Tag Archives: Grateful

I Get to Do This

I have been overwhelmed to tears on multiple occasions today.

As I drove back from dropping the kids off at school, I looked the Christmas decorations on the homes and thought, “I get to do this.”

I get to experience the joy of Christmas.

As the tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over on to my cheeks, I became overwhelmed with gratitude.

I get to spend time with, and raise, my four beautiful children.

I get to live with the man I love and adore.

I get to see the beauty of snow falling. And sunrises. And leaves changing color. I have heard the sound of the ocean and have seen the majesty of mountains.

I get to eat. And to drink. And to sleep. And to wake.

I get to experience the joy and splendor of another Christmas season.

I get to see lights and bake cookies and gather with friends and decorate my home and our tree and give gifts and listen to Christmas songs and praise Jesus for the gift of His life.

I get to do this.

Each and every day.

I get to laugh. And to cry. And to sing. And to dance. And to love.

I get to build relationships. And to experience heartache.

I get to do this.

The gift of life is so very beautiful.

Thank you, Jesus. From the bottom of my heart and from the depths of my soul.

Thank you that I get to do this.

What a blessing this life is.

What a joy this life is.

I hope and pray I don’t take this beautiful gift for granted.

Thank you for each and every day that you give me. None of them are guaranteed. And each of them is precious.

Thank you that I get to do this.

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One Scenario: Two Reactions

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my husband’s shoes hitting the hardwood floors. Clippity Clop. Clippity Clop. I opened my eyes, stretched my arms and slowly made my way out of bed and into the start of a brand new day. The calendar was full, but that would have to change. Our son had thrown up the night before – throwing a slight hiccup into the day’s plans. Nothing that couldn’t be remedied with a few texts and phone calls.

As I made my way to the kitchen, my husband walked over, kissed me on the head and ushered me to my piping hot cup of freshly poured coffee sitting on the kitchen island. I looked down and then back up at him. I couldn’t help but smile. My coffee looked just as I like it – a milky, toasted brown color indicating the perfect ratio of rich, flavored cream to bold coffee. If making coffee without uttering a word is a way of measuring how well you know a person, then my husband knows me leaps and bounds better than anyone on the planet. He never gets a cup wrong.

I reached down, grabbed the handle and brought the warm cup of perfection to my lips. As I took my first sip I relished in the feeling that today was going to be a good day.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by our oldest daughter yelling down the stairs from above that she wasn’t feeling well. Her stomach hurt and she didn’t think she could eat her breakfast. Any parent who has ever had a child old enough to say they aren’t hungry in the morning while simultaneously complaining of a stomachache knows this is fair warning that things may turn at any time (namely, said person’s stomach – emptying all contents hopefully into the toilet and not onto the floor.)

Looks like I would have two of my children home with me. It will be just like when they were little. Today is going to be even better than I had anticipated.

OR………

This morning I awoke to the sound of my husband’s shoes hitting the hardwood floor. Clippity Clop. Clippity Clop. Ugh. Why does he have to wear those shoes every morning? And in our room? Can’t he see I’m trying to sleep? What if I went around clippity clopping every time he was trying to sleep? Maybe I will try that next Saturday morning and see how well he likes it. I wish I didn’t have to get up already. It’s so cold out there and so warm under here. Maybe I’m coming down with something? Ugh. That won’t work. I’m not sick at all. Unless sick of waking up so early counts as being sick – then I’m in really bad shape. Speaking of sick, thanks to a sick kid – my whole day is completely thrown out of whack. Not only do I not feel like getting up – I definitely don’t feel like dealing with this first thing in the morning.

As I made my way into the kitchen, I was once again reminded of how much more motivated my husband is than me in the morning. Always up bright and early and the first one to the coffee pot. Is he rubbing it in my face? The cup is there every morning, waiting for me, reminding me that I don’t have what it takes to wake up as early as I want to.

I reached down, grabbed the handle and took my first sip of many. It takes a lot of coffee to get through these overbooked days.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by our oldest daughter yelling down the stairs from above that she wasn’t feeling well. You’ve got to be bleeping kidding me. Another one? Isn’t one sick kid enough? If she gets sick, she better make it to the toilet.

Looks like I would have two of my children home with me today. How am I supposed to get anything done? Maybe they aren’t really that sick and I can send them to school anyway? Who would know? Probably not a great idea. Guess today is just going to be one of those days.

One scenario. Two reactions.

It’s amazing how much our internal dialogue has the ability to affect not only our mood, but also how we relate to the world around us. It colors how we see things, how we treat our loved ones and how we cope with difficult situations when they arise.

When we are negative, we can’t help but to spread that negativity – whether we intend to, or not. And on the flip side, when we are joyful and are looking for the good, we can’t help but to spread that positivity – whether we intend to or not.

I began this post a couple of days ago when I had the idea today to take my morning and look at it through two different lenses. As I was writing the first one, I felt light and joyful. And I as I was writing the second one, I could feel my mood change. When I read back through each of the scenarios, I was amazed at the difference I felt even when reading the words.

What, and how, we think affects us. It affects our relationships. It affects our days. Ultimately, it affects our lives.

Am I implying that we walk around like Pollyanna every day? No. We need to be honest about how we are feeling, and some situations really do just plain stink – no way around it. We all have our good days, and our bad days.

What I am implying is this: in the day-to-day grind, our internal dialogue does matter. If we wake up and immediately begin complaining – I believe there is a much better chance we may experience a bad day. And if we wake up and immediately search for the good, the joy, the positive, the blessing, the thing to be grateful for – I believe there is a much better chance we may experience a great day.

Our thoughts color our world.  They motivate and inspire us, or they stifle our dreams. They encourage us, or they tear us down. They build up those around us, or they search for flaws and shortcomings. They give gratitude, or they wish for more. They find the joy in the moment, or the thing to complain about.

I pray that my thoughts are more often those of joy and positivity than not. I pray that throughout my life, regardless of my circumstances, I will leave those I encounter feeling loved and encouraged. I pray that I will not take the sound of my husband’s shoes in the morning, or the warm cup of coffee, or the fact that my children are at home with me for granted. I pray that when I wake up, I remember to give thanks to God for the gift of a brand new day. I pray that I will wake and search for the wonder, the adventure and the possibility that comes with the gift of  that new day – the gift of a fresh start.  I pray that even on days that aren’t as good as others, I still remember to be grateful – because there is so much to be grateful for. On the good days, and the bad. So much. We just need to realize it.

 

“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Unwrapping the Gifts of Fall

 

 

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When Lockdown Happens

Last Thursday, I pulled into the pick-up line at the end of the school day – as I always do. And my daughter walked to the car – as she always does. But something was different.

Something was wrong.

She opened the car door as the words came pouring out of her mouth.

“Did you hear what happened? Did they tell you?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“No. I haven’t heard anything. What happened? Are you okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“The school went on lockdown.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“Why? Is everyone okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

The words poured from her mouth as she explained what happened in full detail. It began with an announcement over the PA system. The words spoken over the PA were few, but the reactions the words caused were swift.

“We are on lockdown. This is not a drill. We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Silence. Movement. Waiting. Silence. Tears.

My daughter went on to describe how the teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and ushered everyone to the corner of the room.

He stood in front of them.

They had been through this before. They knew what to do. Only this time was different. This time it was not a drill.

Kids were crying.

She knew her teacher was scared by the look in his eyes, but he remained calm – as heroes do. Reminding them of the importance of their silence.

My daughter said she knew she had to be quiet, so she let the tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, but did not make a peep for fear that someone outside of the room may hear.

Someone accidentally dropped his crutch. More crying. Would this bring someone to their room?

In the middle of her telling me this story, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mom. I have never been so afraid in all of my life.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

What do I say? How do I respond?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t imagine how scary that had to have been. Then, what happened?”

After the lockdown was over, she was told there had been a fight close to the school and someone had a gun. As a precaution, the police told the schools in the surrounding areas they had to go on lockdown. She was told the altercation took place in a small, new neighborhood.

She said she spent the rest of the day wondering if that was our neighborhood. Wondering if her brother and I were okay. Wondering if I would be there to pick her up.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

My daughter and I spent the remainder of the car ride home talking about what happened. She vented. I listened.

For a few minutes that day – my daughter, her classmates, the teachers and staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

This is the reality that teachers, administrators, students and countless others who work in the school system face.

These people are heroes.

My daughter’s teacher had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know who was out there. He pushed the kids into the corner and stood in front of them. Ready to give his life for theirs.

These people are heroes.

When I picked up the girls from the elementary school, I found out the same thing had happened there.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Another one of my daughters described how they went into the cubby room and she held the hand of the friend across from her while two friends on each side of her snuggled in. They all grabbed coats and covered their bodies for extra protection.

As she recounted her experience, it took everything for me to not break down.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

For a few minutes that day – my daughters, their classmates, the teachers and the staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

And then, on Sunday, I awoke to the news that not far from our house – four innocent people’s lives were taken at a Waffle House.

The killer was still on the loose.

I contemplated not going to church. Not sending my kids to school. What if that drill becomes a reality? What if?

And then I was reminded of what I am reminded of so often, I cannot live my life in fear. I cannot teach my children to live their lives in fear.

I have to be brave. We have to be brave.

We have to remain positive.

There are so many more good people than bad in the world.

I need to remember that. We need to remember that.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there.

Thank you to the school workers who go through these drills with the knowledge that someday it may not be a drill.

Thank you to the police officers who rush into these situations, ready to save lives – and possibly give their own.

These people are heroes.

Thankfully, there are so many more heroes out there than bad guys. This is what I hope to teach my children. This very possibly may not be the only time they hear the words, “We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

I hope it is, but it may not be.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Thank you, God, for these drills so that if the moment comes, these heroes know what to do. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many people who are willing to take action. Thank you, God, for those who are willing to surrender their lives to save the lives of others.

Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many heroes.

Thank you to the heroes in both of my children’s schools last Thursday. You did not know what was outside of your doors and you were ready to protect. To possibly give your lives – for my children.

Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart and with all of my being – Thank you.

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Uplifted

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

The couple of weeks prior to our departure were exhausting, emotional and by far some of the best weeks of my life.

We were constantly surrounded and uplifted by friends and loved ones.

Friends who stopped by our home in the last days just to hug and talk and laugh and cry.

Friends who came to pray.


Friends who had us over for dinners and going away parties and family celebrations.

And in our final days when we needed places to stay, friends who opened their homes to our noise and chaos and plethora of bags and pillows and all that comes with opening your home to a family of six for the night.

Friends. Friends. And more friends.

Love. Love. And more love.

So much that my heart felt on the constant verge of bursting and my eyes felt on the constant verge of welling up and over into a pool of grateful tears.

We didn’t deserve all of this, but it was being poured on us in buckets. It was a picture of grace.

And then when I thought it possibly couldn’t get any better, that we couldn’t possibly feel any more love than we already had felt in the previous weeks – we walked into the home of our dear friends for our going away celebration.

We spent the next hours in the company of loved ones – laughing, crying and saying, “Hope to see you soon” – which sounds so much better than goodbye.

These days leading up to our departure and our final celebration served as a reminder for me. A reminder of what matters.

Relationships.

Relationships matter.


God is relational and He created us in His image. He created us with a desire to be loved and a desire to love. Loved for who we are in all of our imperfection. Pure, unconditional love – like the love God shows us. Gracious love.

People went out of their way time and time again to show us this kind of love. They took a moment from their own busy lives and busy schedules to pour into us.

Looking back on the last weeks spent in Indy, I needed this and my family needed this. More than we knew.

This time of love from friends and family filled my tank and also reminded me of how I want to live my life.

It reminded me of the importance of a text. A phone call. A card. A hug. A shared prayer.

It reminded me of the kind of friend I want to be and one that I oftentimes am not.

It reminded me of the importance of leaving margin, leaving space, leaving room for God to show me how He may want me to spend my day.

It reminded me of what matters.

I often get wrapped up in my own little bubble. My own list of to-dos has the potential to rule every minute of my well planned out, perfectly orchestrated day.

There is nothing wrong with calendars, to-do lists and schedules. In fact, those are wonderfully effective tools for living an organized life.

The problem for me is when the calendar is so full that I can’t see past my plan for the day. I start my day in my bubble and forget to stop and think about what may be going on in the lives of the people God has placed around me.

 

This kindness we experienced had a profound impact on me and has continued in our first days here.

Prior to our move, a sweet friend from Indy introduced me to a mutual friend of hers from college who lives in the small Tennessee town we now call home. She took the time  to introduce us via email and her friend was kind enough to invite me and the kids over the day before school started for some ice cream.

Her three children are all close in age to our three oldest. She said she was just returning from a long vacation, but she would love to have us.

 

Again, this made me stop and think.

She made space for us. School was about to start and I had to imagine things were hectic for her. We were complete strangers and she made space for us. She invited us into her home. She fed my children ice cream and she gave me a hug.

A complete stranger.

I want to live my life like this.

I know it won’t be long before our calendars become full again, but I hope to not forget the impact that the love of others has made in my life and in the lives of my family members. I hope to remember the importance of leaving space. I hope to remember the importance of keeping my eyes open to what is happening in the lives of those around me. Neighbors. Friends. Family. Strangers.

Late Sunday evening, as I was driving in the dark, through the pouring rain, around the twists and bends with tears streaming down my face I thought, “Please. Just let me get there.”

I was exhausted. I had cried many tears in the previous weeks, days, hours and minutes.

As I followed my family to Tennessee in the rental van with the Illinois license plate that said AM I found myself looking continually at the words, “I AM.”

It was a beautiful reminder of God with us. God carrying us. God leading us.

I was exhausted, but I was ready. It was time. Time to trust. Time to let go. Time to open my eyes to the bigger picture of what God may be doing in my life. In my husband’s life. In my children’s lives. Change isn’t easy, but I have to believe it will serve a bigger purpose.

I pray that as I begin this journey here I can love a little better. I pray I can trust a little more. I pray I can be the kind of friend that others have been to me. I pray I can live with space in my life. I pray the lessons I have learned in these weeks will be embedded deep in my heart. I pray they won’t be fleeting. I pray God will use me in this new space I occupy.

Please God. Use me.

 

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