November 27, 2014

Legacy Thankfulness

Dear Dad and Mom,

This one goes out to you.  It is Thanksgiving tomorrow and last night I spent a great deal of time thinking  about something for which I am grateful.

You.

I am thankful for you and for all you taught me.  I could fill a book with the wisdom you imparted to me over the years, but last night I was thinking about one thing in particular. I was thinking how thankful I am for your teaching me to work.

Thank you for not buying video games.  Thank you for limiting my time in front of a TV.  Thank you for not filling my life with stuff.  But today especially, thank you for teaching me to work, to work hard, and to find joy and satisfaction in it.

Last night long after dark had settled in, I stepped outside for the daunting task of shoveling our driveway which was buried under several inches of snow.  I can't say I started with a good attitude but something changed along the way.  I was quickly transported back through time to my childhood and many days pushing snow.  Those memories led to a myriad of thoughts about my gratitude for all the life lessons about work that I was given. Here is what I would like to thank you for on this Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks, Dad and Mom, for not buying a snow blower when I was a kid.  I am thankful you put a shovel in my hands and sent me out the door.  Thank you for handing me a  hand clippers to trim around trees and walkways.  I now fully appreciate the rake put into hands every fall and the mountain of wood I was sent out to stack. I  am  grateful for the push mower that I spent countless hours with making the rounds of our large yard.  I am thankful for the days when the sweat dripped, my legs got tired, and my hands hurt

All of those chores have some things in common.  Each one was hard work, was tiring, and didn't sound fun when I was sent out to do them.  However, that is not all they had in common.   They also taught perseverance, a good work ethic , and how to find joy and satisfaction in work. Being a parent now, I know that a great many days you wonder if anything you are trying to teach your kids is sinking in.  If there are days you are still wondering, let me encourage you today that those days of work taught me countless lessons that carry me through daily life.

I can remember looking at the massive piles of would and feeling like the job was insurmountable.  The entire yard covered in a carpet of leaves felt impossible.  Yet, the jobs were always accomplished.  I learned to look at what was completed and not what was left to be done. I learned to push past the tired legs and blistered hands. I learned to think creatively about how to accomplish tasks and how to work smarter not harder.  Side by side with my siblings, I learned the value of teamwork long before I was on a team.  Each of these lessons has been invaluable in my adult life.  There is one more trait all that work taught me for which I have been endlessly grateful and that captured my thoughts as I shoveled last night.

I am sure over the years you noticed that it wasn't long into stacking wood or raking leaves that we would forget we were working.  We forgot because, as you knew would happen, it became fun.

Work isn't seen as work once you begin to find the fun in it.

You knew that lesson, and you gave me and my siblings the opportunity to discover it for ourselves.  You also knew that we would discover the deep satisfaction of a job well done.  When that mountain of wood was stacked, when that carpet of leaves had disappeared, and when I could look back over the circles on the lawn and know I had walked every bit of it (and it looked good!) that there would be such joy in accomplishment.  Thank you for that gift that continues to give.

No price tag could ever be placed on such a gift.

I shoveled last night until the stars had hung long in the sky.  I shoveled for more than two hours in below zero temps.  My muscles ached, my hands were sore, and my bed was sounding pretty good.  None of that was remarkable though.  What was remarkable to me last night as I slowly heaped the snow into its neat rows, was that I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thanks, Dad and Mom.  I will be forever grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving through the eyes of Mother's Day

The clock said 1:00am when the car finally stopped and sleep was in sight.  I don't even know what it said when my head came to wearily land on my pillow.  I do know that everyone else in my family was already breathing heavily and lost in dream world.

I woke to the sound of consistent coughing and the throb in my head said not enough hours had gone by.  My poor little man was plagued by the persistence of the cough so I bring water, prop him, and check on him a couple times over the next couple hours until I finally get up saving my alarm the trouble.

I leave the room in its black stillness and realize the breakfast will end before any bodies are moving in our room.  I precede to do what moms do, I care for my family.  Thought is put into what each member of my crew would want to wake and eat and all is delivered to a room that still has not an ounce of movement to it.  Breakfast in bed served to all six of the people I love.

I chuckle at the irony as it is the day we celebrate mothers.  I see pictures through the morning of mothers receiving  trays piled with thoughtful breakfasts served to them in bed.  I rejoice with those moms, thankful their families are loving on them on this day of celebration just as my family does for me year after year.  They are all far too good to me.  Being the deliverer of breakfast on this day doesn't leave me discouraged as I leave the trays and slip out of the room again.

Why should I be discouraged?  Today, even more than all other days, I think of this high calling God has given me - to be a mother.

It is a gift to be the last one up making sure everyone is settled and has what they need.

It is a gift to be awakened long before my alarm was prepared to do its work, so I could love on a sleepy little person.

It is a gift to be the first one up caring for the needs of my family before they are even awake to realize it.

Why don't I always see it this way?

I am thankful today that God, by His grace, granted this perspective.  I thought of each face, both those here with me and the one I will see someday, and am overwhelmed with gratitude that God entrusted me with this task - being the mother of these beautiful people.

Tasks completed I head down and spend some time on the treadmill talking to God as the sweat drips.  Motherhood is like that, blood, sweat, and tears poured out.  I ask Him that none of that would be wasted.  Most days I fall far short of what I should be as a mom.  I am floundering along trying to figure this journey out. I ask Him to continue to extend His grace to me and to work in the hearts and lives of these kids He has entrusted to me. This is not a job for the faint at heart, I often say.

It is Mother's Day.

I ask God one more thing before embarking on the day's adventure.  I ask Him to help me to meet them with smiles, with open arms, with love, with grace - not because it is Mother's Day, but because it is a DAY to be a mother like every day.