A Day in the Life of Being Grateful

6:00AM: It's soooo early. I must have been up at least five times last night with the baby.

7:30AM: We are running late and of course, traffic!

9:00AM: **grumble grumble** Why didn't he empty the dishwasher this morning? 

12:00PM: Hurry and feed them before they become violent (again)!

3:30PM: Is this day going to end?

3:35PM: But, seriously.

5:01PM: He's late! Everything is horrible.

7:30PM: Finally, peace and quiet... and laundry.

9:30PM: I have nothing bad to say about bedtime, except I wish it had been earlier.

What if it looked like this instead?

6:00AM: I am going to accomplish so much today. Look at the sun streaming in.

7:30AM: I am so glad the van is fixed.

9:00AM: **whistle whistle** Let's clean up this beautiful kitchen my husband poured his sweat into creating for me. 

12:00PM: You get a peanut butter and jelly! You get a peanut butter and jelly! Everyone gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

3:30PM: Let's spend the afternoon at the park!

3:35PM: Or the zoo?

5:01PM: Quick! Let's clean up some stuff before Daddy gets home!

7:30PM: Look at these tiny socks. Have you ever seen such tiny socks!

9:30PM: Prayer time and bedtime!

It's kind of crazy how a little change in outlook can change an entire day, isn't it? Tell me I am not the only one who gets crabby and wallows in my own self pity every now and then (or maybe even more than that, but I won't admit it!)

November is all about thanksgiving and being thankful for all the things we have in our lives. I challenge you today to be more mindful of your thoughts.

Be grateful.

Be kind.

Be silly! 

Be contagious.

1 John 3:1: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

being thankful for the mundane

If you have children, I am guessing your children's bedtime routine is similar. Get in jammies. Brush teeth. Fill water bottles with an appropriate number of ice cubes, four if you are four years old, two if you are two years old. (Wait? That's not in your routine?!) Say prayers. Read bedtime story and Bible story. Go to sleep. Breathe a sigh of relief that you have indeed made it through another day. With our four year old daughter, our prayers consist of saying the Lord's Prayer and then also praying aloud an impromptu prayer covering all the topics-- thanksgiving, forgiveness, and requests.

beingthankful

Since our daughter has gotten a little older, we've been including her in the thanksgiving part of the prayer. We like to specifically ask what she is thankful for from that day.

Sometimes (and this sounds terrible), this would annoy me.

But let me explain. Toddlers don't always understand everything. Okay, that's surely not news to anyone. A concept, such as being thankful for something, can be difficult to really understand completely. Of course we have been teaching her to say thank-you since she could hardly speak, but did she really understand it much more than a response you give when someone provides you with something?

So when we first started this, what was she often thankful for?

"Thank you for lamp."

"Thank you for pictures."

"Thank you for blankie."

Hmpf. This was annoying to me. Here I am, trying to explain, "No. What is something we did today that you are thankful for? What is something special you are thankful for?" Surely she still had yet to completely understanding what thanksgiving is all about! What four year old cares about a lamp or pictures hanging on the wall?

Over the past year, even with my insistence to try to change this nightly prayer, it remains. My daughter continues to be thankful for her lamp, her pictures, her blankie. But a funny thing is happening. She is starting to add more things to this. "I am thankful for all my clothes and shoes. I am thankful for all my toys. I am thankful for my bed. I am thankful for all of my books and chapter books."

But those core items remained.

However I started to realize something. She really seems to understand thanksgiving these days. She clearly does by many of the things that she says she is thankful for. So, it would seem, she is thankful for her lamp and her pictures and who knows what else lying around.

But why shouldn't she be? Why was I getting so angry that she be thankful for the seemingly mundane things in her life? Isn't this what I, as her Mom, should be teaching her? I myself was praying for somewhat "mundane" things-- thanks for our cars, thanks for our house, thanks for all the things you have blessed us with. But she can't have those same ideas?

Some people don't have lamps. Some people don't have electricity! Some people don't have pictures. Some people don't have walls! Some people don't have a blankie. Some people don't have a home!

These are very real things to be thankful for! Just because I have been fortunate enough in my life to not experience this kind of disparity certainly doesn't mean I can't and shouldn't be thankful for them. Just because God has blessed me with not needing to worry about what I will eat or what I will wear certainly doesn't mean He doesn't want me to thank Him for them!

This realization, that took far longer than it should have to come to, is a huge slap in the face. Nothing like being taught by your four year old about being thankful.

Psalm 100: 1-5, "Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

As you can probably guess, I don't get mad about our prayer anymore. I use our prayers to be thankful! A reminder to be so thankful for everything God has blessed me with, whether seemingly insignificant (to me) or as amazing as salvation from our Savior Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

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Skillful Mariner // Thankfulness in Suffering

Givethanksheader I’ve always been a sucker for proverbs, quotes, inspirational sayings, and the like. I’d regularly have the fortunes from cookies, Dove chocolate wrappers, or magazine cutouts taped to my computer screen edges, walls, doors, notebooks, etc.

 

The days of displaying or even just storing away every scrap of paper are over for the most part, but for some reason there is one little fortune that is still stuck to my cupboard door. It is not necessarily because the saying is so much more significant than others, but more so that the mood hit me just right the day we ordered Chinese and the piece of tape I used to attach it to my cupboard happens to be particularly ambitious.

 

“A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner”

 

I do love the reminder. No one’s life journey is smooth sailing start to finish. Some face seas far rougher than others. Some skillful mariners have fought battles most or all of us will never know. Some people can barely tell the story of the storm they faced because of the very real pain that is imbedded in its memory. Some have never faced waters quite so rough.

 

Between history books and mass media, you may feel like you have never really suffered, at least not comparatively. We joke about our #firstworldproblems and preface our venting sessions with the acknowledgments of how our concerns are so small in the big picture, and how we know that we really are blessed.

 

 sailing

I don’t have big storms in my life like some do to point to, but I’ve got little ones just like everybody. I certainly wasn’t grateful at the time for the storms I faced, but I am extremely grateful now for the skills I’ve gained as a mariner!

 

Without the hurt I felt, the arguments I had, and the regrets from previous relationships, I would not be the wife I am today (which is still far from perfect). There are more things I appreciate about my husband, and less I take for granted. I am less inclined to need the last word, and more inclined to avoid the regret and apology later. I am sorry for the hurt I felt and caused in past relationships, but so very grateful that I learned so many lessons before I committed to my husband as long as we both shall live.

 

Each sickness, tantrum, argument, and various other less-than-smooth sailing with my children grows me as a parent.

 

I am grateful that my child has made a scene in public, so that I can look with empathy and understanding instead of judgement when it’s someone else’s.

 

There are many skills I have gained through life’s difficulties, and many lessons that I’ve had to learn more than a few times. I also know full well, that there are so many more to come.

 

More significant than any skill I have gained for each different role in my life is the fact that I am so grateful that I don’t have a life of only smooth sailing. How tragic would it be to fall so in love with the sea that we forget our goal and destination? It is in our moments of weakness, despair, regret, and hurt that we most clearly see our need for a Savior and look forward to heaven!

 

 

2 Corinthians 12:10

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

You don’t have to enjoy rough seas in your life, but you can try to put focus on allowing those rough seas to equip you for your future sailing endeavors! And always let them serve as a reminder that you have a Savior who loves you, who has a wonderful plan for your life, and a room in paradise waiting just for you!

 

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

I'm never going to be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, sister, friend, Christian or person. I'm going to fail over and over, but if each struggle will grow my faith and bring me closer to my Savior, I will give thanks for every storm.

 

1 Peter 1:6-8

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

 

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