50 Days to 50
Day 48: Grateful for 5 Fs
As I’ve thought about the Savior’s birth this season, at tender moments an overwhelming gratitude has filled me for the simplest of things. I’ll share a few here with you—surprisingly all starting with the letter F—hoping that it sparks a moment of the same, a “fullness of joy” in the midst of the go-go of life.
Food and shelter. As I watch the refugee crisis, connect with the homeless in our own downtown city, and hear about stories of neglected children, I feel not only a need to make a difference but a deep gratitude for what I have, especially the ordinary. A month ago my husband gave me a marvelous gift: a new outdoor freezer filled with meat. At first glance, that may seem a little guy-ish to consider being giddy over. But I was. This year our neighborhood and church have made a concerted effort to prepare for emergencies. Just knowing that food is in there, and should trouble come that we have enough for our family and to share, fills me with gratitude.
Family. My children are now ages 22 down to 3 ½. I run, attend, and track four different schools, soon to be a fifth. It’s a busy stage that I love. And every now and then, a scene before me stops like a snapshot and I’m emotionally transported to many years before. Back to days that felt endless, to when I had six children under the age of twelve, with no family living in our state and feeling I was pulling three handcarts across the parenting plains. And now, they are mostly in the teen or young adult stage, and it’s a miracle to see the transformation before my eyes. Sure it brings stress, hormones, drama, trouble, and heartache. But it is rich in love, connection, and tangible building of our eternal family. To their souls, they are good, kind, and affectionate children who love the Lord. For those basic incredible things, I am beyond grateful.
Friends. The other day I had a realization: every single week, several times therein, I receive a gift from a dear friend. Whether it’s a loving call, note, service, or something wonderful, He teaches me constantly that I am who I am in large measure because of the grounded, stalwart, intuitive, lovely and loving women He sends me. I can’t express how this humbles me. Most especially over the past six weeks, He has sent me women who are a direct answer to prayer to a variety of needs. One tiny example: a few weeks ago I had wanted to talk with a friend of mine who also happens to have religious stewardship over me. But I didn’t call (she’s likely busy, right?) The next morning I got a flat tire heading to take my son to preschool. The thought came to call her. It turns out she was only a few minutes from where I was. As the tire guy fixed my flat, we took my son to his class and then had a needful, soulful chat. A small and simple thing to be sure. But it’s been those kinds of moments that make me remember and feel like Elijah being fed by the ravens. Truly, He knows our needs and usually meets them through a friend.
Fulfilling a personal purpose. You know how strongly I quote religious leaders and feel personally about this. We all have a part to play in this grand world, in large and almost unnoticeable ways. Over the past few weeks He has opened my world, unexpectedly, to a path I hadn’t planned on and quite frankly don’t have time for. And yet, like He always does, He makes a way. With small bits of time and energy, God magnifies what we have, combines it with others more talented and savvy, and creates absolute wonder. To be part of this process is enlivening and awe-inspiring. As we offer ourselves—what little we can give—and our willing hearts, He truly makes miracles every single day.
Faith. I can’t write this without feeling deep emotion. Many, many years ago my life was so different than it is today. I was a child in an unsafe environment and lived with abuse, chaotic family relationships, and wondering what food there would be to eat. I see God’s hand guiding me to where I am now, despite the difficulty of the road. Just because we don’t always see that guidance immediately doesn’t mean He is not tirelessly working in our behalf. As an adult, I can look back and see how all I’ve experienced has now and is being put to good use. And that’s what I do. And He knew that. He knew me, still knows me, and walks with me daily as I choose to let Him. Words can’t adequately share how much I love God and His Holy Son. For all they’ve done to mark the path, to love us onto it, and to keep walking with us even when our short-sightedness makes us momentarily unable to see it.
I hope this Christmas season that we can pause to feel the gratitude, really feel it. And hopefully it leads us to a bone-deep gratitude for a Savior, who began as a baby boy in a manger, and became the Redeemer of us all.