Everyday Gifts

It was a deep clean kind of Saturday. I scrubbed the boy’s bathtub and cleaned the toilet and wiped down the mirror and countertops. I went through their bathroom cabinets and threw away things we didn’t need, taking notice that we had five partially used tubes of toothpaste, caps with half dried paste stuck to them. I did four loads of laundry and put them all away in their respective closets and dressers. I peeled several potatoes and cut them into small cubes and got things going in my crockpot for a potato chowder recipe while I continued to clean. I scrubbed our dirty shower floor and the lime stains off our shower door and went as far as to even scrub the baseboards of our bathroom and finished by mopping the floor.

After all of the scrubbing, I focused my attentions to finishing dinner. I made up some garlic cheddar biscuits to go with our potato and ham chowder. The hot creamy soup and warm biscuits felt like the perfect thing to eat on a cold January night, carbs and all. I sat around the table with my little family of four and we ate together. I made the usual negotiations with my youngest on how many bites he had to eat before he could bite in to the much anticipated cheesy biscuit. We filled our bellies with warm food and we laughed and talked. After dinner, I only semi-cleaned the kitchen because I really dislike doing the dishes. Todd got ready to leave for a night of driving and I got the boys ready for bed with baths and teeth-brushing, story-reading and song-singing. They went to bed and I took a hot bath.

It was a long, hard-working, simple and sweet, very good day.

I suppose there was nothing extraordinary about my day at all. It might even sound like a drag to spend a weekend doing housework where you find yourself on your knees cleaning grime off of baseboards. At one point during all of the scrubbing, I found myself tearing up and uttering a “Thank you” prayer to God. Thank you for bringing me here. Thank you for holding me and holding my family and holding my home when I could not. Thank you for bringing me to that season and through that season and bringing me out of it. Thank you for my health. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus.

Exactly one year ago, I was in the hospital. Memories of blown IV’s, awful pain and lonely, fearful nights feel tangible in my memory. I stayed there for the entire month of January being treated for a terrible infection that started with diverticulitis and ended with a major surgery to remove part of my colon. Knowing exactly where I was one year ago this very day, has given me a heightened sense of awareness of the present and how good it feels to be healthy and well. What a joy it was to be scrubbing my grimy shower and stepping on Legos as I carried the next load of laundry to the living room to be folded. How sweet to be negotiating food choices with my son and avoiding my dirty dishes. What deep gratitude I had for my husband to leave us that night to work his second job to provide the extra income we are needing.

That difficult season changed something in me as big life things often do. A sudden job loss, a major illness, death of a loved one, a divorce, a miscarriage, some unspeakable tragedy – whatever hardship you have known, they deeply mark and wound all of us. We are all living wounded. Some days we live out of those aching, sore spots and others, we live out of the healing and hope that we’ve experienced.

A couple of months ago, my Grandfather, who we all affectionately refer to as “Poppy,” turned 83 years old. We had a small family celebration for him with lunch and cake and ice-cream. The candles on his cake were lit like sparklers that you might see on the 4th of July and as we sang Happy Birthday, we all belly laughed at his reaction to his cake and these crazy candles. All of his great-grandchildren were close by, his heritage and legacy at his fingertips, and for one moment, we were all there, all singing and happy and laughing. The moment was so tender, so hilarious, so deeply precious that after it was over I burst into tears and asked Todd to hold me. Something about the moment was so glorious that I was overcome with emotion.

I’ve been learning that the sweetest days of our lives are often the ones that we haven’t planned for.

They never seem to happen on summer vacation or even Christmas day, but instead, they are tucked and folded into to quiet Tuesday evenings and spontaneous gatherings. I found mine in between my potato chowder and my gross shower floor this weekend, in putting away Batman underwear and singing “You are My Sunshine” for the thousandth time. I found it in November, watching my Poppy attempt to blow out his candles, his face radiating with inexplicable joy.

As I move further away from a season of life that left its mark on me, mind, body and soul, I pray I continue to greet my days with the gratitude and deep joy I have come to know as a result of it. I want to live from my woundedness in a way that keeps me in touch with the everyday gifts around me….

Cream swirling into black coffee, turning caramel.
Blonde feathered hair just after bath time.
Crumbs on my dining room table after dinner.
Light saber wars in the dark with my boys.
My head tucking perfectly under Todd’s chin, feeling safe in his embrace.

What are the everyday gifts you notice?