Today, my classroom is hot. Yes, hot. And as I gaze out on the freshly fallen snow, I am so thankful for that hot-ness. There's been quiet beauty all around me this past week. I feel snuggled up and safe. It's a wonderful feeling.
41 the outside lights at Caribou lit up at dawn... just something warming about it.
42 snow before anyone has walked through it
43 seeing Gemma learn to bounce in her bouncing seat this weekend- the joy on her face was priceless!
44 Cooking with Gemma in a front-pack last night- just assembling food, not actually standing over a hot stove... don't worry!
45 Listening to Gemma yell- in the past two days, she has discovered her voice and really likes to hear herself shout.
46 For a whole delicious chicken in a crock-pot. Yum! and so easy!
47 For Skype and my bestie Katie. It's almost like we're in the same room and not hundreds of miles away.
48 For hairbows- all sorts of cute ones to put on Gigi's bald head!
49 For my mom- I did a gratitude jar for her for her birthday and it was just a blessing to think back on all the things that I'm grateful to her for.
50 Safe travel to Europe for my dad- he's 28 days until retirement and I can't wait for him to enjoy the fruits of all his hard work. He is a brilliant example of an impeccable work ethic, honorable integrity, and compassion and love. He taught me what to look for in a man and I can't thank him enough for that gift.
There's more...always more.... and I'm also thankful for Ann's book which arrived on my doorstep on Saturday. I find myself having to stop, go back, and re-read each jewel of a sentence.
It's Monday and I'm at the computer adding to my list of gratitude...
It's true that changing your perspective, choosing to see the joy in each small moment will change your life. It's changing mine, as I type... as I breathe... as I thank.
If you haven't seen the previous post entitled "Daddy", check it out. It's a hushed and hollered thank you. I love seeing Gemma's face as she gazes upon her daddy. I also love seeing Abe's face as he dotes on his daughter. What ties there are to the Father's love...
For beef stew in a crock pot...wait, for anything in a crock pot.
For a relaxing weekend with my family- talking in hushed voices, curling up on the couch, laughing with and cuddling a warm baby body.
For the strange "Riverdance" salute Gemma performed last night as I changed her. She had both of us laughing out loud.
For my brother's thoughtfulness- his kindness and intuition will really make someone feel special.
For creaky floors that let me know my house is lived in. Oh! how I love creaky floors. Even more so, I love knowing how to avoid the floor boards creaking. That's when I know I truly live there.
For bath night and splashing and having to drain all the water from the tub and refill it because Gemma peed in it again.
For my sweet baby girl's coffee colored birthmark on her lower back. I looked at it and thought, that girl is mine. I will always know she's mine with that mark. It's beautiful and funny and sweet and perfectly Gemma. It's like God's left His fingerprint on her.
For Abe. always for Abe. For breakfast yesterday and the conversation that went along with it.
For my mom- who squeezes my little girl all day long when I can't; someone I know loves her as much as any Grandma can and isn't afraid to shower her with affection.
There is always so much I could be thankful for- it's difficult to put just 10 up but it also forces me to just write what's in my heart at the time. Then, when I'm done typing, I'm done. I've run out of space to record this week and long for the following Monday's post. As gratitude spills over into every moment and from every moment, I utter hushed and hollered...
My list of gratitude continues. If you haven't joined in this endeavor, please read Ann Voskamp's blog: www.aholyexperience.com.
God, speaking through Ann's gifted pen, is changing my life; drawing me back into Him; holding me close; cracking open my heart daily; wrecking me in beautiful, marvelous ways.
For forgiveness- both the giving of and receiving of this- the most precious gift.
For neighbors who snow-blow your driveway for the umpteenth time since your snow-blower is still broken.
For a day off and all that today stands for- progress, unity, community, heaven.
For a somewhat normal nap schedule- notice I said somewhat normal... but the key word is NAP (hey, it's happening... that's all I care about!)
For delicious medium rare steaks served over baby bottles, burp rags, and pacifiers- oh how dinner time has changed.
For the journey that this gratitude list has started and the partnership with my best friend throughout.
For softly falling snowflakes and hot coffee.
For the quiet hum of the dishwasher and no other noise.
For this... a thousand times over for this:
For my husband, the officer- who daily gives of himself so much so that we may be warm, safe, and loved. For his early morning coffee making every early morning... the steam is like a leftover "I love you" long after he leaves.
and then some... and so much more... the large things and the small things. The deep introspective moments and the quiet laughter in a crib. And now, like clockwork, 45 minutes in, an awake cherub awaits.
I am so grateful for Aunt Carole. She's not even my aunt. She's my best friend's aunt and I got to see her on Saturday. I ventured out with Gemma for Beckham's (my best friend Heather's little guy) second birthday. I was worried about Gemma being around a lot of people but I kept her close and no one was sick. I really wanted to talk to Aunt Carole. She's just one of those people who calms me. I have no explanation for it other than she is just the most comforting person to me. When I miscarried over a year ago, she saw me two weeks later and just loved on me- she is a wonderful listener, and so encouraging. She's a pediatric nurse and I had all sorts of questions for her about Gemma. She humored me and looked over Gemma, checking her legs, and her muscle tone. She says she looks just great.
The thing with aspiration in infants is that it can sometimes be caused by or a symptom of something else- and sometimes that something else is Cerebral Palsy. With CP, you don't know if your child suffers from it until they are developed enough to be behind their peers. So, with babies, it's a waiting game. I'm habitually watching to make sure she's using both her hands equally, has good neck strength and is meeting her developmental milestones. Being a first time mom, I don't always know what to look for and I really don't want to miss anything. I'm doing the best I can and all signs are pointing to Gemma being totally normal developmentally and Cerebral Palsy not being an issue at all.
I told Aunt Carole about my concern and she looked Gemma over and reassuringly laughed at me. At that giggle and the words, "oh, she's fine"- I started to cry. It's so hard not knowing what's wrong, if you're doing everything you possibly can, what is best for your child. I'm learning surrender and how to live on my knees in humility. I can't do it all, I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm going to make mistakes. But like my dad says, "I just have faith that no matter what, it's going to be okay-" I'm trying really hard to just trust that no matter what, God will be present, powerful, and peace-giving; no matter the situation. As scary as that can be to surrender, I am so filled with gratitude for my "Aunt Carole". She just calmed me. I can't explain it- I don't even know her that well but she just comforts me.
I willingly handed Gemma over to her that night- she fed her and cuddled her on her chest. Gemma loved it. I love having that complete trust- Carole knows kids, she knows sick kids, she knows respiratory risk kids and she says my girl is fine. She loved on her, looked her over, and loosed me from the rope of self-doubt. God is faithful to provide people who shower His love on us in tangible ways.
Everyone has someone like that- for no apparent reason other than the fact they do, someone who is a calming force in their life. Who is that person for you? Who is your "Aunt Carole"? Who has God placed in your life, however fleeting, to comfort you? to calm you? to reassure you? Who has that calm spirit about them that just speaks to you? Have you thanked them lately?
And to my "Aunt Carole"? Thanks, for being there, listening, and reassuring. You'll never know how wonderfully weighty your words are.
The quiet of the snow before kids arrive at school
Gemma's dimpled hands
best friends and the next generation of best friends
embroidered baby bloomers
a 2 year old miracle who knows me by name
Bayport and all it's promise
kisses on my neck
compliments from my husband that are balm to my soul
my mom- greeting my daughter with love and tenderness every morning- she makes daycare just "care".
Gratitude, or rather listing out the daily miracles in my life, brings me misty eyed to this computer every Monday. Will you join me? What are you grateful for? What daily miracles has God shown you? Where do you see the beauty of heaven in your every day life?
Last night I soaked up my baby. I squeezed her in my arms, kissed her cheeks until I ran out of chapstick, and held her little hands. I cried because I don't get to do it every day all day- but I'm soaking her up as much as I can and I find I'm living for the hours that I'm with my family. Abe and I curled up together on the couch last night with Gemma and just talked. We just "connected"- the warmth emanating from his arms and his voice as we caught up on our day and oh, how I soaked that up.
That being said, this post is entitled "Gratitude" and so I'm starting a list...
an unexpected midnight rocking session with my daughter
the way she snorts after she eats
how her head smells after she's taken a bath
the fat rolls at the top of her legs
the giant smile she meets me with in the morning
the quiet of spindly black trees against pink and purple skies
Rosie and Violet rushing into the bathroom to greet me as I get ready in the morning
heat in my car
the warmth of my mom's house as I drop Gemma off for her 2nd official day of "daycare"
the sympathetic smile my husband gave me as we wearily compared our lack of sleep stories over tooth brushing this morning
and so much more... Sarah
Want to join me with your own list? What are you grateful for right now? In this moment, take a breath, sense your surroundings, smells, tastes, touches, sounds... and be filled with gratitude. Let me know if you've put one on your blog, I'd love to visit it.
I've been following a blog by a truly gifted writer named Ann Voskamp called A Holy Experience. Please, check it out. It's beautiful- deeply beautiful.
Anyway, she names her years- the year of communion, etc and this year for her is The Year of Here. I've decided to join her in the pursuit of soaking up every ounce of the here and now. I won't worry or be consumed by what's to come, what could be, or what might be but rather indulge myself in the myriad of awe-inspiring blessings right in front of me.
I will fall deeply in love with the way my daughter's eyelashes criss-cross across her cheeks. I will notice her little pursed lips and how they pucker and spread wide in a grin while she sleeps. I will try so desperately to memorize what her warm weight feels like in my arms; what her giggles, grunts, and goos sound like as they caress my ears. I will take the moments when I am giving her meds as bonding moments, tiny gifts of one on one time that can never be taken back. I will memorize her fingernails and the way the fat rolls on her arm. I will hold her a bit tighter as she nuzzles her head into my shoulder for comfort. I can't get enough of her.
I will deeply KNOW what it feels like to hold hands with my husband in the middle of the night while we both fall asleep. I will stop and take in each smile and joke he sends my way in our own private banter. I will memorize what his rough cheek feels like as he kisses me good bye in the morning. I will be intentional about meeting his eyes when he talks to me and truly experience connection as we walk together in this life.
I will realize my dogs are so hungry for love since Gemma arrived (poor things) and indulge myself and them with the gift of play and cuddles. I will realize that my home is a sanctuary and that the dishes can be done later and the floors scrubbed tomorrow... and when later and tomorrow come, I will notice the warm suds on my hands, the way the counter top shines once the dishes are put away, and the way the sun hits freshly cleaned wet floors.
I will allow myself to rest in my teaching- to meet my kids eyes and smiles with fresh energy, tenderness, and inspiration. To take every moment as it comes- every child as they arrive with joy and compassion.
I will not wish for what could be but be immensely satisfied with what is. I will strive to de-clutter my life, to simplify my home and heart and find order where there is chaos.
As I continue to mother, I continue to see God in a new light. Last night as I was putting Gemma to bed and praying over her, I prayed that she would not forget me as she spends every day with my mom. I'm sure she won't, but I found myself saying, love me best, Gemma, love me best. I was instantly struck with the parental love of God- and His still small voice saying to me, "Sarah, love me best." His love makes me speechless.
I will strive to be an amazing daughter to my heavenly Father and "love Him best". I will continue to pour myself out and feel that emptying as I give and ultimately receive.