Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Counting Blessings

I've been gone for awhile, and not for any particular reason.

I guess the blogging fire just hasn't been under my bum -- for lack of a better way to say it-- and I'm not really sure why. And because of that I am feeling surprisingly rusty at this.

Tonight, about 5:18, I pulled out of the driveway to head to my voice lesson. For some reason, the 4:00 hour is the longest of the day for me. We'd been outside, the boys had played with the sprinkler until I turned it off. They were soaked, fighting over who got to hold the hose, and then bawling because they weren't getting their way and I had turned it off. They are the best of friends, but they really screech at each other plenty when they are unhappy about something.

Because this is a long hour, I thought we'd go in the backyard and I'd let them play and try to read a bit of my book. I actually got some reading in, but not without having to be a frequent mediator.

I was thrilled when Scott got home and I got to leave. :)

But I hadn't gone a mile in the car before I found myself reflecting on the blessing of being able to be home with them. I wouldn't trade my place to be anywhere else. And I say that not because I feel any expectation to feel that way, or because I feel like it's my lot, but out of sheer love for these children I've been blessed with. I do, earnestly, love being a mother.

Nonetheless, as frustrating and emotionally/physically exhausting as it can be at times, I couldn't keep from saying outloud, "I get to watch my little kids grow up."

As I said it, my voice cracked.

I was thinking about this morning, taking one of these guys back to the ER after a stitches trip last week to have the stitches taken out. That is part of the beauty of it to me. It is the day-to-day things that I get to be there for. I got to hold him and comfort him and be there when he was nervous.

(But, I also get to be the one that constantly cleans up after him, keeps him clean, deals with his tantrums, and on and on.)

I am one of those mothers that doesn't really like to leave her kids all that much. I actually love to be with them, notwithstanding the fact that it can be a challenge, too.

And I couldn't help but think about the fact that whether it's for a bedtime story, cleaning off the umpteenth tray after a meal, a trip to the ER, bathtime craziness, all out giggling and joking, and the wonder of discovery, I am always there. This brings me such joy.

And because I know this season of my life is so limited in its scope, I cherish it.

I was thinking about this again as I was leaving my lesson and driving home. I was having one of those moments. I want to figure out exactly how these happen so that maybe I could have that frame of mind every day.

A moment as if you were looking through a gold glass, and the world shimmers back at you. Things that normally seem nothing but ordinary become extraordinary.

This started today because my father called me this morning to tell me about a singular conversation he had with some friends, and it left me feeling grateful, humbled and touched for something I take for granted each day.

Sometimes, when you live in a warm bath, you forget to appreciate the pleasant temperature and getting to soak, and the comfort and peace that are yours. I felt reminded of that today in a personal way.

And that gratitude inspired me to want to do more, be more, feel more, love more, appreciate more.

I guess that's it: an exercise in gratitude makes these moments happen.

One of my favorite talks from a few conferences ago was one that focused on gratitude. The speaker said:

"Gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it. Frequently we are oblivious to the Lord's hand. We murmur, complain, resist, criticize; so often we are not grateful. ...Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God's love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence."
---Bonnie D. Parkin (to read the entire talk, click here)

One of the hard realizations I have come to, over and over again, is that I am a much more critical person than I like to admit. It is something I am really trying to work on and change. Not that I think of myself as being a Johnny-raincloud-type-of-person, because I don't, but I could certainly improve and I would, frankly, rather not be critical at all. At all, folks.

I would love to get to a place in my life where I never had criticism to offer because I didn't notice it, or because I chose to look at it in a different way. I would like to live in a world where I could and would do more, be more, love more, feel more, and appreciate more. And I know that what Sis. Parkin talks about here is true because of personal experience. Criticism and complaining seem to block the glorious from sight. I think each of our worlds are, to some extent, exactly what we make of it.

It is simply amazing how much brighter and more lovely everything is when I stop and reflect.

When, to use the old adage, I sit and count my blessings.

There really are so many to count.

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