16 Things I Learned This Autumn

1. Sometimes you just have to let yourself not be okay. Even if you don't quite understand why you're not okay. If you think you need to stay home for mental or emotional sanity, you probably do. There's no need to try to be a hero and push through it. Just be home.

2. When you have a day off while your husband is working, using it to visit your parents is incredibly special. It still feels like home no matter how old you get.

3. I sit here wishing that people would initiate relationship and get-togethers with me, so that I don't always have to feel like I'm the initiator. And then I realize that God has always been the initiator in our relationship...the one I've been wishing for.

4. "No" can be a very healthy word. If you don't have the courage to say it yourself, get someone you trust, run the question by them, and let them tell you that the answer is no.

5. If you're a supervisor, teacher, or leader of people in any capacity, don't assume that you don't need to provide feedback and encouragement to those under you who are capable, self-motivated, and don't come you to with a thousand questions all the time. They might appear to be doing just fine, but that isn't always the case. They need encouragement as much as everyone else.

6. I can get caught up in trying to distill down to a science all the factors that go into me having a bad day...but all of that gets put into quick perspective when the people around me start going through real struggles. I am learning that I need to simply accept my humanity and move on - bad days and all.

7. A weekly date night with your spouse is a pretty great idea.

8. Focus not on what you don't bring to the table, but on what you do.

9. When you're happy, even if others around you aren't happy, be happy. Don't let them get you down.

10. Sometimes it's at the end of the longest days, when the most calories have been burned, the most energy has been expended, and the most dances have been danced, that I realize I'm incredibly happy to be a dancer.

11. All the brokenness in the world is meant to point us to a "better country" - one in which all things are made whole and new again someday.

12. Think the best of people, and tell them. They will want to rise to what you think they are.

13. Baking a birthday cake or cheesecake for someone else is just about the nicest way to spend an afternoon.

14. Writing and mailing 50+ Christmas cards will take you longer than you think it's going to. Actually, most things probably will.

15. Going through an Advent prayer journal helps you slow down, reflect, and remember what this whole crazy season is actually about.

16. If you are ever discouraged about whether or not you're having an impact on those around you, watch "It's A Wonderful Life". Remember that small actions make a bigger difference than you think - for better or for worse. Make sure they're for better.