Thanksgiving List 7-14-2014


Thanksgiving List

  • Today I am thankful to be thankful. Coming back home made me realize that for the majority of my life including recently, I haven’t been grateful for the things that provide me with a comfortable life.
  • I’m grateful for tuition. For having the nearly ideal living/studying/working position this year, and the fact that my Dad decided to give me the Lexus before school starts so I can learn how to better juggle the three more independently.
  • I’m grateful for all the things I forgot that I missed living out of suitcases for 5 months. I don’t know that I actually missed them, but my life is a lot more comfortable with them now.
  • I’m grateful for financial stability, and even though it’s a lot lower amount of financial stability than some people have, I’m grateful for the peace that it brings and the ability to not have to constantly stress about money.
  • I’m grateful for all the people that love and support me here at home and at school. There are a lot of cool people that are genuinely happy to see me in passing that I don’t know very well, but I think that’s beautiful.
  • It’s nice to do small talk again. I miss speaking in Spanish and my brain’s still trying to catch up, but I have missed things things like saying hi to your neighbors while you’re walking the dogs, stopping to have conversations with people on the street, and other social graces from home. It’s not that they’re the best, that they are better, or that they are always particularly helpful, but they’re exactly what I’m used to and are very, very comfortable. I know now that I have the ability to adapt to a variety of different social situations, but it is nice to come back to something that is really natural for me to do.
  • Furthermore, I feel like I’m doing better at social graces than I normal do. I missed all of the minute social rituals that were absent from Chile, and I’m excited to see people that remind me of home, even strangers. I have noticed throughout the day today that I have not been reacting to the majority of situations as I would before I left.
  • For one, I am a lot more conscious of when I need to be having patience, I try to pay attention and die to myself to make that a reality. It’s definitely not easier, but I think it’s easier than sinning and trying to backtrack.
  • I’m a lot better at communication. In some of the more stressful situations with my mother and sister, I have noticed myself slowing down, lowering my voice, calling myself on my actions when I stop acting with love, being more self-sacrificing and humble, and generally communicating what my expectations and desires are more often. For example, I told my mom today that we all need to work on having more patience, staying calm, and actually communicating when we get angry. I realized that often, when I’m angry I’m not reacting to it well. It was really easy for me to overreact last night as I was sitting in the bathroom, trying to cherish the first true alone time and writing time I had had since leaving my room in Placeres, and my mom and Lauren were yelling at me to get out of the bathroom and pick up the phone, because my Dad had called. I yelled “WHAT?!” in anger, and then was shocked. I realized immediately that I was falling into my bad habits, collected my things as calmly as I could, and called my Dad back. It was nice to talk to him, it helped me calm down. Nonetheless, I know that I can do a better job applying what Jesus taught me while I was in Chile. It’s hard to have patience all the time with myself, but I’m trying to remember that it’s a never ending process that needs to incorporate self-love and patience. As I was walking the dogs tonight in what was perfect weather, I realized that every moment is a layer that God is using to build on the other layers he’s already placed. It can be constructive, or it can be like a house of cards waiting to collapse with pressure. I for one would love to have the most holy life possibly, and I am trying to hold myself to higher standards in the way that I love others because I know grace. It’s harder and easier than I expected. It’s harder because I catch myself failing more often than I’d like to admit; It’s easier because I notice God’s successes in me a lot more quickly than I have ever. It’s not something I ever thought was possible, Praise Jesus. I never thought that I could be as calm and thoughtful and generally loving towards my family as I have been these past 24 hours, and I know that it will only get easier with time.
  • I got to spend some time with my dogs, specifically Ella more than Teddy. I really value them more than I used too, especially because they turned five this spring and that seems ridiculous. I need to take better care of them and value them more in the years that come, starting with today. I got to give Ella a bath last night, and she, Ted, and I had a walk around the neighborhood for at least an hour while I thought and talked to God. It was a good opportunity to reflect on my successes and failures since coming home, and try to ask God what he wants to teach me from each of them. I got to hold Ella while she caught her breath after making asthma noises for a couple blocks, and that was really nice to hold her in my arms. 
  • Coming back home has been super weird because it’s bittersweet. I’m grateful that I have lived in the same town for my entire life, because it’s so full of memories, both good and bad. Over there behind Tad’s Tropical Snow is the place where we used to smash blocks of ice during the summer, causing general mischief as they hit the black asphalt. Three blocks over is where my Mom and Dad used to push us in our double baby stroller before we had enough stamina to go for full length walks with them. Our Dad’s house was on the same block as my Elementary School, and 4 blocks from my Mom’s old house on Iowa Street. I can tell you places, but I’m much happier to tell you feelings. It’s hard to come home because not all the memories end happily. In the bathroom that Lauren and I share, I spent countless nights scream crying while depressed, tears mixing with bathwater. I spent a lot of time in that room contemplating suicide. I mean, A LOT OF TIME. But then again, that was and is where I wash my dogs in the tub, now that they’ve outgrown the kitchen sink. That’s where me and Lauren have come up with some of our better running jokes. That’s where I first experimented with makeup. For whatever reason, I see the memories as just part of life, but I judge my past self even harsher. I’m trying to be patient and remember that God let me choose him at the exact right moment. It’s hard to come home because it’s easy to think “Why didn’t I get this sooner?” It’s not like Salvation didn’t exist before Chile. Why didn’t I catch on quicker? When I think like that, I try to remember what sort of things were going through my head when I was younger. Even just 6 months ago, I try to remember. One of the quickest and most comforting explanations comes from remembering the amount of things that God has taught me every day since knowing him and try to scrap together memories of all the things he taught me before then. It’s clear to me when I do this that not only could it not have come any sooner, it wouldn’t have been successful if it did. I believe that God gave me many moments when I could have accepted his grace, including years in the Methodist Church. It never stuck. I had to want it for myself and want it with all of me before it was something I could accept. Everyone that really knows me and even some people that really don’t know that I am a person that does things completely or not at all. I needed some time and bad life experiences before I was willing to humble myself to accept a Savior that has always been watching over me and knew me even before I was born. It was pretty much the most ridiculously beautiful decision of my life, and it made no sense at the time. I knew that I wanted grace more than I was willing to live in disbelief. I had already seen God working in my life and in the lives of those around me, and I knew that it was him long before I was willing to be humble enough to ask for help. It took a lot of time and a lot of failures before I was willing to shift my stubbornness, and it has been a continual process to diminish my pride ever since. I’m not perfect, but I am less prideful now than I was before I accepted Jesus, or even yesterday. God is completing great works in me, even though they may never be “complete” while I am on this earth.
  • It’s strange to think of all the new beginnings. It’s not just the beginning of one cycle; it’s the branching and blossoming of millions of tiny miracles every moment. I think of all the “big” things, like decisions about my major. And then I think about the “little” BIG things, like how I learn to communicate better with my family. The everyday, less “big” things are so much more important on the long term than what the world considers big. For one thing, I spend a lot more time with my family than I do in class these days, or writing papers. I apply just about everything I learn in psychology to my family, but at the end of the day, they are much more important to me than my career or my school work. PRAISE JESUS that I can say that!  
  • These days, I’m a lot better at admitting to myself my mistakes and when I think I acted poorly in situations.
  • I’m really grateful for all the things I want to accomplish in the near future, even if I haven’t quite had the time yet to do them. I did a lot of cool things today, walking around Downtown, KU, and the Water Tower Park with Lauren. It was really nice to spend some time with her and remember how similar we are and some of the stories from our shared past. Honestly, I had forgotten pretty much everything, and she told me stories that helped me feel better about some of the things I still hold some subconscious guilt over. While I still don’t agree with everything she thinks about what has happened to us over the years, it was nice to remember with her.
  • I’m excited to try out new Churches.
  • I’m excited to see my friends sooner than I think, and share with them what God did in my life.
  • I’m glad that it’s easier to think in English. For a while, I was misspelling words and thinking of the wrong words and generally not noticing when I’d swap one basic word for another. Bilingual struggles.
  • I went to bed early last night, and I woke up at 10 today. It was probably the most restful sleep I’ve gotten in all of my memory. My bed is really soft, and I was super tired, yet comfortable. Beautiful.
  • I’m no longer as excited when I find four leaf clovers. I think it’s much more exciting to help people find them and to give them away than it is to find them, though searching for them is a second runner up. I realize that I like the joy on people’s faces when they see them a lot more than the fact that they are more aesthetically pleasing than 3-leafers. I must have found ten or more today, and Lauren came over and picked some for what for her would have been the first time in years. She made fun of me a lot for still looking, but it was still nice to see the look on her face when she got to pick them. She picked too many and didn’t have anything to press them in, so they immediately started to wilt. But for a moment, it was fun to see that much excitement in her and remember how excited we used to get looking for them as kids.
  • Over lunch today at Encore, Lauren and I shared some food and talked about how our sense of humor helped us survive until adulthood. We were super weird kids, but it was nice to talk with someone who completely understood what we went through while still acknowledging that it was uncomfortable and painful. Those things don’t usually line up. I’m really grateful that I have had Lauren to share my life with, because there’s probably no one on this earth that knows me any better or could. I barely remember most things, but it’s nice to have her as a supplemental memory aid. I’m not always completely honest with her because she tries to hurt me often, but it’s nice when we can talk about the past while still making jokes about it. It doesn’t diminish or accept the things that have happened; it only makes it more acknowledged.  It’s okay to feel things, and it’s nice to have someone to share those memories with, especially the ones that have been really painful. We’ve been able to lean on each other in ways that are unspoken and don’t need explaining over the course of our lives, and I cannot imagine my life without her.

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I am a second-grade teacher and pastor-to-be who loves people. I spend my weekends with friends or wandering the museums of DC alone and with a journal, trying to put words on the places of the soul that still feel wordless. I spent most of my days at school trying to learn patience through my students and running on sheer nerdy passion. I follow Jesus Christ, and savor that as my most important identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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