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?

Glasses: Rose Colored & Half Full

On this Thanksgiving day, I am reminded to be thankful. To reevaluate my attitude. To see things in shades of pink (via rose-colored glasses). To view my glass as half full (versus half empty).

I honestly don’t find it hard to do so…in this moment. Sitting in my pj’s in a warm house while my hubby tends to the kids downstairs – it’s a pretty quiet and peaceful moment. 🙂 It’s always during the other moments, when life is not like a Hallmark card, that prove to be more challenging times for me to be thankful. Ah, such is the human condition, is it not?

But in celebration of this day, I want to list the top 20 (cause there really are too many to name!) reasons I am extremely thankful for today and every day. 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

1. My 2 munchkins who oh-so-loudly interrupted me while I was typing this two hours ago. LOL. They make my life so much more meaningful and complete.

2. My oh-so-supportive hubby who is entertaining them now so I can complete this post! He is my #1 encourager, my partner in life who keeps me sane and happy.

3. The appliances we are so blessed to have and the electricity with which to use them. 

4. Clean water! And more than enough food.

5. Health. And sanity. 🙂

6. Knowing I am growing to be a calmer and wiser parent, one who managed to keep her cool despite sitting in the parking lot of Sweet Tomatoes for approx. 62 minutes yesterday waiting for her dear son to finish having a cow (it’s a long story). And for a daughter who is patient beyond her years.

7. For our little one whom we were so thrilled to have in our family for a brief moment in time… and who makes me long for heaven all the more.

8. For our dear families – parents and siblings – both near and far. 

9. For Facebook, which takes up more of my time than it should, but has helped me reconnect with so many relatives and friends. 

10. The beauty of the written word.

11. Melodies and harmonies. For all the great songs out there. For karaoke. 😉 

12. The group of moms I meet up with regularly for play dates. For getting to vent, commiserate and grow with them.

13. For a good multi-cultural church where I can learn to love and serve people of all backgrounds.

14. For funny things on the internet like this: 31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Parent.

15. For cute and furry animals like these dogs and these lions.

16. California weather, where fall means temperatures are still in the mid-60’s.

17. For history, for what we can learn from it; for the future and the ability to dream about what is to come; but most of all, for the present because living in the moment is the best.

18. Being able to help others in need.

19. Every breath I take.

20. For faith, hope and love. 🙂

Celebrate today with this song by Natalie Cole called “Be Thankful“.

What are you thankful for today and every day?

Monday Mentionables: Meaningful Jewelry, Thanksgiving Crafts & Serenity Prayer

Hi everyone, is it me or is this month passing by a little faster than usual? Anyhow, Monday has arrived again so here are today’s mentionables…

1. Meaningful Jewelry. I picked up these bracelets from Kohl’s for free last week. That’s right, free. Thanks to Kohl’s and their sneaky ways, I got a $10 off anything over $10 coupon from them, which got me in the door just as they hoped it would and out the door with my “freebies”…and a skirt for C… and a work shirt for hubby. Haha. That coupon gets me every time. But you have to admit these bracelets are super cute and meaningful. 🙂

They also had other colors with the words Peace, Faith and Mom on them. I was so tempted to buy them all… maybe if Kohl’s sends me another coupon. 😉

2. Thanksgiving Crafts. So, have you ever wondered just how many ways there are to make a turkey craft? Well, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d help answer that question for you. I found this website with tutorials on how to make a turkey from a toilet paper roll and coffee filters, a handprint with candy corn, a juice box and a painted pumpkin. Now that’s a lot of turkeys! But if you’re looking for something a little more meaningful than a bird that goes “gobble gobble”, check out this thankful scroll and thankful mobile

3. Serenity Prayer. Since we’re on a roll with meaningful things, I’d like to share with you something I repeat to myself on days when I really need a reminder of what I can and cannot do and how to get through those “bumps” in the road. 

God, give me the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

So on that note, I’m going to try to tackle this Monday with serenity and hope you do, too! 🙂