I've been delighted this month to read so many friends' facebook updates of things they are thankful for. It's been a nice counterbalance to the fact that stores seem to skip from Halloween to Christmas without pausing for Thanksgiving. The discipline of gratitude, so eloquently written about in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, has been so helpful to me this past year. I don't write in my thankful journal every day, but many days I do, and now I'm up to 487. I even bought my kids little journals this summer so they could keep their own list of things they are thankful for. My oldest has been filling out her thanksgiving countdown calendar with things related to each day that she's thankful for, rather than the usual "family, friends, church" kind of list the others have been keeping so far.
So I wondered to myself this morning why I haven't been counting down the days to thanksgiving with thankful facebook posts. Part of it, no doubt, is that I don't want to seem like I'm bragging, and if I write that I'm thankful that my child mastered a new skill that can come across as showmanship. Part of it is that I don't want to act like life is all rosy when it isn't, or to seem insensitive to the fact that your life might be decidedly less rosy than mine. But I don't think that's the whole story. I think I was missing an important element, something that occurred to me today.
When times are tough, it's encouraging to read what other people are thankful for. On a day like today, when I'm pretty discouraged for legitimate reasons, it's uplifting to be reminded that there are some really great things going on in the world right now, today. Maybe not in my life, but in the lives of my friends. I think sometimes thankful lists, rather than being opportunities to brag, are actually opportunities to encourage. And that's something I can get behind.
In that spirit, here's my list, the first nine days of gratefulness. Not a cheery list that ignores that parts of life are really hard right now, not an opportunity to brag, but an opportunity to say that my great God has given wonderful gifts to me--and He's given wonderful gifts to you, too, if you care to look for them.
1) My husband went on an amazing two-week missions trip, and the six of us left at home managed to be mostly patient with one another and have a good time. Win-win.
2) The way my two-year-old prefaces statements with "guess what?"
3) God reigns for all time, regardless of who is in office any given year.
4) Wonderful, supportive friends. When the going gets tough, you find out what your friends are made of. Mine are pure gold.
5) Timeless, thoughtful worship. The fact that we have centuries' worth of hymn tunes and texts that express Biblical truth in winsome and beautiful ways.
6) The fact that at any given time one or more of my children are doing really well. I may be discouraged in this parenting journey, but usually one or two kids are showing maturity or growth that makes me feel like in spite of my flaws, our faithful God is helping them turn out okay.
7) Our recent bout of stomach flu (which occurred mostly while I was a single parent at home) wasn't too bad or too long.
8) A car that works. One of the doors is broken so we're only using one side door, but the car itself is working just fine. And the broken door served as a reminder that given the car's age, it is remarkable that it is working at all!
9) The joy of treasures found at a resale store--in this case some castle legos and a new snowman for my collection.
So there you have it. Some of the things I've been grateful for since November 1.