Giving Thanks with a Grumbling and Grateful Heart

Back in college, my roomie/best bud had a cool idea to write down one thing we were thankful for each day. Keep in mind, this was in the dark ages of the mid-90s, so there were no online articles touting the health benefits of gratitude or gratitude apps (I randomly did a Google search and actually found one!) to inspire her. Nope, she thought of it all on her own. 🙂

I wish I had kept the journal I used for the exercise so I could remember what I had recorded, but I’m guessing it was pretty ordinary stuff.

Monday – Good friends

Tuesday – Passed a test/finished a paper

Wednesday – Good church

Thursday – Food (even dorm food)

Friday/Saturday/Sunday – repeat, repeat, repeat

As a college kid I had a pretty easy life; my parents paid for all my expenses and my only “job” was to study and pass my classes (and have some fun in between). I don’t remember it being too hard for me to be thankful on a daily basis.

Now enter real life (AKA adulthood). My life two decades later is pretty different from my college days. There are a lot more responsibilities to handle, more challenges to face, and let’s be honest, more complaints to list. Those days of jotting down a reason to be thankful every day are long gone, along with my youthful optimism and energy. Instead, I often find myself giving thanks out of guilt and through gritted teeth, like when I saw this image on Facebook this week:

Grateful

Now I’m sure the mom who put this list together truly is grateful for her life. When I read the list, I was even encouraged to be thankful for all those things. But I’ll admit, I groaned a little, too (okay, a lot). 😉

It’s not that I’m not thankful. I’m constantly in awe of how gracious God is to me and my family. But maybe once in a while, I want to acknowledge the struggles of life, even – and especially – the small ones, instead of glossing over them. I want to admit I have a hard time keeping the house clean. I don’t like doing the mundane tasks of changing the sheets or vacuuming or cooking. I struggle every day with being patient and loving toward the kids. I feel and look tired when I go to bed and often times when I wake up in the morning. And I suspect life only gets busier and more challenging the older I get.

Groan, groan, groan. Mutter, mutter, mutter.

Ahh… okay, now that I’m done acknowledging all the hard stuff, I feel more authentic and a lot less like I’m lying to myself. 😉 Ironically enough, I can understand the image above better. When I first saw the equal signs in the phrases, I read them as “but …” in an effort to keep a glass half-full mentality, however, now I see them as “and …” in an effort to be real. And I suppose that’s what the mom who wrote them meant, too.

I’m learning it’s a matter of embracing that life is full of hard stuff and good stuff … all at the same time. It’s not an either/or thing; it’s all-inclusive. It’s about doing the hard work of being responsible and patient, and knowing that your heart and character are being shaped and molded during the process. It’s about persevering through the hard moments, and believing that the more you do, the more mature you’ll become and the fewer complaints you’ll have. Because sometimes a lot of the time, the hard stuff makes us appreciate the good stuff even more than if we only had the good stuff by itself.

So here’s to celebrating Thanksgiving with a grumbling and grateful heart, and thanking God for all the hard and the good stuff.

Here is a beautiful song by Pam Thum, “Life is Hard (God is Good)”. I love the truth of these lyrics: “Sometimes living takes the life out of you, and sometimes living is all you can do.” May this song bring encouragement and comfort to your heart through whatever hard stuff you’re facing today.

What hard stuff do you give thanks for, or hope to give thanks for one day?

Monday Mentionables: Family Time, Fall Foliage & Gratitude in Action

Aloha! Hehe, just felt like saying that cause I need a bit of Hawaiian sunshine to warm me on this cold fall day. It’s Monday again and hopefully many of you have a short week of school/work ahead of you. Here are today’s mentionables…
 
1. Family Time. We just got home from a beach getaway with my side of the family. When I say beach, I mean cold and windy cause it’s Nor Cal (not Hawaii), but it was good nonetheless. Here are a few highlights of our trip.
This is the home we rented. Love the sign, except for the last part cause there were two moms (me and my mom) living there for the weekend. Haha.

 

A belated birthday gift my sister gave me! She is the best sister ever – she gives the most thoughtful gifts (notice the mug is in my favorite color), plus I think she reads my blog. 🙂
We played “Just Dance 2” on the Wii. All 3 generations (including the grandparents!) got into it throughout the night. Here’s my sis and bro-in-law with C observing. 
This is what C said I looked like when I danced. LOL

 

We toasted marshmallows in the fire pit in the backyard. Gotta get us one of these! 😉

2. Fall Foliage. Don’t you just love fall? The weather is not too cold yet and there are so many beautiful colors to look at. Here’s what we get to see just in our neighborhood.

God is so creative. 🙂

 

Walking around our neighborhood brings back so many fond memories: having our dog Sparkle drag us as he chased cats; carrying our son on his first walk; pushing C in a stroller on her first walk as big brother rode a tricycle in front of us; big brother biking and pulling C behind him in a wagon. Nowadays, they both bike by themselves and leave us in the dust!

 

Dandelion!

 

A cool leaf bug hubby found.

3. Gratitude in Action. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share about how we can help others in need. I was at Burlington Coat Factory the other day and saw they have a Coat Drive where you can donate a gently used coat to help keep someone warm. Also, at Sprouts, they had bags of food ready to be bought and given to families in need for Thanksgiving. I’m sure there are plenty of more organizations out there that are doing the same. Let’s remember how much we have to be thankful for and put our gratitude in action this week and throughout the year. 🙂

Happy a happy Monday, everyone! 🙂