Eternally Grateful

I did it again.  I quit.  Didn’t follow through on my attitude of gratitude series.  I’ve thought about it every day and have indeed given thanks.  But, posting it here started to feel rote.  Trite.  Strained.  Not authentic (What is the opposite of authentic?  Oh yeah…fake).  I felt pressure to come up with something really profound (albeit the pressure was self-inflicted).  The truth is that there are days when I don’t really feel very grateful for anything in particular.  And, yet, I am grateful for all that I have — and I don’t ever want that to come across as fake.  I’m grateful for the people in my life.  The roof over my head.  Our jobs.  The big and seemingly small ways that God provides for our family (although, they are never really small are they?).  The list goes on and on. 

Three years ago — not to the exact date, but it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — I got a call that changed everything.  Literally, in an instant, my whole world changed.  Forever.  It was the day that Madelyne came into our lives.  Born to drug addicted parents, she needed a home.  We didn’t know if it would be for a little while or forever.  Turns out, it was for a little while, but she changed us forever.  I don’t know if I can adequately put it into words.  The six months that she was with us were hard.  Anyone who’s had a baby knows that it’s hard, even under the most ideal circumstances.  Sleep deprivation makes you loopy.  Add to it the emotional roller coaster of dealing with social services and homestudies and bi-weekly visitations and it was a very stressful time in our lives.  But, it was also a very sweet time in our lives.  We were able to love this little girl — and our friends and family loved her as well.  And, at that time, it’s really all she needed.  She needed to feel loved and comforted and safe.  Deep in my heart, I know that it shaped who she is and will become.  I am eternally grateful for that, despite the crushing heartbreak I sometimes still feel that she is no longer with us.

It was easy to love Madelyne.  But, I was challenged – stretched – to love people that I didn’t want to love.  To feel compassion for people that I didn’t want to feel compassion for.  To be gracious, when I did not want to be gracious.  To forgive when I did not want to forgive.  And, in the midst of it all, to be a good example to my son, who was watching and learning. 

Today, my emotions are mixed.  I miss her.  I miss her a lot.  But, I am eternally grateful that I got to be her mom — even if only for a little while.

 
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Attitude of Gratitude – Day 15

A few days ago, on Veteran’s Day, I pulled out a picture of my grandfather.  It was taken when he was just 18 or 19 years old.  I’ve always loved it.  He was always so special to me.  He’s been gone 19 years and I still miss him every day.

 
Over the years, people have always said how much Jake looks like Lloyd.  And, he certainly does.  But, there are traits that I’ve often wondered where they came from.  His lips and mouth, for one.  And his eyelids are not like either one of ours either.  Then, the other day, when I was looking at the picture of my grandfather, it hit me..Jake looks like him in many ways
 
William “Franklin” Wallace
William “Jacob” Brown
 
 
Not the best picture of Jake, but I was trying to get one where he’s not smiling huge, like he usually does.  And you can’t see how blue Jake’s eyes are in this picture. I don’t look anything like my grandfather.  Maybe it’s cheesy, but I’m thankful that Jake has Wallace traits.  

Attitude of Gratitude – Days 9-13

I have missed a few days of posting, but not from being grateful.  I made special note each day of what I wanted to make sure I expressed gratitude for:

Day 9:  The plans I originally had for Wednesday night fell through and Lloyd was out of town.  So, I took the opportunity to invite a friend over for dinner.  Her son is a friend of Jake’s.  She and I met a few months ago during the 5th grade field trip and instantly connected.  We had a nice evening just chatting and enjoying one another’s company.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be spontaneous and make new friends. 

Day 10 – I spent a lot of time (years, really) being anxious about middle school.  I don’t know what I was worried about because Jake is absolutely thriving.  Conferences were on Thursday and while I am very grateful for his report card and that he got on the honor roll.  He’s obviously not perfect though and he has some areas that definitely need work.  But boiled down to one sentence, the feedback I received was that:  He’s a confident, self-advocate who is hard-working, respectful and enthusiastic.  I couldn’t really ask for more.  Many will say that it’s a reflection of good parenting.  But, the truth is that we couldn’t do it alone.  We really believe it takes a village and we are grateful for the friends, family, teachers and other influential adults that have taken an interest in Jake over the years.  I think you know who you are, so thank you for making a difference in his life.  And ours.

Day 11 – Friday was a near perfect day.  Lloyd has traveled a lot this year.  In fact, I figured it out and he’s been gone about 20% of the time this year.  He came back from his last scheduled business trip of the year on Thursday night and Friday was a holiday.  We were able to have a restful day, with no real obligations. The icing on the cake was having his cousins over for dinner, one of whom he hadn’t seen in 30 years.  We are so grateful to have been able to connect with long lost family members over the last couple of years.  They have added richness to our lives.

Day 12 – We are grateful for the new friends we’ve made here in DC.  We had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night.  It’s amazing to think that we didn’t even know these people a year ago and yet now, we cannot imagine them not being part of our lives.

Day 13 – We all woke up feeling under the weather on Sunday.  Even though I spent a good part of the day sleeping — and I was not able to do the things I wanted to do, I am grateful that overall, we are all healthy.  There was a time when I wasn’t sure if that would ever be our reality — but it is and I couldn’t be more thankful.

Attitude of Gratitude – Day 7

We have always tried to make a point of eating dinner together as a family as much as possible.  Our schedules are busy and Lloyd has traveled a lot — particularly this year.  The other night, Lloyd was gone and Jake and I sat down to eat.  Jake asked me how my day was and wondered if there were any stories that I wanted to tell about work.  It made me realize that this family time together really does make a difference and he has learned to approach meal time with the attitude that it is a fellowship time, rather than just a time to eat.

Tonight, he had a lot to say.  Anyone who knows Jake isn’t surprised by this — he always has a lot to say.  But, he was sharing things about his day that were important.  We got to talk about life lessons that he was learning through some things that were going on at school.  And, he isn’t completely self focused.  He always asks how our days were and wants to know what we did.  He even seems interested in our answers — at least for now.

Someday soon — a lot sooner than I like to think about — it will only be Lloyd and I at the dinner table.  I cherish our family meal time and am very grateful for it.

Attitude of Gratitude – Day 4

Jake.

He makes me laugh every day with his incredible sense of humor.  He once told me that he wants to be Jim Carrey when he grows up.  He loves slapstick, physical humor but he can also be wickedly ironic and his sense of comedic timing is amazing. 

He also has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  He cares about people and their feelings.  He can’t imagine why anyone would choose not to be nice.  He chooses to see the good in everyone, as best he can. 

He marches to the beat of his own drum.  Best of all, he’s okay with that.  I will never forget the day he told me that he WANTS to be different — that he’s THAT kind of person.  

There are so many things that I am grateful for.  But, most of all, I’m grateful that he’s happy…and that he isn’t afraid to dance and sing and jump for joy.

Attitude of Gratitude

I am generally what you would call a “glass half empty” kind of person.  Recently, a friend quipped that it’s not half empty — it’s just the wrong size glass.  And after some reflection, I think that actually nails it.  I think my glass is probably too big.  I expect too much from people.  Well…that’s isn’t exactly it either.  I WANT to expect more from people — all the while knowing that the bar is too high (and yes, I realize it raises the bar for myself exponentially).  And so, it sets up a cycle of expectations and disappointments until I finally just start bracing myself to be disappointed in hopes that I will be surprised.  And, for the record, I often am.

These past couple of days, I have been noticing a lot of “I’m grateful for…” posts on my facebook feed.  And, as much as it pains me to say…I think it’s a great idea.  You see, I’m not one to follow the crowd.  In fact, I tend to do the exact opposite of what the trend is.  While it would be easy (and perhaps entertaining) for me to post my pet peeve(s) of the day, I will spare you. 

My goal for this little project is to end the month with a clear picture that my glass is not half-empty.  And, it’s not the wrong size.  It’s actually a very large glass that overflows.

Since it’s November 3rd, I’ll start out with three

  • I’m grateful for my niece Madison, who celebrated her 11th birthday yesterday.  She is a beautiful young lady, whom I have loved watching grow up.  I miss her and her family a lot.
  • I’m grateful for my friend Darcy (for many reasons).  Today, it’s because she gave birth to her son Cameron on this day, 11 years ago.  He has been a loyal friend to Jake and I love they have the kind of friendship that transcends the miles between them.  I miss him and his family a lot as well.
  • Had I started this project on Nov 1st, this would have been my first post:  I’m grateful for my husband and that he loves me despite my short-comings.  I never dreamed I could have the kind of love we share.  In fact, I didn’t even know it existed.

Keep posting those grateful-isms.  I love seeing the simple ways in which our glasses are filled.