A thankful start.

On my desk sits a twin bell alarm clock. It's mint colored, the same shade of my favorite ice cream. And I like it for two reasons:

1) I can depend on a cell phone less.
2) It reminds me I am alive.

When I was in junior high, a plastic clock hung on a thumbtack above my bedroom door. I remember staring at its big and little hands, wondering what it might point me to later in life. The ticking then was just as soothing as it is now. A familiar pulse behind my days. A reminder that every second counts.

You can say I've always been a little obsessed with time.

To some, January is just another month. 24 hours will come and go, circling around the clock a whole bunch until we're changing dates again. It's true, there's no special power in a new calendar year. But I cherish these early days nonetheless.

The start of 2017 was dedicated to praying, writing, and thinking. Lore Wilbert's wonderful set of year-end questions helped me carefully sort through the regrets and lessons, hopes and fears. I often need reminding we are here for a purpose and plan far bigger than ourselves.

We celebrated my brother's birthday this week—the last before his teens. He's asking the things I am in my mid-twenties. The ones about our purpose, our aliveness. I wish I could give him everything I've learned about the world. I want to keep him from certain realities, knowing the big and little hands will not point to painless times.

But not everything has to hurt, and for that, I'm thankful.

Some of this week's gifts: In addition to celebrating, I cracked open fortune cookies with a friend over Chinese food and talked life. I got to make vegetable soup from scratch and grocery shop and clean the house without falling over. I finished a book and started relearning Japanese. I walked the dog and attended church again. I received my study Bible in the mail and burst into laughter while reading. I received two more rejection emails and got my teeth cleaned. I spent less time online and more time playing and being with others—some whom I've not seen in months.

Not much has changed in health or employment or the big things, but there's a grace and sweetness to life right now, in the little. Answered prayers, I believe.

I don't know where I'm going with all this, except to say I'm thankful to be alive and out of my bed in 2017. I almost forgot what it was like.