Grateful for Gratitude

The last part of our bedtime routine, in my home, is prayer with and for the children.

Tonight, my three-year old son excitedly exclaimed that he would be praying for me and that I would be praying for his little sister. Oh, and that I would be starting first. I prayed for my daughter (and the other three of my children) and notioned that it was his turn.

“Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy and my sister and the big kids and Daddy. Thank you for Auntie Laura and Auntie Zelda and Auntie Chris and her kids, Noah, Sam and Gabe. Thank you for….” and the list went on. After thanking God for the entire world, nearly every animal on the planet, and every item in his room, I realized that he had opened a book. As he turned the pages in the book (also on animals) he thanked God for whatever he saw on each page. Really, he was stalling to keep me from leaving the room. The Mommy in me wanted to close the book, kiss him goodnight, and finally have my own time!

Suddenly my brain-train switched tracks. Actually, his idea was brilliant! How many times have I had a poopy day (literally and figuratively) and had the hardest time being thankful for anything? How easily I could pull just about any book of my shelf (with pictures, of course) and begin to choose thankfulness for whatever I see! What a great solution to the gratefulness-block!

As if that weren’t reason enough, I was reminded of an event at my local MOPS group. Karen Wood, a woman with much experience in the Psychology field, came and spoke with us about the human brain. She taught us that it is impossible for the human brain to be grateful AND complaining at the same time. Those two occur in very separate areas of the brain and therefore, can’t be done simultaneously. Equally, your brain can not worship and worry at the same time, for the same reason. (Or be grateful and worry or worship and complain).

Try it. The next time you are in a grumbling mood, stop and begin to be thankful for things. Your life. Air. Water. Whatever. The oxygen in your brain will begin to flow to the part that is required for gratitude. Beautiful!

With all of that in mind, my son’s choice to pull out a book and be thankful for its contents (when he’d depleted his own bank of items) inspired me to remember how important it is to choose gratitude. Its mind-transforming. Literally.


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Zoe- One Of Life’s Dear Journeys

Since my goal for this blog is to share life experiences in the hope that they uplift, inspire, and offer hope to others, I decided its time to share the story of Zoe.

Many of you relate to her story and mine. May you find some hope and peace in knowing that you are not alone and that it was not the end.

I found out I was pregnant in July of 2009. I was not thrilled. I had been hoping to have a least one full year after my son’s birth before having any other children. My son was only ten months old. I tried to not be angry because I knew that God had a plan. But I was not happy. I had an ultrasound to confirm that my Dollar Tree test was telling the truth. It was.

We left for Panama and Colombia when I was about five weeks pregnant. During our final days in Panama I began to bleed. The bleeding continued for about a week. I was also losing tissue and feared the words… I was miscarrying. I was totally cut off from my midwife, doctors, and immediate family (other than my husband).

I took the afternoon to be silent before the Lord. But before my silence, I begged Him to not punish this child simply because of my own selfishness. He began to show me how ugly my heart was and He began to clean it up. He spoke tenderly to my soul and said, “This child has life and is named Zoe because “she” has life. You can’t understand what is happening now. I am cleaning house.”

I took those words to mean that through all of the bleeding, this child would live. However, when I got home and visited my doctor, I had a starkly empty womb. The baby had passed away. Knowing that I’d heard God speak, I came home and looked up the meaning of Zoe. This is what I found:

“Zoe means life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself, and which He gave to the Incarnate Son to have in HImself… and of this life men become partakers through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

-Vines Complete Expository Dictionary.

What I realized that day was that God had indeed spoken. Our child is alive… just not in our physical world. Though He removed “her” little body from this planet before the first breath, her life did not end there. It continued on into eternity and she continues to live.

Who knew that such a small child… too small to see with the naked eye, could change my life so profoundly?

One month to the day later I found out I was pregnant again (all the while trying not to get pregnant! Clearly I’m ridiculously fertile). We saw that God had plans far larger than our human minds could fathom this side of Heaven. Though I didn’t feel any more ready to be pregnant again, my heart was so restored and redeemed that I anticipated this child with a newfound sense of purpose. God had so intimately prepared the soil of our family that indeed He must have a calling for this young life (and ours).

My daughter was born to us one month after Zoe would have been born. In her stead, we are able to love and receive our daughter with gratitude. Zoe’s life, physical death, and continued spiritual life were not in vain. We look forward to meeting her in all her glory on the other side.


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Me Me Me- The Power of the Me

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Forgive my slight absence… we were able to travel during the holiday. Phew! Four kids in a van for a LONG drive… crazy and fun.

A couple of days ago, while playing with my 1 1/2-year-old daughter, I asked “What’s your name?” to see if she knew how to respond.

Her answer:

“Me!”

She even pointed to herself. Try again.  “Hannah, what is your name?”

Big smile.

“Me!” points to herself again.

Mind you, this child DOES know her name. She answers when we call her name. She points to herself in pictures and says “Hannah.” Plenty of evidence that she knows her name.

But she also knows how to say “me.” And boy does she use it! She used to say “mine.”  Now she says “me.” If she has one of her sibling’s toys and they want it back, she moves it as far from them as she can reach and says “Me!” with a pouty face. I’d love to correct her but I don’t much like hearing “mine!” either.

This whole situation reminded me of how people do not have to be taught selfishness. No one taught me to care about myself. No one had to teach me “survival mode” in desperate situations. It is all very natural. Rooted in the depth of the human soul and conscience, we are a people born to think of ourselves. I certainly have not taught my daughter to take what she wants without regard for who it belongs to or their feelings!

Fortunately, we can be taught to consider others. These two desires- loving others and loving ourselves, will always butt heads. Unless loving others somehow satisfied our own selfish desires, we will battle the tension of those two loves.

I’ve been challenged recently with my own walk of faith as well. I get excited over the little things that God does that seem to say, “I hear you” or “I know you.” I pray for blessing and health and favor and safety…. and for friends and family. But it struck me. How often to do I ask, “Lord, what can I do for YOU?” Instead, I’m thrilled by what He does for me. That is not entirely bad. Every parent wants to see their child’s excitement and gratitude over a thoughtful gift! In fact, parents can feel hurt if their child doesn’t respond with some glee.

But how nice it also feels to hear, “Mom, what can I do for you today?” or “Dad, tell me more about you.”

I can’t have a relationship with others or God if I am always so inwardly focussed. How I long to wake up and breathe “Lord, show me my day!” and then follow it sweetly! Or to wake up and naturally think, “How can I love my kids and husband this glorious morning?” Instead, I tend to wake up and think, “Already? Ugh! Just a few. more. minutes.”

I know my story is not necessarily yours. Maybe you do wake up and think of others right away (and sincerely, too. Not in regard to how others effect YOU. That doesn’t count! 🙂

But our stories will all cross over as they relate to our natural tendency to think of me, as my darling daughter so joyfully proves each day. And not just her, but my other three as well. Then again, I usually notice their selfishness because their behavior is impeding on what I want (i.e. a peaceful home!). Bring the selfish-people-total to SIX for our home.

What a beautiful thing, though, that we don’t have to succumb to our natural thinking. We have been given resources galore in how to deny ourselves for the sake of others. And not for our own glory, but for the glory of the One who equips us and guides us into the ultimate love gift: laying your life down for a friend.

Weed your way through my meanderings and decide today whether you want to live a life that is so inwardly focussed that you miss out on many good things or the deeply satisfying walk of setting yourself aside for the sake of others- and watching God meet your needs in the process!


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