Cultivating a Spirit of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the craving for dressing and gravy is officially on hold until Christmas.

In the midst of the eating comes gathering around the table,

and gathering around the table brings about the “what are you thankful for” conversations.

My family does this every year.

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Eyes are rolled, we say our little bits, and move on to the next topic of conversation.

But for some reason this year, I had a deep rooted emotion that was nearing rupture and I feared that talking would explode all that was within me.

“LuLu, it’s your turn,” my dad said, as the entire family turned my way.

I felt instantaneous nervous sweat and emotions rising faster than I could say “don’t”.

I haven’t exactly held a spirit of thankfulness this past year-and-a-half.

I’ve held on to hurts, walked through valley after valley emotionally, and honestly, overlooked every moment to say thank you and taken every opportunity to complain. 

But when that question stared at me through the eyes of my most supportive people, everything that I could be thankful for became so clear.
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“I’m, um, I’m thankful for the Lord… I mean I know that sounds so cliche, but..”

My brother-in-law, Todd, interjected and said “no.. that’s valid. extremely valid.”

Every ounce of thankfulness I had came out of my eyes like a rolling river.

AND if you know the Plunkett clan, when one cries, we ALL cry.

We were a bunch of weeping willows as I barely mustered out my thankfulness for the people sitting around me, a home purchased, starting two businesses with my husband, living in a community of incredible dreamers and lovers of The Light, and finally coming to a point in my life where I understand that validation and approval from people will never be what brings me joy in life.

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how ’bout that for a “things I’m thankful for” table talk…

whew. geez.

But if the Thanksgiving season taught me anything it was this:

When you cultivate a spirit of thankfulness, you cultivate a community of thankful people.

A community of people who are thankful is just as attractive as a community of misery.

So what are you choosing to be thankful for?

 Because let’s be honest here, thankfulness is a choice 98% of the time.

But when thankfulness is your choice,

emotions are heavy with joy,

life lightens up,

things that seemed so overbearing become petty and small,

and people around you tend to gravitate towards a thankful heart too.

It is time that instagram has “thankful” fame EVERY DAY and that tables are asking the thankful question more than once a year.

Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness, because some days that spirit may be all that you have.

Happy Monday after thanksgiving,

it’s a perfect day to be thankful.

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Be Secretly Incredible

Today has been a regular day.

A day filled with regular schedules and regular activity.

I spent my morning doing all normal LJ activity.

It was gloomy though.

The kind of day that makes you drag a bit.

But still a regular day.

I drove my sweetness, otherwise known as Cody Bell, or to others “Tody”, to work.

We listened to Rick and Bubba, because what else is greater than two country men yappin about this past weekend’s {disappointing} football games?

#welcometoalabama

 I began driving back to work, when suddenly it struck me.

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Today is September 21.

The day my Grandfather went to see Jesus just 4 short years ago.

I swerved across 4 lanes of traffic to reach the exit where the cemetery was.

It has been 4 years since I returned to that place.

A place that only brings memory of sadness and grief, but today was unordinary.

I stood in front of tombstones marked with the names of two I loved most, decorated with perfect fall flowers by my mom (who, mind you, stays fabulous and thoughtful at all times), Ed Welch and his gracious and perfect wife, Jean Sylvest Welch.

I stood with sickness in my belly, hard to believe I had been brave enough to return.

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But then it hit me.

There was no “regular” day to Grandaddy.

There was no day wasted on petty talk and mindless activity.

A man who traveled the world, but managed to love his family well.

A man who harvested the best tomatoes, taught all his grandkids to swim & fish, and replaced any bad word with “mickey mouse”.

A man who loved Christ and served his church with grace and leadership.

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A man who walked in the way of selflessness… and never let his left hand know what his right hand was doing.

He knew who Went Before him.

He followed Him with so much diligence that the smell of Jesus permeated the room when he entered.

He left a legacy that still pursues the lives of those who still have breath in their lungs, businesses are still running the carry his blessed name, and many are still above water because of sacrifices he made.

No day was a regular day for this ordinary man,

every day was an opportunity for success and pursuit of the kingdom.

Shouldn’t that be us?

Everyday a day to smile.

Everyday a day  to rejoice in new mercies.

Everyday a day to tell someone who they really are in Jesus.

Everyday a day to love well.

Everyday a day to say YES to what God has called us to.

Everyday a day to say no to negativity.

Everyday a day to say that positive word that someone needed in that moment.

Everyday a day to do something that makes us uncomfortable to give an ounce of comfort to someone in starvation for it.

Everyday a day to be secretly incredible.

Everyday a day to be more like Jesus.

I looked around that cemetery, in the pouring rain, with gloomy skies and my eyes welled up with tears.  I looked at the hundreds of graves where so many lay, but so many legacies left.

I stood there smiling/laughing through my misty eyes

SO excited. SO enthralled with God’s choice to love us, to give us a better home than this one, to lavish us with grace when a day feels so regular.

There is Joy in Knowing Him.

His kindness unending,

His legacy of timeless grace.

Good, Good Father

We rise early in the Bell house, 4 A.M. to be exact.

I don’t care who you are, that’s early, and difficult to do daily.

We have our routine.

Pre. set. coffee.

My feet shuffle to the kitchen, and most mornings I pour a cup with my eyes closed, they are simply just too heavy to stay open.

I sip coffee and brew what we sell that day while Cody Bell, the most handsome of them all, pulls together all the supplies and loads the truck.

But what we always start with, no matter our job, no matter our blurry, tired eyes, no matter if we hit snooze two times too many, 

we. worship.

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Really what it is is a playlist, the same one everyday, on YouTube.

Good, Good Father.

It is always what wakes us and stirs our hearts.

It plays twice through. We don’t know why, we never question it.

I just sit in my big blue chair, watch coffee drip, and most mornings I can’t get through the first line without welling up with alligator tears.

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
but I’ve heard the tender whisper
of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased
and that I’m never alone

but morning by morning, Jesus meets us.

In our small apartment of newly-wedded-ness.

He meets us with our tired bodies and says ‘keep going, I’m right here.’

He meets us with our irritation, He meets us with our success, He meets us with our mess-ups, and He meets us with our joy.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, We can face tomorrow.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, We can wake up at 4 am to sell coffee and fight Human Trafficking.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, We can trust that He will meet our needs daily.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, you can trust that He is present in your pain.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, you can trust that He will show you what to do with your life.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, you can trust that His approval is Greater than approval of man.

Because He is a Good, Good Father, you can trust that He is protective of your joy, for it is what makes you strong.

He loves you.

He sees you.

He seeks you.

He meets you.

He finds you.

It’s WHO. HE. IS.

He is a Good, Good Father… x2.