Day 3: When you’re too scared to give thanks.

A tiny two-year-old finger smacked down in seconds on the red slide image.  “There mama!  I wanna go there,” Charli said said jumping up and down with anticipation.  All of the scary-yet-fun options on the Roca Scary Farm Map had paralyzed me, but Charli was decided and already moving toward her clear choice.

Yes, I thought, while gathering up the stroller and our pumpkin-flavored doughnut, much better than the haunted trail or zombie apocalypse area.  On this crisp fall day, I was excited, glad that my little family was still in the pink pumpkins and picnic-inside-a-giant-cupcake stage, nothing scary for us, or so I thought.

Charli’s high-pitched voice echoed down the giant red tube.  “I’m coming mom!” she yelled.

This slide did look big to me–looming larger much larger than the little cartoon map picture–but she was confident, so I yelled back with outstretched arms and faked confidence, “Mama’s here.  Go for it!”

Her “Wee!” turned to “Ahhh!” half way, and by the end she was crying, trembling in my arms.  “It’s okay,” I said, “Mama’s here.  “You don’t have to be scared,” I said, partly to myself.

Sometimes a slide, that dreaded e-mail, echoing phone call, or even the publish button on a blog post jump into our otherwise crisp-fall day and terrify without warning.  Yes, there are real terrors and the feeling of fear is all too real, but most often the voice of fear is lying to us.  Irrational worry or anxiousness that we won’t measure up fill up the room first, leaving no space for gratitude.

But gratitude isn’t just for the sunny stuff, for Charli and I bouncing sky-high and giggling at the Roca Berry Farm bounce pad, it’s also for the hug at the end of the slide.  Even in the darkest of valleys, fear can’t eclipse the stillness on the other side of that hug, calling us to breathe, to quit trembling, to see we’re not alone, to see the unimaginable grace that will rush in in unexpected ways if we have ears to hear and the patience to keep listening.

#78  Charli’s deep breath, needing the hug I could give.
#79 Charli running back up the hill to go down the slide again.

Day 3 Challenge:
  • Dare to do one little scary thing.  Show the fear it’s a liar.  Then, note your gratitude.

*This post is part of a 30-day gratitude challenge.  Join in the party!  E-mail subscription is on the left side of the page.

Day 2: Ever feel like you’re not enough?

His eighteenth birthday would have been yesterday.

He was only in my life for a short time, but I knew him long enough to see his sparkle, to think. . . this kid is fantastic.  He was funny, hardworking, unique, and so many other words I’ll never know.

I want to start all those sentences with “He is.”  And I want to tell him about today and yesterday and the yellow maple on my drive to work.  So while I’ve spent lots of morning pages writing, wondering, asking why he would choose to be gone–  The only thing I can do, when I’m left without words. . . is to clench hope, to write my little gratitudes.  They seem simple.  A child’s exercise.  But it’s practice for a larger shift in our orientation.

Bad thinking is insidious.

And so many things poke at our lack, jumpstarting those thoughts.  Advertising. . . assessment. . . even well-intentioned blog posts challenging us to somehow be better.  All communicate in some small little way that we need something, that we’re not enough.

My little notebook begs to differ.

Pen and paper magnify the enough, and I wonder at how I’ve been missing it, forgetting the marvel of a faucet or the holy-crap-that’s-awesomeness of a sticky note.  I want to train my eyes to see, maybe help just one more see it too–   somehow the only birthday present I can give, to a young man I miss.

#24  Maple ablaze, and pulling over to see it.

Day 2 Challenge: 
  • Stop, actually stop, somehow “pull over” in your day, even if it’s for 30 seconds to notice a gift.  Find a way to give back to the giver (whether that’s a person or the big G Giver).
*This post is part of a 30-day gratitude challenge.  Learn about the challenge and join in by clicking here.

Day 1: #gratitudeparty

“I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. . . Through all that time I thought I was making up time.  It turns out I was throwing it away.” 
(Buchanan, 2007, p. 45, emphasis added)
Yesterday I was in a hurry, buzzed.  Reclining on the plum-colored couch at the end of the day with my two kiddos–one two-years-old, the other seven months–I just couldn’t turn off the fast pace.  My body sat still, thoughts still sprinting.
“I wonder if anyone will come to the gratitude party. . . I am so excited. . . what if someone doesn’t know how to subscribe. . . maybe this was just a stupid idea. . . why am I doing this again?”
Funny how sending invitations to a virtual 30-day gratitude party had thrown me into exactly the mindset I’m trying to shift: striving and evaluating.  I am forever trying to maximize my time, and in this tight hold, I sense I’m killing it.

Time is a funny thing; it only enlarges when we slow down.
The world tells us to schedule time like mad, treat time like a slave.  In that case when my daughter woke up during my scheduled writing time early this morning, I should have marched her right back to bed in spite of her tuft of blonde hair and cute lil’ tired face.  But–and I so want to learn this–there is enough time for what is needed.  So instead of pointing my dictator finger back to her toddler-size bedroom, I waved her over to cuddle under our fuzzy red blanket.  
This 30-day challenge is not one more thing to do, another task on an already long list.  Instead it’s a lens to look through, a red blanket over every moment in the next 30-days leading up to Thanksgiving.  
Each day I will post a short piece.  I’m a teacher, so some will be teacher-y.  I hope some will make you laugh, but all will call us to action, to work out our gratitude muscles.  So, here’s day 1!  Cheers to us getting all buff and stuff.
Day 1 Challenge:
  • Get a dedicated notebook or start a list on your phone/computer.  This works best if it’s easily accessible through your day.  When gratitude strikes–and it will–jot it down.  I bought a little $.99 composition book, labeled it “thanks” and added a goofy sticker (Charli has already scribbled on it).  The goal with this list is to notice moments of gratitude each day for the next 30, both at work and at home.  
  • Choice 1) Note 3 Things Each Day (Totally Awesome)
  • Choice 2) Join me in Ann Voskamp‘s epic challenge to notice 1,000 gifts this month.  (Yikes. . . that’s like 33.3 a day. . . God better show up. . . Just what is .3 gratitudes?)
#7 Little blondie under a red quilt, warm cheek against mine.

*To enter yourself TO WIN A FREE PIE, post one of your gratitudes in the comments below.  The bakery pie will be mailed to your address.  p.s. Sara Meyer. . . only one entry per person. 🙂

gratitude party


A dare to shift our perspective from striving and evaluating to living thanks.  It will be 30 days of:

  • Little Challenges
  • Encouraging Snippets and Gratitude Rock Stars
  • Evi Acting like a Pirate. . . um yeah that’s happening.

Read along at each day or subscribe via e-mail at the website (just click on the left hand side).

p.s. This will not be a “list everything you’re thankful for” cheeseball thing.  Okay, it’ll have some cheese, but I get it, some days do suck. . . yeah. . . um. . . was that today?  We’ll talk about that too.

Hope you can join in the fun!  Invite friends who could use a little grace, joy and peace. . . or maybe just a slice of pie, oh did I mention there’s a drawing for free pie.  Yum.

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May the song of my life be a harmony needed
Sung through these hands and feet whittling space
an Echo. . .
Beauty, sneaky yet yelling.
Truth, shining not explicit.
Creativity.  Vive!  Zest.
Confetti thrown courageous,
And then a deep breath.
Hugs for tears, just slow enough–
to pull up bootstraps, reboot, and throw out holy socks
as we set out to sing again.
Crescendos prompted by listening
Seasons say wait, no wait little one antsy.

That we might be someone else’s green table
an echo of Christ in our little corner
Rippling out.
For big ripples never come before little
and amen marks the beginning. . .

funny how that works

If you asked me who is the person who has irritated me the most in my life, I would have to answer. . . my sister.  But, if you also asked me who is the person I’ve learned the most from (in spite of having my doctorate), I would also have to say . . . my sister.  She’s a brilliant woman who’s perspective on the world–much shaped by her business experience–helps me to see things in my educationally-cocooned world in a new way.

One time when I was having a bad day she told me to pick up a pen and look at it from the side and then look at it from the tip.  She said, “When you focus on your problems, you’re looking at the tip like it’s the whole story, but when you shift your perspective and realize that today is only a part of the much longer story of your life (the whole pen), things shift back where they need to be.

See how little that tip is?  That’s today.

This morning my sister shared a video with me that’s shifted my perspective yet again.  I would encourage you–as she encouraged me, to watch it, “In spite of its awesome 80’s fashion choices.”


So what’s your list?  What do you like. . . love about that thing/person/situation that’s been irritating you?  How would you view it if it were lost?

It’s funny to me how for many years of my life my sister was my greatest irritant, never letting me hang out with her cooler, older friends.  Today she’s a great blessing in my life.  Funny how that works, again and again the thing driving us crazy ends up being a way that God’s trying to bless us.