With Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving.

It's been a month of tribulation; trials I couldn't even see coming.  Tests that seem unbelievable and beyond what I ever thought my limits of testing could be.  Yet, in all of that, I can't deny that we are blessed.  Beyond measure.

Three months ago, I signed up for a class on Taxonomies.  Taxonomies are tiny sketches of collections.  Every year, I try to take at least one or two classes.  One of the classes is usually a self enhancement kind of class like something from Brene Brown on the Gifts of Imperfection.  This year, I did Arianna Huffington's class on her book Thrive.  I typically wouldn't describe myself as a person who thrives...mostly survives.  It was a deep class, learning to thrive is going to be a process for me.

The second class is usually something in the arena of writing or something creative.  This year, I have been interested in art journaling, hand lettering, sketching...so this taxonomy class seemed like a simple place to start.  These are quick, rough, very rough sketches of my list of Blessings; a short smattering of what I am thankful for today.

1.  My kids.  They are the reason I do what I do.  They are the reason I bother to get out of bed everyday.  They are the reason for everything.  They are my greatest treasure in life.  They are my joy, my happy place, my tears, my love, they keep the rhythm of my heart. Every decision, every act, every hope is with them in the front of my mind.

 2. Another Day.  It has become apparent, this year, more than any other year that there are no promises held for tomorrow.  Only today.  Today is one more day I am blessed to have my kids in my life, in this life.  At the end of the day, we are settled in finding the little things to be happy about.  Sometimes, it's just that we made it through the day, white knuckles and all but we made it through together.
 3. Family.  I am grateful that my family hangs in there with me.  I am a terrible communicator.  I don't call as often as I should.  I keep them at arms length most of the time because I don't want them to be weighed down by the drama of our life. It's hard when my life seems stuck and theirs is moving onward.  It's hard for all of us.  I know they struggle to share their good news as much as I struggle to share my bad.  I know this has caused them heartache and hurt. I know I could be better at sharing my life with them. I love them.  I remember my parents having to drag information from me when I was younger.  I just keep it all inside.  Nothing much has changed.  I know it's frustrating to have a kid like me because I have a kid like me!  But, when the rubber meets the road, they are there.  We are there for each other, our flaws, our shortcomings, our big hearts!  Our big hearts show up...always!   In every possible way.  We aren't perfect but we stick together.  We get each other through the hard times and there has been no shortage of hard times for all of us this year!
4. My Soft Place To Land.  I have spent a lot of time on this couch in the past.  It's my soft place to land once a week.  It's the place I go to set down my luggage of life, the burdens I shoulder.  I unpack for an hour or so, take a look at all the troubles I've collected and in that short time, my story is witnessed.  It's real.  Being a single mom is hard.  I don't have the luxury of a bad day.  I can't be a mess of emotions in front of my kids.  I not only set the tone for the day but for their life.  My attitude determines their attitude. They count on me to be strong, settled, happy, confident and hopeful.  It is hard. Some days, I feel like I should get a Tony award for my stellar performance! At the end of the day, there isn't anyone I can turn to to decompress, share a worry or two; it's just me.  All the time.  I'm blessed to have a doctor who just lets me be real.  Lately, a real mess.  He truly has the most compassionate heart.  There were three good years he kept me alive in a literal sense.  I owe him so much.  Without a doubt, he was chosen by my loving Father in Heaven to help me get through these hard things. 
5.  Friends I've never met.  I have never been one to have a lot of friends, even growing up.  I have discovered the blessings that can come from friends I have never met.  It's just a handful, but these women pray endlessly for my kids and myself.  I pray for theirs as well.  When I say I'm tired, they know that kind of tired.  They never cease to amaze me.  I don't even really know how we met, it just seemed to happen and they are a blessing.

 6.  The kindness of strangers.  The world seems like such a crazy, mixed up mess, filled with tragedy we bring on ourselves.  I'm always amazed when I witness the kindness of strangers, either to me or to someone around me.  There is no shortage.  Lately, the strangers have come once hearing the story of Spencer this month.  Spencer and I have received some of the most beautiful letters of hope from several families he served in his mission.  It amazes me that they would take the time to write us.  They are little postcards from Heaven we hold close to our hearts.  Their reaching is felt.  They make me want to be better and share more empathy and compassion.
 7.  Losing our troubles in service.  We would be in a sad state of affairs if it wasn't for the lessons I learned early in life to serve.  There was never a Christmas that focused on getting.  It was always about giving.  The one thing I will always appreciate about my family life and never forget is the feeling of love and peace I had when I saw my dad give a stranger some money, or dropping boxes of presents off for people who had less than us and my mom baking endlessly for neighbors, sick people, sad people, needy people. The list is long of lessons I learned on service.  It has been the one thing that has saved my kids and myself from a life of feeling sorry for ourselves.  I use it as a tool to keep them on track spiritually, physically and mentally.  You can not have a bitter, hard heart if you are doing something for others, no matter how hard your own life is.  I want them to be weary in well doing, not weary in doing only for themselves.   Yesterday, the boys and I went to help our homeless friend try to get her car started.  I know Spencer wasn't feeling well and Sam could have been doing a million other things but they were happy to help.  They went the extra mile for her.  Life was good yesterday.  Service is the law of abundance in action.
 8.  Defining Moments.  Life has been hard but it is in those hard moments, when we can not do one thing for ourselves, that we have come to know the grace and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven.  Its in the trials where we really meet our maker.  When we receive with gratitude His good gifts.  His kindness and understanding.  There is so much holiness in the moments that define us.
 9. Testimony.  I am blessed to have  testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that in the end, everything will work out.  I know that God hasn't brought us this far to drop us now.  I am grateful for this knowledge I have and the understanding that this life, is the time to prepare to meet God. I'm learning to view life with my spiritual eyes, more than with my mortal, short sighted vision.  It is the gospel that keeps me moving and when I hear the words of the prophet, I am strengthened.  I know that prayer changes things.  I have so many friends each representing different religions.  It makes no difference to me what religion a person chooses to practice, it is prayer that binds us together, its the spirit and spirituality that makes us one.  It's a combined faith and belief in God that matters to me.
So, I could go on but this is a good start.  I am blessed.  We are blessed.  We have a shortage of so many things in terms of the worldly goods and health but even still, we are so blessed; in amazing ways.  You don't have to look far to see others with so many more hardships and trials.  It makes me feel guilty at times that we are doing so well.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope it is a reflective and peaceful day of gratitude.



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