Saturday, October 22, 2011


it only took me until 10:30am today to be breathtakingly grateful--never mind that it took me another twelve hours to find time to sit down and record it. i stepped out my door this morning, and the smell was the undeniable, earthy, damp, sun-streaked, crisp-aired perfection of fall. already! and i was already grateful, even at 10:30am. and it was that attentiveness to gratitude, first step out the door, that carried me through the rest of a day that was hard pressed to provide anything to be grateful for. fall in my nostrils--the promise of end, death that will bring something new. the promise of end. i'm already grateful. and eager to step out the door again tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

wagon wheels

having fallen off the gratitude wagon these last ahem-many days, i guess i should be most of all grateful for grace that covers this one-among-many failures. and come to think of it, i should be most of all thankful for grace everyday, which makes me thankful for having fallen off the wagon so i could learn that lesson. grace. i am also thankful so thankful for seven-month-old baby hugs. anastasia's new post-nap greeting is an honest-to-goodness hug, arms around my neck. and even better, after about ten seconds, she leans back, smiles at me for a few seconds, and then dives back in for another good long hug. it is about The Best Thing i can imagine. luke will certainly want to stall bedtime momentarily by thinkingthinkingthinking about what he's thankful for; i suppose i can be glad for that stalling tactic among many possibilities. and i'll be thinking about why it's so easy to be impatient and frustrated and grumpy and tired and whiny and even funny...but so hard to remember the simple gift of gratitude. i'll be thinking about it. (and the title? well, wagon wheels are one of anastasia's favorite snacks these days. yes, i'm thankful to have made it to the finger food stage...but mostly that's just where my mommy-mind goes when i think of having fallen off the gratitude wagon. it goes something like this: fallen off the wagon -- wagon wheels -- snacks all over the floor -- i need to go sweep. or something like that. nothing profound, i'm afraid. not these days.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I also am known. --1 corinthians 13:12

anastasia thoroughly enjoys looking at herself in this little mirror (or, to be honest, in any mirror, window, or other reflective surface she can find). i knew i wanted to take a picture of her admiring herself in the mirror, capturing both her sweet little pig nose and the patchy soft hair on the back of her head all at once. i knew the picture i wanted to take. this is the picture i took--which i love, and which is not exactly the picture i wanted to take. thankfully, anastasia spends quite a bit of time looking in this mirror, as it took me two sessions and over two dozen pictures to capture this moment. the moment which wasn't exactly the moment i was going for, but is just right anyhow.

and that is, in fact, the point. seeing through a glass darkly. not quite accurately. we can't quite know what we're looking for in that dark glass, can we? but it's in there. and i am certain we're supposed to look. now i know in part and not fully, as i will know and be known. but i do know in part, and that's important. i'm not sure what babies are doing when they're spending all that time admiring themselves (and, let's be honest, slobbering all over themselves, which is part of the picture i meant to capture but didn't quite). but i know there's something in there they want to understand, and they are persistent in trying to understand it. it will likely still be a few months before anastasia recognizes herself in that reflection, although she does already seem to look back and forth at the reflection when i'm holding her, looking at me and then looking back at the reflection of me. even though she doesn't understand what's in there--in fact, probably because she doesn't--she keeps looking and looking. and she delights in the learning and looking and figuring out.

we can learn a lot from a baby examining that other baby in the dark glass. just because we won't know and be known for a long time, just because we are trapped with the dark glass through which to look, it doesn't mean we don't keep looking. we keep seeking and trying to understand. and we delight in the process, even though we know it'll be long before it's complete. and when we're frustrated by the process--which babies often are--we don't cease wondering and we don't decide we're done looking. we can rest in the promise that--just like anastasia will one day (too) soon discover that she's admiring herself in there--we will one day know and be known fully, with no glass in the way at all.

but in the meantime, i'm determined to rejoice in and persist in examining the (skewed, unclear) reflection.

thinking hard

that's the whole point of this exercise, right? finding things to be thankful about on the days when it's really hard to be thankful? well, i'm getting my workout, then, and it's working.

luke is thankful for so many things to be thankful for. (i think that's a copout, but i let him get away with it, primarily because it was bedtime and he'll do anything to stall...even if it is think about things to be thankful for.)

i'm thankful for chubby seven-month-old fingers that play and dance in the air, the sunshine through the window, the shadows on the wall. seven months tomorrow. thankful for every single day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

can you guess where we went today?

luke is thankful for bumper cars. i'm thankful for deep fried oreos.

but i'm most of all thankful that the state fair happens only once a year. because it's really not my thing...even though, as it turns out, deep fried oreos really are my thing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

between gratitude and gripe

the line is fuzzy sometimes, i think. tonight, it's a good thing i'm committed to this gratitude work. because it's work tonight, for sure.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (job 2:10)

today, i found myself thinking, how can i be so troubled by my little problems when there's so much worse going on in the world? how can i lose sleep over my losses when people are suffering so much more than i am? how can i lament my circumstances when others' are so much more dire? i have it so good, really, compared to so many.

i have answered this question for others so many times, so many friends who have followed a lament about their own lives immediately with, "oh, i'm sorry; how can i even complain to you when you've been through so much worse?" the answer i've always given is that there's no comparing griefs. your suffering, your own worst thing, is in fact your own worst thing. it doesn't matter if my worst thing is in some quantifiable way (if that even exists) worse than yours, or if someone else's worst thing is ten times worse. your suffering is pure and absolute in the midst of your own worst thing, and it does you no good to try to diminish it by comparing it with someone else's: it's bad, and it's yours, and it's suffering. that's all you can really know as you experience it, and comparison is futile. it's the same reason that, when luke says, "i'm starving!" i don't follow my no-you're-not answer with but-children-in-ethiopia-are-and-they-have-it-so-much-worse. no, luke isn't starving, and it's good to be careful with our words and make sure we mean what we say. but his own hunger is his own experience of "suffering," and to attempt to diminish that by comparison with someone else's actual starvation is something he can neither access nor profit from: he's still hungry, he's still suffering, and now perhaps he's feeling shame, too. this isn't helpful.

anyhow, as i shamed myself for my lament this morning, i was glad to remember my own answer to others: comparisons are useless. your suffering is bad, it's yours, and that's all there is to it.

but why are the gripes so much easier to come by than is gratitude? sometimes, i think, it's a fine line. sometimes, i think, there's a reason we can't decide whether to laugh or cry. sometimes, i think, the very thing that brings us the most joy can bring us equally the most pain.

today, i'm grateful for clear thinking. thinking about painful things clearly. the lines are fuzzy.

i won't open that tossed-aside card from who-knows-what joyful occasion addressed to the nickname no one knows that i found yesterday. not now. fuzzy and fine.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

so many things, so bedtime

my parents, and merlot, and "crazy head" (anastasia's little game), and open windows, and strollers and babies who love them, and bedtime. it's bedtime. (luke forgot to tell me his before he went to bed. he was too busy with my parents. which makes me think i know what he's thankful for.)

i was thankful yesterday, i swear

this is why i don't usually take on these must-do-everyday type projects... i was thankful for jeans that were two sizes too small before i got pregnant with anastasia, which are now falling off. i'm here to tell you that stress does have a silver lining, y'all. luke was thankful for flumist (in lieu of the flu shot, of course).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

eight-year-old thankfulness

luke is thankful for himself today. i agree.

i am thankful for his eight-year-old self. his brilliant, stalling-at-bedtime, mastering-the-piano, adoring-his-sister, deep-eyed self. his deep-thinking, sensitive, eager, sponge-like self. his funny, adorable, deeply-feeling, teacher-adoring self. i am so thankful for that little self.

and anastasia is, too. i can speak for her on this one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

an invitation

God gives me books sometimes. i'm pretty sure i've blogged about that before, but i can't seem to find the post--or the patience or time to hunt down the post. often, these book-gifts seem to come in waves: book after book after book that i pick up, usually for some very insignificant reason, and each one speaks to my heart in a way that makes me think, "why didn't someone tell me to read this before?" maybe this sounds strange to you, the idea that God might show up at the library, there between the stacks, whispering read this one, trust me. and that's okay if it sounds strange to you. it sounds strange to me, too. but all the same, i have no other explanation for how i happen upon books that speak to me so clearly, sometimes, and often all in a row.

as you might have guessed, i'm on one of those reading jags right now, having just landed on divinely-sent book #3.

(let me interject here: none of these books, divinely-sent or no, is gospel. they're not even necessarily all that well written sometimes. but each one has some lesson for me, each time. disclaimer finished.)

anyhow, #3 on this current jag is one thousand gifts, by ann voskamp. i'm only about 60 pages into it, and who knows if i'll love it by the time i reach the end, but for now, i'm learning a good lesson from it: gratitude. she says it so much more eloquently than i will be able to--so if this post piques your interest, go check it out of the library, or at least check out her blog: a holy experience--but she talks about how gratitude is a habit that must be cultivated like any other good habit. to that end, at the encouragement of a friend, she took on a challenge: making a list of one thousand gifts from God for which she's thankful. i've only gotten to about #200, but i'm already thinking about what a great exercise that would be, noticing things i'm grateful for every single day.

so i shared that with luke, and i told him that i thought i might start blogging about something i'm grateful for every day. he's eager to do it with me, perhaps more because he's excited about blogging than he is about being grateful. but whatever gets him there, i think, is worth it. i'm quite sure my--that is, our--list of things we're grateful for won't make it to one thousand; luke did the math pretty quickly and declared that we would have to keep it up for three years to get there! and wouldn't it be great if we did? but i'm going to try to jot down something i'm grateful for each and every day. some days, that might mean nothing more than a sentence--gasp, even a sentence fragment--because these days are hectic and full and distracted. and luke is going to share something with me every day, too. some days, i hope, those things we're grateful for will inspire me to have something more to say, more to write, which has always been good therapy for me, but which has been hard upon hard these difficult days. i'd rather be blogging about things i'm grateful for than hard things, anyhow. or maybe i'll be able to think about the intersection of the good things and the hard some days, too, which might be the best of all.

so luke and i will start tonight at dinner. but for right now, luke is at soccer practice and anastasia is asleep, so i have a moment to make my note for the day: today, i'm grateful for sheer curtains in open windows.

(for the record, anastasia is delighted by billowing sheer curtains in open windows, too, as they slip through her almost-seven-month-old fingers--which is a sweet, fresh reminder of how much i love them. and that's a picture i want to take now, so maybe when she wakes up from her nap, i'll see if i can capture it. or maybe by then luke will be home and it will be time to make dinner, and anyhow, the breeze has died down now...and soon it will be too cool out and i'll need to close the windows. but today has been a day of billowing sheers in chubby fingers, and i'm grateful for that.)

you're welcome to join me, if you'd like, in this journey of gratitude, either by commenting here with what you're grateful for or linking to similar posts on your blog or whatever. if i were one of those mega-bloggers, i'd probably have a special icon for these gratitude posts and some sort of system for linking and all that. but i'm not, and i don't. so be grateful with me, organically, if you'd like--as organic as a blog can be. you're invited.

(and if you have a book title to whisper to me to help me sustain my current jag, whisper away. you never know when you might have the words of life to speak to someone, even if it's just through a book recommendation. you might be one of the people who already has.)