Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Art of Giving Thanks ... (Gratitude)

Lately life has seemed fairly chaotic.  As most of our lives get and it appears that with age we obtain more wisdom, but it isn't for lack of working for that wisdom through chaos and a minor amount of hair-pulling (note to self to trim hair to decrease pain from maximum yankage).

But today, in a day that is "supposed" to be filled with thanks, I am sitting here pondering all of the chaos in comparison to the sea of thankfulness that is in my heart.  Life has hardened me quite a bit.  But I have been able to cling to the areas of my heart that are still big and squishy thanks to the Lord and my two children and a few friends I hold near and dear.  Because sometimes we need reminders that the squishy may seem soft and weak, but it is actually more durable and much stronger than the areas that are hard and breakable.  Because ... squishy actually bends, folds, flaps, mushes, bounces and  curves around the other crap that builds up like decay.  So ... I am building a small thankful list that encompasses not just today but my every days.

1) Thankful that I am a blood bought daughter of Christ.
             * Seriously, does this need a description underneath it?  I may not be the perfect Christian, but then again none of us are.  I may not swim in scripture as much as I should, I may not quote the bible like I honestly should be able to, I may not preach, I may not minister, I may not do a lot of things that I could improve on in this department ... BUT, that does not take away that I am imperfectly perfect in God's eyes and that He knows my LOVE for Him through all things.  God and I have a past that only we know about ... we have a survival story that only we know the details of (quite a few of them actually) and we have an understanding of life and love and faith for myself and the journey that He has me on.  I am thankful for every single bitter ugly piece of my life because it shows me the love that He has for me pulling me through them when so many others left me for "dead" in the sea of it all.

2) Thankful for my children.
            * These two littles that have such a large piece of me within each of them are my heart and soul of life.  I learn from them daily.  I need them in my life as much as they need me in theirs.  They are so amazingly different yet so much alike and I love every single mili-second of being their mother.  I reiterate my #1 because He blessed me with being their mommy.  He chose ME to raise these precious souls.  They are quirky, fun, stubborn, creative, talented, athletic, uber intelligent, well-spoken, compassionate, sympathetic, caring, giving, playful, LOUD and proud.  They are confident without being conceited.  They are striving for greatness and push themselves and each other daily.  They are AMAZING in every single way possible to me.

3) Thankful for my parents.
             * The two beautiful people that gifted me with life and have raised me to be the "no bullshit allowed" leader that I am ... well, I have no words.  My mother has instilled in me compassion, creativity, a giving spirit, a loving heart and an outgoing "never meet a stranger" friendly mentality.  My father has instilled in me to guard my heart and mind and protect those that I love dearly.  The process of "never gamble anything you are not willing to lose" part of life and to stick by that mantra.  He instilled in me strength and survival.  To be strong and believe in myself.  To be confident without coming across as a jerk.  To be intelligent through all things ... use my mind as much as possible and to really see things for what they are without judgement.  To stand up for what is right, even if I am standing alone.  Each of these qualities are the best of my parents and I am so happy that I see these pieces within myself.  I love having the best of both of them.  I am so thankful for how they have stood by my side when so many other's walked away.  I am thankful they love me with a Godly unconditional love because Lord knows at times I have not deserved it.  I am thankful that when I was a stubborn teenager that literally knew everything and anything that they taught me through it all so that I would simply know more. (haha)  I am beyond thankful for them as grandparents.  They are the BEST the kids could ever ask for.  Playful and spoiling yet respect my parenting wishes as well.  Because even though I have the best of them I am still raising my children with the pieces of me that are my own.

4) Thankful for my truest friends.
             * I do not need to list names here, but those of you truly know who you are because I do not go long without reminding you how fantastic each of you are and how much I love each of you.  You may be my seester/sister/kindred/prayer warrior/febfff/or long time confidant.  Whatever you are in my life I revert back to #1 because God blessed me with you.  Each of you.  I am thankful for your prayers.  I am thankful for your shared laughter.  I am thankful for your listening ear and your shoulders that have been dampened by my tears.  I am thankful for our stories that only we will ever know.  I am thankful for you sharing your joys and pains with me.  I am thankful that I have a strong backbone and squishy pieces of my heart so that when you need me to merely hold you up as you have me, that I am able to do that in return.  I am thankful for "Gratitude Friday's" and for inside jokes.  I am thankful for a shared love affair with pumpkin and for moments of silence when the music speaks between us ... for us.  I am thankful.  For each of you ... our past and our present.  But I am uber thankful for the moments we haven't even created yet.  For the joys and the losses we will share together. Because there is absolutely NOBODY else on this planet that I want to share any of it with than each of you.

5) Thankful for provisions.
             * I am so thankful that I have a home and am able to provide for my children as an independent woman.  I am thankful that I can provide for them what they need and still be able to spoil them a little along the way.  God has blessed me with intelligence to obtain an education and the will and drive to work hard for what I need and what I want.  Hard work and dedication pays off.  I am so beyond grateful and blessed to be a provider.

6) Thankful that I am ok with being independent.
              * As I stated above.  Life has hardened me.  Quite a bit.  I know who I am as a person.  I am confident.  I am strong.  I am a survivor of things unimaginable.  I am tough.  I am abrasively blunt.  I am a fighter and I am independent.  I am not easy to love and at times not easy to like.  But ... I am ok with these pieces of me that are entangled with the good, soft, squishy, lovable pieces.  Because I know that I am thankful deep down for my independence and ability to walk away from things that do not strengthen me as a person.  Weakness is not an option for me.  It never has been an option for me.  I was not born to be weak and through that which should tear me down I have found the innate ability to conquer and move forward like a boss.  I am thankful for this part of my personality.  And although it is merely a SMALL fraction of who I am as a person it is still a part of me.  Which brings me back to #3 and #4 ... you lovers tolerate me at my worst and laugh through it with me knowing that I am who I am.  And as for #2 ... I am thankful both of my children have this same personality trait of independence.  They are born leaders.  Strong in virtue and faith.  Mmmmmhmmmm ... AMEN Jesus for that!

7) Thankful for my love of art.
             * This comes in many forms and fashions.  I am thankful for literal art.  On canvas, on streets, on sidewalks, on paper, on post-it notes.  I am also thankful for the art of tattoo's.  Yup, you heard me.  Some of you think I am crazy, but guess what ... re-read #6.  I am independent and I am who I am.  Each of my eight tattoos has personal meaning and are very sentimental to me.  I love them.  I have stories behind each of them.  Stories that will never go away ... that I will cherish and hold dear even when my body sags and they are wrinkled up.  They are a part of me permanently AS THEY SHOULD BE.  Written on my heart and creatively and artistically written on my body.  I am thankful for music.  Dear God am I thankful for music.  Seriously ... PRAISE you Daddy Upstairs for the gift of song and dance.  I glorify life in itself through song and shaking my ass.  My mind may literally be 90% lyrics ... and I am okay with that.  When words fail, music speaks.  Which brings an addendum of thankfulness to this beautiful #7: I am thankful that my daughter knows me so freaking well that when I graduated from college with my BS in Behavior Psychology and that graduation date was my 34th birthday ... she dug into her personal savings and bought me a set of Skullcandy's which I have on my head right now listening to my favorite jams as I write my thankful list.

8) Thankful for flowers in cracks.
             * You read that right.  I am thankful for flowers in cracks.  Have you ever walked along and noticed the scenery was beautiful and the pavement was cracked and thought to yourself, "They really should fix these roads? This sidewalk needs a repair really badly?" Well, have you ever looked and saw a crack and noticed a flower growing through?  You may see a cracked foundation from what is supposed to be a built structure for your clean shoes to walk along, but I see it as beauty cannot be held back.  You cannot contain natural beauty and you cannot contain life.  No matter how much weight, dirt, scum, decay, concrete, gravel you put on top of something, if it is beautiful and meant to survive it will.  Like my heart ... with it's hardened decayed areas ... the squishy spots folding around it like a cushion ... one day, a flower is going to burst through.  Because no matter that weight.  No matter that hardened area.  Life and love and beauty will break through.  I know this.  I am a work in progress, like anyone else is.  God's timing is a breath in comparison to my ticking time clock.  When He is ready for me to bloom ... I will.

Jackee Harry said, "Right now I am trying to be in a place of calm, a place where I can chill out and then handle the chaos of life better.  you don't just get it overnight; you have to work at it.  It's a daily struggle."  Be thankful people.  We all have downers, and struggles and chaos and decay.  BE THANKFUL through them.  Have gratitude.  Find joy in life.  LIVE for the love of God.  Be YOU.  Be true to YOU.  When writing the story of your life, do NOT let someone else hold the pen.

Thankfulness.  Gratitude.  Life.  Each and Every Single Day.

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