this. I often feel like I have a storm inside of me. But eventually, we have to let it out. No matter how hard we try, we cannot keep our struggles bottled up. In this case, Elsa was trying so hard to keep things in that bad things happened when they did come out. And really, I think that happens in real life, too.

Don't let them in
Don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel
Don't let them know
Well, now they know

Again with this part, I draw from a faith perspective. I often find myself caught up in trying to be the "good girl." People seem to have this image of me and I want to live up to that. But in order to do that, we have to hide things about ourselves. We can't be our real, authentic selves if we don't let people see the bad with the good.

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don't care
What they're going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

The chorus! Let it go. I'll talk more about this later. Keep reading!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all

The second verse is probably my favorite. First of all, I love the thought about distance and perspective. The more we step back from a situation, no matter what it is; we see more of the big picture. The further away from something we get, the less important it can seem. And that's a good thing a lot of the time. We can be a lot happier when things are in perspective. When the little thing that made our day at work crappy gets further away, we wonder why we were so upset in the first place.

Then she talks about fear controlling her. Major theme in the movie right there. Fear all too often does control our lives. But we don't have to let it! If we let in the love of Christ, fear can fade away.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."
- 1 John 4:18a

Love and fear. It's funny because one of the trainers kind of talked about this on this season of The Biggest Loser. She said that we all operate out of one of two places: Fear or Love. I think there was a lot of truth in what she said. And most of us probably operate out of fear way too often. As silly as it may sound, choose love. Fight for love. Live your life from a place of love, and spreading love. Simple? Maybe. But integral to living a full and joy-filled life.

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I'm free

When we move from a place of fear to a place of love, we really get to see what we can do. We begin to live as the person God created us to be instead of the person that we put into a box by hiding pieces of ourselves and by being scared.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on

Let it go! Operate from a place of love and let go of all the things that you're afraid of. All the things that can hold you back.

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystalizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back
The past is in the past

I really like that it says the word "fractals." So great!

In all seriousness, my favorite line here is "I'm never going back, the past is in the past." In this movie, she has to go back to fix a mistake. She is able to do it when she learns to let love in and not let her fear rule her. Because even as she sings about the fear that "once" controlled her, it still does control her, at least to some extent. That is, until the very end of the movie. BUT, for us, we don't have to rehash our pasts. We can leave the past in the past if we accept God's grace and forgiveness. Pretty cool stuff!

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

And now we come to the payoff. We can let go of all things. We can get rid of the "perfect girl," and just be real. We can rise like the sun rises every morning. Let it go. And let God work.

postheadericon Day 38: Thank You

"But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject;
with whom one's deepest, as well as one's most foolish, thoughts come out simply and safely.
Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Dinah Craik

As I drove home from dinner with a friend tonight, I was quite reflective. I am beyond grateful for the handful of friends in my life who allow me to be completely myself. Who love me where I'm at...flaws and all. Who tell me that they appreciate me. Who text me when they haven't talked to me in a while and make plans to see me. Who I can say anything to and they won't even flinch. Who let me laugh, cry, or get mad and know how to react no matter what I do. Who allow me to be the most authentic version of me and love me for that. Who know my past, but don't judge me for it. Who know where I'm at today and celebrate the victories it has taken to get here. And who know my goals for the future and would do anything in their power to help me get there.

I was overwhelmed tonight with a sense of peace. I felt so filled with love and grace. Like even if I had tried, I couldn't possibly add any more. I am just so blessed by the people in my life. And as I work on living my life in gratitude, I am more and more appreciative of those people.

Today in Chemistry class, the teacher had the students write down 5 things they're thankful for and the people behind those things. So if they were thankful for the car they drive, they might write down their parents who either bought the car or pays for the insurance. The assignment to the class over Thanksgiving break is to choose one of those five people and call them to say "Thank you."

As an illustration, the teacher called his grandma on speaker phone and thanked her for all the times she read to him when he was growing up. By the end of the short conversation, he was tearing up, I was tearing up, and I find it hard to believe there was a single student in that room who wasn't affected by what had just transpired.

People are important. Relationships are important. And saying "thank you" is essential. So to all of you who play huge roles in my life... Thank you.