Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Thankfuls



It's another Thanksgiving week.
As preparation for writing this, I went back and read my last Thankful posts since 2011. What an amazing thing it is to watch the hand of God on your own life over time...in pictures...in words.
I know next year I will be staring back in amazement at legs one year shorter, faces one year rounder.
I love Thanksgiving time, I always have. There is nothing gladder than a thankful heart.
And I'm never exactly sure where I should start in these lists. How do I capture uniquely the gifts a year can bring?
But I will try.
1) Just staring up at these pictures, I am filled with awe and gratitude for power of God displayed in nature, and particularly the beach. I love it. And he has, for today, placed me in a location where I can escape to its refuge pretty much any day of the week. I am thankful that no matter what kind of a day I am having, just a few whiffs of that salt air brings everything back around into order.
I am thankful for a place where I can take my 3 boys, who are so full of life and so boundless, and I can let them run and jump and dig and tumble and act like little boys and I don't have to worry about them bothering anyone.

2) I am thankful for the way the sunlight sometimes streams through the clouds in rows like the fingers of God reaching down with His warmth to us. I am thankful that no matter what is on my mind when this happens it all disappears. I remember staring at those clouds when I was just a little girl and imagining that I could see just the corner of Jesus's face peeking around one of those clouds. It sounds so silly and unscientific when I put it in words, but I knew and I know that it was just one of many ways He bridges the gap between us.

3) Another one of those ways is babies. And children. What a gift they are to me. What a perfect gift, and they come from Him. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude this week when I look at the children God has given me. I don't deserve them, and I let them down sometimes (ok, a lot of times), and sometimes I get overwhelmed by the amount of care they require from me. But with each of these gifts, He has also blessed me with unlimited resources with which to care for them. Yes, I am tired much of the time, but I never could have imagined having the energy to keep up with 3 little boys, to care for them often all night long, to not only endure, but enjoy many many evening meals and bedtime rituals with JT gone at work. To go to Publix the Sunday before thanksgiving with my cart and my heart overflowing with children and shrug off the glares of angry shoppers who find it annoying that I bring them along and run with the cart through the rain to our car with laughter that's bigger than the storm around us.
I am thankful for Greystoke, who is so often very very somber. Who brings me an orange to peel for him from the refrigerator, and as soon as he brings it to me, runs to get the trash can and drags it to me too so I don't have to take a step to throw the peel away. Who is starting to say more 2 word phrases now (most often, "where Dada?", "MY man" about a Lego man, he loves taking their helmets on and off, "more water, more puddle, more WALK, more cheese).
He makes the most ridiculous faces whenever he sees my phone because he knows I am going to take his picture.
He holds onto me almost all night long. And occasionally I groan, but mostly I marvel at the sweetness of his body close to mine.
When he wakes up, he points out the door to the bedroom and demands that I turn on Barney...but first he takes me to the kitchen and waits patiently while I make my coffee.
Before he falls asleep at night, he always has to kiss and hug his brothers goodnight, and for whatever reason, though Aquaman is always waiting with gentle arms wide open, though Aquaman is kind and patient with him all day long, he almost always goes straight to The Dude first. The Dude who knocks him down, who snatches his favorite toy right out of his hand, not necessarily because he wants it, but because he wants to take it. But Greystoke marches up to him first and squeezes his arms around him with a look of total adoration.
I am thankful for The Dude, who is so wild and so fresh and who, as an episode of Malcolm in the Middle I watched with JT over the weekend reminded me...decorates my life.
It is never, and will never be dull with The Dude around, and I adore him for it.
He performs all sorts of interesting experiments, that occasionally result in disaster, like the booboo that you see in the picture below, and when he hurts himself, he usually pretends for the first 30 seconds that he is fine, and then suddenly dissolves into tears.
He breaks almost everything that he touches, and the other things, he ties into knots.
He loves school and feels very important when he has "homework", and when he doesn't, he asks for me to make him some.
He is, most of the time, so patient with being condescended by his sometimes insecure bigger brother.
He loves things like umbrellas, and tools, and fishing poles.
Soccer totally wore him out, and afterward he suggested that "for my next sport, I would like to do skateboarding, because all you do is you just put one foot on the board, and you push with the other foot."
Apparently soccer was way too complicated.
He likes snuggling as much as any teddy bear, but even his love often feels violent.
I have moments of worry about his rebellious spirit, but so many other moments of wonder at the depth of his heart. He is a giver. The one who sins much, is forgiven much, and loves much. And that pretty much says it all about The Dude.
I am thankful for Aquaman, my firstborn, the one who likes to remind me, only half-kidding, that he is my experiment....the one that I will make all of my mistakes parenting.
Thankful that he is growing up so big and so independent, but that we still have moments like Monday night when he climbs into my lap in the rocking chair and pours out his heart to me. I am thankful that he entrusts his complicated feelings to me, and thankful that God entrusted this complicated child to me as well. Sometimes, talking to him is so intense, so rich and deep that I almost forget he is my child and not a friend.
And then he goes racing off pushing his little brother in a cozy coupe ahead of him at reckless speeds and I remember.
At school he is a total enigma. He reads and does math well above grade level, but he absolutely despises it, and trying to get him to do his homework, or just sit down to read a book can result in a solid hour of crying. His writing is barely on grade level, and the disparity between his fine motor skills and the rate at which his brain works causes him endless frustration. On his last interim report, his teacher said "he tunes in and out, starts his work too late and then rushes to finish it which results in poor penmanship."
His teacher has perfect bubbly handwriting, and Aquaman makes sure to scream that at the top of his lungs when he is frustrated. And I feel him, I really do, I can remember spending hours crying over my backwards J's too.
He loves to listen to Ramona books as much as I love to read them.
He has complicated dreams, and even more complicated nightmares.
He is the boy who first made me a mother, and I am so so thankful for him.
4) I am so thankful for JT. He has my heart, and he always will. I am thankful for the nights when he slips into bed long after midnight after working a 16 hour day and is as gentle and kind and soft as if he had been doing whatever he wanted all day. I am even more thankful for the time we get together since he has started working 2 jobs. I am thankful that even though he is gone from the house often, when he is there he is fully present. He is a bit of a pushover, and often I have to be the bad cop, but as the years have gone by I have become more and more thankful for that. What an amazing gift for my boys to have a father who if he errs, errs with grace. I remember worrying when I was pregnant with Aquaman that we would have a girl, because I could not picture JT ever saying no to her. But it turned out, he has a hard time saying no to boys too. Greystoke leads him through the darkness at night on adventurous walks to the pool, and The Dude body slams him mercilessly, and Aquaman orders him to build elaborate and creative Lego creations, and JT does all of this with a smile. He says no when he has to, and he always backs me up, but he loves our boys with his whole heart, and he loves me more, and he loves God the most of all.
JT still looks at me like I'm the same 25 year old surfer girl he danced with almost 9 years ago at our wedding reception, even though I never wear makeup anymore, and I don't remember the last time i caught a wave.
He still hugs me and holds my hand, and asks me about my day, and when I show him the first silvery gray hair, he assures me that they are just blond highlights from the sun.
He fears very very little, and mostly he fears God, and I love that about him. Even though we haven't even left the state of Florida in 5 years, life with him always feels like an adventure, just like I knew it would, and I am so thankful for that. So thankful that he lets God lead us, that he works hard where he is and he puts the rest into God's hands.

5) I am thankful for our families. Thankful to both sets of parents for the love they pour into us and into our children. For seeing us as blessings and not as burdens. Thankful for siblings and cousins that we will be able to share our Thanksgiving with this year, and for the many that we will not who are spread out all over the country. Even when we can't be together, they are such a big part of our story.
6) The boys have been going to bed later for a while now, and Greystoke often goes to bed early then wakes up again and has to be soothed back to sleep, so I spend a lot of my evenings in a rocking chair in the boys' room reading library books lately and drinking peppermint tea.
I still remember the way my dad would sit on the floor of my bedroom with a stack of books  in the evenings when I was afraid to go to sleep by myself.
I am thankful for books and words and the ability to express ourselves, and the ability to lose ourselves in someone else's story, and in that to be able to rise up and be inspired to be something greater than what we are today. Books are such a big part of who I am, and who I will become.
Most of all I am thankful for the Bible, the book that always reels me back in to what really matters. That restores my so often and so easily distorted vision back to reality.
Reality is not something we can see looking out at the world, or looking within ourselves. Reality is only found in Him and His Truth.
6) I am really thankful for our church. Greystoke has finally been going to the nursery with only about 30 seconds of crying, and I have been able to sit and worship without distraction. I am thankful for a church where everyone sings loudly, even the people who can't carry a tune, maybe even especially the people who can't carry a tune, because I think their faithfulness, their being unashamed, their offering is the purest. When I am in a crowd of people worshiping like that, I feel like for just a moment I am experiencing heaven. A sea of imperfect voices lifted up to God. I love the theme of imperfection at our church. The come just as you are. I love that almost every time I am there I meet someone new, someone who seems genuinely happy to meet me.
I love that Greystoke comes home with a sticker on his diaper that says "I was checked and prayed for today". I guess that probably seems silly, and I am sure some of the workers don't actually pray, but I bet some of them do, and that means something to me.
I love that one of the pastors is always quoting JT's trinity fitness devotionals, and that all of the sermons present the gospel, and that every week there people are being saved.
Saved from hell. That is not nothing. That is something amazing.

7) I am thankful for our home, which, when we bought it 5 years ago seemed like we would grow out of it quickly, but what's crazy is, I can see us spending another 5 years in it. I am thankful that "love grows best in little houses". Thankful for the piles and piles of laundry that are always waiting to be washed and put away, for the dust bunnies that are collecting under the beds, for the door handles that are always sticky. They are a celebration of our lives, of the life that is lived colorfully inside of these walls, and I am thankful for all of it.

8) I am thankful that His thoughts are not my thoughts, and that His ways are higher than my ways. The things I so often focus on and think are important are not, and I am thankful that when I wander, or when my eyes wander, He always guides me back to the right paths.

I am thankful that even though sometimes my days feel insignificant and small, they are all in His hands.
Thankful that even though I can't know what tomorrow will bring, I can know without a doubt who will hold me tomorrow.

The school thanksgiving feasts are over, the crafts are complete, our thankful tree is made.

We  even made some rice krispie treat turkeys this year. Vegetarian Asher now says that "turkey" is his favorite food.
Happy Thanksgiving.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” Thornton Wilder



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