Monday, December 1, 2014

Gratitude - It's How Happy People Live

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All weekend long I thought I'd find time to write this post. But the week and weekend were full. With children all around, and the house in messy transition from one season to the next.

The girls were out of school all week. I know they weren't feeling the love when I went berserk over a large amount of spilled nail polish on the carpet downstairs. But I really was glad they were home. 

You know, it's interesting, the more I read and learn about parenting, the more I realize the most effective skills aren't intuitive. They aren't things that come naturally. In fact it takes an incredible amount of discipline to develop them enough that they are natural.

I'm trying hard to bite my tongue when angry, turn a blind eye to much, correct only when necessary, reroute my language into the positive - into terms of ownership and choices. And at the end of most days, after all that effort, I still see the trail of mess-ups. 

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So before bed, I kneel. I pray for forgiveness. And next to the mess-ups I count blessings. The bigger than we deserve blessings, as well as the little. And they always outweigh the mess-ups.

I say thank you for our beautiful life and commit to tomorrow. To getting enough rest, reading scripture as soon as I can in the morning, and to love. I pray for charity. God's love. Love beyond my own. Because I can't do the day without it.

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We made a thankful turkey this year instead of tree. And look. Our feathers runneth over!

So before we move on to December, I wanted to list some of our blessings. Gifts I've been considering the last week. Things I can't imagine living without.

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I know I mentioned this above. But it's at the top of my list this year. I need it desperately. Every day. I had no idea motherhood would stretch me into things I both loved and despised. Some days my behavior is so immature, I feel I've regressed into my own childhood. Other days, I feel I've transcended to a place of joy and knowing I never could have discovered without children.

Forgiveness, of course, is only made possible by a loving God. A Father who gave his Son. And a Son who gave his life. A Son who is my Savior.

I am so grateful for forgiveness. Not just for me, but for my children. That they can mend hurts, forgive each other, forgive me.

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I caught this moment Wednesday. Watched it play out from the living room with my camera. Notice the ever-present laundry, a crib-bed dismantled, new furniture waiting to go into the boys' room, boxes and piles everywhere.

And three girls. Two of them bickering over something. Eliza hurt Sami's feelings and you can see it in Sam's face. She's not quite ready to accept an apology.

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But she did accept it. And to my surprise, she quickly walked over to Eliza, knelt down, and gave her a hug.

Forgiveness. God's gift to us. Our gift to others.

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It isn't the newest or prettiest. In fact, it's the one on the street that needs the most work. But it is warm and safe. And many days I remind myself, it's not the home that matters but the life lived there.

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I'm so grateful these children have somewhere to sleep. Somewhere to eat. And most weeks (if I made it to the grocery store) a refrigerator full of food. I'm thankful that here, they know they belong. They contribute. They feel significant.

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No matter what it looks like, there's no place like home.

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This good daddy spent all day Wednesday putting together bunk beds for the boys. Twice. (The first time he did it backwards. Such a bummer.) I am grateful he does so much without being asked. Dishes, vacuuming, stories, brushing tiny teeth, pruning rose bushes, replacing light bulbs. He follows behind, taking care of the things I can't find time for.

He is kind to me, to our children. Never wants praise or attention. And works so hard to provide for all we have. A supportive spouse, fully-commited, is a true gift. I couldn't live this life without him.

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A week ago we went ice-skating with Doug's work. The Arvy Ice Capades are quite the spectacle. Our debut, a few months ago, was especially spectacular. So don't blink. We're all vertical in this photo, and mostly smiling.

This was actually very fun. We laughed. Doug and I skated together for a bit. And all together we downed 30+ donuts and 14 cups of hot chocolate.

What would life be without our five? Without the joy? The unspeakable joy children bring. Honestly, sometimes I can't speak what I'm feeling. The swelling inside my heart. The way I want to fold them into my arms and never let go. It's a feeling only parents know. Parents who want children, care for them, and love them more than life itself.

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My spirit would wither without nature. I need to be out in it. To feel the wind against my face, the sun on my skin. Every day I need to see the way the light and clouds combine on the mountain. It's why I run the canyon alone. It's why I love to be out in blustery weather. It's why I love having a yard, and leaves to rake, and plants to tend. I find God there. I connect with my children there.

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In October we pressed dozens and dozens of leaves. Wednesday we brought them out to make leaf cards. To pen love notes into or give as gifts. 

I always see God's love for us in nature.

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Every week I take these two friends to sewing class and I think how grateful I am that they have each other. Katherine belongs to my Kara. You know Kara by now, yes? Dearest friend of my soul for years. Her daughter Katherine is Eliza's best friend. They are comfortably themselves with each other. Happy. Their best them.

Good friends like this are unusual, divine. 

Bosom friends, as Anne would say.

And our life is blessed with devoted friends. Many who live near us, many who don't. Many who will read this. You have formed us, cultivated parts of us, made us who we are.

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And as my girls get older, it delights me to see them becoming real friends.

This was their impromptu performance of "Frozen" on Thanksgiving Eve. It was darling. Performed with lights off and flashlights as spotlights. Each of them did a solo piece. Ali was Ana, Eliza was Elsa, and Sami was Olaf. 

I loved Ali's pink high tops, Eliza's mini-mini crown, and Sami's carrot nose.

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And this was our Thanksgiving dinner. With the Arveseth Family. First time sharing this meal with Doug's parents since their mission in New Zealand. I felt so grateful for all of them as we sat around the table, shared feelings and stories. 

Families are God's way of caring for us, keeping us strong, and reminding us that we matter to someone.

All week long I thought about gratitude and how it is the only way to live. It's the way happy people live. And I can honestly say, we are happy. 

You'll love this tender message on giving thanks.

Hope you and yours had a lovely holiday. That gratitude is keeping you happy too.


  1. I couldn't help but think that my "Kara" in my life is Mavis :) aren't those kinds of friends almost once in a lifetime blessings?

    1. Truly. That makes me smile so big. Love you. Love Mavis. :) So blessed.

  2. That turkey! I see lots of thankfulness!!

  3. Love you, Cath. And your beautiful, grateful heart.


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