Grateful for Leisure

Welcome  My word of the year for 2018 was faith, but if I were to pick a runner-up, it would be gratitude.  In the past year, I can tell a difference in my life just by taking time each day to reflect on gratitude.

It’s easy to express gratitude for the big things and for the things we really want.  But I am learning how valuable it can be to express gratitude for the small, simple joys in life.  I believe, from personal experience, that our quality of life improves proportionately with our quantity of gratitude.  The more we express our gratitude, the more we will enjoy our lives and what we already have.

Food For Thought  I will admit, I never gave much thought to being grateful for leisure and relaxation until this past year.  In fact, in the past, I would criticize myself for not using time for something productive or being physically active in some way.  I even had a hard time slowing down when I was sick.

The fact is, though, our bodies need rest.  Our brains need time to slow down as well.  And, it’s good for our spirit and emotional health to take time to do things we enjoy, simply for the sake that they bring us pleasure.  Rather than viewing myself as lazy or wasting time, now I view these leisure activities as a form of appreciation for the wonderful things God has created for our world.

I believe there can be a healthy balance in our lives.  Balance between work and play.  Balance between others and self.  Balance between reverence and amusement.  And at the end of the day, express a healthy dose of gratitude for it all.

So here is my challenge for you today.  Write a list of all the things you would do if you could take a whole day for just yourself.  I know, in reality we never really get to do this, but humor me for a moment.  In your list, write down what you would do throughout the day.  Would you sleep in?  Or would you get up early for a quiet walk in the woods or a chance to watch the sunrise?  Would you listen to music or would you prefer the quiet?  Would you read a good book, grab some paints and an easel, or take a spin on your bike?  What would you eat?  Would you savor delicious foods that you normally save as treats?  Would you try your hand at a new recipe or give your taste buds a sampling of a new ethnic cuisine?  Would you allow for pampering at a spa, maybe a massage or a new nail color?  How many of the activities would you do by yourself?  How many others would be invited into your personal leisure day?

Here’s part two of the challenge: do at least one of the items on your list this month.  And don’t feel guilty!  Instead, feel grateful.  Express gratitude for the experience of leisure and enjoyment.  Express gratitude to those in your life that make it possible, whether it’s your spouse for taking care of the kids while you enjoy some leisure or your girlfriends for accompanying you to that new cooking or art class.  Then, when you head back to the work and chores part of life, you can express gratitude for the rest and recovery given to hour body and mind, knowing you can better complete the tasks at hand.

Today’s Scripture  There is a time for everything, including a time to toil and a time to take pleasure.

Today’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I am so grateful for Your gifts of rest, relaxation, renewal, and leisure.  They are true blessings to restore my body, mind, and soul.  Thank You!

In Christ’ Name, Amen.

Today’s Recipe  When I made my list of “me day” activities, it included playing with my daughter, reading a good book, making art work, and a warm bath with aromatherapy products.  I also said cooking and baking, because for me, these are very enjoyable activities.  I particularly enjoy making things with chocolate!  But it doesn’t always have to be complicated.  Sometimes it can be something sweet and simple, like these Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins.  They’re perfect for portable breakfasts, lunchboxes, after-school snacks, brunches, or a night-time treat.

Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes approximately 2 dozen mini-muffins)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or add mini-cupcake liners to pan.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla, continuing to beat until combined.

Whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda in small bowl.  Add to butter mixture, alternating with milk, until just  combined.

Fold in mini-chocolate chips.  Add a tablespoon of batter to each muffin cup.

Bake at 350 for 26-20 minutes (ovens vary).  Cool five minutes before removing from pan to wire cooling racks.