I remember a Facebook program a few years ago that ranked the top ten words you used in your posts. Once it caught on, I remember scanning list after list and thinking about how the words matched with the friends I knew in life and their words on-line.
I don't remember my list. I just remember looking at it and wondering if that was REALLY how I wanted the world to see me. Are those the words that I wanted people to remember about me? They weren't bad -- I'd remember that -- they just weren't intentional.
It was a gentle reminder to be intentional in how you treat others.
November is a month in which we hear the word gratitude a lot. It's important to shift the focus from ourselves - our dreams, wants, and desires, and to focus on what is real and what is a gift in our life. For the last few years I posted daily what I was thankful for. It allowed me to think about the small details -- from my garbage disposal to my family to my personal walk with God. It gave me a new perspective on what I wanted.
I didn't write it publically this year. Naysayers got to me - I admit it. There were eye-rolling at the thankful posts, comments about how no one wants to hear what you're grateful for, the jokes poking fun. I'm not sure why I let it affect me so -- but my list became personal and private this year.
Because at the end of the day, I do want to keep my attitude on others and show them that I'm grateful that they walk with me - even when our walks may be at a difference cadence.
I think that has been my struggle this fall. The volume of others has affected my voice. I'm working on that.
1. I'm grateful for God. For His son who loves me despite the fact that I make mistakes. For the amazing miracles He performs. For the times when He says yes and times when He says no. I'm grateful that he gives me the opportunity to walk with others, shine at times, and allow others to shine. He humbles me.
2. I'm grateful for my family. I love my husband and the four children we created. It's not always easy; it's not always fun; however, it is a choice. It is a choice to love each other despite our flaws and celebrate the fact that we were given this opportunity called life. I would do anything for any of them. They amaze me and bless me daily. I'm grateful for their activities and lives.
3. I'm grateful for my parents. They sacrificed so much for me to help me to become the person I am today. I can still hear my father showing me that how you treat others is important. It's important to take the emotion out of situations and deal with them calmly. After all, people are important. My mom taught me compassion, determination, and patience. Her gift was to help me see things through other's eyes.
4. I'm grateful for my in-laws. They raised my husband to be the man he is today. Without them, my family wouldn't exist. They give to my family over and over. I appreciate this beyond words.
5. I'm grateful for my brother and his family. My brother and sister-in-law and my two nephews who I don't get to see often enough. My brother is so important to me - and I couldn't be prouder of the family he has created as well.
6. I'm grateful for my sister who lives in Vietnam with her husband and four beautiful children. I pray for them daily, and I'm so excited to see them through social media. This is a gift that has forged relationships and connections that give us glimpses through each others' eyes. I love her story. It's a beautiful one.
7. I'm grateful for my biological father and his wife. Our story has not always been an easy one, but it's a part of us. I'm grateful for the lessons learned.
8. I'm grateful for my friends -- for those who have walked with me for decades and those who were a season in my life. May God hold you all in His hands. I do believe our paths crossed for a reason, and I will love you all forever.
9. I'm grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. I love teaching. It is my passion. It is also hard work, frustration, and overwhelming at times. Perspective becomes important. I learn from my students every single day. Fortunately, they learn from me as well. I love every single one of them. I care about them forever . . .
10. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with amazing people. They encourage, inspire, and challenge me to be more.
Finally, I'm grateful for the gift of possibilities . . . for my PLN who has opened my eyes, reaffirmed, and encouraged me in so many ways. I've missed you this fall.
That silly program so many years ago, helped me to see what words I want to focus on in my life. Gratitude is at the top of my list, for it reminds me to look beyond myself and focus on serving others. My list forced me to be intentional in how I want others to see me and affected my actions as such.
I would close with my class, "What do you want your words to be?"