Give Thanks

Give thanks for all that you’ve been given
Give thanks for who you can become
Give thanks for each moment and every crumb
Take up your spade and break ground
Sara Watkins, “Take Up Your Spade”

1. The sun rising pink and streaky over the pond 2. The ducks, who are still here at the end of November, because our next door neighbor keeps throwing out corn 3. The automatic coffee 4. The clicking of computer keys under my fingers 5. Kids stumbling down stairs in jammies, piled on my lap, their hair smelling still like Johnson’s baby shampoo

(And you can’t earn any of this. The sun comes up no matter how hard you tried or didn’t, no matter how good you are, no matter how much you failed. It’s just grace, and in the early morning hours, the whole world glows with it.)

6. Curious George 2: Follow that Monkey (our current DVD obsessions) 7. Garage sale legos and tonka trucks and enough pretend food to make an imaginary feast 8. Sweatpants and sweatshirts, soft from so many washings 9. An unseasonably warm Minnesota November 10. The light-box on the table – a hope for buoyancy, even as the sun disappears into winter

(Stop and breathe and look around you before Thanksgiving bleeds into Black Friday. You have everything you need.)

11. Grandparents who get down on the floor and play with my kids 12. The seven-layer Jell-O in the fridge that I made mostly to remind me of my sister 13. A little brother who’s Christmas list includes a surprising amount of lumberjack tools (that’s his job now; I still can’t totally get over it) 14. Friends who love you like family 15. In-laws that live close, that fill the house with food and laughter on holidays

(And we are all a little fractured, aren’t we? Our relationships, our families, broken along great distances, cracked in the imperceptible ways of our brokenness. We fail each other and we hurt each other, and still on days like today, we gather around the table, pass the bread, drink wine.)

16. Stacks of unread books all over the house 17. A Reader filled with the words of beautiful, talented online writers 18. Strangers that have become friends through social media 19. The ways we can brush up against each other’s lives via Facebook, photos and videos and status updates keeping us just a little bit closer 20. The newspaper spread all over our kitchen counter on Sunday mornings

(The way you are connected by all of these words. They span across all these distances like a web, delicate and translucent and beautiful. The way they bring us closer to each other)

21. Stretched out bedtime routines 22. Tantrums on the kitchen floor 23. Unwashed dishes 24. Sticky kitchen floors and fingers and discipline techniques 25. The messiness of family

(After all, these things matter too. They give your life definition. They give you a reason to reach out for help. Finger by finger, the unending daily tasks of motherhood are prying you loose from your need for perfection…and until you stop trying to be perfect, you can’t know that you already are.)

26. Trader Joe’s wine 27. New recipes ripped from magazines and taped into a binder to be tried some stay-at-home date night 28. My husband throwing the kids up high in the air, wrestling wild on the living room carpet 29. The dog who still sleeps every night in the crook of my knee 30. My collection of pretty aprons hanging on the wall, making me think of the people who love me

(And of course you don’t need twenty different aprons. But something that’s the point. Sometimes the point is the way they hang there, colorful and sweet, all that fabric and all that whimsy.)

31. The small ways I am learning to read the Bible again 32. The prayer book that says it beautiful 33. Kathleen Norris and Mary Karr and Madeleine L’Engle 34. A Love that, I am learning, has no limits at all 35. A new, white church just up the road. The small ways we feel ourselves entering into a new community. The brokenness and the grace and the way I can actually hear it when the pastor opens the Bible and reads a verse. I don’t know what it is. But I can hear it.

(In that ever-circling of the spiritual journey, you find yourself, maybe, in a hopeful arc. The mad season is over; you find yourself breathing deep and feeling cool and wild in your lungs.)

36. A red kitchen 37. Soft sheets on the bed 38. Appliances that all for the most part currently work 39. A new front door that lets in the sun 40. Christmas lights strung on the house, just waiting to be flipped on

40. McDonalds cheeseburgers (I know…) 41. Diet Coke (Don’t judge…) 42. A great backyard with a pond full of frogs 43. Super Simple Learning songs on YouTube…a miracle cure for Liam’s pre-dinner crankies 44. Early morning/late night quiet 45. Sleeping at night next to the man that I love.

(And you can’t earn a single bit of it. You don’t have to be good; you don’t have to make your bed or clean the bathrooms or remember to write the cards. It’s just there. Grace. Reach out and take it.)

10 thoughts on “Give Thanks

  1. As I bowed my head in prayer this Thanksgiving, I had tears in my eyes. I am thankful for so much, but struggle with the sadness of my older daughter. She has remained Catholic, and my younger two daughters now Talk Evangelical. She doesn’t feel a part anymore, and my younger two are so connected. It breaks her heart, and I don’t know what to tell her. I told her in time things would get better, but will they? My oldest is 25, and will be married next year. She lives with her fiance, so my younger two thinks she is living a life of sin. They don’t even ask her about her life, and the conversation is usually strained. This should be one of my oldest daughter’s happiest years planning her wedding, and it breaks her heart that her younger sisters view her the way they do. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

    1. So sorry your Thanksgiving was hard Mary. The whole no-sex-before-marriage concept has, over time, become such an integral part of the evangelical culture that it can be hard to separate the two. (I went into it a little bit in the True Love Waits post.) I’m so sorry that your daughter felt alienated and that in a misguided attempt to stand up for their newfound faith, your other daughters were hurtful.

      If it helps, I don’t think it’s specific to your family. Because it’s such a Big Thing in the evangelical culture, it’s hard to navigate around. I’ll be praying that they’ll choose love instead of judgment. That they can make their beliefs known one time in good conscious and then choose to be done preaching and instead celebrate. After all, marriage is good news. Great news. An event worth celebrating.

      1. Thank you for responding. Do you think it would help if I told my younger two, that my older daughter feels so left out. I feel they will only be defensive, and it won’t go well? Would you have listened in your “on fire for Jesus days?”

        1. That’s a hard question. I don’t know if I would have listened! But I think it’s worth a shot. I’m always in favor of trying to build bridges and restore relationships. Be gentle. Don’t make it “us” against “them.” Maybe ask them to help you brainstorm some fun things that you can do to help celebrate the wedding? Involve them in the process, maybe? (Such a tough situation. Praying for you all.)

    1. It was kind of long, wasn’t it? I kind of got on a roll. And I’ve been particularly moved by the Crosswick Journals this year. I’m only on the second one, but they make me wish I could have her over for coffee.

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