Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (RSV)

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going our way and we’re comfortable. But what about when our circumstances are less than ideal? Sometimes it’s not so easy to be thankful when the situation we’re in doesn’t quite match the expectations we have.
Some of us have a lot of expectations this time of year about what the holidays should be like. Commercials show smiling families around beautifully set, food-laden tables, the warmth of a fireplace in the background. These images stir certain emotions within us, and we strive to create a reality to match the images placed in our minds. Some of us go to an awful lot of trouble and create a lot of stress for ourselves trying to attain these ideals.

For some of us--Ok, for a LOT of us--this ideal just isn’t our life. I know that I am one who has a life that’s decidedly un-idealistic a lot of the time. I can either stress myself out trying to force it into a certain mold, or I can simply embrace what I have and enjoy it for what it is.

This year, in particular, I caught myself whining about how rough I have it. Can you believe that? I was actually thinking that *I* have it rough. How ungrateful I can sometimes be! Today, instead of whining about the (trivial, insignificant) difficulties I faced, I decided to look for the blessings hidden in them.

Last night, I had to opportunity to go to a job I like and get paid a decent amount of money, which will help my family buy necessities and also comforts and entertainments. At this job, I cared for three adorable little babies. I gave them baths,  rubbed sweet-smelling lotion on them, dressed them in snuggly jammies, rocked them, and fed them. The unit was more quiet and peaceful than usual.
This morning at the end of my shift, my husband brought four healthy, beautiful children to me so that he could go to his job.  Thank you, God, that they can all use their voices to communicate! lol 
Thank you, God, that my husband has a stable job to go to that keeps us fed, warm, and clothed.
When Gem vomited on the way home, I was thankful that I had spare clothes in the back of the van, that I had baby wipes to wipe the seatbelt off, and that there was an open gas station with warm running water to clean my Gem up. I’m also thankful that it wasn’t a serious illness that caused her to vomit; apparently the junk food that her daddy fed her for breakfast didn’t sit well with her. No more signs of illness for the rest of the day.
I am thankful for a stepmom who is willing to babysit the children. For free! I was able to drop the boys off with her for the day so that I could take a nap. I decided to keep the girls with me; Mojo has been congested and has had a slight cough, and Bear told me that Gem was coughing a little this morning. I wanted to keep any germs they might have away from Grandma. But thankfully, the girls were just fine today. I heard hardly a cough or complaint.
I am thankful that the girls felt well enough to play and keep each other entertained while I rested. And in a warm, comfortable bed, no less. When I woke up, they were both in a good mood, and Mojo told me that they watched a movie, listened to music, and made crafts while I napped (pics to follow.) My kids are normal kids; they are not perfect kids. But they are good kids. I’m thankful that they are mostly happy kids. 
I am thankful that when I am super-tired, a big cup of coffee will kick-start me into the world of the living. I even had vanilla spiced rum creamer today! 
I am thankful that I didn’t get called in to work tonight. Because I got to stay home with my family, I needed to find us something to eat for supper (we have a big dinner with a turkey planned for tomorrow, when we will all be together.) I am thankful that we have a 24-hour Wal-Mart that was opened and selling food, and that I had the money to buy food. I am thankful that they had great sales on their pies and rolls. I am thankful that we had a good dinner tonight that I was able to pull together in about 30 minutes, that the kids were as just as excited about our “feast” as they are about any of our other special meals, and I am especially thankful that I didn’t have to cook most of it!
Most of all, I am thankful that my husband came home from work safely and that the day ended with us all together, loving each other, enjoying each other. All healthy. All fed and comfortable.
Seriously, if y’all ever hear me complaining about anything, please slap me. I’ve got it good here!

And now, here’s a picture of our Thanksgiving feast. I can’t help but get a kick out of it; in my redneck upbringing, this was considered “living high on the hog”. Tonight, I felt like I am living high on the hog! Paper plates, cans of soda, and all (and I’m thankful for paper plates making for a worry-free cleanup). I couldn’t help but think of those mama friends of mine (not naming names, you know who you are!) who were running around like crazy, stressing about minute details and getting everything just right. To me, it just don’t get no better than THIS!
I especially cherish the turkey decorations, made from tracings of the children’s hands. Good job, kids!

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