Friend, wow. There is nothing like a pandemic to totally shift your life around.
Here on my deserted blog I have a little tradition that is my favorite writing thing: each year for my birthday, I shift my heart towards gratitude and write a numbered list of things I’m thankful for that matches my age. This year it’s 35. In this crazy pandemic year, it’s easy to think that this would be harder than ever. And honestly friend, in some ways it is. But in others, I’ve found that my heart has yearned for gratitude like never before, and I am much more skilled at reminding myself of beautiful things around me because that’s how we have survived this year: grabbing hold of every victory we can.
When quarantine first started, I challenged Ella to look for all the “Gifts of Corona”, meaning all the good things that this crazy season has brought us, regardless of the way in which they came. This has been a ritual of ours this past year- naming the gifts this season has given us even though we don’t love the season itself. This was easy at first, when I was pregnant with our rainbow baby and got to sleep in most mornings instead of take the girls to school. It got harder when we realized they wouldn’t be going back to school. And in felt impossible in June, right after I decided to face my fear of homeschooling, Nathan lost his contract and my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and Cushings disease. Even still, as I type those words, my whole body freezes. Never was this a story I wanted for my life. But here we are, in this impossible season, going through impossibly hard things.
Our only way out is up, friend. The only way I know to lift myself out of pits is to turn my eyes to Him and enter His gates with thanksgiving, enter His courts with praise. So here we are, 35 things I am defiantly thankful for. Defying the year, defying the discouraging voices, and defying the impossible circumstances by choosing praise instead.
- Jesus’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. How I need it!
- Failure. If not for failures, how could we find sustainable solutions?
- Time. The gift of time with those we love is such a gift, isn’t it?
- Nathan, my amazing husband: my steady rock in this crazy season. We celebrated our tenth anniversary this year. Tenth! We are humbled and thankful and more.
- Marriage. What a beautiful gift- the growing together, the growing in love, the safe place to rest and recuperate from the world.
- Ella Anne. That girl has grown into something more beautiful than I ever could have thought. She has empathy and compassion for days, and man does she love Jesus. I just adore her.
- Emmelina Clementine. She is everything I want to be: strong, direct, passionate, resilient. She aggressively loves her tribe and when she grows up she wants to be a ballet dancing mom. I just adore her.
- Adelaide Olivia. She studies and smiles and brings healing wherever she cuddles. She is a peace bringer, paving the way for joy. I just adore her.
- All this time with my girls. Do I often want to drive off into the sunset after a day of constant crying and bickering? Sure. Who wouldn’t. But I have been reminding myself of the gift this season has brought: the gift of time with them I’d never have otherwise. One day it will be gone, and I will long for the days I had them all to myself.
- My warrior mama. After her diagnosis, she could have been angry, bitter, or a long list of other harsh things. Instead, she couldn’t stop naming the things she was thankful for. In her lowest time, she turned to Jesus, and hasn’t looked back. What an honor it is to be hers.
- My dad, sister, and brother. I don’t often get this much time with them in a year. But our story has led us to a place where we are putting more value on being near each other, and they are some of my favorite people. They’re hilarious and resilient and make my heart happier than I have words to express.
- My bed.
- A home I’ve grown to love. We still have a lot of work to do on it, but I will miss this house whenever we move on.
- Plant propagation: my quarantine hobby that has brought joy to the monotony. I’ve had a lot of success lately and am getting so brave!
- Gardening. It just really fills my tank.
- My tribe. I haven’t seen them as much as I’d like this year, but I am still so thankful that we can do life together, even if that looks different right now.
- 15 years of Target birthday celebrations with Elaine. This is the 15th year we’ve gone to Target together to spoil each other for our birthdays and it’s one of my favorite traditions.
- My In-laws. They have stepped up to help and love on us in such huge ways this year, I’m not sure where we’d be without them.
- Stitching. There’s something about the slow process that brings a lot of peace.
- Target Pick Up. I mean let’s be real- Target Pick Up is one of Covid’s greatest heroes.
- Peace that transcends all understanding.
- Binge watching every show on earth with Nathan. I mean seriously, who hasn’t watched every show there is at this point? Thankful for all the TV cuddle time.
- Home birth. I have never been more thankful for home birth than during a global pandemic. What a relief to be in our own home and receive over-the-top-excellent care without any added covid stress.
- My postpartum body. I’m not usually thankful for my postpartum body, but after being in physical therapy for over six months now (thanks, three babies), I can honestly say that I am thankful for this vessel of mine. It is strong, has weathered three home births, somehow knows how to feed and nourish my child, and is cuddly AF right now. Usually, I would feel uncomfortable in this strange in between time. But this time around, I have actively been thanking my body and treasuring her instead of tearing her down. Someday she will change back into something more familiar, and I will be grateful, but I will also miss these days of baby cuddles and tiny hands in mine. So I will not wish these postpartum days away anymore.
- Stress crafting. I have found so much healing through creativity this year.
- Technology. Can you imagine quarantine without FaceTime, Netflix, or Walmart Pick Up? Me either.
- Snack boards. You’ve probably noticed that I’m a *bit* obsessed with kid friendly charcuterie boards lately. That’s another post for another time, but it’s saved my life during quarantine. I don’t accomplish much in a day, but our fam is eating fruit & veggies every day and that feels like a huge win right now.
- Maverick City Music. FRIEND. Have you listened to them yet?! Do yourself a favor and search them on youtube. They have written songs that speak life to my weary soul this year. Start with this one, I seriously can’t get enough.
- Slow mornings. I don’t know how we’ll ever go back to real life if I have to leave the house before 3pm.
- Sup Fam. Our fam nights have looked a lot different this year/been longer apart than I would like, but fam is fam forever, and our nights are one of the things I’m most excited to get back to.
- Rice Rinses. Postpartum + a ton of time nursing & scrolling on my phone= taking a deep dive into healing my curls. If you are a curly girl, look up rice rinses on pinterest- such a huge game changer!
- Motherhood. Never have I been stretched so thin, felt so exhausted, and been so over the top grateful at once. This dream I’ve had of our babies- it’s here. I’m living it. It’s messy, and beautiful, and more. And I have just been so struck with gratitude today thinking about my girls.
- This unique season. If you would have told me on my 34th birthday all that this year would bring, I a) wouldn’t have believed you and b) wouldn’t think I could survive it. And yet here we are, almost a year into this mess, and we’re still standing. All of us: you, me, we’re all here, trooping through. Keep going, friend, keep going.
I’ve never been a “word of the year” person, probably because I’m really wordy and too wishy washy to commit to a singular word. Anyway. I was talking with a dear friend recently, and we came to the conclusion that maybe the word for this season is linger. Somehow, we’ve been given this gift to linger with those that we love this year, and I don’t want to lose hold of that gift.
Jesus, have your way in me this year. Heal this weary soul, heal our land, do what only You can do: whatever that looks like and whatever that means.
Hugs to you, dear friend. Cheers to defiant gratitude and pressing on.