I thought I'd try a different approach tonight and do some freewriting. Is that what's it's called? When you just sit down and write (or type) your stream-of-conscious thoughts? I don't really care enough to go Google and check, so just let me know in the comments if it's called something different. :)
I was so tired today, and that makes me thankful for the fact that I got to have a really relaxing evening and full night of sleep last night. I can't imagine how much *more* tired I would have been without an easy evening and a full 8 hours of sleep.
We have three new students in our class, and that's hard. It's amazing what a difference just three students can make. Even three perfect students will make an impact on a classroom. Some of it is good: I think my students had gotten bored with each other. Adding some new faces and personalities to the class has really cut down on some of the fighting and bickering we were having. I'm thankful for that...truly.
Sometimes I forget that I'm literally teaching these little children how to exist in society. I'm so thankful to have this role in their lives. Giving them hugs and feeling them sink into my arms is such a fulfilling experience.
And spending forty hours a week with 24 kids who aren't mine has made me *that* much more thankful for my own children. I'm able to see their strengths more clearly, and they're both growing so much under the influence of their peers and teachers.
As cheesy as it sounds, I'm just thankful that I get to live my life...to wake up each morning and spend the day. I'm thankful for the opportunity to "use up" each day loving others as much as I can in the moment.
Even when it's not much. I'm thankful to love as much as I can and challenge myself to love more the next day.
I'm thankful for a husband who helps around the house and is highly involved with our children. I'm thankful for money in our bank account that allows me to put gas in my van...and maybe pick up a Coke and some candy while I'm at it. ;)
I'm thankful for Redbox and really cool flight scenes. I might also be thankful for Ryan Reynolds' abs.
I'm thankful for Mike's laughter. It's really cute.
And I'm thankful for hot water, Harry Potter, and chocolate.
Goodnight, my dear readers. I'm thankful for you, too. :)
Time for me to be the real, honest blogger that you've all come to love and adore tolerate and support. ;)
I wrote my first three 30 Days of Thanks posts before November even arrived. Not long before, but still before. I knew that was how I wanted to start out the series, and I figured the rest would flow.
Goodness, was I wrong!
Since November 2nd, I have felt nothing but pitiful and ungrateful. When sitting down to write my posts of gratitude, I have looked for the simplest and most succinct expression of thanks I could find...
I have been angry with my husband for several days now, and, even though I know I should be thankful for him, I have been immaturely refusing to give thanks for his role in my life.
I have been reliving some very painful events in my life, and, instead of thanking God for bringing me through them, I've slipped back into selfish and juvenile habits of asking why I even had to go through them.
I have needed a friend with whom to talk and cry. Instead of thanking God for the times when I needed a friend and He provided one, I've been feeling very frustrated about not having any friends now. (And instead of looking at myself for the answer to why I'm in that situation, I've simply stewed and pouted.)
The truth is that I could get on here and post 30 days of thanks without batting an eye:
1. A house that I love.
2. A husband who loves his family.
3. Healthy children who make me (and everyone else in their lives) smile on a daily basis.
4. Parents who raised me and loved me well...so well.
5. A brother who has stuck with me through all the ups and downs, then married an awesome woman to boot!
6. That awesome woman.
7. My own health
8. A job that I love.
9. Job perks like getting to see my napping son or hold precious infants during my lunch hour everyday.
10. My crockpot. (Falling more in love with it every day.)
11. The beautiful colors on the trees outside.
12. Pinterest and all the ideas that have been shared.
13. The ability to afford two vehicles, so I don't have to stress about meeting the bus at 6:56 a.m.
14. ALDI, which makes me feel much less guilty about refusing to spend time couponing.
15. Good books
16. The Good Book
17. The internet and the ability to learn about the weather, what's happening around the world, and where my dad ate dinner last night all within a matter of 60 seconds.
18. Long, hot baths
19. Sweet tea
20. Goof Off
21. Our Realtor
22. A newly discovered method to helping my curls dry without getting all frizzy and crazy
23. Bobby Pins (see 22)
24. Burke's picture of the CityBus
25. Ruby's Concentric Circles Painting
26. A fun weekend roadtrip coming up
28. and Dancing
29. The Holidays
30. Home Church
See? It took me about five minutes to think up that list and type it out...and that's only because I wouldn't allow myself to list things like "Pantene Pro-V Shampoo...and the rare occasion when I get to buy it" or "a perfect pair of khaki pants that are comfy and professional all at once" or "down comforters and fleece blankets." See? I've got principles.
That's why I'm thankful for 30 Days of Thanks...the opportunity to mature those "principles" futher. If I had been going through this little funk I'm experiencing back in October, I would have been able to easily allow myself to wallow in pity. But since I'm right smack dab in the middle of this series, reading passages that dwell on the necessity of gratitude in a life lived for Christ...
Well, I'm at least feeling pity served up wtih a hearty side of conviction.
So today, I'm honestly and truly thankful for the opportunity to spend 30 Days meditating on a life of gratitude and right attitude before God. Not asking what He can do for me now, but giving thanks for all that He's already done for me yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I have gone through some of the most challenging times of my life without any friends.
So, when I had the blessing of going through the rest of my most challenging times with friends, I didn't take them for granted...at least I tried not to take them for granted.
Today, I'm thankful for the friendships I've experienced in my life...and I'm hopeful that I'll be given the opportunity to experience friendship again in the future.
My brother and sister run a small business. They work a lot. Today, they're giving up their only chance in the week to sleep in. And they're giving it up, so they can come babysit Ruby and Burke for the whole day.
I'm really thankful that they were willing to help me out today. I love you guys!
I'm currently going through something that is forcing me to become more like Jesus today than I was yesterday. And to be even more like Jesus tomorrow than I was today. I don't necessarily feel up to the task. So...
Today, I'm thankful for a God who not only commands me to be like His Son, but gives me His Spirit by which to accomplish the task.
I'm praying for the wisdom to relinquish my own thoughts and desires and assume His.
Yesterday, the kids in my class painted with their fingers. One of the little girls daintily dipped her pointer finger and middle finger into the paint. She gently walked her fingers across the paper, then conspiratorily whispered, "Watch..."
"ACTION FINGERS!" she yelled, as she began to quickly dance her fingers around the page.
I couldn't help but smile at her sweet silliness.
The next group of finger painters decided to make handprints. One little boy plopped his hands down on his paper a few times and stated, "It's raining." Then, he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eyes and said, "I'm the windshield wipers!" He laid his hands down on his paper and swished them back and forth, smiling like the slyest cat in town.
It's those moments that take my breath away.
I never thought I wanted to step foot back inside a preschool classroom. Now, there's no place I'd rather be.
I never thought I'd be able to make the sort of impact I desire to make in a preschool classroom. Now, I realize there are very few places or situations in which I could have greater influence.
Today, I'm incredibly thankful that Mrs. Hancock invited me to join the teaching staff at Faith Christian Preschool last year. I'm thankful that God placed me in a position to realize my misconceptions about my purpose. I'm thankful for my position with TCCD. I'm overjoyed and beyond grateful that I get to be a part of this team and play a role in these children's precious lives. Thank you, God.
"Many are the plans in a person's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Ten years ago, I was barely holding onto my B in Chemistry. I was realizing, with increasing concern, my extreme lack of interest in my core major classes. The prospect of babysitting for families at church was infinitely more appealing than the idea of studying for another Human Anatomy and Physiology lab. By the time my first set of finals came around, I was thoroughly convinced that I was in the wrong major.
I had always been good with kids, so I decided to change my major to Elementary Education. It only took me one more semester to realize that I didn't want to deal with gates and standardized tests...not in my own education or in the education of my future students.
At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I was nearing the climax of my struggle with depression, but I didn't know that. All I knew was that I didn't want to be in college. I begged my parents to let me drop out and become a church secretary, but they refused. Instead, I did the next best thing...
I went to my guidance counselor, sat down at her desk, and said, "I want to change my major to the easiest one offered at this university. What've you got for me?"
She looked at me like I was crazy, but she performed her duties and guided me to two choices: Organizational Leadership or Child Development and Family Studies. She suggested CDFS, since I liked children.
That sounded fine to me.
The majority of my classes felt like a review in common sense. I barely studied, only attended class when I felt up to it, and aced my exams. If my classes hadn't had attendance requirements, I would have been darn near a 4.0 from that point on.
The first time I was observed in a classroom, the lead teacher told me that she'd never seen someone perform so naturally in the classroom so early in their education. She told me that I was "made for Early Childhood Education." I told her that I just wanted to "get done with this college thing, marry my boyfriend, and have a dozen kids." She laughed, because she thought I was kidding. I smiled, because I wasn't.
I eventually did get married, graduate, and start having kids. Along the way, I became convinced that the very last thing I ever wanted to do was step foot back into a classroom. Ever.
It's funny how we can see ourselves and our strengths through such distorted lenses.
Today, I'm thankful for a God who sees our hearts, knows us better than we know ourselves, and continues to guide our paths, even when we're doing our dead-level best to go off-course.
(Join me tomorrow as I further ponder the plans I've laid out for myself...)
I don't generally expect to meet God in the middle of a McDonald's playplace.
Sure, it seems like you need the patience of a saint to spend more than five minutes in one of those things, but that doesn't make it a spiritual mecca.
So I was genuinely taken off guard on Sunday when I found myself speechless, in tears, and moved into a posture of worship...not in the middle of a church sanctuary, but sitting on the bench of a laminate McDonald's table.
Mike and I had been (briefly) discussing my desire for more children and the grief that I'm still working through, knowing that desire will remain unfulfilled. All of a sudden, I looked up and saw this:
Standing there with the sun shining in on him, it was hard to miss God's message:
"Pause. Remember. Meditate. Give Thanks."
Right there, in the middle of playplace pandemonium, I was staring at a miracle.
The baby who was never supposed to make it passed 20 weeks gestation. The boy who should have been born long before his brain fully developed. The child who, by all rights, should be dead or severely disabled was standing in front of me: alive and healthy.
This little boy who runs and jumps and climbs, as if it were never a question whether or not he'd be able to walk... This little boy who laughs and has a smile that's liable to break his face in half... This little boy whose heart knows a depth of compassion that's far beyond his years... This little boy who completes our family...
He is a miracle.
I begged God to sustain him beyond 20 weeks, so the State of Indiana would recognize him as a human being.
I picked out his headstone. I still have the catalog.
I struggled with his name: whether to give him my family's name and send it to the grave or to belittle his existence by giving him our "second choice."
I wept and experienced a grief beyond anything I'd known before or have known since.
I never dared to hope for a healthy, happy son.
So right there, in the middle of McDonald's mayhem, I wept. I was completely overcome as joy, gratitude, and worship coursed through my veins.
That evening we gathered as a family for home church. Daddy began to play the chords for "We Fall Down," and I looked up to see this:
That Miracle Boy playing his guitar for the Miracle Maker.
After church, we got ready for bed and read our bedtime books. We ended storytime with one of the best stories of all: the story of how God saved Burke. It was the first time either of the kids had heard the story. I wondered if they would truly understand the weight of it all, but the tears in their eyes showed that they understood the gravity of death and the severe impact it would have had on our family. When we finished telling them the story, Ruby immediately burst out with:
"Burke!! If you had died while you were in Mommy's tummy, I would be so sad. I wouldn't have you as a brother, and you wouldn't be in our family." Burke began to cry again, and Ruby said, "But God saved you, Burke! God saved you, and I'm so glad because you get to be my brother, and I love you so much!"
Burke looked up at all of us with the biggest smile on his face and yelled, "God SAVED me!!!"
And it's so true.
Today, on the first day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the One who gave my son life through the death of His own.
(As always, if you have questions about Burke's story, our faith, or anything else, you can contact us at anytime.)
I'm temporarily breaking my fast from words for a single purpose:
Michael Patrick Goodwin,
You are incredible. :) Beyond that. You are absolutely everything I could have ever asked for in a husband, except I never even knew that I needed to ask for it. I cannot thank God enough for giving me what He knew I needed.
Thank you for everything you've done to love and support me this week:
* Putting the kids to bed when I crashed (three times!) before 8:00 p.m.
* Tolerating the onslaught of fast food for dinner while I figure out how to do this working thing.
* Designing my adorable owls and perfect classroom signs, helping me color trees, drawing trees (even though you hate them), and letting me use your computer to try my hand at designing. (ha!)
* The dishes and the laundry and fixing the dryer!
* The kisses and the hugs and the... ;)
Sweetheart, truly. You've been amazing. You are...
You are my favorite man in the world. I love you, Michael. Forever and ever and always. :)
Thank you again.
For the month of October, I'll be joining tons of other bloggers and doing 31 Days of one topic. I've chosen to focus on silence...no words. I will still be posting, though, so make sure you check in every once in a while. When I return to the land o' words, we'll be starting 30 Days of Thanks. I'll see you then!
It's possible that 31 Days of Silence will look quite similar to 30 Days of Thanks.