generosity

Learning to Speak the Language of Love

“Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of love…”

A friend shared this quote with me recently and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m completely taken with this picture of thankfulness as the language of love. I think that’s both beautiful and true.

I’m not always good at loving well –not my husband, not my friends and family, not God, and certainly not strangers. There are many moments in my life I look back on and wish I’d loved better.

The more I think about these words, the more I’m coming to believe that gratitude is an essential part of love. I’ve seen how this works in my marriage.

Jonathan and I have been together for almost eight years and while I don’t pretend that we’re perfect, one of my favorite things about our relationship is the way we still thank each other for everything. This is meaningful for us because saying thank you for things we could easily take for granted is more than just a polite habit. It is meaningful. It’s our way of saying, “I recognize that you did that chore, not because you had to, but because you love me.”

When Jonathan washes the dishes, he’s saying,” I love you,” and when I thank him I’m saying, “I see the way you’re loving me and I appreciate you.”

The thing about gratitude is that it turns our eyes away from ourselves. We can’t love well when we are focused on ourselves – when we’re immersed in our own wants and needs and worries and problems. Practicing gratitude is a way of looking outside of ourselves and recognizing both the gifts we are given every day and the givers behind them.

Gratitude isn’t about smoothing over and ignoring the evil in the world or the pain in our own lives. It isn’t about forcing a smile when our hearts are breaking or trying to put a smiley-faced band-aid on an open wound. It’s about acknowledging pain and struggle and marveling at glimmers of grace and goodness that break through that ugliness.

Gratitude doesn’t change our circumstances – it changes us.

Gratitude makes us generous because when we lose our sense of entitlement to the things we have, we no longer feel the need to hold onto it so tightly.

Gratitude combats discontentment because it reminds us how far we’ve come instead of how far we have to go.

Let us be people who let our haves count for more than our have-nots.

Let us be people who recognize the gifts strewn throughout the most ordinary moments of our days.

Let us be people who give with abandon because we are humbled by what we’ve already received.

Let us be people who speak the language of love.

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Why I’m Loving Being Broke

I’m back! After a month of being a truly terrible blogger I am back. Here’s a quick picture of the last month for us: packing, cleaning, babysitting as much as possible, saying goodbye to friends, our first anniversary trip to NYC, trip to Raleigh to sign on an apartment, packing, Jonathan’s birthday (24 somehow seems so much older than 23!), applying to jobs, and did I mention packing? It’s been fun and busy and exciting and exhausting and nerve-wracking all at once.

We are incredible excited about the new area we are moving to, the new experiences we’ll have, new friends we will make, and the opportunity to be somewhere scenically beautiful and with warmer winters. We also love that the Raleigh area has so many universities around it, giving us the freedom to go back to school if we need to, potentially without having to move again. And my roommate for all four years at college (Christina) will be living in the same apartment complex as we are so I will get to see her practically every day.

This has been a difficult season for us in some ways though. Mainly, financially. We have always been good with our money, apart from my student loans we are not in debt, and we don’t buy things we do not have the cash to pay for. With my nanny job and Jonathan’s Starbucks salary we made enough to live on and, some months, even saved enough for our anniversary trip to New York. But when my job ended at the end of May our total income went down by nearly 2/3. We knew this was coming and had tried to plan accordingly (hence all of my extra babysitting over the past few weeks.) We have had to use up most of our savings to pay for our rent, the moving truck, and an unfortunate $1,000 medical bill from an unexpected procedure. And, added to these expenses is the concern that this period of low income could last a while. Jonathan is transferring to a Starbucks in Raleigh, but despite applying for more than 50 jobs so far, I am still unemployed. At one point we had figured it out and realized that by the time we got to Raleigh we would have $52 left to our name.

Between Jonathan and I, I am easily the one who worries more about money. I don’t need a lot and am happy to cut back and to say no to things, but (probably because of my attorney father who taught me to plan for all contingencies) I do not like not having a cushion. In other words, I want to be in control and know that if anything happens, I can take care of it. In these past few weeks, God has been teaching me about letting go of that control and trusting that he really will provide for us.

Both sets of our parents blessed us with generous gifts for our anniversary/Jonathan’s birthday. People that I’ve been babysitting for have asked me to babysit many times and then over-paid me (sometimes by a lot) for the hours I’ve worked for them. Friends have treated me when we’ve gone out for a meal or given us gift cards. And just last night some newer friends of ours gave us a going-away card full of cash, just to pass along blessings they had received at times that they really needed it.

In reflecting on all of this, three things have really struck me. Firstly, I am humbled by God’s provision. Secondly, I am so grateful for the way that these people in our lives have been listening and obeying God’s voice, and being generous with their time and their resources. And thirdly, I am hopeful that we will remember this time and that when God brings people into our lives that we have the ability to give our time and gifts and resources to that we will be as willing to listen to God and to give generously, as these people in our lives have over these past few weeks.

It is a good reminder to me that God always takes care of his children, but he often uses his other children to do so. So whichever side of that you are on today, be encouraged that you have an opportunity to embrace God’s provision for you and to be God’s provision for others. Deep, deep thanks to the many who have been God’s provision to us lately.

“And my God will meet all of your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

PS-I’m in the process of updating my about page, so if you have the burning desire to know even more things about me than the things I had already posted, click here. 🙂