Thankful-Mess

True confession: I wasn’t sure I wanted to have kids because I can’t stand stickiness. I laugh about it now. My youngest is 19, and my oldest is 28. We’ve had a ton of sticky days, and I hope we’ll have a lot more—yes, I am totally ready to be a grandma!

As we approach Thanksgiving, we usually focus more on intentionally counting our blessings. This year, God is helping me to be thankful for my family and all it’s messiness. Life is messy. Family is messy. As much as we’d like life to be organized, clean and tidy, and predictable, it is rarely any of those, at least at my house. And sometimes that messiness can get pretty overwhelming. But I still choose to be thankful.

I can think of many things to be thankful for with my home and family. We are in our first house that we’ve purchased. We are healthy and safe. I’m married to my best friend, and he is a pretty awesome guy. All four kids love God. All four kids have plans for a good future they are working toward little by little. I have extended family nearby and some far away that I love very much. And we have two crazy dogs who bring me a lot of joy. Those are easy to be thankful for.

However, I have many other situations that are harder to be thankful for:

  • Dealing with autism is a roller coaster ride all its own. But so often I thank God that even though two of my kids have clefts and three have autism, they are healthy. There are so many other birth defects and disorders that compromise children’s health. We are blessed.
  • My daughter is taking a two-year degree and making it a many-year degree, and I just want her to get done with it. But I’m thankful she is determined to finish her program and chase her dreams.
  • My youngest decided to take a gap year break from school and is studying for his driver’s license test. He’s only taking three times longer than I think it should happen, and I want to push him, but I resist. I ask how it’s going, and he’s got a plan. By the end of the next month or so he should have his license. I just need to be patient…and thankful. I’m thankful he’s taking the initiative and is studying on his own to reach his goals.
  • My house is a disaster right now. It’s partly because I’m working a lot of weird hours and partly because my kids don’t clean as well as I’d like. But, for the most part, they are keeping up with their chores and helping. I am thankful for that. And my husband is amazing and does so much. And I’m thankful we both have jobs when so many do not.
  • None of my kids have taken the paths I thought they would. But they’ve had the strength of character to make their own choices and walk their own paths while each is seeking to follow God’s will for their lives. I’m not only thankful for that but excited to see where God takes them and what He accomplishes through them.

So, I’m learning to find thankful-mess—thanksgiving in the messiness of life. I’m learning to let go of my wishes and expectations and just take life as it comes. I really see this as a lesson God has been driving home in my life—that to be a true disciple, we just listen to Him and obey. As a person who typically plans for everything a year or two in advance, this is a challenge, and it is one God wants me to learn. COVID has helped. Having four adult children has helped. Having allergies that often dictate my life has helped. God is using it all to help me follow Him more faithfully.

I hope my family can be thankful for me in all my messiness and is learning to follow God as He leads each day too. I pray you and your family does as well. With God’s help, we can truly be thankful in ALL circumstances.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. (Colossians 3:15-16, NLT)

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