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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Scenes of Savannah

There’s just something about the South.

IMG_3560Maybe it’s the twang in the accents, the smiling at strangers,

Or maybe it’s the details.

IMG_3553I mean, where else are you going to find fish gutters?

Southerners are all about presentation.

IMG_3613I made a quick trip to Savannah to celebrate my Bride-to-be friend (gal pal on my left in this pic).

This November bride could not have picked a better place to explore.

IMG_3617We stopped every 3 steps to take a picture of every beautiful thing we saw… but this may have been mine and Laine’s favorite find. #MontgomeryGals

IMG_3592But Abbey’s favorite was the candy store.

I’ve never in my life seen a place like this.

In that pic ^, Abbey has just spotted a Tootsie Pop bigger than her head… she really was like a kid in a candy store.

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Next stop was the Savannah Bee Company.

 Never have I tasted  SO. MUCH. HONEY.

IMG_3625But it was amazing to say the least.

IMG_3559The places we explored and the scenes of Savannah we saw were nothing in comparison to the company I had to explore it with.

IMG_3660 (1)When adult life comes in faster than you can say “don’t”, you really take captive the time you have to visit with one another.

IMG_3656At one point in our exploration, the Bride-to-be, who was my first ever friend in college, came up next to me and put her arm around me.

IMG_3563I quickly returned the favor and the two of us walked, without words, as we explored.

We knew we looked weird.

It’s fine.

We haven’t lived in the same city in over a year.

And we had to soak in friendship time together while we could.

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Sometimes you have to soak in the moments with the scenery.

Because before you know it, you’re back to reality and your friendships are made up of sporadic phone calls and texting.

But the part that excites me most, is that no matter how little we see of one another,

we still get to celebrate in the events of each other’s lives.

IMG_3652We get to create new memories, in new seasons, with new experiences,

all because our past made us friends in the first place.

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Until next time Savannah,

you treated us with the greatest Southern Hospitality,

and some awesome corn bread (Thanks Paula Dean).

Valiant Cross Academy: Rise Above

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.  Never throw out anyone.”- Audrey Hepburn

I took a detour downtown Tuesday morning, to a place that kept my eyes tear-filled and my heart throbbing with pride.

Valiant Cross Academy.

An all boys, private Christian School, smack dab in the heart of Montgomery.

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A new school to town, only up and running around 2 months, but the power that this school holds makes it feel like it’s been here all along.

I rang the front door to the school, nervous, hoping that they would be ok with me just prancing through with my camera and a smile… 🙂

They totally were.  In fact, you could tell these boys were used to visitors. 

I walked into the Language & Social Studies class and was immediately greeted by “the visiting coordinator”.

IMG_3678THIS^^^ adorable little fella (AKA visiting coordinator) immediately rose from his seat, walked over to me, shook my hand, and introduced himself.  The confidence was present and he wanted to show me ALL that he was learning.

He took me to his computer to show me how he was learning to write a letter.

He wanted me to see how his computer “lets your letters change if you don’t like how they look”.  He said “Mrs. Bell, it’s called ‘changing your font’… its very fancy.”

AH, my heart.

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The teacher looked up and said “class, we have a visitor, let’s tell her hello.”

and they did.

with a beat.

One boy started a beat, one boy started the chant, and then they all joined in.

all to simply say hello.

I was BEAMING.

I continued walking around the class, and stopped when I saw one of the boys writing a letter to one who is so dear to my heart.

IMG_3682I knelt down.

“What’s your name?”

“Cameron” he replied.

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“Im Laura Jean, what’s your last name?” I smiled back.

“Bell” he said.

“Mine too!” I said.

“You’re my Sister then!” he said, hoping I understood what he meant.

 TOTALLY.

We immediately exchanged high fives when we realized we were kin.

#kingdomkin

IMG_3675These sharp young men have no clue that they are making history.

They have no clue that they are changing the course of their own lives and the lives to come after them.

They have no clue how far they are going to go in life.

They have no clue how many are touched by their lives.

IMG_3692 2I couldn’t help but marvel at the stories that were shared with me by their staff.

The stories of God’s unending faithfulness as this school was being built and how it continues to build.

These kids are the product of a city that sent a shock wave around the world.

The events and moments that happened right outside the doors to their school 50 + years ago was merely a foreshadowing to the glory that the Lord would unfold through THEM.

They are the future.

Sharp. Smart. Spirit Led.

IMG_3698What made my heart ooze with pride was more than just seeing a bunch of sharp dressed 12 year old boys…

It was meeting the men who are leading them.

IMG_3695These boys have confidence, renewed minds, strength, courage, and dignity, because there are men in their lives who are telling them daily that they are capable… adequate… enough.

They remind them that they are warriors.

They remind them that no matter what happens in their lives that they can rise above.

IMG_3694They are important to them.

When someone makes you feel important, the level of respect you have for them goes beyond what could imagine.

Those students respect their leaders, because their leaders value them.

Instead of giving these boys fish for the day, they are teaching them HOW to fish.

They are educating them with knowledge and the love of Christ.

To the leaders and all who have journeyed to make Valiant Cross Academy a reality, we see you, we notice you, we appreciate you. Because without you, this marvelous place wouldn’t exist.

IMG_3696We are a city that has struggled to stay above water for decades.

We are city that changed the course of history, on more than one occasion.

We are a city that hosted crime.

We are city that celebrated freedom.

We are a city that changed the world,

and Valiant Cross Academy is changing generations.