Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Overflowing with Thankfulness

For anyone who may have wondered...yes, my family and I are still alive and well. Life has been humming along at full speed, and I’m too busy managing each overstuffed day to sit down and reflect on it in lengthy typed paragraphs. But in honor of Thanksgiving, my Good Morning Girls study is having a week of being intentionally grateful. Our first assignment was to make a list of the things, people, and circumstances for which we are thankful. My list turned out to be too long to condense into a hastily written Facebook post. Instead, I thought that I’d clear some dust off the 'ole blog, and share with all of you a few of the things that are evoking joy in my heart right now.

Because I love (and am thankful for!) organization, I have categorized my list of blessings. And for those who, like myself, are appreciative of proper English spelling and grammar, I hope that my consistent use of capitalized and punctuated sentence fragments will overshadow my violation of the complete-sentence rule. Below, enjoy my 2012 Thankful List.

Food: Yummy breakfasts of granola or oatmeal. Eggs, meat, and nuts for protein. Being able to afford Shakeology, the Healthiest Meal of the Day. Homemade baked goodies. Feasting on Thanksgiving. Cookies and pies and other treats. Going out to eat. The freedom and responsibility to choose what to buy and what to cook each day.

Appliances: A high-tech, front-loading washing machine that gets all of our clothes nice and clean. Our dishwasher, which spares me from many hours of dishwashing every day. A refrigerator and freezer to keep our abundance of food fresh.

Warmth: Long, hot showers. The bathroom heater to enhance my long, hot showers. A cozy house to keep out the wind and rain. Quilts and blankets and warm clothing to snuggle in. Heat in my car. Peppermint tea with honey.

Abundance: Having two vehicles so that we’re never “stranded.” Being able to give away clothes that don’t fit right because we don’t need them. Having more food than we need, and never going hungry. Shelves loaded with books, including many translations of the Bible, as well as having the Scripture at our fingertips with smart phone apps and Bible Gateway. Having plenty of technological gadgets to manage our lives and keep us connected.

Senses: Soft, kissable baby cheeks. The way candlelight flickers. Stomping and shuffling through crunchy autumn leaves. The smells of cookies in the oven and cinnamon. The peaceful stillness of the house when everyone else is sleeping.

Activities: My local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers), where fellow moms “in the trenches” of parenting and I can encourage each other over snacks and crafts. Accountability and exhortation from daily Bible Study through my Good Morning Girls group. Being able to put our children in gymnastics, which they love. Visiting friends and inviting them to visit us. Apple picking every September. Living close enough to the beach that we could drive there every week this summer. Swimming and kayaking and snorkeling and sunbathing at the lake.

Freedoms: The privilege of homeschooling my children and choosing their curriculum. The right to own guns for sport and self-defense. Having no fear of persecution for owning a Bible or going to church. The right to participate in choosing our government. Living in a capitalist republic. All of the soldiers who have made sacrifices to obtain and defend the freedoms we enjoy.

Health and fitness: Not having to worry about deadly diseases. Every day that I don’t have a headache. Being healthy enough to workout daily. Getting physically stronger. All of our fitness equipment and many home workout programs. Healthy children who are growing and developing.

Family: The rare but precious times when I see or overhear my children being kind to each other. Going on vacation to the mountains, beach, or on a cruise together. Grandparents who are generous and always willing to babysit. Laughing together. Having no shortage of people to pray for, hug, and visit.

Church: Our church family of dear people who love and encourage us. The ladies who are happy to snuggle Abby in the nursery. Friends who have new babies and like to talk about “mom stuff.” Singing praise songs and dancing for joy. Pastors who explain God’s Word with boldness and clarity. Friends all over the country who are brothers and sisters in Christ.

My husband: Late night laughter over something silly. Date nights at the beach or gun club or our favorite steak house. Snuggling on the couch. His willingness to work hard at multiple jobs to give us a better life. The way all children adore him and teens trust him. His strong sense of right and wrong, and ability to defend his position. His incredible strength. His ability to do crazy flips and other gymnastics. His blue eyes. Backrubs. Being woken up on weekday mornings by his kisses. Chatting and texting during the day. Praying together.

My children: Raising smart, beautiful children whom other people like. Watching them play together. Donny’s intelligence, his interest in all kinds of learning, his newfound love for reading, his mind for engineering, his helpfulness with household chores, his appreciation for organization. Hayden’s affection, his intelligence, his perfect handwriting, his physical strength, his love for God’s Word. Lydia’s verbal skills, her cheerful attitude, the funny things she says, her bedtime “one more hug”s. Abby’s snuggles, her tentative first steps, the way she has blossomed from tiny newborn into tiny person with thoughts and feelings, the way she plays with her siblings, her sweet smile. The way they snuggle up together and say, "Take our picture!"

My job: Being the one to teach my children almost everything they know. Not having a boss to report to or a commute to work. Using my creativity to turn a house into a home. Making life run more smoothly with schedules and organization. Earning extra income through my Beachbody business not because I have to, but because I want to. Helping others to get fit and healthy.

My God: God’s faithfulness to meet with me whenever I seek Him. Finding comfort in His Word. Growing in my feeble understanding of the Holy Spirit. The amazing privilege of participating in God’s work through prayer. Seeing prayers answered. Not having to be perfect, because I can’t be, and knowing that I am still loved. The glorious freedom of being in Christ - freedom from sin, and from restrictive laws. Most of all, Jesus’ death and resurrection for me. Without that, nothing else matters. He is everything!

This fall’s Bible study was on the book of Colossians. When we delved into Chapter 2, this verse stood out to me:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

I have been blessed with so much in my life. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, or that I never have struggles and trials. We can be thankful for good circumstances, but true thankfulness goes beyond circumstances. True thankfulness looks beyond the comforts of earth to the hope of heaven, and rejoices in a God who is good even when circumstances are not. The Apostle Paul writes of his overflowing thankfulness from the dark recesses of prison. He isn’t rejoicing over free cable and hot meals - his thankfulness is all about Christ’s redeeming work on the cross.

Fellow believers, as we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving season, we can appreciate all that is good in our lives. But if we are truly rooted and built up in Christ, we won’t just be full of thanks . . . we will overflow!