I find myself a bit snarky these days (even more than usual). My stuffed down anger at the seeming insanity that is our current culture is coming out sideways. I don’t feel entirely horrible about this, sometimes snarky can bring out the humor and bring relief to the tension that feels almost unbearable. But in my lifelong attempt to retrain myself to have a critical mind without a critical spirit and to offer grace while at the same time requiring truth, I am seeking to celebrate the simple gifts in my life.
I’m not talking about simplicity that is found in lack of awareness, or simplicity that is found in my privilege, or even simplicity found in a minimalist lifestyle that I will likely never attain (sorry Marie Kondo), but simplicity that asks me to find JOY in what God has offered me. This JOY is found in life eternal, which really doesn’t mean life that will only ‘get good’ once the going gets dead, but LIFE IN THE NOW. Life to the full.
Here are the simple gifts I am celebrating.
I am grateful for my toddlers who chase bubbles with abandon on a surprisingly warm fall day. Instead of running inside for my new iPhone, I soak up their little towheads and bare feet as I feel the sun on my face and the joy of watching a simple delight. Thank you for bubbling joy.
I am grateful for my church, the staff that gave CommonwayKids care packages with bubbles this summer, that has continued to reach out and let us know they care even when we couldn’t be there. Even as I imagine much of their reaching out feels unnoticed, or unanswered, we notice. Thank you church for your care.
I am grateful for what could be constituted as two miracles this summer. The first, finding a workable, unopened, 30-year-old, 8ft, plastic kiddie pool, hidden in our garage from previous owners. When there were no pools in the entirety of the US, we had one appear in our garage. And the second, scoring a trampoline off of Craigslist, like a needle in a haystack when there was an Olympic-style competition for finding said needles. For endless hours of wading in the safety of 18 inches of water and bounding with unbounding energy within the confines of a safety net, I thank you pool & trampoline for your assistance at making a shutdown summer more palatable and even more memorable.
I am grateful for food in my pantry. Yes, in the spring I hoarded too many bags of flour that the bugs have now found, 2 huge tubs of quinoa that we will likely not finish off for 5 years, and a 5lb vacuum sealed bag of yeast I haven’t opened, but despite my fears, I never had to go hungry. The grocery store never ran out of food as predicted and my paltry excuse of a garden with 8 carrots and 8 cucumbers and a couple of dead vines that would have had to feed my ravenous family was supplemented by the 6 grocery stores that all live within 5 miles of my house. I never wanted even for a snack. Thank you Jesus for food in our tummies and Lord have mercy on those who are hungry.
I am grateful that school is in session this fall. For teachers who WALK THE LINE for us. Who juggle crazy for us. Who promote peace and learning in unprecedented times. For bus drivers, crossing guards, administrators, cafeteria workers, aides, and janitors who are making the world go round. Thank you, thank you, thank you, in Jesus name Amen!
I am grateful for negative COVID tests. For the brave nurses and doctors & health care workers, & janitors who put themselves on the line every day to serve a scared and sometimes reckless society. For smart scientists and chemists who know how to run labs and for engineers who can post results online and get said results to people. Thank you, Lord, for science & servants.
I am grateful for technology so that I can stay connected–new smartphone, Zoom, Facetime, Bookface, you are new to me, but you are like an estranged cousin that I just met at a family reunion. I didn’t know you before, but now I can’t help but admit our shared commonalities. Thank you for allowing me to share and be known in a time of isolation. Dare I say it, thank you, Lord, for social media and technology.
I am grateful for the brilliant fall colors that seem brighter and more beautiful this year. For the brilliant goldenrod yellows found on redbud trees and the cheerful orange oaks. I shiver at the scarlet RED glow of sugar maples and the burning bushes found in my neighborhood–you remind me there is beauty in death, glory in transformation. Thank you nature for providing normalcy, beauty, and rest in these trying times.
I am grateful for the chance to have spent fall break with my parents and share moments together that remind us that even while we still disagree politically, we are more than our political beliefs. We shared those differing political beliefs, but we also shared hot cocoa, walks in the woods, times of pumpkin carving, and many meals with munchkins. Thank you for the gift of communion with fellow believers despite very real differences.
I am grateful for my freedoms found in Christ–my freedom to submit to His Kingdom ways rather than my own selfish desires. To treat others the way I want to be treated (Luke 6:31) through the power of His Spirit who helps me put away all “bitterness, rage, anger, violent assertiveness and slander, along with all spitefulness” (Eph 4:31), and for those with whom I might disagree, instead, let my speech be “full of grace and seasoned with salt”(Col 4:6).
Thank you Jesus for all your simple gifts.