Monday, November 22, 2004

Thank God for elastic...

As we come to the end of the fall semester of homeschooling, I am taking a little time to reevaluate what we are doing, what’s going well, what’s not going well, and what needs to go. It’s quite exciting to look back at what the children have learned and accomplished so far. It’s quite humbling to see how much is yet to be accomplished. And it’s downright sobering to take inventory of all the stuff I have at my disposal to carry out this monumental undertaking of educating our two children – although the truth is that I know I have learned far more than they have in this process. Curricular materials, notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, beads, dictionaries, CD roms, a hamster, a white board, three computers, workbooks, art supplies, and all kinds of gadgets. And that’s just in the homeschool room. Venture downstairs to the kitchen, the family room, the living room, the laundry room, and there is stuff everywhere. I recently reorganized our art supplies and as I went through everything, I was awed by the amount of supplies we have. Watercolors, gouache, acrylics, rubber stamps, more glue, paper of all weights and sizes, brushes, brayers, scissors, beads, fabric, sewing supplies, stickers, markers, ink pads, calligraphy pens, and several art instruction books. In the past, I have had moments of overwhelming guilt for the bounty that we have been blessed with. At those times, I have gathered together bags and boxes of clothes, books, toys, and food, and carted it all off to friends, family, and acquaintances in need. But most of the time, and I guess more so at this time of year, I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. I rarely indulge thoughts of entitlement; I know I don’t deserve this amazing life. I don’t deserve most of what I have, but I am enormously grateful. When the hurricanes, tornadoes, and scorching heat make the local weather reporters interrupt our evening news, I am grateful for this strong brick home that has weathered so many storms. When I check my email and chat cheerfully with friends on the telephone, I am grateful for the wonder of communication technology. When I flip a switch and lights come on, when I push a button and the ceiling fans fire up, when I turn a knob and the flames in our gas fireplace reach out for my dreadlocs, I am grateful for the engineers, mechanics, operators, and repair personnel who make sure it all keeps running so smoothly. When I stand in my closet chafing at the challenge of choosing a different outfit to wear everyday, I am grateful to have so much from which to choose. When I sort through four piles of clothes in the laundry room, I am reminded of the South African children in my friend Jyll’s photos; we could outfit an entire village of children on any given laundry day. When I stand at the door of the pantry trying to decide what to make for dinner, I am frequently struck by the privilege of having so much to choose from. It’s not just that there’s a lot available in the supermarket; it’s that I get to choose so many great options and bring them home for our family to enjoy. I know so many people in dire financial straits for whom food choices are often based on the budget of the week in question. When we were negotiating the final details of the purchase of this house, the previous owners asked if it would be okay for them to leave their older refrigerator here for us. They were taking the one from the kitchen, but they had a second one that they weren’t going to need. Of course, we said, we’ll keep it. So now there is a second refrigerator in our garage. When there’s a good sale at the supermarket, I stock up. When there’s no more milk, bread, salad, or ice cream in the kitchen fridge, one of us will dash out into the garage and grab a replacement When I am stumped for dinner ideas, there are undoubtedly some pizza crusts or turkey burgers or chicken breasts out there. When I see men, women, and children wearing those tell-tale bandanas, the ones that cover chemo-induced baldness, I am grateful for good health. When my mother-in-law was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago, I was grateful for medical insurance when her health wasn’t good. And 72 hours from now, when I am recovering from second and third helpings of salad, stuffing, and pie (have I mentioned that I don’t like turkey!), I will be grateful for the elastic waistband of my pajamas. The list of life’s bountiful blessings could go on for pages, and I know it will go on forever in my heart and mind. Amy Grant sang a song twenty or so years ago that means more to me each time I hear it. “If you see the moon rising gently on your fields; if the wind blows softly on your face; if the sunset lingers while cathedral bells peal, and the moon has risen to her place, you can thank The Father for the things that He has done. Thank Him for the things He’s yet to do. And if you find a love that’s tender, if you find someone that’s true, then thank the Lord; He’s been doubly good to you.”

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