Dear World

*Today’s letter is written by fellow blogger and wonderful writer Toi Thomas.*

Dear World,

Sometimes life gets hard in ways that are difficult to explain. You look around to your support group, the people you have in your life like family and friends, for comfort but sometimes it’s not quite enough. You don’t want to come off as ungrateful or selfish, but sometimes it really doesn’t help your situation when your mom, or sister, your husband, or bestie tells you for the hundredth time that they love you and believe in you. Sometimes it takes a familiar stranger, an acquaintance, a work friend, a colleague, or a fellow club or group member to really get through to you… And when that happens, it changes your whole outlook.

I’m more than blessed to have the family and friends I have. They love me and support me, but there’s another group of people and few very special ones who have impacted my life, and I’d like to say thank you to them now. Thank you to all the people I’ve met online who have actually had conversations with me, not just liked a post or commented on a picture or shared a video. I’m grateful for making real true connections with people that last.

I’m grateful and blessed to have encountered open-minded people from diverse backgrounds who have agreed to disagree on certain matters and who choose to live in harmony with those who are different from them. These are the people who openly and peacefully express their opinions and then step aside so you may do the same.

I’m blessed to live in a country where I can believe what I want and still have the freedom to express myself as an individual and to make friends with people who do the same. I accept the fact that I may not be able to be best friends with everyone I encounter, but I can reach of level of respect that goes beyond common curtesy, to creativity, professionalism, and new ideals for friendship.

There have been many times when I’ve felt lost and disconnected from the people around me, in life and on the web, and in those moments I was blessed to have someone reach out to me. Thank you M.C.V. Egan for being who you are and making a difference in my life. Thank you Tricia Drammeh for being who you are and making a difference in my life. Thank you Chrystal Erickson for being who you are for more making a difference in my life.

Toi Thomas Nov 14Thank you Tori J. Jones for being the best sister I could have ever asked for. Thank you for being who you and for making a difference in my life. Your prayers, your guidance, and your example are more precious to me than gold.

I thank you, God, for all these encounters, opportunities, and people in my life; whether for a life time or a moment in time.

Love,

Toi

Day 22–Ur-ine love

*Thanks to my college buddy, Shannon Dickerson, for writing today’s post as part of the 28 days of love project. Check out her personal blog as well.*

little dogToday I had an appointment with the carpet cleaning people.  I came home from school and waited patiently on the representative to come in and provide an estimate and/or clean the carpet.  Finally, the door bell rang.  I looked through the glass and immediately thought, “This must be the owner’s son.  He can’t be more than 18 years old.”  Regardless of his youthful appearance, he came in and began to walk through the house and ask questions about my expectations and concerns with the carpet.  I kindly answered his questions.  He inquired about a “black light inspection”.  I kind of hesitated because of my knowledge of black lights and the fact that they reveal all of your dirty secrets…literally.  I agreed to the inspection after warning him about the reality of finding dog urine in the carpet.  Yes, I know it is gross, but several months ago I had a moment of temporary insanity that you can read about here.

Turning off the lights and walking through the house with his black light, he said, “Is all this from the same dog?”  I immediately wanted to lie and tell him I had no idea because I was really the neighbor instead of the owner.  Humbled, I decided that I should grow up and address the question.  Using my best teacher voice and attitude, I did answer his question with a question of my own. I said, “Why? Looking at the carpet, would you assume otherwise?”  He kindly responded, “Well, most of the urine spots are tiny.  But, over here I found a large spot.”  I cringed and said, “Most of the urine spots sounds like a lot.  Is it really that bad?”  He recognized my look of panic and explained that he didn’t find as many spots as he has seen in some homes.  However, the ones he found were all quarter size and then he found one spot that was more like basketball size.  Immediately putting the pieces of the puzzle together, I kind of grinned.  I and said, “Oh. Well. We, uh, do only have one tiny dog in the house, but we also potty trained a toddler last summer.”  I truly thought the poor kid was going to choke.  I later found out that he is old enough to be married and has a three month old baby girl.  I assume he hasn’t considered the fact that all the urine he has cleaned in houses might not belong to the four-legged animals.  Now he knows what he has to look forward to as well.

I’m sure by now you are wondering how this relates to gratitude.  It eventually does.

While the living area was drying and waiting for the furniture to be returned to the normal position, I was truly challenged as a mother.  All three girls thought it was incredibly awesome to have the couch in the middle of the kitchen/dining floor.  They actually squealed as they sat on the couch by the table and said, “We really get to eat on the couch today?”  They were into everything.  Blake was insistent that I paint her toenails purple and fingernails pink while Taylor was attempting to eat everything she could get into her mouth.  Kennedy was wandering around in a state of hormonal bliss, anticipating her “date” to church within the hour.  The phone rang about 1.4 million times while that sweet little dog barked and scratched at the back door because she was cold and wet.  If you have a child or have ever been within 10 square miles of one, you know the kind of day I was having.  Oh, and to make it all better, this Diet Coke addict was on hour number 48 without caffeine.  It was a conglomeration of unfortunate events.

Finally, it was bed time for the girls.  As Taylor was saying her prayers (after I yelled at her again for stopping in the kitchen for another bite of food), she prayed, “Dear God, thank you for today and all the things you have given me.  Please help me make better choices tomorrow.  I know I did not make good choices today so please, please help me tomorrow…amen.”

big famWow.  I felt like I had been picked up and shaken.  Although it’s not pleasant to think about, or broadcast online, I realized that my life, especially my mothering, is a lot like our nasty carpet.  On the surface it appears relatively clean, but careful scrutiny reveals some urine spots.  And, all of those spots didn’t necessarily come from the most obvious source.   I am impatient and quick to judge my children’s behavior.  I probably have unrealistic expectations.  I certainly get frustrated at times and say “those things” that only “those parents” might say.  And in typical mom fashion, after a day like today, I begin to doubt my ability to shape emotionally-healthy, responsible young ladies.

Tonight, Taylor’s precious prayer reminded me that just like the kid came in with a special light and saw the spots on our carpet, when I asked him to, he essentially erased them.  I am incredibly grateful that my God can look at me, see my spots, hear my words and erase my blemishes.  I have been a believer for a long time.  However, I’ve struggled with the reality of God erasing and forgetting my sin because I personally have such a hard time with “forgetting”.  Today, God opened my eyes and my heart.  Within minutes of getting the last child to sleep, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s Facebook status.  She said, “You have the exact qualities God knew your kids would need in a mother.  So, each day, hold up your willingness and ask God to make you the best version of you that you can possibly be.”

I never imagined that urine would be involved in my daily walk as a Christian.  I appreciate that my God can use the most unusual circumstances to get my attention.  I am working on feeling at peace with my shortcomings as a mother, and I do cherish those timely words by Lysa TerKeurst.  This daily walk with kids, dogs, jobs, expectations is certainly not always pretty; however, I can now say that I am grateful for what I learned from the stains left behind.

 

 

Getting the morning back

Yesterday I had a relentless migraine that materialized before I ever got out of bed. My goal was to complete my last research paper for graduate school by bedtime yesterday; I finished six of eight pages, but I decided I’d be better off finishing it minus the nausea, pain, and throbbing which overwhelmed me. I went to bed last night after taking what little medication I’m allowed to take while pregnant and hoped–rather, prayed–for the best. Okay, let’s be honest–I BEGGED for relief!

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (one of my many nightly breaks from sleeping) and ate a small snack, thinking a full belly would be more conducive to completing the six hours of sleep I had hoped for.

Fortunately, God had other plans. As I lay there attempting to get cozy enough to lull my exhausted self back to sleep, I found myself humming hymns to our baby, praying for people I hadn’t even thought of in months, and contemplating a potential plan to earn extra income after the birth of our baby. After making coffee and reheating my corn pillow heating pad, and realizing that attempting to fall back asleep for a mere 30 minutes was futile, I succumbed to my apparent refusal to sleep and got up out of bed.

Me in all my morning glory while camping with my family, 2010

As I poured my one tiny cup of coffee for the day, I found myself whispering, “Thank You!”

In that moment, I recognized that God did for me what I could not do for myself. He woke me up, without any nausea (which is no minor miracle for me these days), and gave me a reprieve from the unbearable pain I’d been feeling for over 36 hours. He wouldn’t let me go back to sleep, but in exchange for another hour of sleep, I gained valuable solace with Him and the opportunity to get my mornings back–even if only for today.

I wasn’t always a morning person, but the past two years, I’ve slowly evolved into one. Prior to pregnancy, I woke up every day, regardless of my plans or schedule, at least an hour prior to beginning my daily duties and routine. I spent this hour reading the Bible, meditating on Scripture, and blogging about the blessings in my life.

Since becoming pregnant, I’ve been plagued almost non-stop with a multitude of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms forced me to adapt my schedule and sacrifice my precious morning time with God. I still found ways to sneak in time with Him, but for me, it hasn’t felt the same.

As I took my first sip of the one tiny cup of coffee I’ll have today, I literally almost cried. It actually tasted heavenly. Coffee, as many of you know, is one of the great loves of my life. Since becoming pregnant, I’ve often become nauseated at the smell of it brewing. The fact that I actually savored a sip of coffee this morning struck me as a gift from God.

Time to sing to my baby and pray for my friends. New ideas. A sense of physical well-being. Nuggets of wisdom from digging through God’s word. Enjoyment from a sip of coffee.

These are all gifts God has already given me today, and I haven’t even technically begun my day.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Thank You, God, for giving me the morning back.