Monday, August 1, 2011

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

My 15 month old son is obsessed with Veggie Tales. He asks for "BOB!" all the time and knows how to turn on the BluRay player in our living room that connects to NetFlix (where there are lots and lots of Veggie Tales on instant). We have CDs in the car and in his room, and the girls color pictures and do projects of Veggies partially because their baby brother loves them so much. So, needless to say, I have Veggie Tales songs in my head ALL THE TIME. Often that is annoying and enough to drive me batty, but I have been reminded of some very simple truths by listening and watching Veggie Tales. One that has become my mantra as of late is "A thankful heart is a happy heart." I have it written on a heart above my desk. And it is something I remind myself on a regular basis.

I am using this simple phrase to remind myself (and my children) that when we look at what we have to be thankful for rather than what we wish we had or wish we could change, our perspective brings us joy rather than sorrow, peace rather than anxiety. It sounds easy, right? Of course it's never that simple, but by stopping myself from thinking of things in a negative way and forcing myself to hear Madame Blueberry say "A thankful is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have; that's an easy way to start. . . " I remind myself that I have SO much for which to be thankful!

Just the other day I was thinking about a job opportunity my husband had last fall. We were SO certain it was the answer to our financial difficulties and would possibly be the CAREER job he so desperately needed. It should've been his job. His dad worked for the company; my husband knew 2 out of 3 of the people doing the hiring and had worked with the company while doing another job. So, needless to say, we were devastated when he didn't get the job. We thought he had it in the bag and were blown away when he wasn't given the job. After that time we went through some even more difficult financial times. My husband had a couple other jobs, none of which have proven to be the career job he is looking for. But some new opportunities are on the horizon for him, opportunities that would better suit his talents, skills, education and passions. These opportunities were made possible through a part time job he had last winter, a job he wouldn't have had if he had been given that "perfect" job last fall. (A job we found out later was only a 6 month contract position.)

 It's so hard to see when you're in the middle of a situation, but there is a bigger picture. God has a greater plan, and HE can see where each path leads. When I think of this particular situation with my husband, it makes it a little easier for me to be thankful. I should be thankful that he didn't get that job. God knew there was something better coming along. Sometimes we have to be patient. (My father always said "Patience is a virtue," which I never understood as a child, but yes, dad, I get it now!) Answers to prayers are not always immediate, not always what we expect, and not always obvious. some times the answer is "no," and many times the answer is to wait and be patient.

I'm trying to keep my heart thankful about starting my new job. Obviously, it is a tremendous blessing for our family financially for me to be working as well. My tendency, however, is to think about missing my kids. I won't be able to see my oldest daughter off on her first day of school or be home with my little ones during the day. That's heart breaking to me. But when I remember to be thankful, I focus on the fact that I have a wonderful husband who is a fabulous father, and my daughter will have him to send her off on her first day and take pictures of her for me. And my little children will be at home with him, not at a day care center with a stranger. And THAT makes my heart happy.

"I thank God for this day, for the sun in the sky, for my mom and my dad, for my piece of apple pie. For our home on the ground, for His love that's all around. That's why we say thanks every day! Because a thankful heart is a happy heart! I'm glad for what I have; that's an easy way to start. For the love that He shares, 'cause He listens to our prayers. That's why we say thanks every day!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things I Learned From Storm 2011

I had originally intended to write a TOP FIVE THINGS I LEARNED list, but the more I mulled over what this storm has taught me, the more things I began to come up with. And then I realize one lesson was not more important than another, so there really was no way to rank them. So, in no particular order, these are the lessons I learned during the Great Storm of 2011:

       Prior to the storm I did not know what one was, what it was for, or that I even had one. For future reference, when my power goes out, I cannot run the water. Otherwise a tank fills up, cannot eject out to the sewer, and poop water fills my laundry room, therefore turning my house into a sewer. Fun times at 9:30 at night when there's no power and the kids are freaking out in their towels in a room barely lit by candles because mommy gave them a bath and didn't know it would make the house stink.
      Who knew? In the almost year we've lived here, we haven't talked much to many of the neighbors. There's nothing like a natural disaster to bring everyone together. Turns out we live by some really great people, and hopefully now that we know them we will spend more time hanging out together.
     This was a really rough week. That's putting it mildly. Sleeping on the floor of the conference room where Ryan works with all the kids (while people were working), having the house covered in poo water and cleaning it up with no power, trying to use a borrowed generator that didn't end up working, running out of money, not being able to flush a toilet, Faith throwing up all over. . . Every time I thought I was about to break, God gave me strength and I managed to make it through this week in one piece.
    I actually already knew this. But to see him rise to the challenge and be a strong, supportive provider for our family in a time of crisis made me fall in love with him all over again. He rocks my world.
   Who in the world would take in 4 kids and a stressed-out mom in a hotter than Hades mid-July power outage? The awesome Boyd family. I am forever in their debt.
    My parents have a much nicer house than we do. I envy their backyard. But man, I was so happy to come back to my own house today. And I will be really happy when I finish typing this and crawl into my own bed.
   I can manage (even with 4 kids) to survive without lights, internet, AC, TV, fridge, microwave, fans, etc. But I draw the line at toilets. Apparently that was my limit. Didn't know that until this crisis. Thank you, power outage, for teaching me.
  Yep. Once I knew everyone was safe, my next concern was finding myself some coffee. Day 2 I went until 11:00 without any. That was the scariest day. Mommy must have coffee. Lesson learned.
  They put up with a lot of craziness this week: sleeping in weird places, living out of bags, eating weird combinations of foods. . . But they did really well. I'm impressed. Nicely done, kiddos.
   Each day is a flash of time, and every season comes to an end. If I get too caught up in the moment I'm in, I'll forget that it's not forever. In some cases, it's a blessing that each moment will pass, but other times I need to savor the moment.
   Sometimes it's hard to see, but if we look hard enough, we can find surprises in the strangest places. Blessings come through tough times.

I certainly wouldn't want to relive this past week, but I know that in a year or two we'll be looking back on this crazy storm telling stories about it with smiles on our faces. God has a greater plan, and if we get too caught up in the trial of the day, we forget that there's a bigger picture. As I process the week, I can see that there were lessons I needed to learn. I hope they sunk in, because I don't want to be taught these lessons again any time soon!