Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Little Toes

I don’t know about you, but there are parts of my body I take for granted. 

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how much I appreciate my spleen or my eyelashes. I mean, they’re doing a good job, but it’s not like I would miss them the way I would my fingers or my eyes. 

Or…would I? 

A few weeks ago, in a moment of stunning grace and agility, I managed to trip over a cat (the cat is a story for another day, but this might be a good time to throw out there that I don’t even like cats) and slam my foot into the brick wall of my home. I was barefoot at the time and somehow managed to slice open the tip of my little toe.

I know y’all just cringed. Sorry about that.

In that moment my little toe, a part of my body that I pay very little attention to and certainly haven’t felt was all that necessary to my general well-being, became extremely important.

Because I could barely walk.

As it turns out, that little sliced up toe carries a much heavier load than I realized. It’s not just added on to the side of my foot for looks. It’s a workhorse. 
I couldn’t wear anything except flip flops for five days. I limped and hobbled and shuffled along in a way that would have made anyone watching assume I had suffered a major leg injury. It was seven days before I could tolerate socks and tennis shoes enough to be able to go to the gym and even then the muscles in my calf and leg ached from the extra strain that had been put on them.

All because my unappreciated little toe was wounded.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that make my life easier—things I don’t even realize are working hard on my behalf. Everything from my ancient washing machine to the UPS driver delivering my Amazon Prime orders to my ceiling fans keeping the air moving on warm Spring days. 

Several years ago I began keeping a gratitude journal after reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In this journal, I record the gifts of grace in my life, and a few weeks ago I crossed the 3000 mark. After 3000 gifts counted, I must admit that my gratitude well has run a bit dry recently. I mean I can always be thankful for coffee and chocolate (can I get an AMEN!), but I’ve been trying to think of something I haven’t already recorded multiple times.

This month, my goal is to be thankful for the little toes. The laundry baskets (not the clothes—the actual baskets). The ink pens (can we all just agree that while quills were cool, they weren’t super convenient to carry in your purse). The OtterBox on my iPhone (because while I tell people I need that level of protection because of my kids, the truth is I drop my phone at least once a day). Hair elastics, pencil sharpeners, and the little bones in my ear. 

These things are gifts from the Father—the same Abba who counts every single hair on our heads. My guess is that when I take the time to be thankful for even the smallest gifts, I’ll find myself more and more in awe of the Giver of all things. 

Join me?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

What I Learned in March

Last month’s “What I Learned this Month” was quite well received, so I’m doing it again. It’s coming to you a little late … I hope you don’t mind!

Without further ado…Seven Things I Learned in March.

1. Kittens are cute. This winter, a stray cat adopted us (long story) and a few weeks ago, she had kittens on our deck. I don’t like cats, but really, the kittens are adorable. And while having a cat have kittens on the deck isn’t the kind of thing I would have written into our lesson plans for the year, it’s been a fun experience for the kids. 

2. Sometimes you need a new cup. I have a stainless steel thermos with a straw top I have used for years. I love it. It keeps my water cold, it doesn’t make a huge mess if it gets knocked over, it fits in my cup holder, it’s not made out of plastic…all excellent features. But I realized recently that the very act of sipping my water through a straw was slowing down my water consumption—by a lot. I’ve been ridiculously loyal to my thermos, but this month, I broke down and purchased a new Tervis tumbler (complete with Clemson Tiger paws) and a “water bottle lid” and my “glasses per day” numbers have skyrocketed. 

3. NEVER ever wait until the last minute to enter a contest. You know when the deadline is, you know it’s going to cost you money to enter, so you might be tempted to think, I’ll wait until the last day. DO NOT DO THIS. I recently entered a contest that I have never participated in. It wasn’t a difficult process, but there were a few extra steps I wasn’t expecting. Because I was entering two weeks before the deadline, they’d didn’t cause me any trouble, but I made myself a note that cutting the deadline close could be disastrous.

4. Peter and the Wolf is awesome! A local orchestra put on a free performance of Peter and the Wolf for school aged children and we absolutely loved it! The musicians brought their instruments into the audience and showed the kids their clarinets, French horns, flutes, and trombones. The music was engaging, the narrator funny and appropriately dramatic, and the performance kept even my five-year-old mesmerized. 

5. Vitamin D for the win! Seriously. I don’t realize how desperate I am for sunshine and longer days until I finally start experiencing more of it in March. My general disposition improves dramatically. Next year, I need to be more intentional about getting outside even on the cold days.

6. Sometimes I just need to stay home. There are a lot of great homeschool opportunities in my community. We have wonderful friends. We have family nearby. But sometimes what I need to do is stay home. I need to say no to field trips, lunch dates, quick visits, and meeting people for dinner. 

Not because there is anything wrong with any of that. But sometimes for the sake of my sanity and well-being, instead of saying “That sounds great - when should we meet you?” I need to say, “That sounds great but we can’t make it tonight. Another time?” 

And then I need to curl up with a book or watch a movie that I’ve seen 100 times and not feel guilty about it (that’s the tricky part). It’s a fine line to walk. Sometimes the excursion is so worth the rushed afternoon or the late night, but I’m trying to think hard about what my “Yes!” means for the rest of my day or week, for myself and for my kiddos.

7. I am not responsible for the miracle. This was my number one takeaway from the homeschool convention I attended in mid-March. It was shared by Sarah MacKenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast and Teaching from Rest fame (who I got to chat with at a meet-up after the convention and she is as delightful as she sounds on the podcast). I think she was quoting someone else, so I’m not exactly sure who to give credit for this, but I wrote these words in my journal and stared at them as she continued to speak. “I am not responsible for the miracle.” 

There’s much rest for a weary soul in those words. Whether it’s my efforts to rear my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, or my prayers for fragile relationships, broken bodies, or lost souls, I am not responsible for the miracle. God’s not fretting over my ability to “fix” anything, and if I’m stressing and working myself into a tizzy about it then I’ve installed myself in a position I have no business in. 

So that’s it for March. What about you? Did you learn something new this month? Share it with us in the comments!

Grace and peace,