Okay, so here we go (and in no particular order):
First up is fish tacos. I just asked our family’s head chef what kind of fish we had in our fish tacos tonight. “Just flounder,” she mumbled listlessly (she is a mumbler). Her statement was no doubt true, yet…wrong. The very fact that it was “just flounder” and yet the tacos were so to-die-for–well, someone has to take the blame for that, sweetheart, and it ain’t me. Maybe it was the homemade mango salsa? Or the brown rice, cooked to perfection (harder than one might think)? Throw in a little lime juice (actually a more than a little), and boom. Drink with white wine.
Second, my 10-month-old baby girl is now bear-crawling. Awkwardly. But thankfully when she needs to get somewhere fast, she still crawls; and she does so at an impressive speed across the floor, with the cutest crooked smile on her face, bobbing her head as she goes. That won’t last much longer. So I’ve got to be thankful now.
Third, one of my ten-year-old twins constantly sings. She doesn’t just sing; she belts it out. Let me just say: parents, one way to bond with your child is to share with them all the music that you grew up listening to. So it’s just priceless hearing a 10-year-old girl unleashing CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” upstairs in the shower, or Brian Adams’ “Summer of ’69” as she bursts into the house from the garage.
Fourth, I love how my wife doesn’t care what our kids think. She’s just not intimidated. At all. She puts the baby down on the floor, who then proceeds to start crying, expecting to be picked up. Nope. Completely ignored in the most loving way possible. My wife tells my 3-year-old that he can’t have dessert, because he didn’t finish his dinner. He then drops his head in agony, his hands come up to rub his tear-filled eyes: he is a victim. Once again, he’s completely ignored in the most loving way possible. It’s a good illustration of our parenting philosophy, which can be summed up in two words: graciously ruthless.
And while I’m mentioning my wife, I might as well add that she never needs the limelight. Not kidding, people. She needs no fanfare, no recognition, no applause; there’s no need to impress; no need to build the résumé. That’s not to say she doesn’t get any fanfare, applause, etc. (she does, and she should–Prov. 31.31); only that she doesn’t need any. That’s strength. And freedom. Ok, one more thing about her: she doesn’t take things personally. It’s remarkable. It’s almost as though she thinks her life isn’t about her. Confusing.
Fifth, she and I have been going through the book of James. What a life-giving “kick-in-the-pants” that’s been. Life has many hardships. James calls those hardships “trials.” That’s right. Why? Because these trials reveal something about you and me–our true (often hidden) allegiances, and they force us to think about which allegiances are good and which are, well, foolish and deadly. And what’s amazing is that God can actually use these trials to grow us, to complete us, so that we can weather future hardships without the same old fears and frustrations (not bad, eh?). And when you see–as we have recently been seeing–how God is in fact using these trials to grow you (so that you learn really, really awesome life lessons at a really deep, experiential level), the result is joy–true, lasting joy. I’m so thankful that God graciously gives us wisdom “without finding fault” (if we ask him for it) to enable us to “connect the dots” between life’s many trials and our growth to bring about real joy. From our reflections and prayers based on James, we’ve come up with the following mantra: learn, laugh, love (learn from hardships, laugh in the midst of them, and love everyone, including those who may have caused them–it’s empowering and emancipating, without any negative side effects).
Sixth, I’m so thankful I get to teach my kids the bible. I love being forced to take God’s amazing stories and communicate them in ways they can understand. My twin girls and I just started reading through Luke’s Gospel. So far we’ve learned really cool things like: (1) instead of using “big people” like King Herod, God chooses little people (“nobodies”), like Zechariah and Elizabeth, as well as a teenage peasant girl named Mary, to be his helpers in bringing His kingom into the world; (2) that “nothing is impossible with God”; which means that (3) God can take hard things (like being an unmarried expecting virgin, whom everyone shuns and makes fun of) and turns them into really good things (“from now on all generations will call you blessed”). It’s fun to use our imaginations with the story: how fearful Mary must have been as she journeyed to Elizabeth’s house, wondering if Elizabeth would believe her story or not; and how even before she can tell her the news, baby John leaps in the womb, letting his mom know….
Seventh, I’m thankful for gummy worms. They’re great. I recently confessed on FB that I’m addicted to them. Not just any gummy worms though. The ones at Kroger’s are the best, I think. And, thankfully, Kroger’s is only a three minute drive from my house.
Eighth, I’m thankful for handstands. I just spent about 15-2o minutes trying to do handstands with my daughters. Whenever I fell over, they thought it was just hilarious. (In my defense, I was able to do a handstand longer than either of them. Not that I’m comparing…or anything. I’m just saying…)
Ninth, I’m thankful for friends. Apart from Sarah (my closest friend), I have four really close, amazing friends. You can endure almost anything if you have friends. “Greater love has no one than this, that one would lay down his life for his friends.” Recently, one of my friends and I were texting back and forth talking about the really hard things that each of us are experiencing in our lives, and mixed in with the intense discussion were absolutely hilarious jokes. It’s so life-giving when you can laugh in the midst of really hard things (see the above mantra). This is the laughter of the redeemed.
Last (but not least), I’m truly thankful that I’m thankful. Thanksgiving is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 5.19; and ingratitude is arguably the great root sin of humanity–Rom. 1.21). Thanksgiving is also a command (Ps. 136; 1 Thes. 5.18).