Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pillows, Jeans that Fit, My Kids, and Chick-Fil-A

Is it still no shave November? I was just wondering. There was a time when it was no shave November. People also post things daily for which they are thankful in November. November has Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and apparently it's pretty much Christmas now. November is a very busy month. Ask her! I mentioned in a former post something for which I was thankful and said I may or may not try to do that posting daily thing. My reasoning is that I know how my mind works and I would forget. I did forget. I forgot to post, but not to be thankful.

With Thanksgiving upon us we reflect once again on all our blessings. Just yesterday I saw a church sign that read, “We don’t need more to be thankful for, we need to be thankful more.” While the grammar made my brain itch, the message was spot on. And please know I realize the grammar in my own writing makes some of my readers’ brains itch. I won’t say names. Sister.

Many years ago before most of you were born, I was listening to a friend’s son say a blessing before we ate lunch. He thanked God for many things, but what totally caught me off guard was when he thanked God for his pillow. Never before had it occurred to me to thank God for my pillow. Ever had to sleep without a pillow or on one that felt somewhat akin to a saltine cracker? If so, you are probably thankful you have your own fluffy piece of heaven, right? Who thinks to be thankful for a pillow? This child did and it absolutely changed how I viewed my prayers of thanks.

Having the pleasure of spending time in deep discussion with friends at the ALCA conference last week, as well as other friends lately, I’ve been reminded that every single day I’ve been given roughly 16-19 hours of wake time, depending on what time Max and Emmie deem it necessary to devour their morning kibble. Every day; same amount of time. Every day. I am extremely busy as are you, my reader, I am certain. (By the way, thank you for taking a minute out of your schedule to read this) I work full time, have a son in college in Mobile and while I don’t help him out a lot anymore, I do try to keep in touch often. I’m the mom. That’s what we do. I have a teenage daughter who doesn’t have her license yet, so I’m back to being chauffeur and private detective. I’m kidding. Sort of. I also felt the need to add a little more to the plate and am in school again working on my Educational Leadership license. We have church, family, friends, and functions. Slicing time for fun things is rare, but precious.

When my son came home last night for the first time since he left in August, I cannot even tell you how thankful I was. Praying for safe travels for his friends and him all day, when I finally saw his face I couldn’t contain my excitement or my scream. I ran and hugged the first kid out of the car. He was shorter, wasn’t Liam, it was Ira, but I didn’t care. They were home. They were safe. Our kids are here! I made my rounds and got to my boy. I squeezed my son, Liam, so tight. I didn’t want to let go. Thankful is a shallow word for the way I felt. I almost asked Liam if he’d gained a pound or two but I was afraid he would return the question, so I resisted.

Here’s what people didn’t see…. I took my son to his dad’s and took a few pics as he hugged on his sister and they played around with throwing punches at each other. I think that's obligatory.

We all talked, and I left. I left him. I left them. There. Now, lest you think I’m awful and gave my kids up, I didn’t. The deal was that they would stay with Todd the first night and have their Thanksgiving with them today. Did I feel empty when I drove away? You better believe it. But I was thankful. I was thankful that I can go to my ex-husband’s house, hug his wife, talk about what we’re each cooking over the holidays, sit in their family room with OUR children, and feel like a family. I was thankful that we laughed; we are safe, healthy, happy, and proud. I am thankful I have a home to come to that is warm, beautiful, and decorated for Christmas. 

I could have been bitter about our circumstances. I could have been angry that I didn’t get the “whole time with my children”, but what good will it do to be bitter? Same amount of time, what am I going to do with it? Be angry or thankful?

The Bible refers to us as children. I think that’s pretty telling given we act like children and not in the sweet way. Actually, most children act a lot better than some of us adults. Don’t act like you don’t know to what I’m referring. We all know if our kids did and acted the way we do sometimes, we’d ground them for life. The truth is we want them to be better than we are.

If you’ve ever worked with children or received a gift from a child, you act like it’s the greatest thing in the world. It’s not acting really, it really is great. Why? Why is that tacky shell covered duck statue thingie so wonderful? (Sorry, Mom. I really thought it was beautiful at the time. You can put it away now) It’s not the actual content, it’s the thought. It’s that you were the center of someone else’s thinking. You were loved. A child walks up to you with gift and eagerly awaits for you to unwrap this treasure. All eyes are on you. You know what you have to do…. You have to wear this (insert: necklace, bracelet, earrings) at least 3 times, including RIGHT NOW to show how much you love this precious sentiment.

When we give our children gifts we are hoping for the same reactions, but it’s not always quiet so fantastical, is it? You are absolutely positive they will LOVE the lemon yellow puffy vest you picked for them because they look SO good in yellow! (Sorry, Mom, I never could tell you… it just wasn’t me). We give them things we know is best for them sometimes and they may not understand; like jackets, warm socks, underwear.

Gifts are a funny thing, no matter how you open them. I think whatever any of us expect when we give or receive a gift, we never hope for, nor expect rejection. Sometimes our gift is whimsical, sometimes it has been long thought out. Sometimes it is very simple, sometimes it is complex and serious. Never do we sit there awaiting our beloved recipient to say, “You know, this really sucks and isn’t what I was looking for right now.” Or “I really don’t have time for this. Thanks, though.”

Every day we get a gift. God eagerly gives his children a brand new, shiny day.  For me it is 16-19 hours of beauty to unwrap! Every. Single. Day. I have written it before, but when I was at Auburn and feeling so miserably, my mom said to me that God divided our time into 24 hours because He knew we couldn’t handle any more than that. That really stuck with me. I also feel that every 24 hours is a brand new shiny chance to find things to be thankful for. Can you see the gorgeous leaves right now? The ones you dread raking? Be thankful for your sight. Can you hear your kids laughing? Arguing? Be thankful you can hear. Can you move about your home to do housework, that never ending housework? Be thankful for a home, your mobility, and people to clean up after.

Do you get to sleep in a bed, on a pillow, and cover with blankets? There, three more things for which you can be thankful. You see, you can choose. Every day you can choose. Be bitter, or be thankful. You have the same amount of time in every day. Being bitter about things will buy you no more time and you are only wasting the precious gift God gives you. How it must break His heart to see his children hate or simply not appreciate the gifts with which He showers them every day. How it must sadden Him to no end to graciously give, and give, and give, only to have us protest because the gifts aren’t “fair” (we may ought to be happy that God is gracious, not fair, by the way), that His gifts aren’t what we want, desire, or good enough. By the way, the One who created us knows what we need. It’s pretty simple. And when The Bible speaks of us being like children, maybe we should look at God with those huge eager eyes, the way children do when the presents are under the tree; in awe and wonder at what our amazing Creator has in store for us today, knowing it will be exactly what we need, in this time, whether we understand it or not.

So while we are thankful tomorrow, can we honestly say that we are choosing to walk in thanks daily? It is a choice, but it is more than that, it is absolutely crucial to being happy. It isn’t easy and there are backslides for sure, but today… today I choose to be thankful for small things, like my Coca Cola Zero, my dogs who are freshly groomed and look pretty, my jeans that still fit. I am thankful for big things too, like family and friends, of course. But I’m thankful that my kids came and brought lunch, Chick-Fil-A nuggets  

 (....and please notice that they left the bag on the counter and cups out... just saying. But also please notice well groomed pup in the background, protecting our castle.)

I’m thankful for the outlet of writing. I’m thankful for the cool temps. I’m thankful for the brief but thoughtful phone call from a friend making sure my son was home safely, for the kids and my hilarious attempt at hanging the “big wreath” (it’s still not up), and for half-and–half tea. Simple things.

And tonight when I put my head down, you can bet I will be thankful for my pillow.

Wishing you all things wonderful, many things for which to be thankful… or at least that you can fit into your jeans.

November 23, 2016

The Heaviness of My Heart

All, I've had writers block for a long time. I've had several posts started and some still hang in mid-air on my computer just wai...