oh black plague of doom! (a thankful game.)

I feel like I’m in a dream – sort of a nightmare – where classes start at Boise State next week and I’ve forgotten to sign up for anything. In this dream, the semester will commence without me and I will wake up next week in a panic, frantic over my mistake, with no books, no syllabus, no fresh pencils to call my own.

It’s not a nightmare. I’m done with school. I’ve finished. Graduated. No need to attend class, no need to do homework. It’s a relief to be done, and just in the nick of time, because I have two small people depending on me for their survival. It’s a job I do not take lightly, and it’s a job I’ve been waiting to take on full-time ever since Clara was born, and it’s a job that is at once warm and wonderful and engulfing and foreign. I’m home with these two kids of mine, and more than that, we are HOME. For another 6-8 weeks, we are very, very, home.

Baby Sam can’t see any other kids or go out in public until the worst of flu and RSV season has passed. And in order for that to help prevent any illness, Clara must follow the same restrictions. This directive seemed over the top, honestly, when the NICU doctors issued it, but then our family doctor said the same thing, and then all my nurse friends and other parents of preemies confirmed the neccessity of staying home. Sam wasn’t a preemie, obviously, but he was born the size of a 33 week baby, so we have to follow the same rules for those kids. So, here we are. Me and the babies. At home.

All. The. Time.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t be so down if it were just me and the baby at home. I tried to get pregnant in April on purpose, because I wanted a winter baby. I wanted a reason to stay home in my pajamas and hold a newborn, without feeling the guilt of skipping out on BBQ’s or swim parties or any other warm weather gatherings. So really, this is a perfect situation: except for Clara. Gees. My guilt reaches new levels when she stands by the front door holding her mittens and asking, for 30 minutes straight, to “go bye bye mama? outside, mama.” Then she wanders around our small house, listless and lonely while I nurse her little brother. What toddler misery! The worst might be the way she lights up whenever one of her aunts walks in to visit, like it’s family day in juvie or something.

You know how people sometimes say things like, “that was a hard year” or “that was a difficult season in our marriage,” or just speak generally about a long period in their life that sucked a fat one? I think I might be there. I’m not sure. But I think when I look back on this last year; when I think of Jimmy dying, when I remember this stressful pregnancy and finishing school and Sam working out of town so often,  and then these few weeks I’m spending cooped up at home, I will say to some uninterested young person, “That was a hard year.”

And then I’ll say,

“But we got through it. By the grace of God, we woke up each day. We cried a lot. We laughed too. We gathered up our community and we leaned on their strong arms and loving hands, thankful for the help and embarrassed at our extreme needs, all the same time. We learned to find light in every darkness that fell. It was a hard year, but we were thankful for each crappy day that we had together.”

At this point, the young person (perhaps one of my own apathetic children) will nod and blink twice, which will turn their eyeball phone (iball, probably) back on and allow them to watch holographic television while pretending to listen to me, because young people don’t know good advice from their own backsides, am I right?

I hope you’re in a great year. I hope you are in an abundant season of life, full and sweet, purposeful and productive. But if you’re not, or you’re just suspicious that you’re not, then join me in a thankful game. Because there’s always something: there is always SOMETHING to be thankful for. If ever you’re tempted to feel sorry for yourself or wallow in the murky waters of your own pity, like I often am, here’s a game I find very helpful. Make a list of the things you are anxious or mad or annoyed about. Then right beside those things, write a reason to be thankful for them. A little perspective never hurt anyone, I think we can all agree with that?

I’ll go first, and this is mostly with shallow stuff, because goodness knows you don’t need any deeper peeks into my complicated and frightening psyche.

kind of crappy stuff vs. opportunities to be thankful

  • Being stuck at home.

 I missed being at home all of last year, because we ran around like crazy between school and work. I am thankful to be in my own house, which is cozy and warm and full of things that make me glad.

  • The possibility of our vulnerable baby getting really sick.

 We live a few minutes away from the only children’s hospital in our state. We have really good health insurance. If our baby gets sick, we will be able to pay for his care at the best facility available. I am so thankful for modern medicine, and for our health insurance.

  • Missing school and a learning environment with other grown ups.

 I do not have to stay up late writing any papers or reading any horrible student stories and poetry. Amen and amen.

  • Clara missing out on fun days with my friends, sisters, and their kids.

 She will never remember this blip in time. And I have amazing friends who are willing to come chase after my 17 month old and play ‘grocery store’ with her, or sit in my house and hold my son so I can take Clara outside to run around. For the love, you guys, I have such amazing girlfriends. I am so thankful.

  • The inversion. The constant heavy gray skies.

 I will be all the more thankful for bright days when the sun finally shines again.

  • Sam working long hours or being out of town. 

 I just graduated from college debt-free. We will be able to cover insanely expensive NICU bills when they arrive. These are both possible because Sam has a good job for a big company that gives us incredible insurance coverage. I am so thankful for his job. Yeah, his schedule can be hard to deal with, but he is employed and God provides for our family. I am thankful.

There’s my thankful game. It really does help, even on the darkest days. It does not dismiss the difficulty of whatever journey you are currently on, but it does clear the air a little bit when life feels oppressive.

I’m praying abundant seasons come soon, but in the meanwhile, I am smiling with thanks for just about a million different gifts of grace.
Happy Tuesday, guys.
Oh wait, it’s still Monday?

Cut me some slack.

oh, that face.

he’s a snuggler. pretty much all i’ve ever asked for. 

her favorite toy: her ‘phone’

my kids normally do not wear onesies with any sayings on them (#clothessnob)
but I made an exception for this one because it says
 “I run with the big guys.” ok, buddy. ok. 

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