You know it’s getting close to Thanksgiving break when you start talking smack to a 5th grader about how your stuffing tastes better than his mom’s stuffing, instead of giving constructive feedback about his production of /s/ in the word “stuffing”.
It’s Wednesday morning, and the kids and I are lounging around in our PJs. Ellie is snuggled up on the couch with Calvin and Hobbes, Jack is listening to a Christmas station on Pandora and playing with Snap Circuits. John’s working a half-day from home. I am sipping some eggnog coffee and having some Thankful Thoughts before the potato peeling begins.
Here is what comes to mind:
- 15 years of marriage to a guy who gets better every year, who says and does hard things because they are right and good, and who adores me with a steadfast love that is more than I deserve. He is strong, smart, funny, thoughtful, trustworthy, and kind. Love him.
- Thousands of hugs and conversations and poignant and mundane moments with Ellie and Jack. These two color my days, shape me, delight me, and send me running to my compassionate Father.
- Our four parents who have learned the art of parenting adult children well. They give generously, encourage without criticism, love unconditionally, and are transitioning to a new stage of life with humility and grace.
- Our neighborhood elementary school. Five mornings a week I drop off my kids at its front door knowing that they are being received by a caring and competent staff. I am thankful that they welcome me in, too. Spending a few hours cutting and copying paper, stapling and removing staples, helping 2nd graders read and practice math facts, and sitting on uncomfortable cafeteria benches unexpectedly delights me every week. Ellie and Jack get their brains and their hearts filled up in this building – what more could I ask for?
- Andy, Heidi, Elias, and Johnny, who moved to Washougal! We love having our family close enough to pop back and forth for bonfires, Saturday breakfast, tool swapping, kid swapping, and Angry Orchard brother counseling sessions.
- A new baby in the family! I’m so excited about the new niece or nephew growing in my sister.
- My friend Tanya, who nagged me every Tuesday at work for four months before I finally agreed to exercise and hold her accountable to exercise three times a week. I hadn’t exercised regularly in almost 20 years, and while I was perfectly satisfied with the size of my jeans, the flesh underneath was rather wimpy and squishy. We started last April, and thanks to Jillian Michaels being “totally committed to making me stronger” and imploring me to “show up for my own life”, I have miraculously kept up with at least a twice weekly 20-minute exercise routine (stunning, I know). I still hate it Every Single Time, but I like that my abs and thighs can theoretically pass the “quarter test”. Thank you, Tanya, and thank you, Jillian.
- Speaking of friends, this hard core introvert is bowed-down thankful for the many relationships that enrich my life – too many to describe here. I think of my friend who lives five minutes away and, according to the children at our kids’ school, is my twin. Sometimes my house is a wreck, my face is without makeup, and my attitude is stinky, but I am just glad she’s coming over. She gives me “parenting fail” high-fives, and we laugh and intellectualize and agonize over the same things. Our husbands and kids are kindreds too, and every last conversation we have inevitably turns toward Jesus.
- These two families who fill up their vans and drive over to our house two Sundays a month. The six of us adults and our 10 kids eat dinner together, clean up together, pray together, disciple each other, drink tea together, and laugh together.
- I have brothers and sisters scattered across the globe who have richly colored my heart. Pablo, Sarah, Johny, Rosadite, Liz, Mercy, Lorna, Janet, Bassam – you are my heroes and sometimes I can’t even believe the grace that has allowed me to share a bit of my life with yours.
A friend said something like this to me this week: “wouldn’t it be nice if we could just know that everything will turn out ok?” I have been painfully reminded this year, this week even, that the future we imagine for ourselves is uncertain, and each day is a gift. I am thankful for the hope I have in Christ, and that God has given me eyes to see his good gifts and people to share them with. I am thankful for the heroes out there who live life well, no matter how many days or dollars or healthy cells they have.
Finally, I’m thankful for Ree. Because of her, my stuffing is going to be awesome tomorrow.