"Gratitude flourishes in the sphere of grace."
- John Piper
It's the day before Thanksgiving. It's raining outside, as a Florida cold front blows through. All the doors and windows are open, and I'm sipping a cup of apple cider.
And feeling thankful.
Greystoke is dozing upstairs in warm football pajamas, and The Dude and Aquaman are probably playing turkey games, and hopefully JT isn't too wet and cold.
This year thanksgiving will be at our house, for the first time ever, and I'm not at all worried about it. It's just going to be our little family, and my parents this year.
My mom said she didn't care if we had a picnic on the floor, and I believe her. I'm pretty sure that if I burned the turkey, it would still be a wonderful day.
Life has been so busy lately.
I've been working a lot, and JT has been working some overtime.
The laundry is definitely not caught up, and the floors need vacuuming and mopping and the kitchen needs scrubbing.
Since I finished reading the Bible through early, I've been floundering to find something to study. It's so hard, with so few quiet moments, and so much to do. I want and need that connection with God.
I pray without ceasing, but often I find myself talking AT God and not so much with Him.
My heart is always thankful, but my prayers are often hurried requests or breathed out thank yous, instead of the songs of an adoring heart.
I need to get back into writing in my prayer journal, probably. I find it easier to focus that way.
My time spent with God these days, is most often in the presence of my children, as we read, and study and talk together, and I am grateful for those times. Digging deep into my own heart and experiences as I teach them, especially Aquaman, who is now so hungry and full of questions, reminds me God's Truths and I bask in them for a few moments (before The Dude and Aquaman start wrestling over a body pillow and who gets to hold my hand).
Most recently, it was "Running Away" in the Jesus Storybook Bible.
We've read through this Bible so many times these past 2 years, since almost every night, both of Aquaman's requested stories are from it.
This time, before I started reading it, I told him how this is one of my favorite stories, because it is the story of my life.
"Now one day, the boy gets to thinking: 'Does my dad really want me to be happy? Does my dad really love me?' The son never thought of that before. But suddenly, he doesn't know anymore.'"
I was crying by the time I finished that sentence.
Crying because I remember wondering this about God. And crying because every now and then, when I just get busy, that little question slips into my mind again.
"the son takes his money and goes on a long, long journey to a far off country.
Sometimes he gets a strange, hungry, homesick feeling inside his heart, but then he just eats more, or drinks more, or buys more clothes, or goes to more parties until it goes away."
"All this time, what he doesn't know is that, day after day, his dad has been standing on his porch, straining his eyes looking into the distance, waiting for his son to come home. He just can't stop loving him. He longs for the sound of his boy's voice. He can't be happy until he gets him back."
"Jesus told them this story to show them what God is like. And to show people what they are like."
Aquaman worried about this story. He felt certain that he would never run away from God. I hope he doesn't.
I decided not to tell him the story about the older brother yet.
But this thanksgiving, I am most thankful that God is like that father.
That He can't stop loving me. That He looks upon me with merciful eyes.
That while I am still a long way off, He sees me.
I'm thankful that He will extend this same mercy to my sons.
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed Your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
"Learn the unforced rhythms of Grace."
With my musical background, with my poetic heart, I savored those words.
I'm thankful today that I don't need to be sophisticated, because I'm not.
I'm thankful that God doesn't want me to be tired and worn down, and that He doesn't expect me to burn myself out trying to please Him.
Just jump right into the rhythm of His Grace.
I'm thankful that I have been able to dance lately. That despite all the craziness of life, right in the middle of the busyness, and the feeling like I can't do it all, there's that musical cadence. There's those chords that just blend so deeply together.
There's dissonance, that always resolves into beauty.
I'm thankful for JT and his gentle and shepherding spirit.
Thankful for how he loves and takes care of me.
Thankful for Aquaman and the really amazing stage he is going through right now. How he is kind to me, and how thoughtful he is. For how different he is from me, and yet how similar.
How he lays in bed talking about the things of God, and then abruptly switches to math, a subject I have never been fond of:
"Does 50+50= 100? I thought so. Because 5 10s is 50, so 10 10s must be 100.
I'm good at math, mom. When my teacher puts a problem on the board, and then starts showing us how to do it, I don't look and I cover my ears because I know I can figure it out myself."
He fascinates me.
How he is getting braver, but he still needs Mommy.
On Sunday, heading to our church football game, he told JT "Let's go on by ourselves. No, wait, let's wait for Mommy, because I might get scared."
And last night, staring at a picture of Jesus on the cross, with a concerned look on his face:
"Why didn't he just call his mommy?"
And for the wisdom of having raised 2 babies that others did not refer to as "good", to know that he is not any "better" of a baby than they were, just because he happens to be naturally laid back.
He is just Greystoke.
But I am so grateful for him.
For the fact that he nurses alllll night long, and I have to pump multiple times on my days off to keep up with his milk intake, which doesn't sound like a blessing except that it means I don't have to worry about my fertility returning at all.
Thankful for my fertility, in light of how many others struggle to get pregnant.
And most of all, thankful that God is in control of all of it, even when it doesn't look like He's coming through for us.
I'm thankful for this quiet morning to myself, and for the 4 day weekend of family celebration coming up.
I'm thankful for Christmas, and the fun of making our December calendar, with our daily Christmas activities, and checking out Christmas books, and getting out the decorations.
For family, always.
For friends who are like family.
And now, I must go because there's one hour left before time to pick up The Dude, and I know he's going to want to go on the swings somewhere, and I've been trying to take him places and spend special time with him when he gets out of preschool, because I know he is growing up so fast.
It occurred to me last week, as we walked on a windy cloudy day, and they rode their bikes, and we tried to chase down the ice cream truck, how it will only be a few more years that they'll want to spend hours at the park.
But I'm thankful for yesterday. Thankful for these few precious days. And thankful for tomorrow. The root canals, and the scary unknowns.
And the unforced rhythms of Grace.