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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

I love November. I love the weather, the warmer clothes, the leaves, the anticipation of our yearly trip to Mamaw’s, and I love being reminded everywhere I look to be thankful for all the things we take for granted. Being a blogger (albeit, an inconsistent one), I was eager to join the ranks of all my other blogging, instagramming, pinning, flickring friends and post pictures of my thanksgiving advent tree. Us crafty types take pride in our creative, usually all-natural ways of inspiring our children to act out gratefulness during this season. Verses learned, goodies baked, moments remembered, simple acts of kindness, all done by little angelic faces and hands, make perfect blog fodder in this season of thanksgiving.

I mean really . . . .

      

Melt your heart, right? Moments like this make you say, “ah, that’s why we had kids!”

So naturally, I’ve been attempting to fashion moments where the gratefulness in their little hearts can pour right out.

Well, there isn’t any.

Today was day four and not once have we had an advent tree activity that hasn’t involved, whining, arguing, crying, complaining or pouting. Yesterday’s was so bad, we didn’t do it. We were supposed to do something nice for daddy to show how thankful we are for him. We couldn’t settle on something and we didn’t have a TON of time, so I suggested we drag the trash can back up from the curb for him because he always does that. It’s a tiny little thing, but when he sees it done, he’ll feel special, etc. Nothing doing. They weren’t going to buy it and thought that it was a “lame,” “not very good,” “how the heck is that thankful?” idea. How the heck indeed. After many long, exasperated moments, I guilted them into doing it, but every inch of the way was riddled with complaints and grunts and groans of difficulty and dissent. It didn’t end well. I sort of got mad and told them to forget it and get in the house while I not so patiently dragged the trash can up the drive, stormed into the house and declared that clearly no one was really thankful for daddy and some other guilt inducing, law infused, grace bereft remarks that ended with everyone in a crying heap.

SIGH.

Maybe my advent tree is broken.

Honestly, ever since I read Ann’s book last year, I’ve seen so much more clearly the lack of thankfulness in my home both in myself and in my children. I did my 1000 gifts and went through this really great season of genuine gratitude, but once the rush of all that died down, it’s been so hard to get that momentum back. There’s ungratefulness everywhere and I know that I can only teach it to my children by demonstrating it in my own life, but it seems the harder I try to do it, the more I fail at it. It’s so discouraging to be trying to teach thankfulness and end up angry (clearly, unthankful myself). How confusing it must be for them to see me flounder so much in this area. I don’t know how to get out of it. I can’t just generate thankfulness in this broken heart.

On a lighter note, I really am thankful in this moment that the Thanksgiving advent tree is still standing (even though Gillian suggested tossing it out the window). Tomorrow’s another day.

 

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. . . we were younger, thinner, had way more energy, and I can’t even go into how our hair has changed. We wandered around the then Reedy River Park with our friend Chris and took a few photos to commemorate our engagement. Fast forward ten years, three kids, the house, the job, the mini-van, yaddy yadda, and we found ourselves once again in the same (barely) park, commemorating our togetherness. It was such an interesting project, trying to recreate the energy (did I mention that we had more energy back then? Sheesh!), the DRAMA, the anticipation, the “oh, don’t you wish you had a love like us”-ness of our engagement. I look at those two crazy in love kids and think about all the things they’ve got ahead. So many memories I’d love to re-live, and so many I wish they never had to go through. I think back on choices, think back on places and people that will cross those paths. I get a little melancholy.

          

I’m a nostalgic person by nature, dwelling more on the past, painting it up all nice and then looking at the future with a weird combo of idealism and fear, often having to remind myself that this moment is what is important. Living in the moment isn’t my strong suit. When I first saw these comparisons, I have to admit that I struggled a little. It’s easy to see what’s lost (or gained I might say in both our cases!) It’s easy to long for certain parts of the past that we’ll never have again. Do any of you get all mopey sentimental like that? That also happens when I go on a college campus. I get all reminiscent about my younger days as if they were so great. Why do that? Where’s my living in the moment?

          

 

SIGH.

 

Then I saw the “out takes,” the shots taken when weren’t trying to be melodramatic, desperate-in-love twenty year olds again (which, I must add for the sake of my younger friends, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with being melodramatic, desperate in love and twenty all at the same time, so you go right on with your far off looks, retro filtered photos and vintage threads. I am with you!)

Anyway, it’s in the “oops! I wasn’t ready!” shots that I see it.

          

 

There’s my moment.

 

There’s my right now.

There’s my breath catching, tearing up “wow, honey, can you believe all that God has brought us through and yet here we are with our arms around each other in this old park, still working through each day together? Isn’t God amazingly kind to us?”

What a happy anniversary it turned out to be! 

Oh, I guess I already posted this one. Well, we weren’t pretending in this one!

 

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We’re well into week four of our school year and starting to settle into a bit of a routine. The scariness of teaching two separate grades at the same time is wearing off, but the reality of trying to do so with a needy toddler underfoot is sinking in. As I reach the end of the day I find myself often looking at the whole as a failure, noticing mostly the times I got frustrated, the times I was short with the kids or didn’t give Eliot enough attention, the things I didn’t get done, the gifts I didn’t give thanks for, and all the ways I lived “no” rather than “yes.”   Well, that obviously won’t do with 32 weeks to go will it?

I’m finding it helps if I can take it one moment at a time. Looking back just isn’t a good idea at this point in life. I have to take the moment as it comes, ask for just enough grace to get through that one. It goes back to naming the gifts. Each moment is a gift and I have to notice it as that, live in it, take it in and know that it’s good because He is a giver of only good gifts. Moments of NOISE, when all three of them have things to say at the same time, moments of exasperation when the four year old is having a break down over her spelling, moments of laughter when I inadvertently make silly noises as I’m teaching them how to form letters, moments of pride when Gill cranks out the number ‘8’ correctly the very first time, moments of blessed peace when something soft is playing and they’re working on their own, moments of jealousy when I lay Eliot down for a nice cozy nap,  and moments of bedlam when I’m trying to get them all out the door to make it to a gym class on time. Oh, and also moments of disgust when I’m sitting on the edge of the tub washing out Eliot’s stinky diapers and asking whose fool idea it was to use cloth (geez, I’m trying to save the kid’s butt and planet at the same time, the least he could do is poop just once a day for me!) Anyway, they’re all gifts. I have  to be reminded so often. I had to be reminded today. I’m writing about it because I figure maybe someone else out there needs to be reminded as well.            

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I’m sort of reeling right now. I had a lovely week of rest and relaxing, alone time and one on one with Ando. I’m kinda bummed that I didn’t take pictures, but do you really want to see pictures of me lounging around my hotel room? I think not. It was a week of EASY Eurcharisteo. So easy, I forgot to write down gifts, sort of figuring that I was thankful for it all, right? There was nothing to complain about, nothing to stress over, no messes to clean up, no meals to cook. Glorious and restful, yes, but my heart sort of went to autopilot.

This is bad because . . . . . ?

Well, today is Monday. It’s back to work day. Back to mess day. Back to everything out of control and learning to let go of the need to control while holding on to the moments that are really worth something day And I’m reeling from how quickly my heart stops giving thanks and starts feeling entitled to rest and peace and everything done for me and life being easy. If you’d asked me, I of course would have said that you can’t live there. You can’t spend your life in hotels and restaurants, only talking to the kids on the phone. Of course I knew that–I know that, so why am I so quickly back to living like I don’t? After a week in places where everything was neat and tidy and in it’s place, coming home to the paint stains on carpets, the cheerios in corners, the last four years of little girl clothes stuffed into every nook and cranny of the closet, you know, just the general lived in-ness of having three children all kind of smacked me right in the face. So after my one wonderful day of “look at me, I’m so refreshed from my week away!”, I woke up to a cloud that kept getting bigger and darker as the day progressed.

Talk about a wake up call. Talk about a reminder to start my day on my knees, giving thanks, rather than waiting until I’m feeling crushed by it all, being forced to be beg for the strength to simply survive it. It’s just sort of shocking how quickly we forget. Forget who we are. Forget what we have. Forget why we’re here. Forget what’s to come. Forget Eucharisteo!

Sigh.

Can I start over? Can I re-do my settling back in and give thanks for the mundane, the frustrating and the overwhelming?

****************

1053. Rest

1054. Reunions

1055. Taylor making home safe after 10 days in Nicaragua

1056. Receiving strength if I’ll just humble myself and ask for it 

1057. Bean’s Mark home safely after 3 weeks in Utah

1058. Gillian pushing the same button on this annoying musical toy over and over and over and over

1059. Friends coming over and fixing a feast

1060. Liam’s delight at figuring out a new game

1061. Making careless text typos that completely insulted my mom in law, who graciously didn’t get too offended at me

1062. Liam sharing his candy willingly

1063. Cool breezes on days too hot for May



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. . . when grace pours down, unexpected, unsolicited even and I am covered in His love. Feeding babies, dancing the hokey pokey, scrounging up a lunch, admonishing my children for the HUNDREDTH time to get their room clean, right in the middle of an ordinary day and Father says, “stop and feel my presence. Know that I love you.” These moments are among the sweetest of the gifts. Joy flowing from nowhere inside my self, only from Jesus in me.
Assurance.

Affirmation.

Affection.

My love bucket being filled and then flowing out into those of the kidlets around me. Not in church, where the words of truth pour down on me and I’m surrounded by hundreds of other faith-fighters, not in the middle of sweeping and swelling melodies that massage the tension from my life wearied emotions.

Real.

Right here on my dirty kitchen floor, where my only commrades are squabling little ones and the only music is the skipping of the scratched Beatles album replaying over and over again, “Help! I need somebody!” The song’s even telling me that I can’t do it alone and I don’t get it. I trust in my own strength, but He won’t let me. Not for this special moment. In this special moment He turns my face toward him with the force of His own hand and tells me to look at him and I do and I see beauty.

And I give thanks.

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. . . . is upon us in every way. Homeschooling is hard, blogging almost impossible, breathing even a challenge. I’ve got a couple of drafts that I’m working on, but I need courage to post them. I need guidance to write the words that would serve. Hopefully I’ll have something up soon. All in all, we’re enduring the typical Spring stuff-balancing out the glorious days with the allergy induced fog, while trying to wriggle our way through the last half of the semester. I miss writing. I miss connecting with my meager little band of readers.

At the very least I can post a few gifts.

880. Distractions
881. Gillian wearing five pairs of panties just because
882. Swift forgiveness
883. Farm fresh eggs from a friend
884. Sitting down to breakfast with all three kidlets
885. Gillian wriggling her hand into mine
886. So much mess

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I started the day tired, cranky, running behind, getting upset at the kids, not giving thanks for anything at all. Don’t you just love Mondays? This weekend I took an unintentional hiatus from my 1000 gifts journal and I can surely tell. I’m fighting against everything that really is inconvenient and perceiving everything else as being inconvenient. Constantly saying “yes” but living “no.” (That’s Ann’s, not mine).  I need to REMEMBER. I’m like the children of Israel, doubting God before my sandals have even left the dry ground in between the walls of the Red Sea. It’s so hard, this everyday forgetting and remembering. Do you ever just feel so stupid that you can’t remember all the grace and all the goodness and all the undeserved beautiful surrounding you?

The thing I needed to remember today as I was trying to pull myself out of a Monday funk, was that in order to teach my children thankfulness, I had to show thankfulness, and that in showing thankfulness, I do become thankful. I know this! Doesn’t it just make so much sense? Why then the constant need for reminders? I think partly because the reminders in themselves are something to be thankful for. My reminder came to me on the couch with a teary eyed Gillian who just needed some attention. As we sat there snuggle cuddling, I asked her to try giving thanks to take a way the sad feelings and through her tears and the lisp of her thumb in her mouth she professed thanks “for her toys, her family, her baby brother, her mommy and everything else, except satan” (but of course!). Then after about ten good minutes of purely blissful four year old snuggliness, she looked up at me and said, “my love tank is all full now Mommy.”

So then I remembered and then I went and got my journal and named out the gifts that had been building up all weekend. Thankful to be reminded to give thanks, to be a receiver of so much grace.

Head over to onethousandgifts.com to find out how to join me and a growing community in giving thanks.

767. Bird song heard in the quiet of the early morning

768. The roof on the house being replaced

769. Alone time at the gym

770. Pollen coming down like snow (the Ugly Beautiful)

771. Ten minutes filling up Gillian’s love tank

772. Liam’s cooking escapades in the kitchen

773. Building forts

774. Children giving thanks of their own accord

775. A missing Gillian found reading in the van

776. Coffee mustaches

777. Sunbeams kissing the faces of the ones I love most

And of course, must come the pictures.

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