Thanksgiving has come and gone, but giving thanks is to be a year-round affair–indeed, an “unceasing” activity. Paul exhorts the new Thessalonian Christians:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
But I haven’t been very thankful lately. Actually, strike out the word very in that previous sentence: I haven’t been thankful lately. That’s not only disobedient; it’s indicative of a heart that is proud, proud enough to criticize God, to condemn him of incompetence and indifference (for more on why grumbling is such a big deal to God, see this earlier post).
So here are some random things I’m grateful for:
1. Humor. If there’s one thing I really, really love about my marriage, it’s that my wife and I laugh together (and that I can actually make her–who is otherwise a fairly serious person–laugh). While humor can be “dark” (I think of some flavors of British humor especially), humor in our home says, “Everything is going to be okay.” Humor in our home is self-effacing and self-deprecating in a very healthy way; it says, “I’m not going to take myself too seriously.” But humor also takes the form of teasing. (If I had a love language, that would be it–i.e., being teased.) Humor is beautiful. Thank you, God, for humor. That was a great idea.
2. Tickling. Here is another great idea: when God designed little kids, He made them (overwhelmingly) ticklish. It’s a marvelous thing: point, jab with the appropriate pressure, and perhaps wiggle your finger (or fingers) around a bit. That’s it. And you can do it again and again and again. In our home we have three creatures that are of the genus tickle:
(i) the tickle spider (formed by making the hand into a spider, with the fingers being the spider’s legs): these spiders are impressively quick when they attack; they use their legs to tickle their victims; however, they can be easily squished to death, if so desired. However, when they are squished, their family and immediate relatives do not take kindly to that, and will almost immediately seek vengeance with each subsequent relative being faster and harder to kill.
(ii) the tickle worm (simply one finger of the hand): these are much slower than tickle spiders but much more subtle. For example, while watching a movie on the couch, they can slowly infiltrate into the armpit of an unsuspecting child, and then it’s too late.
(iii) the tickle snake (formed by the entire arm, with the hand being the head): thankfully, we only have one of these in our house; his name is Sam (or, as he calls himself [yes, he can talk]): “SsssssssssAM the SssssssssNAKE.”). Sam likes to approach his victims amiably, making seemingly innocent small talk; he is powerfully, if predictably, very sssssmooth and sssssly. While my 9-year-old daughters will try to negotiate with him, my 2 1/2 year-old minces no words–he just gives a good whack upside the head at first sight, to which Sam always takes immediate offense.
3. Wrestling. I don’t do this as much as I should. I will admit that, often when the idea is brought up, I’m not enthusiastic. But once I get into it, I love it. There is something mysteriously wonderful about wrestling with your kids on the queen-size bed in the guest bedroom. What could more satisfying than pushing everyone else off that bed, so that you alone are “the king of the bed” (even if only for 5-6 seconds)? Or what could be more entertaining than falling off that aforementioned bed all together (usually in slow motion), tangled up in a multi-human knot, with arms and legs (both human and stuffed animal) jutting out in every direction? And let’s not forget the exhilaration of ducking just in time as a pillow, hurled in anger, goes whizzing past you, only to hit the person immediately behind you. Is this not the same exhilaration that Batman or Zorro feel when engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the bad guys?
4. Food. With the birth of our newborn, we have been receiving meals from persons in our church. Last night Julie J. brought over some amazing chicken soup with homemade challah bread. Oh my goodness. All I can say is: “Thank you, Jesus!!” (And, thank you, Julie.) Simply warm it up in the microwave and place it in your cold hands and just smell the unbelievable aroma for a few minutes before even partaking.
5. Julianne. (Okay, so my newborn daughter is #5; that probably says something.) Sarah and I can not have kids. But Sarah has given birth to four beautiful children. Through embryo donation. (When infertile couples do IVF, there are often many embryos left over that are never used. Couples sometimes give their unused embryos to the fertility clinic, and they are just left frozen, unwanted. There are well over 500,000 unused embryos in the U.S. today. Rather than do IVF ourselves, we thought: why not try to give life to a few of these unwanted embryos instead?) So here we are. This would not have been possible 50 years ago. While we may have been able to adopt, Sarah would not have been able to carry, deliver, nurse, etc. We are so thankful that we have four healthy kiddos who are a delight to be around.