Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Choosing 37 Joys

I turned 37 yesterday, and, really, aside from the fact that I like the number 36 better, I don’t care. My 30s have been my favorite decade yet. And, here I am, closer to 40 than 30, and I still really like to celebrate my birthday.

Even so, I do not like to have “Happy Birthday” sung to me in public.

I’m barely an extrovert – and that totally crosses a line.

So, in a slightly delayed celebration of my birthday, I’m sharing 37 ways I’m #choosingJOY recently. And I used the hashtag because it’s one of my favorites I use regularly on social media. Feel free to join me on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook – whichever is your favorite – and use that hashtag to share how you’re finding joy. And you can share on Pinterest, but, I’m sorry, I’m not there. I did reactivate my account, but, really, only long enough to choose some paint colors. I do not find joy there.

1. This third baby of mine. Y’all, I know I talk about her often here and on social media, but I wasn’t sure we were ever going to be a family of five. And we are. And I love it.

2. Rachel fits perfectly in our family – as if God had this planned all along. (Okay, I KNOW he did, but seeing that affirmation in everyday life is my favorite.)

3. Seeing her crawl quickly and pull up is my current favorite, even though I have a hard time wrapping my around the fact that’s where we are. I’m guessing she’s going to be our earliest walker.

4. Rachel is also back to sleeping through the night, so that’s good.

5. I’m excited about moving to our new house on 33 acres – hopefully later this month. This wasn’t my dream for a long time, but my husband wore off on me. And now it’s my dream too.

6. I really like my husband. I mean, duh, right? Right. But, really, I’ve seen marriages crumble, and I’m grateful mine has gotten better with time. We’re almost 14 years in.

7. Adventures with my family are fun. Whether it’s dinner time on a Tuesday night or a road trip to a safari park near Jackson, Tennessee, I like life with my people. God made us a family. We’re often loud and messy, but we are better together. (Click here for a glimpse into real life.)

8. I also am excited about some big adventures we have coming up this summer – a family reunion at the lake, a trip to visit my sister’s family for her twins’ baptisms, a beach vacation.

9. I’m also excited for days at the pool and catching up with friends.

10. Reading fiction is good for my soul. Sometimes I forget how much I like fiction. Here are some fiction books I’ve read this year.

11. Reading nonfiction, especially free books I get review and giveaway, is another way I like to spend my time. I know, this may seem silly, but I really like this part of being a blogger.

12. And, stay tuned because I have at least three books and one CD to giveaway this month alone. Best way to stay informed is to subscribe to receive my posts in your inbox, then you’re among the first to know and subscribers get extra entries into the giveaways.

13. Memoirs may be my favorite non-fiction. Here’s some I’ve read so far this year.

14. An adoption ministry God has built up around me reminds me our stories matter and have purpose well beyond our lives. And, hey, if you know someone who would like to join a private Facebook group I have for adoptive mommas, let me know. We have almost 90 moms who are in the process of adopting, hoping to adopt, or have grown their family through adoption. It’s a safe place to share prayer requests and resources.

15. Documenting life has long been a hobby of mine, but I’m loving the ways I can do it on my phone. My favorites are Project Life app, which allows me to create scrapbook pages right there from the palm of my hand, and Instagram, where I document all kinds of real-life moments.

16. Since July, I’ve used my iPhone exclusively for photos and I don’t feel like I’m settling for quality.

17. I love seeing Cate (who turns 9 this week) have so many hobbies. Her personality is a lot like mine – a little fearful of new things. But she’s embracing new things like having a friend teach her to crochet and letting my mother-in-law teach her how to sew. She’s excelling in her horse riding lessons, which she’s been taking about monthly for the past year, and she had her first piano recital at school last week after taking private lessons since August.

18. I love seeing Ben be a big brother. He’s an entertainer and protector, that’s for sure!

19. We have a countdown to summer break. TWO MORE MONDAY MORNINGS and nine more other school mornings.

20. While I’m certainly ready for Summer Break, I’m grateful for my kids teachers’ this year. They’ve been exactly what they each needed.

21. Cate has specifically cited lessons from her teacher about how to eat a cupcake and why not to wear a bikini. Solid life lessons, friends.

22. Ben is reading and it’s fun to see him know words or be interested in what something says.

23. “Fixer Upper.” Enough said.

24. I especially love watching the show with Cate, who has opinions and thoughts as we watch. We had caught up with all the episodes in the first two seasons on Netflix, but I saw we could buy season 3 of “Fixer Upper” on our Amazon Fire TV for $15 – that’s less than a dollar an episode, so I treated us to an early birthday present.

25. I like sharing my birth week with my girl. It’s hard to believe I had just turned 28 when she was born.

26. Starting new Bible studies is always so refreshing. Right now I’m working through Katie Orr’s “Everyday Faith.” You can follow her and others as we work through on Instagram. I’ll probably post some about it too.

27. I like new journals too. I have a couple awaiting my pen.

28. Facebook birthday wishes make me happy. I know people have all kinds of things to say about social media, but I like it. And I like how friends you never hear from come out of the woodwork to offer you a “Happy birthday” message. I did see one on someone else’s wall the other day that said: HBTY. Really? Can we just take the time to type “Happy birthday to you!” Surely.

29. Greg’s status on my birthday morning made me laugh: Happy 37th birthday to my wife, Kristin Taylor. If you see her out today tell her she is looking prime. (Who doesn’t love a good math joke?)

30. Cate has taken to planning book-themed birthday parties. Last year was Boxcar Children, this year is Pippi Longstocking. Oh and she helped me plan Ben’s “Dragons Love Tacos” party too.

31. Ben loves to cuddle first thing in the morning. Even if it’s earlier than I like, he’s so sweet then.

32. Qdoba opened a restaurant in Murray a few (?) years ago. I was so excited and ate there regularly. I still eat there regularly. I’m pretty sure my family and friends thought my obsession would be a fleeting thing. It’s not. I do need the mango salsa to come back to perfect my nachos.

33. Birthday eve flowers from my husband and big kids that are still sitting on the kitchen table are sweet.

34. Purging is like therapy. I’ve been cleaning out closets and clothes. I’ve shipped boxes to people. I’ve given bags to the thrift store and to a fundraising yard sale. It’s like nesting before our move.

35. I’m always making playlists in my head.

36. I love when I hear a song that goes along with what God is teaching me. Faith and adventures are the current themes.

37. The fact I made this list of 37 things. That’s joy right there, friends.

How are you #choosingJOY? It really is all around you. {Tweet that.}

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