I’ve talked often about my 2019 garden surprises. It’s hard to get over those little things that are just so delightful. And why should I try? I love being amazed at the tiny beautiful things taking place in my neck of the woods.

But to be surprised + delighted as an adult first takes a choice to be intentional and disciplined.

That seems a bit counter-intuitive, but let me explain.

It’s very easy to get sucked into everyday stress. It’s less work to believe the lie that “we can’t adult today.” It’s more fun to vent and complain about all the things not working well in our lives. Why would we force ourselves to be disciplined or intentional when life isn’t going the way we though or hoped it would?

This kind of attitude has us shutting ourselves out of a lot of beautiful things, grace-filled transformation, and the joy of noticing tiny delights. We don’t know how to see good things anymore. We don’t have the discipline to count them or remember them. We are so wrapped up in ourselves that we miss everything good and stunning outside of ourselves and our little world.

So we end up suffering deeply and feeling stagnant. And we hate that feeling so we go through this cycle of laziness, complacency, and whining all over again. We blame adulthood instead of taking responsibility for our thoughts, actions, and reactions.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can enjoy adulthood. We can choose the discipline to see good things and to not be crushed by our unmet expectations. We can learn how to be surprised and delighted. And as we learn, the skill will begin to feel like second nature to us and the tiniest good things will pop out at us during an ordinary day. Our intentional living and discipline will pay off tenfold.

One day, it won’t feel like hard work to be an adult and see the good stuff too.

Let’s deal with our difficulties while also witnessing tiny delights. Let’s wake up and take care of our responsibilities while also being surprised by beautiful clouds, rustling leaves, an extra good cup of coffee, a wildflower, a gorgeous fall snapdragon season, and all the little ways our happiness stacks up.

We are NOT ignoring stress or wiping out painful emotions and difficulties. We aren’t living with rose-colored glasses covering our eyes. This is us simply noticing the other side of our reality which is harder to acknowledge but quite stunning if only we did!

Here are a few very practical ways to be delighted in 2020:

Start a gladness note on your phone (better yet in a notebook)

Open up your phone app, go to the note section, title your new note Gladness and start keeping track of all the little things in your day that made you smile, gave ya a pep in your step, had you laughing, or feeling encouraged. Had a good cup of coffee? Write it down. Get a letter from a friend? Write it down. Finish something on your never-ending to-do list? Write it down. Have a good laugh? Write it down. Feel light-hearted because of the rain or sunshine? Write it down.

It’s a bonus if you keep track of the date for each of these gladness moments. Why? Because having a specific date to refer to reminds us that life isn’t this blurry mess of things. There are actually very specific and delightful things in the days our lives if only we noticed them.

Speaking of which!

Begin a “These Are the Days” notebook.

I began one in December and it’s simply acknowledging what these days are made of. Yours could look something like this:

These are the days of planning for 2020.

These are the days for keeping up with my kids.Β 

These are the days of leaning hard into the strength of God.

These are the days or pouring out my heart before God and finding intimate comfort in His Word.

These are the days of finding new routines and seeing friends smile and celebrating birthdays and soaking in life just as it is.

A notebook dedicated for These are the days. . . acknowledges the life we are living RIGHT NOW. It keeps us from getting caught up in the “good ole days” or consumed by the future golden days we want. Instead, we are learning to live the days of right now and see the good & the gold already in them.

Plant a flower.

This one is a favorite! Get a pot, a seed packet, some soil (doesn’t have to be perfect soil either) and plant the seeds. This is probably the easiest way to be surprised in 2020! Your effort consists of buying the inexpensive items and watering. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by making life happen or manipulating beauty to spring up. It’s just going to happen, because God made seeds to grow and gives the sun to shine and made plants much heartier than we can imagine.

I suggest finding a wildflower variety seed packet and starting from there. You may need to wait till spring to get going on this, but put it on your bucket list now. It’s going to teach you how to anticipate life and get you surprised when all that life pops up.

Choose just one of these and START TODAY. I could add more ideas, but that’s not the point. Let’s start small, go one step at a time, and move into delight little by little.

Which one will you choose?

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