Tag Archives: grace in small things

That Christmas when hangers were the best gift

I was looking through some old pictures yesterday and came across one that made me laugh out loud:

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He’s three years old in that picture. For a reason that will forever baffle (and amuse) me, he decided that day to call hangers (as in clothes hangers) hookers. He opened a gift of clothes and said loudly “Oh man there are hookers in this box.” Which of course made all the adults in the room laugh. When you’re three and you make people laugh, you keep it going. Every gift that had hangers would be shown to J, who would grab them and excitedly wave them around “YAY!!! MORE HOOKERS!!!”

I can’t wait until he’s old enough for me to explain why that’s so funny.

It was good for me to find something that made me laugh because I’ve felt very affected by sad news all around me lately – both close to home and far away in a world I can’t really even picture. It seems that everywhere I turn, I hear something angry or violent or sad. I’ve been doing some Advent reflections (not as often as I’d like) and the image I’ve been focusing on is that of a single candle. Its flickering flame is that of Emmanuel – Christ with us. My job is to shield that flame, to tend its fire, to help it shine in my little corner of the world. This week it shone on me when I found that picture and laughed all over again. It’s also shone on…

  • the laughter of my kids
  • a surprise breakfast with my son
  • a faith sharing group that has been an oasis of calm this month
  • crossing things off a list that is slowly but surely dwindling
  • receiving Christmas cards (I love Christmas cards)
  • listening to my daughter play the clarinet
  • watching my oldest swim – and goof around with her friends on deck
  • a 10yo who lets me read Christmas stories to him (sometimes)

By the way, my second favorite Christmas story is when my oldest was three years old (three is a great age). She had the lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town slightly off and we spent as much time as possible asking her to march or dance around the room singing it over & over:

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not poop
I’m telling you why…

To this day, my brother teaches his kids to sing the song that way as a joke. Kids are so fun.

’tis the season to be thankful

Thanksgiving is next week – NEXT WEEK! It’s been a busy month around here so it almost feels like it snuck up on me. The fact that it will be December when I get back from our Thanksgiving… well that’s a little mind blowing. It’s funny how the months can zoom past while the days drag on (every day has felt like Thursday this week – it’s been a neverending week). So here’s what I’m thankful for this week before I get caught up in all the turkey day preparations.

  • The grin on my son’s face as he cheered on his teammates in last night’s spell bowl
  • Finding time for short runs every day – runs that lift my spirits even as they freeze my face
  • Family dinner conversations & laughter
  • Flannel sheets
  • Watching 20, 8/9 year old kids close their eyes and pray for the recipients of their shoebox gifts (don’t tell them I watched, we were supposed to have our eyes closed!)

Grace in small things

I’m a week away from marathon weekend – an event that has consumed a lot of my plans and thoughts every day for months. If I’m being honest, it’s an event that has consumed my thoughts for a year because this time last year I had my goal race in mind and now I’m making it reality. (And since I’m being honest I should also admit that it’s something that has weighed heavily on my mind since my first marathon in 2011. Think there’s some emotion invested in this race??) This post is a good opportunity to shake off some marathon jitters and focus my energy on something else – even if it is for just a few moments.

This week I found grace in…

  • 20 strong miles beneath brightening blue skies, past blazing fall colors, beside my favorite Lake.
  • Fall colors (yes, again) because they seem particularly bright & beautiful this year.
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  • Shirts with thumbholes
  • Honest conversations
  • A night in the city with my favorite person by my side
  • Go, Dog, Go

I just looked at my blog history to link that last point to its story and it appears to not be posted. It must have happened before I started this blog because it’s a really good story that came up in conversation this week: The spring after we moved here I took my children to a Chicago Children’s Theater production of the Dr. Seuss story Go, Dog, Go. (Technically that book is authored by PD Eastman but it’s in the Dr. Seuss collection.) I don’t think it was the first show for the girls but it was for little J who was only two years old. I was afraid he might get antsy and not pay attention but the show was being held in a large circus tent in Grant Park so I figured it was as good a first show as any.

Here we are at the park before the show! (kids ages 9, 7 & 2)
Here we are at the park before the show! (kids ages 8, 6 & 2)

Turns out, J loved the show most of all. We were seated on bleachers around the tent and he stood next to me on the seat to see better. He was as quiet and still as I’d ever seen him. And then he started laughing – those people dressed as colorful dogs just struck him as hilarious. My oldest remembers this clearly as well, J laughed and laughed and laughed – those ridiculously contagious toddler giggles. He laughed so hard his legs grew weak and he could barely stand. He laughed so hard that people all around were craning their necks trying to find the source of such great merriment. Oh… it will always be one of my most favorite memories.

Graces for finally Friday

It’s been one of those weeks where every day felt like Thursday. Monday night: “Wait… you mean tomorrow isn’t Friday??” This morning on the walk to school J asked, “Today IS Friday isn’t it?” Yes, finally… Friday is here!

I don’t have anything fantastic to look forward to this weekend so I’m not sure why I needed it to be Friday so badly. (Well, a 20 mile run this weekend is something fantastic because I’m doing 7 on my own and then heading over to the start line of a half marathon along the shores of my favorite Lake and will be surrounded by beautiful fall colors. So there’s that.)

At any rate… here are some graces that lightened up my week while I was waiting for Friday to finally arrive.

  • A fun book to read. The past few books I’ve read have just been okay so it’s fun to have something that I’m really enjoying on my nightstand.
  • Glorious fall colors that popped up all week long
  • Sunshine today after a week full of gloom and rain
  • Sending my beautiful daughter off to her first homecoming dance
  • It's obvious in that picture that she did not inherit those legs from me.
    It’s obvious in that picture that she did not inherit those legs from me.
  • Having my meetings end early enough that I got to surprise my family with cupcakes from our favorite Indy bakery. And watching my kids write “dibs” on the box for their preferred flavors.

Bonus: I bought 6 cupcakes. That means there’s an extra one waiting for me today and I didn’t even have to put dibs on it. 🙂

Grace in small things – even in a frustrating week

This is the week I tried to get my head above water. I’m still treading. I don’t think I’m going to get everything done today that I should which means next week will be a little behind too. It’s frustrating. By & large it’s been a frustrating week. One of those weeks where there’s just so much to be done and not enough hours in the day to do it. I’m hoping for some downtime this weekend to rejuvenate a bit.

Once again, this is just the kind of week where I really need to find and appreciate the grace-filled moments.

  • Taking my kids out to lunch on their half day.
  • Remembering all the various library due dates that are floating around this house.
  • Conquering the ravioli maker.
  • Dinner & a movie with my husband – it was like a real date. (And Gone Girl is such a good movie!)
  • The moon in all its huge, bright, fall fullness.
  • Having grouchy Joyce the bag lady tell me I’m her favorite customer.

The middlest – the child who has never been a morning person – just told me she is exhausted and wants nothing to do with the high school football game tonight that the rest of the family will be attending. (Nothing unusual about that.) I suggested we watch a movie while we eat dinner and then go to bed early with a book. She loves it. Do we know how to party on a Friday night or what?!? I’m not going to lie… I’m pretty excited about our plan. I need some serious downtime this weekend.