And joy. And spoiler alert: they’re related.
I spent the first part of the morning at a volunteer training in order to teach art literacy to my 3rd grader’s class next week. We made clay pinch pots and although I spent most of my life saying I wasn’t “artsy,” I’ve learned to lean into and enjoy opportunities to flex my creativity. What a fun way to start the day! After a short work day, I left the office when the sun was still high in the sky and squeezed in a 3-mile run around my favorite lake before the girls got home from school. Oh yeah, they walk or bike or scooter home now. This parenting thing just reached a whole new level of awesome.
While one daughter made guacamole and the other practiced piano, I made scrumptious veggie burgers and French fries. From scratch, people. I Tasmanian-Deviled the kitchen sparkling clean by seven while Dave bathed the boys, and after folding a load of laundry and exhorting the girls to just.get.in.the.shower, I was able to sit down and relax. At 7:30! The sun is still out, windows are open with a glorious breeze, and my heart is full of gratitude and deep joy.
I’m thankful for a flexible job that allows me to be at home with the kids in the afternoons and on breaks from school. I know this is HUGE and I don’t take it for granted. I’m thankful for Dave, my very best partner. He makes me laugh and loves me madly and keeps me sane (-ish). I’m thankful for our family’s health and stability. I’m thankful for opportunities to travel and explore and see good friends back in CA. I’m thankful for time to cook meals. I remember the mad dash to get dinner on the table when we were both working full time, and I appreciate the gift of prep time I now enjoy. I’m thankful for spring’s long-awaited arrival, with sun and warmth and breezes that draw us outdoors and reward us with energy boosts and mood improvements. I’m thankful for this place we’ve been calling home for the past three and a half years. Beaverton, I complain a lot about your weather. But nobody’s perfect. And all that rain *does* make the grass greener up here. So there’s that. I’d still like to discuss the oppressive, opaque gray skies of late fall and winter. But for now we’re okay.
All this gratitude has the delightful effect of imparting great joy. Who knew?!
Lots of people, actually. It’s pretty well-documented.
But when you’ve had decades of practice complaining rather than practicing gratitude, realizing just how much better it is to be thankful is kind of a BIG aha moment.
When I was devastated that the church let me go, the city picked me up and said “we want you.” When the church cut me from the budget, the city added me to theirs.
Let that sink in.
The city has been so good to me: with flexibility, encouragement to use my gifts, recognition and affirmation, opportunities for professional development, not to mention–they pay me.
Yes, it’s local government and it’s hilariously Parks and Rec-ish. No, it’s not ministry per-se, nor is it the culmination of all my educational and professional experience.
Yes, it’s only temporary. No, I don’t know what’s coming next (when the temp hours are gone).
And… I’m filled with gratitude. And awe.
Here I am, no longer tethered to a religious institution but finding myself as a minister/theologian/speaker-at-large, and I’m continuing to learn ways to live and move in the world that witness the goodness of God.
And LOL here, God—what the what?!? We followed your leading up to Oregon, and although this isn’t at all what we had in mind—I’ll take it. We’re in a beautiful season in which I’m leaning more deeply into mothering and writing and reading and learning and LIVING. You know–things that are often crowded out by a full-time, demanding job. We’re in a beautiful place with awesome neighbors, remarkably tall trees, clean air, friendly people, great food, an agreeable culture and ethos, and beaches and mountains and lakes and rivers all a short drive away. I’m thankful for this unexpected gift.
What season are you in? Is everything teeming with new life, blooming with possibilities? Or does it feel as though winter hasn’t left your heart yet? Wherever you find yourself: give thanks. What are you thankful for?