Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Hair Dye

I have been dyeing my hair for over a third of my life, trying in vain to keep the silver from peeking out through the dark brown strands.  I don't remember my exact age the first time I perused the aisle in the drugstore that I thought was reserved for grandmothers and employees of the world's oldest profession, but  I know it was before I was married.  For those of you who are trying to figure out the math, I was in my early twenties.

At first I could go months between colorings, because the grey was not really widespread.  It was mostly an effort to keep it under control.  I remember my dad going silver at a pretty early age, and then lamenting how much older it made him look.  My mom always told him that if he had started coloring it when it first began, no one would have ever known and I took that to heart.

But it wasn't long before I was more salt than pepper in between colorings, and I just wasn't ready to have silver hair in my thirties.  So I kept coloring my hair, but finding that the color was not lasting as long between times as it used to.  So I started doing root touch-ups between colorings, and while thankful for the means to cover the silver I was not happy with all of the maintenance I was forced to provide.  I am a comb my hair straight or throw it up in a pony tail kind of girl.  I am a step below low maintenance when it comes to hair and makeup.

So while I am thankful for all of the years hair color has covered up my age increasing, youth decreasing silver, I think the time is approaching when I just leave it all behind and let my hair look the way God intended.  Until someone asks me if I'm Trevor's mother....then all bets are off!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for a Helping Hand

Life has not exactly turned out the way I expected in terms of my role as a wife and mother. I'm still working full-time, and spend more time away from my house than I do in it. Evenings are rushed with cooking, basic cleaning, and getting everything ready for the kids for school the next day.

Weekends are spent catching up on the pile of laundry, housework and school projects that didn't get completed during the week. I also spend much of my time on Saturday and Sunday fulfilling obligations that I have made for myself to friends, church and family. Whether it's trying to get costumes planned and sewn for a program, or making food for church or a friend, it feels like my weekends are cram-packed with so many things that I don't really find the time to relax.

I wish that I didn't have to always rush around to get things done.  I wish I had the luxury of running errands during the week and not fighting the grocery store crowds on Saturday. I wish I had more time to spend with my children. I wish I could volunteer as a class mom and organize their parties. I wish, I wish, I wish.

But one wish was fulfilled by my sweet husband several months ago when he budgeted out enough money to have a maid service come in every other week to do the heavy cleaning for us. No longer do I A) spend all day Saturday scrubbing the house or B) spend all weekend feeling guilty for being too tired to scrub the house. Every other Thursday I come home to the smell of furniture polish and the clean look of freshly mopped floors. The crumbs are gone from the corners of the kitchen,and the bathrooms sparkle.

So even though my weekends are still hectic (even more so, now with the particularly crazy brand of hectic the holiday season brings), I have more time to enjoy my family. Time to let Gracie help me cook, and time to help Nathan paint his Awana Grand Prix car. Time to slow down and crochet for a little while without looking around the living room telling myself that I should get up and dust first. So today I am thankful for the maid service that gives me a helping hand and back a little bit of my time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Evenings With My Husband

As I pull into the driveway after a full day of work, I am already thinking ahead to all the things that need to be done once I walk through the back door.  I shift the Tahoe in park, and take a deep breath as I turn the key and grab my purse.  I love my children and my home, but sometimes I wish for a little more time alone and a little less to do.

I open the door and call out for Nathan and Grace, and they come running from the back of the house to say hello as I drop my purse and keys on the stool by the back door.   After the usual rounds of hugs and kisses, they go back to what they were doing and I begin the evening checklist of things to do.  First I go through their backpacks for notes, homework and grades and sign all pertinent papers for the next day.  I make sure that all the junk is removed and that their jackets are hung up on the coat rack.

Once the backpacks are emptied, I begin the daily torture of trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Sometimes this just turns into an internet order to Dominos or a box of macaroni and cheese, but on the nights that I do cook this is when I get it started.  After dinner is cooking, I pick up the living room and/or put on a load of laundry.  All of this activity is of course punctuated with questions from, conflict resolution for and repeating myself 326 times to the kids.  By the time Trevor gets home at six, I am exhausted.

We eat dinner together and then we all sort of do our own thing for a little while.  But all too soon, arguments ensue regarding who took their bath first last night, and who has to do it first tonight.  Once the logistics are finally worked out, baths are taken and the kids are ready for bed it's time for Trevor and I to wind down.  We receive our goodnight hugs and sugar from Nathan and Grace, and then we have a few hours to just be together, talk and hang out.  Usually we watch television together, but we frequently pause it as we think of things to discuss.

It's my favorite part of the day.  So today I am giving thanks for evenings alone with my husband.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Hot Beverages

I work in a radiation oncology department, and in order to keep our machines running properly the ambient temperature has to be several degrees below normal. Sometimes this works to our advantage when we are really busy and running around like crazy to stay on schedule. But on days like this when it's fairly slow and steady, my hands start to get cold and the rest of my body quickly follows. Sometimes I'll get a blanket out of the warmer, but more often then not I get a hot beverage. I've kept spiced tea mix here for the last few months and I've sipped on more than my share.

So today I am thankful for hot drinks on cold days (or cold departments!).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for iChat and Skype

My family is scattered  all over the country these days.  Washington DC, Houston, Denver, Tulsa, Hammond, Louisiana.  I talk to my family members on the phone fairly frequently, but there is nothing like seeing them in person.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to get everyone together at one time due to time and financial restraints, and we don't see one another nearly as often as we would like.

Luckily for us we have iChat and Skype so that we can video conference any time we want to.  I Skyped with my sister and nephew earlier this afternoon, and got to see him give her sweet 9 month old baby kisses.  A little later I conferenced with my brother who is in Albuquerque on business, and my sister in law and nephew who are in DC all at the same time with iChat.  It wasn't as good as seeing them in person, but it was a close second.  So today I am thankful for the technology of iChat and Skype so I can see my family more often.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Prayer

This morning I attended a baby shower for my sweet friend Erica.  She is due in just weeks, and it was a sweet time of fellowship as we showered her with gifts and well wishes for the baby boy she is still nurturing in her body.  After the gifts were opened and plates were full of good things to eat, our friend Maggie explained that it was Erica's desire that we have a time of prayer for the new baby and for her family.  I've been to several baby showers where we had a short devotional about motherhood, the blessing of children and the design of the core family unit.  I think the devotionals add a sense of worship to the gathering of friends and family, as well as blessing the mother-to-be.

But this time of prayer?  Wow.  It was amazing.  Maggie began the prayer, each person prayed if they felt led to do so, and then Maggie closed it at the end.  They began as prayers of thanksgiving for Erica and her family, and petitions for a safe birth and strength for the coming days.  But as each woman added her prayer to the to growing stream of vertical worship, they expanded to include early salvation for our children, repentance for those children who have gone astray and pleas that we would be an encouragement to one another.  As I sat there, I felt enveloped by love and a joy that can only come from people of God praying for each other.

So today I am thankful for prayer.  Not just the prayers I utter to God when I am alone, but for the prayers that are said for me when I am completely unaware.  The intercession made on my behalf by people who love me and love Christ is one of the greatest gifts that God gives His people.  Who have you prayed for lately?

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Rain

I love rainy days.  Well, I love rainy days that don't involve me getting out of the house.  I love curling up with a good book and reading while the rain drums a soothing rhythm on the roof and the water runs down the windows and makes tiny streams in the road.  I love falling asleep to the sound of rain falling outside and rushing over the edge of the eaves in sheets as I snuggle down under the quilt, knowing that I am safe and warm.

The thing I miss most about the weather in Houston is the rain, although I never would have said I loved it when I was living there.  It was just a part of life and I didn't really give it much thought.  I'm certainly not complaining about the beautiful, clear days we've had this fall here in Tulsa, but I do miss those good soaking rains that make it smell like the world has been washed clean.  It's not unusual to have an entire week of rain and clouds back home, but here we are lucky if a storm lasts longer than a few hours.  The weather tends to be quick and violent in Oklahoma, and it feels like the rain never lasts long enough.

Thursday morning, I woke up from a deep sleep by a strange sound.  I actually sat up in bed in confusion trying to put a name to it when Trevor sleepily told me that it was just rain.  I've become accustomed to it's absence and I had to laugh at myself as I settled back in to sleep.  Never in a million years did I think I would be confused by the sound of rain!

It's been raining today and I have been relishing every moment of it.  It's cooled the air and washed the streets clean.  We really need this respite from the dry weather, so today I am thankful for the rain.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Veterans

I sometimes think that Veteran's Day is the most undervalued and under appreciated patriotic holiday that our country celebrates.  Even Labor Day gets more attention and excitement than the only day of the year that we set aside to thank those who serve and have served in our nation's armed forces.  Memorial Day is spent remembering those who have given their lives for our freedom, but the one day we designate to encourage and thank those who are still with us seems to get lost in the bustle before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As I reflected today on all the veterans that I know on a personal basis, I realized that I really didn't know how Veteran's Day became a national holiday.  I found that it was originally known as Armistice Day which commemorated the signing of the Armistice.   It was signed by the Germans on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, which effectively ended World War I.  President Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday the following year, to be celebrated each year on November 11.  In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower expanded the holiday to include all veterans, not just those of WWI, so Armistice was replaced with Veterans and has been known by that name ever since.

So today I am thankful for all veterans.  Those who have never seen the heat of battle and those who have been deep in the trenches.  Those who keep the vast machinery of our armed forces running smoothly behind the scenes, and those who fly overhead to keep us safe from threats foreign and domestic.  I am thankful that there are brave men and women who put their lives at risk on a day to day basis so I can raise my children without fear, and have the freedom to voice my opinions as I am doing right now.  Thank you and God speed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Amazon

I am not by nature a person that enjoys crowds, which by extension means that I do not like to shop during the holidays.  The stores are overcrowded and hot, people are constantly in my personal space (which, by the way, increases to a circumference roughly the size of a hula hoop when I leave the house), and then I have to haul all the stuff I bought home.

Enter Amazon online shopping.  I started shopping this way several years ago and found it to be a very satisfactory solution to my crowd hating issue.  Friends and family made wish lists there, and I was able to purchase the perfect gift without ever leaving the comfort of my armchair.  I would watch for free shipping specials, and deals that provided guilt-free buying for Christmas.  The very best part of the whole arrangement was that each and every item was shipped directly to my front door, or to the front door of the recipient.

Holiday shopping has become so easy that I am generally done by the time the first of December rolls around.  There are always a few items that I shop for the old-fashioned way, but by and large I do it all online.  The beauty of early shopping is that I don't spend all of December worrying and stressing over my shopping list and how I'm going to find time to go out and get it all done.  I can actually enjoy the Christmas season, and savor all the moments with family and friends.  I also have more time to bake, which is always important this time of year.

So today, I am thankful for Amazon and online shopping.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No Pressure

We were sitting together in the living room when Gracie came in with a part from her Little Mermaid bath tub play set in her little hand.  She walked to Trevor, held it out and said:

Daddy, since I know you're an engineer and you can fix anything, can you please fix this?

No pressure, baby.  No pressure at all.

I'm Giving Thanks...for Fall Sunsets

It's no secret that fall is my favorite time of year, and for reasons too numerous to list here.  But even within my favorite season I have very specific things that I love.  For instance, I love the acrid smell of smoke in the air, a brisk breeze on my skin and the sight of that singularly blue sky that only autumn can produce.

But one of my favorite things about fall is the time just before sunset, when day is standing on the threshold of night and the sinking sun casts golden light through the changing leaves and lengthens the shadows.  I always marvel at the beauty of the setting sun in all seasons, but it's particularly beautiful now.  So today I am giving thanks for the simplicity of the sunset, bringing with it the close of another day and the stillness of the night.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for My Bible

Scripture is the single most important tangible possession that a person can own.  It gives instructions for living and more importantly, the story of the gospel from start to finish to show us the way to salvation through Christ.  Every verse in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation tells a portion of the story of redemption and shows Christ as it's grand subject.

But when I say that I am thankful for my Bible, I mean that on a very personal level.  My parents gave me my Bible for Christmas in 1990.  It has my name embossed on the maroon leather front cover and when I married, I proudly added my new last name to it.  I know that many people do not like to write or underline in their Bibles, but I have twenty years worth of writing, underlining and highlighting in between the covers.  It contains the the things I learned from Beth Moore studies, my own reflection during my quiet time and hundreds of sermons given by men of God on Sunday morning.

There is nothing that I can add to scripture to make it better.  As a matter of fact, that would be anathema to do so, but all of my notations are road maps in my continuing journey to spiritual maturity.  I have quotes from John Piper, RC Sproul, John Calvin and Martin Luther in the margins, indicating times in my study when their wise words helped me to better understand a passage or verse.

The pages are soft and well used.  The cover is worn and coming apart in some places, but feels just right in my hands.  In it I carry a bookmark given to me by my grandmother when Gramps died that has a copy of his obituary on it...a short testament to a beautiful life lived for the glory of God.  There's always a stray bulletin or two between the pages, and a paper with the passages to read for Sunday school each week.

It's more than just a book simply by virtue of being the inspired Word of God.  Even if I never wrote one word in it, or underlined one passage it would still be the most important book that I own.  But because it has been well used and loved, it means so much more to me.  It's a legacy of all the knowledge and wisdom I've accrued over the years; information that has helped to make me the person that I am today in Christ.  I pray that one day my children will read my Bible and not be surprised by what I've written, but be able to say instead that they saw me put my knowledge to use in a life lived for Christ and His glory.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Feeling Included

When we moved to Oklahoma almost a year and a half ago, I was certain that this was where God wanted us to be.  But in spite of that feeling of assurance, I was still nervous about living with two young children in a new town with no friends or family.  Would we fit in?  Would people like us?  How would we find a babysitter when we didn't know a soul?

All of those fears were put to rest when we joined our church and met a group of the most wonderful people.  People who babysat our children.  People who brought us food when Trevor's grandmother passed away.  People who love Christ and do their best to show His love as they go about their everyday business.  But even as welcoming as a group of people can be, it's a fact of life that when you're the new person, you have to work at breaking into circles of friends and becoming a part of that group.  No matter how old I get, I still feel like it's the first day of Kindergarten all over again and I'm trying to figure out who wants to be my friend.

This is not a criticism of anyone at our church, because we were overwhelmingly welcomed and made to feel like we belonged from the very beginning.  What I'm talking about is that feeling of true friendship that can only come with time.  Discovering which people had the most in common with Trevor and me, and who we really clicked with on a personal level.  Which acquaintances developed into something deeper and more honest than the others, and who felt comfortable calling on us for favors at a moment's notice as we did them.

Now that we've had time to get to know people (and let's be honest....they've gotten to know us, warts quirks and all), we really feel like we have more than just a wonderful church family.  We have friends.  And it's an indescribable feeling to feel included and loved, and to know that there are people here who love us for who we are.  We miss our families but I'm thankful today that God has provided a circle of friends to stand in the gap and that we are included.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Difficult Circumstances

I posted the other day about my Tahoe breaking down on the way to work and how Trevor came to my rescue.  Sadly, the story doesn't end there but continues on to include a brand new transmission.  In years past, this would have sent me into a frenzy of worry and stress about how the amount of money in our checking account would cover the final amount of the bill.  About which credit card we were going to max out to supplement our inadequate savings, and then about how we would pay our bills that month (and conceivably the next).

But when we got the news about this expensive repair, my first thought was not about any of those things.  It was to thank God for providing for us in this economy, and for sending a renter for our house in Texas.  The first rent check could not have come at a better time, and because of some financial decisions that we made a few months ago we had money set aside for just such an emergency.  God is teaching us to be good stewards of our money.  He's teaching us that He is capable of taking care of our every need.  He is teaching us that the end game for everything that happens to us in this life is for our good and His glory.

The money we have to spend on this unexpected repair is not without it's own set of difficulties.  It sets us back in our savings, and it lengthens the amount of time it will take to reach our financial goals but those are such temporal things.  The eternal lessons we have gleaned are far more important and so today I am giving thanks for difficult circumstances and the way God grows us when we respond in faith, joy and thanksgiving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Friday Nights

I love anticipation. I actually enjoy the anticipation of an event almost more than I enjoy the actual event. That's why Thursday is my favorite day of the week. I have all day to anticipate Friday and the weekend, but it's close enough to the end of the week that it feels almost festive. Right now I'm at work thinking about all the fun stuff we could do tonight. It's supposed to be cold, so I think that it would be fun to start a fire in the fire pit and roast some marshmallows, and enjoy sitting outside in a warm blanket.

I think I might make a big pot of stew, and maybe some homemade biscuits to go with. I might spend the entire evening watching movies with Trevor and the kids while I work on my afghan. The point is that Friday nights bring with them a sense of eager anticipation and the feeling that anything is possible, and I just love feeling like that! When my head finally hits my pillow tonight, what I envisioned for my evening may be markedly different from what actually happened, but that's the beauty of Friday nights.

So today I'm thankful for Friday nights and their endless possibilities.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for My Husband

This morning began in the usual way:  hitting the snooze roughly 14 times, quick shower because I overslept and rushing out the door with my coffee and on the road to work all within 30 minutes of getting out of bed.  I took my exit and after the first stop light realized that something was not right with the Tahoe.  It seemed to be hesitating when I accelerated and a faint grinding noise was coming from the vicinity of the transmission.  I pulled off the road about a block from the hospital and called Trevor to see what I should do.  I was afraid to park in the underground garage in case the truck needed to be towed.

He told me he would be there in a few minutes, so I called my manager and then settled back to wait.  I wasn't in any distress and the weather was incredibly nice, but the sight of Trevor turning into the parking lot still made my heart skip with joy.  I knew that once he arrived, everything would be okay even if the Tahoe was not drivable.  He was there to take care of it.

He checked a few things, tried to drive it and then decided to call AAA to tow the truck to a repair shop. He made the call, got out and dealt with the tow truck driver, drove us to the repair shop and then handled all the details regarding the Tahoe.  Guess what I did?  I sat in the comfort of the heated passenger seat and read a book on my iPad, completely secure in the knowledge that Trevor had everything under control.  I drove him to work, and then took his truck back to the hospital.

It's a simple story with no real drama or stress (besides the fact that we were both two hours late for work), but it illustrates the kind of husband with whom I have been blessed.  He never complains or thinks of himself when I need him.  He comes directly to my aid, and makes sure that I'm taken care of.  He always has my back, even when it is inconvenient for him or involves doing something that he dislikes.  He makes me feel safe and cherished every day of my life, and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Lunesta

In recent years, I have noticed a difference in my sleep patterns.  I find it difficult to fall asleep;   sometimes it's like my mind is on overdrive and I can't turn it off.  A million thoughts and ideas go running through my head and no matter how hard I try to concentrate on drifting off to sleep, it won't happen.  When I finally get to sleep, it only takes a small noise or movement to wake me.  As soon as I'm awake, I might as well take a shower and get dressed for work because my sleeping is over for the night, even if it is 1:30 in the morning.  To say the least it's incredibly frustrating, and after months of trying over the counter sleep aids I finally told my doctor and he prescribed Lunesta.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it is a miracle drug.  Seriously.  I am finally able to go to sleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling as though I actually slept all night instead of watching bad early morning television.  I discovered that my bouts of insomnia were cyclic.  Once I got my sleep patterns under control, I stopped taking the Lunesta and I was fine for a while.  When I would have a bad night of insomnia, I would take Lunesta for the next few nights to get me back on track and then I was good to go again.

So today I am thankful for Lunesta (and so is my family).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for the Right to Vote

We have so freedoms afforded to us as United States citizens.  So many rights that we often take them for granted and become complacent because of the sense of entitlement they tend to bring.  We have so many rights that we begin to assign rights where there are none.  We assume that our rights (real and perceived) can never be taken away from us, so we allow others to make decisions for us by not voting.  We claim to be so confused by the convoluted state of our government that we can't vote intelligently because we don't understand the issues.  We decry the corruption in high places and become so disillusioned that we feel as though no matter who we put in office it won't matter, because they will succumb to the pervasive dishonesty and trading of favors.

We have so many excuses to not vote:  not enough time, the lines are too long, forgetting to register....the list goes on and on.  Sadly, the same people who don't take the time to vote are often the first to complain when the politicians make decisions that don't align with their values.  It's like the've got to play to win.  You forfeit the right to bellyache if you are unwilling to exercise your right to vote.

I would love to see the election results if 100% of the population cast their votes.  What would a true majority look like, and what would it say?  I think liberals and conservatives alike would be surprised.

It was with a distinct sense of pride  that I signed my name this morning to indicate that I cast my vote in the mid-term elections.  I added my voice to the millions of other Americans who took the time to speak today.  I am thankful for the right to vote.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Giving Thanks...for Beautiful Fall Weather

For some reason I am surprised every single year when I turn the page on my calendar and it reads November.  I always feel as though we just finished the holiday season, and that I'm not quite ready to face another.  It's not that I don't enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that the years seem to be flying by too quickly for my taste.  I heard a quote recently about raising children that pretty much sums up how I feel:

The days are long, but the years are short.

The days that we spend in the trenches of parenthood and marriage can seem never ending, and when we have several of those days in a row it feels as though time is standing still.  But then there are the days of complete joy and contentment when all seems right with the world and we float along on the emotional high we get from enjoying our children and our spouses, that more than compensates for all the rest.  But at year's end, the good and the bad days seem to blend together in one long blur with sporadic highlights here and there.

So here I am at the beginning of the end of 2010, and I find that I have much for which I am thankful.  I've done this challenge for the last three years, and my previous lists can be found here, here and here.  If you would like to participate in the Giving Thanks Challenge, go see Leah at South Breeze Farm and grab the button for your blog, or just update your Facebook status each day with something for which you are thankful.

This year, the first item on my list is the beautiful fall weather here in Oklahoma.  We've had a string of beautiful days and nights this fall, and they make me wish that I did not work in a basement!  The days are comfortable and sunny and the nights are cool and breezy.  We've had our bedroom window open for about three weeks now, enjoying the cool air all night.  I realize that Oklahoma does not have particularly cool weather in the fall compared to other parts of the country, but since my only real frame of reference is the Gulf coast, the temperatures are perfect!

So, what are you thankful for?