Saturday, June 18

Good Team

I remember trying to imagine what it was going to be like, that whole motherhood thing. Growing up in a big family, I thought I knew what it was all about. Turns out, being a big sister and being a mommy are not the same. But I have adjusted!

One thing I looked forward more than all the rest was doing neat stuff with my kids: crafts, travel, cooking, service, good old fashioned housework. I couldn't wait.

I am there now. I have children old enough to work with me, and young enough to want to do an art project or go somewhere nifty together. 

This morning, my girls and I sat down in the living room and mapped out what we wanted to do with the day. We tossed around ideas, and decided on what sounded best. I made up a big, goofy list and pinned it to the board. Then we all dived in. Some of it was work, some of it was play, most of it got done. We all took great pleasure in each thing that got crossed off. Go, team!

I am grateful that we make a good team. I have waited a long ol' time for enough team players to make it fun and effective. I love working with my kids (when "working" actually happens). Not always sunshine and roses, mind you, but when it is, it makes up for all the times it's not. It's pleasant conversation, goofy jokes, teaching/learning moments for everyone, memories that will carry us through. Part of our team has been missing this week, due to Scout Camp. I'm certainly grateful the "away" team is coming home today. I have really missed them!

What are you blessed with today?

Friday, June 17

Open Windows

It's June, and I am into my climate control groove. When it is cool out, I open the windows and turn on the fans. It is time to air out this house! When it warms back up enough for me to notice, I close the windows  and curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house. I'm way into that passive solar gain and loss stuff. And as a last, sweltering resort, I will turn on the air conditioning.

Rinse. Repeat.

I really like having air conditioning. I just don't like having to use it. It's one of those things where I'm glad to have it when I need it, but sure hope I won't need it...kinda like CPR training.

Of course, I am going to need it. It's summer! I would simply rather not. It's a bit of bother, that window-fan-a/c routine, but it is worth it to me.

I love fresh air. I love how my house smells with all the windows open and the breezes blowing through. I will leave windows up in the rain if I can get away with it, and I will keep them open when the temperatures dip and tell anyone who complains about it to put on a hoodie (within reason, of course).

The weather has been so lovely, my windows have been open more than they've been closed. It's so nice. It won't last, of course, because June doesn't last.

I am grateful for open windows. I am grateful for windows that actually open. Once, I lived in a house where the windows had been painted shut, and it took my husband and some serious tools to get them open.

And, while I am being truthful, I really am grateful for air conditioning. I love that feeling of "aaaahhhh, thank heavens!" when I walk from a sweltering day into a cool cloud of comfort. Even so, I am grateful for what my open windows do for my energy bill. I am a creature of comfort.

What have you been blessed with today?

Thursday, June 16

Hard-Won Perspective

I was on the phone this morning with a younger sister. Mommy-wise, she is now where I was about ten years ago. And I remembered that it was a tough place. I told her that, too, because I think validation is useful in coping.

And then I sort of went on this little rant where I lamented the fact that no one had warned me about the tough spots of young motherhood, that I was unprepared and hadn't handled it all too well. Where were the voices of experience? I wanted to know. She ought to be glad she has me, because I was doing for her what no one had bothered to do for me!

This sister of mine, she is wise beyond her years. She listened to me express my pent-up resentment about the struggles of years past. And then she said this:

If someone had told you, had just gone up to you and dumped it all out, you wouldn't have learned it, it wouldn't mean as much, and you wouldn't appreciate it as much as you do now. 

It's true, of course. Wisdom doesn't always look like wisdom. Most of the time, we have to earn the right to recognize it. It's actually possible someone did try to prepare me. It is very probable I wasn't listening, or felt I already knew everything I needed to know. I really am that sort of person.

I am grateful for hard-won perspective. That old saw about how you never know what you've got until it's gone? Well, I think you never know what you don't know until after you know it. Or maybe it's that thing about hindsight being 20/20. Yup. True for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to look back, and see real proof of change and growth in myself. I am grateful for my sisters/friends, who help my keep perspective. Not only do they help me keep it, but they polish it up for me so I can see it better.

What are you blessed with today?

Wednesday, June 15

Too Much to Remember

Not too long ago, we were all piled in the van, driving up the highway towards home. It had been a full and fun trip, and most everyone was napping. My husband was driving, and I was sort of daydreaming, and thinking about sundry things.

A thought came to the forefront of my mind, and I remember saying to myself, "This is wonderful. I ought to do a Thankful Heart post about it!" And that thought was followed by this one: "I had better write it down, or I'll forget........ [briefly casts about for a pen or scrap of paper, but fails to see anything readily available] ......Nah, this is nifty enough and obvious enough, I won't forget it."

I forgot it.

I have been trying to recall it for days, because I remember it was quite good. But nothing has resurfaced. I remember I was looking at the sky, admiring the clouds and the colors of the sunset. I remember the stretch of road we were on. I remember having my feet propped up on the dash. 

I cannot - for the life of me! - remember what wonderful, obvious thing I was so thankful for.

I am grateful that I have too many blessings to remember them all. How pampered can one woman possibly be? So much that is nifty and benevolent in my life that I can't keep track of it? It's true. Silver linings left and right. And if that perfect thought ever circles back around, I have a pen and notepad in my purse. I don't want to miss another thought of thanks.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, June 14

The Hands of God, or Welcome, Baby!

This morning, my extended family welcomed another adorable baby into the world. My sister, who had just visited me this weekend (we sat on the floor and sorted through baby girl clothes and talked about pregnancy and she was so uncomfortable), had her baby girl.

Things didn't go at all how they planned, but in the end, Momma and Baby are healthy and resting. I will skip the details, and go straight to the part where God placed just the right people in their path and in their lives to help when help was needed.

How does He do that? Days, months, even years in advance! He gives us experiences and skills and ideas that we need in a pinch.

And by "a pinch", I mean in that moment when you can't stop and look it up online or call someone else who knows, you just have to already know it and do it and there is no chance to hesitate, just keep going until it's done and you can look back and say, "Whew! Good thing I took that class (or had that hobby, or knew that person, or chased that dream, or followed that prompting) way back when!" I don't know who's quote this is, but it is exactly right:
When the need arises, the time to prepare is gone.

With no advance notice, we can walk in to a moment in someone's life - or someone can walk into ours - roll up our sleeves, and become the answer to prayer, the hands of God in action.

I am thankful for the hands of God. I rejoice, knowing that He watches over me and my family, and lays a safety net for us long before we ever know we will need it. I am grateful for compassionate, selfless people who feel called to learn all they can to be more useful to the Lord, to be His hands. I am grateful for the answers to my prayers of watch care for my loved ones.

And (of course!) I am grateful to welcome this baby to the family; such a sweet little niece, a lovely bundle of heavenly softness. I don't think I will ever get enough of holding brand new babies. And I'm grateful for that too.

What have you been blessed with today?

Monday, June 13

Junior Mom

I have a daughter who was born with a mothering heart. For as long as she has been able, she has been concerned with the welfare and the happiness of everyone around her. I have a video clip of her, as a three-year-old, going all out to make her one-year-old sister laugh and laugh and laugh.

I heard a high school chum refer to herself as "Junior Mom" one time. I knew instantly what she meant, and I knew instantly who the Junior Mom in our family was.

I can always count on her to help with the baby. Always. She will come from the other end of the house if she hears crying. She helps with the little kids at Church, and at the Library, and she even invited a girl she had just met ten minutes before to a birthday party we had at the park last month (I was a little taken aback, but I just rolled with it).

Sometimes, this maternal instinct of hers backfires on me. She tries to parent a situation I've already parented. She swoops in and solves something I have already decided to let be on purpose. Etcetera.

But I don't want to squelch her inclination in any way. I foster it. I rely on it. I compliment it.

I adore it.

I am grateful for my Junior Mom. She loves so easily, and serves so selflessly. Small wonder that she makes friends everywhere she goes. I think people like to be gently mothered just a little now and then. It's a compliment, telling a person they are worth caring about and fussing over.

My girl really is an excellent Junior Mom. Now if I can help her get to that "gently mothered" spot, along with the "just a little now and then" spot, we're set!

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, June 12

Scenic Route

My husband and I carpooled with friends to the temple. We were all going to be there to witness the sealing of a couple from Church. But our regular temple trip takes us through areas that are currently closed due to flooding.

I'm so glad we knew about it in advance, so we could not only choose a different route, but leave early enough to still arrive on time.

We ended up taking some stretches of road I had never been on before. But oh, how beautiful! We were met with lovely vista after lovely vista, pastoral fields and picturesque valleys. We drove through small towns and farm land and it was all sublime.

The sky was amazingly blue, and the clouds were amazing, the weather was amazing...

The young woman who graciously came along to watch my baby while we were in the temple teased us for being so easily impressed by barns and grass waving in the wind, and we agreed that we spend too much time inside city limits and inside buildings.  She continued to rib us old, un-hip fogies (clearly we need to get out more!), but it was part of the enjoyment.

It was just as exceptional on the way back home, with the sun setting in spectacular color. I found myself thinking of the title song from the musical Oklahoma:
We know we belong to the land, and the land we belong to is grand!

I am grateful for the scenic route. I'm sorry for the flooding, and for the damage it is doing, but there must be a silver lining. For me, it was the chance to see new and lovely landscapes. I have lived in America's heartland for almost twenty years. I never grow tired of seeing how beautiful the land truly is, particularly this season of the year, when wildflowers are blooming in profusion, and the grass is high and birds are everywhere.

What are you blessed with today?