In Gratitude for So Many Things

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Weekly column — and signing off for Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful celebration, full of laughter, love and a heart full of gratitude.
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A neighbor called me recently to see if I could offer some hospitality to a family visiting our neighborhood. The couple has four boys and their staying with us would have been a perfect fit.

“I wish I could,” I explained over the phone (with a little too much fatigue), “but I have been without heat and hot water for a week, and we are heading out of town in a few days and also things are just too crazy in general.”

“It sounds like you are living The Abundant Life,” my neighbor observed, to which I nodded my head vigorously.

The Abundant Life – what a wonderfully positive way to spin what we could otherwise call “The Overwhelmed Life” or “The Insane Life.” After a week of the self-inflicted suffering of no dryer, stove or oven, we could even call it “The Post-traumatic Stress Life.”

But Abundant? Now that’s more like it!

In that split-second observation, as I was getting more and more worked up about everything I had been through and those things I had yet to do, The Abundant Life was like wrapping myself in a luxurious mink coat, instead of a tattered old sweater. It was taking the million details of my day and being grateful for such fullness and joy, instead of looking at everything as one giant, never-ending To Do List.

The Abundant Life – what a wonderful place to be!

I hung up the phone from that call and took a deep breath. I smiled a crazy, happy smile and fixed my vision on a clearer view of the challenges before me. I still said no to hosting guests and I still had a plethora of things to do, but instead of hanging my shoulders in defeat I felt energized.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed not by the madness in my life, but by all the goodness. Thank you Lord for so many blessings!

It’s all in how you look at things, I am learning. On the particularly challenging days, we can either call it chaos or a thrill. This is not unlike those times when for whatever reason I start to feel panic rise in my chest – elevated heart rate, tingly fingers. I just trick myself into thinking I’m “excited” and voila! Let the calming breaths begin.

Of course there should be order and a healthy understanding of limits. There are ways I need to protect myself from getting worked into a frenzy. I don’t need to live at the outer edge of my sanity and this is why learning to say “no” here and there can certainly be half the battle. But all the extra stuff aside, I’m in a season of life where there is a lot going on, and how I handle it all has a tremendous impact on so many people.

Years ago, when our fourth son came along, I realized that life with so many boys would require something very unique of me, something I was already equipped with (thanks to my parents) – a sense of humor. I didn’t think I’d rely on that part of my personality so much but so often that, along with God’s grace and caffeine, is what gets me through the day.

Now I think just as much as an ability to laugh, a mother needs perspective – an understanding that this too shall pass, so you had better enjoy it now.

These are the years of family life that are so crucial – and special. When Paul and I look back on this season I know we will marvel at how crazy and fast things were. But instead of saying “what a madhouse, how did we do that?,” I am hopeful that we say instead “what a grand adventure, I’m so glad we did that!” 2014″> .

2014

Comments

  1. Me, too!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. ViolinMama says:

    I LOVE THIS!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Rachel! And thanks to YOU for being such a great example to all of us. You are a great inspiration to what it means to live and embrace the vocation of marriage wholeheartedly. Many blessings to you and yours –

  4. Thank you so much. I needed this today. Have a happy thanksgiving!

  5. I needed SO to hear this perspective! Blessings and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    elizabethk

  6. Oh! What a sweetheart!

  7. Life in the Fifties says:

    Best essay this year! Thank you.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving! Peace to you and your family as you celebrate together!

  9. What a wonderful perspective Rachel! I enjoyed this article so much I've posted a link to it on my blog (hope that's okay!).

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Ecce Quam Bonam says:

    EXCELLENT!!!

  11. This makes me cry. You are so right on. I am no stranger to that panicky feeling. Thanks!