Thanksgiving: A Deeper and Stranger Thanks

Thankful heartOf course I am incredibly thankful for the blessings of my husband, children, friends, health and so much more. But after peeling back the surface layers to feel a deeper, authentic, and often not recognized gratitude, this is what I discovered. This is my meditation of special thanks this year…

The cold of fall and winter. I love seeing how still the earth is, empty of its busy tasks of life. Nature is at rest now, hibernating, quietly regenerating. I connect with this and enjoy bundling up, putting on my soft, thick winter hat and watching my breath become small foggy clouds against the cold. I am grateful for nature’s sign that it’s ok, necessary, to rest.

Loneliness. This is a strange thing to be thankful for isn’t it? While it’s not preferable to feel lonely, it does keep me anchored to God. I keep striving to know His will, mercy, and love to get me through. And you know what else? I am grateful for my loneliness because it has sparked me to create a faith and friendship group for moms. Through this small, nascent gathering, I have met beautiful women who are teaching me new ways of seeing my condition and vocation in life. I am gaining new knowledge, new perspectives on love.

Sight and hearing. So many days the light and hope that keeps me going are the smiles and laughs of my little boys. I could not imagine the pain of not seeing their faces aglow with love and delight. Of not hearing them say, “I love you Mommy!” I know pure moments of love through the gift of sight and hearing.

Exercise. I fight for this valiantly. There are people and circumstances that try to rip me from my 35 minutes of glorious daily exercise, but I am relentless. I crave expending energy, releasing endorphins, and yes, dulling my mind by watching a TV show while I do it. I am grateful for my little sliver of space in the cold, crowded basement where I can just glide.

My journal. Most of the time, my notebook is the only tangible thing that hears the truth of my challenges, revelations, and darkest pain. It’s like a companion who simply listens as I pour out everything trapped and tangled inside me. It catches my tears and holds my inspiration. It records messages of love and mercy from spiritual readings and a flood of prayers I lift up in hope for strength, healing, and insight on what I’m supposed to be and do in this life. I am grateful for my journal where I release the words to feel my way forward.

If I meditate deeply, I truly see so many blessings, present and past, immense and connected like sprouting branches and a myriad of budding leaves. I have peace knowing all good things come from God and He is writing my story.

James 1:17: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

He is the vine and we are the branches. If we tether ourselves secure and take root in His providence and provision, what would we lack? Perhaps the better question is: What would we gain?

Happy Thanksgiving dear friend.

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Little Shadow Feet

child feetBed time is an exhausting routine with twin boys who move like F-5 tornados. Although they follow the routine fairly well, bed time requires a ton of energy at the end of a long day of pushing through food service, clean up, diaper changes, crying, fighting, and constant demands for something. But there is a moment of sweet joy at the end.

After the bedroom light goes out and the soft night light sets us aglow, I pick up a child and bring him to his crib. One night after I picked up Hayden, I saw it on the wall as he hugged me tight. The outline of his shadow had merged with mine. He was so happy in my arms that he was swinging both his feet. I could see his little shadow feet swinging at my sides as he giggled and said, “I love you Mommy.”

Little happy shadow feet. That is the moment that makes it all worth it. Singing the night time song I made up and doing the “poopie dance” on the way out of the room are precious too, but my heart is full as I see his little feet swing and kiss his clean, soft cheek. I hug my boys tight, kiss them tons, and pray aloud for their safe, healthy, blessed sleep.

I Control and Compare to be Happy

mom multitaskingMany days there is very little in my life of unquenchable exhaustion that helps me feel stable and secure. As I architect my entire day, every day, around providing for my family, I feel like a skeleton of who I once was now staggering through an unknown wilderness. This often leaves me grasping for control. Because when I control, I have power. I have something that makes me feel solid like there is at least one battle I will always win. And in the darker fleeting moments, I find myself comparing to make myself feel better and validate that I am good enough.

My titan of control is appearance. I don’t care much for makeup and the right clothes (my daily uniform is sweats and pajamas), but I ardently pursue healthy self-care (good girl) and scrutinize my body size all the time (bad, very bad).

A few times at night before bed when I have been alone in the darkness with the Ipad, I have gone online and searched the height, weight, and bust sizes of actresses to compare myself. How messed up is that? I’m drawn to it because I think that if I match them it means I am in control and mastering something that is mine, all mine. But it never seems to work out that way. Whether I am bigger or smaller, my heart is just as empty, still grasping.

I am reminded of a favorite quote from a book I once read: “We try many ways to free ourselves from our entrapment. More money, another job, a new diet…these approaches strive for change from below. Like sheep caught in a thorny busy, the harder we struggle to get out, the more entangled we become.”

The comparisons I make almost daily are subconscious tendencies. They are subtle whispers in my thinking that ask, “How nice is my house compared to so-and-so’s? How hard am I working? How smart are my kids?” The underlying message is always the same: Am I enough?

I control, compare, and measure my worth like a mad scientist testing coveted chemicals in a basement lab. Why do I hold on so tightly? This world is not my home. This life is not mine. My will is only a grain of sand, a blade of grass vaporized in the sun. I can’t take my hands off and yet there is no happy end result, only brokenness and false illusions that money and a model-like body will bring security.

1 Corinthians 10:13: No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

It doesn’t matter how many comparison battles I win. My “happiness cup” will never be full because I have mastered my weight or because I am doing better than someone else. I can’t fill this cup. Material things and worldly measures fall through like a sieve. How in vane and slowly maddening it would be to control the rat race and miss what we are created to do: To live peacefully, joyfully trusting our totally loving and powerful God. Loving and serving in the capacity only each of us can do as unique children of God. We are already perfectly loved and accepted. What on earth matters more than this?

John 16:33: I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

I remember a story I once heard that illustrates our desire for control. It’s like a child who won’t let go of her broken toy. God is waiting, reaching out and inviting her to give Him the toy to fix, but she won’t let it go. How much better would life be if we could surrender the broken things we cling to so bitterly? What we truly, restlessly seek is not to run the race of control and comparison but to empty ourselves and fall freely into God’s hands with nothing left to control. Because He has everything and He alone is strong enough. Cling to Him. He thirsts for you. This love is the only measure that will transcend all time.

I won’t be able to destroy all my control demons in one fell swoop, but I can start somewhere. No more late night body stat comparisons! There it goes into the trash. Where will you start?