My daughter came home from Sunday school last week with a paper she was excited to share. “Mom,” she said, “we talked about being thankful at church.” Then she read me the questions on her sheet, plus her answers:
Think about your closet. How many shirts do you have? Sixty. (Just a wee bit high…but she does have a lot.)
If you looked in your fridge, how many things to drink would you find? Two. Milk and water. (Pretty accurate there. But the water is clean right there out of the tap, a modern miracle.)
How many pairs of shoes do you have? Thirty. (Ha ha, she’s way off on that one, but she probably has at least seven or eight.)
In your pantry, how many different things could you eat for breakfast? Eight. (We probably have at least eight types of cereal alone, plus breakfast bars and refrigerated stuff like eggs, bacon, and fruit.)
Has God provided for you more than you need? YES.
I loved this little exercise, not only because it got my eight-year-old thinking about how she’s been blessed, but because it reminded me, too, of the many ways we’ve been given far more than we really need. Compared to many people around the world, my family has so much.
My response to her was, “That’s right! And that’s why it’s so important for us to give to others.” I firmly believe this is true–we should give out of our abundance–but my second thought was a bit more convicting. More along the lines of, “Wait a minute, if we’re so blessed, why do I grumble and complain sometimes?”
It seems to be human nature to complain. I know I didn’t teach my kids how to do it–they popped into life already knowing how to whine, argue, and grumble about anything and everything. If you don’t have your own kids, just spy on the family at that nearby table next time you’re in a restaurant. If there’s anything possible to complain about, a kid will find it.
Honestly, I’m not sure we grown-ups are all that much better. The stuff we complain about just sounds more important. I’m so tired of cooking dinner every night. I wish I could get out of this dead-end job. Too bad we can’t afford a trip to Europe. My internet connection has to be the slowest one on the planet. Why is this computer trying to update during the middle of my writing session?
You get the picture. Now, I don’t want to downplay the fact we all face hardships. They might not be related to our physical safety or needs, but that doesn’t make them less difficult. Health issues, financial strain, problems in relationships… That stuff hurts. It’s hard. But how much of our complaining is really about the big stuff? And does complaining ever help?
Mine doesn’t. Usually makes me feel worse, in fact. And I think the key to dealing with it is right there in my daughter’s church paper–giving thanks. When we pause in the midst of our busyness and consider all the ways we’ve been blessed, all the ways we have more than we need, it’s a whole lot harder to complain. And better yet, if we get involved with giving and helping others, we might just forget about our complaints entirely.
So on this Thanksgiving eve, my challenge to us is to not only give thanks tomorrow, but also every time we find complaints rattling around in our heads. Together we can make this world a little bit better, one less complaint at a time.
As you know, I’ve been diving into a new WIP this month for NaNoWriMo. I started out on Day 1 with the goal of writing 800 words a day, which would put me at 25k for the entire month. That’s only half of the true NaNo goal of 50k, but for me, it would still count as a win.
That first day I wrote 2700 words (eeek). Even with baby and homeschooling and other life obligations. My family even had dinner. As of right now, with just under two weeks to go, I’m on track to hit 50k and officially win, and I’m soooo excited about making this kind of progress.
My writing time has always been a bit like squeezing blood out of a turnip, as the saying goes. Life is full and it’s easy to let writing go by the wayside. Having a huge goal like this could’ve been stressful, but instead it’s been freeing and really fun (most days…ha ha). I’ve given myself permission to postpone things that can be put off for a few weeks, and I love having so much focus during my writing time. I know exactly what I need to work on, and being a bit of an over-achiever, I love being able to update my word count each night on the NaNo website and seeing my stats. DUSK FOR DREAMS is already up to 40k and counting.
Having all this time to focus on one project has freed up the back of my mind to plan ahead for my other work. I won’t be able to finish the whole story this month (I’m aiming for around 80-85k for the entire draft), so I’ll need to keep working on it this winter. In December, I plan to finish my edits for FLASHBACK. Then I’ll complete the first draft of DUSK FOR DREAMS, and while it’s simmering, I have some ideas for how to revise my opening pages of KINGDOM OF STARS AND DUST and hopefully make it more appealing to literary agents.
Big plans, and plenty to do, but I’m excited to be making so much progress and to have some better goals in place.
One last update, on a more personal note: my littlest guy celebrated his first birthday today.
Where has the year gone?? Now that we’re done eating cake, I have pies to make for tomorrow.
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Image credit: CC0 license, pexels.com.