Gratitude Friday: Cookies, Water Parks, and Motherhood, Oh my…

Gratitude Friday

We ate steaks last night.

I feel like I should confess that after Tuesday’s post when I claimed my son’s fifth birthday was not fancy enough for steaks but a random Thursday night is TOTALLY fancy enough.

So I may be a lot of things but someone who hides her red meat consumption is not one of those things.

They were so yummy.

One of the reasons we were able to have steaks on a regular, ordinary Thursday? Our move last August. Now we have a nice butcher (and game meat processor) just down the road. It’s a complete Mom & Pop, country road, literal red shack butcher. We discovered them in the spring and bought our second package order this week. We changed things up a bit and got T-bone steaks and filets.

I love home.

In fact, this week, I love lots.

For what I believe is the third week in a row, I wrote a full Gratitude Friday post only to completely scrap it. This might be a “thing” I should anticipate. My original Gratitude Friday posts on my first blog were written on Friday and included a list, most of the time, of stuff from the week. And sometimes, I crave the simplicity of that.

Sometimes, going back to being grateful for something and everything helps point me towards the one thing. So this week, I’m doing just that.

Ambitious Kitchen

Oh, so many cookies.

I discovered this recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies on Pinterest, OF COURSE (the picture is her cookies) (they taste as good as they look). I have made two batches of these this week alone. One because my son lost his ever-lovin’ mind at his yearly checkup Monday and I felt I needed a little pick me up. The second batch came yesterday for no real reason. Kinda like the steaks. Nothing particularly special going on. Other than I wanted to bake them.

Do y’all do that kind of thing? Give yourself and your tribe a treat simply because it feels like a good moment to celebrate the ordinary?

A good meal. A surprise play date. A slushie from Sonic. A new movie snuggled under blankets on a rainy day. A CFA night out. Even a dollar to spend on ANYTHING at the dollar store. The special in no way has to be the expensive, too. Sometimes the special arrives in budget-friendly packages.

Like a warm batch of cookies.

Backyard pool

The gift of the water park we don’t even own.

Every night, the kids tell me what they are thankful for that day. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get them to participate. Occasionally, when they’re in a MOOD, I list all the wonderful things in our day FOR THEM and have them pick one. But last night, both eagerly participated.

My son listed his Chewbacca, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and ocean book. All things he currently held in his hands. I do not care AT ALL where they get their list or what they list. The point is to learn to be thankful for something. Every day.

Pumpkin listed the water park. And that was mine too.

We met some friends this week and we had a mother/daughter date, both at the local water park. I watched Pumpkin complete a water obstacle course approximately 1,516 times. Skillet made friends with every little boy who entered the pool because little boys seem to love to play water tag in herds. And I visited with my momma friend, simply enjoying the adult conversation.

Maybe y’all don’t have a water park but you have a splash pad or a neighbor’s pool or a baby pool you fill with water from the backyard hose or a slip-n-slip made out of a plastic drop cloth. Friends, we spent years doing all of the above.

Doesn’t matter. Magic happens when kids meet water.

The previous two summers, we swam every day possible in our pool in our own backyard. That house, the pool, felt like rest and peace to tired and weary souls. About this time last year, our small group gathered around and prayed over us as we prepared to leave our place of rest. And I ugly cried.

The water park instead of our own pool might seem like a sacrifice and no doubt, we miss our beautiful, tranquil space, but this house, this city, this neighborhood, this place has brought rejuvenation for our souls and a reacquainting for ourselves as a family and as neighbors and as friends.

Water park trumps owning our own backyard pool any day. Every day.

Motherhood

Motherhood is the best Hood.

Please, no one buy me a tee shirt with that on it (looking at you, Mom.)

But the sentiment? Spot on.

Summer reached a fever pitch for me and then the realization how little of it is left knocked the fever right out of me. Now I’m counting days because summer is almost over. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

Wait. Yes, I am. I’m mostly glad.

At the end of every event all summer long, the kids whine. I know. Such a total shock to find out children whine. But I would say to them, after I threatened to never return if they didn’t stop right now, “Let’s be glad we came instead of sad we’re leaving.”

And so that’s the way I’m gonna look at this summer coming to an end.

My expectations for this summer hovered near the underwhelming. I set my goals at the edge of wildly low deliberately. Some of them are based on my parenting philosophy of boredom births creativity. Some of them are based on a tight budget. And some were just flat based on my need for control.

Yep. I totally own that.

We excelled at hitting my underwhelming, wildly low summer expectations.

And in doing so, we have had just the best time.

I watched the kids build a castle from recycled bottles, napkins, and pictures cut out of the Bed, Bath, & Beyond catalog.

I witnessed my daughter begin to read and write legibly because the pressure was off and she got to explore her sight words and stage 1 readers and handwriting when labeling drawings of her Beanie Boos.

I came to a better understanding of Skillet as a true out-going, people-loving, makes-friends-easily extrovert.

And I got to see and explore and encourage them because I was present.

This isn’t about being a stay-at-home mom. This isn’t about being wealthy or poor. This isn’t even about only having two kids.

I am present – my expectations are low, my love of boredom, my willingness to let them pull every item out of the recycle bin into my living room floor – because I understand how close I came to having no children at all.

I believe our greatest victories produce the greatest gratitude.

And my greatest victory? Not having children. Not leaving my job. Not even managing to control every instinct in my soul to CLEAN UP THE MESS.

My greatest victory came when Christ called me His and He invited me to begin living a life rooted in Him and overflowing with thankfulness.

And because of Him, because of the transformative and redemptive and all-consuming love of Christ, I am able to sit on my couch crafting a gratitude list of homemade cookies warm right out of the oven for an ordinary Thursday (Something), a life where we gave up our own pool (the life we had) to get the bigger blessing of the water park (the life of starting over again) (Everything), and the humbling calling to be a joint-heir with Christ (One Thing).

What about y’all? Do you have something or an everything or the One Thing to be grateful for this week?

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