Friday, March 9, 2012

How Stretching Muscles Changes Everything

It may be still snowy around here - with a surprising squall today - but spring is coming. We can feel it. The birds are coming back, and Miss Goldfinch is getting more brazen at the feeder by my kitchen window. We stood nearly eye to eye the other day, she and I, and I felt it a privilege to watch her dine; me in my apron on one side of the glass, and on the other,  she in soft yellow-gray feathers, sharp little beak, and tiny darting black eyes.

We enjoyed several long walks in the past week, and the same trails we usually enjoy in warmer weather are refreshingly different in the slushy snow - landmarks buried but still identifiable, fun to see in a different light. That different light is so good this time of year, when every homeschooling mom seems to speak of burnout and kids need a change as well.

We stretch our muscles as we walk and stretch our minds as we notice things – deer tracks in the woods, see that bark missing there? Do you suppose he ate it? Look at that – a wasp’s nest! What do you suppose it’s made of? And most fascinating of all, why are there pockets of warm, and then colder air as we walk along?

As we go, I breathe it all in and silently count blessings and this stretches muscles too.
Those thanksgiving muscles – they need their exercise. I realized long ago that some people are more naturally cheerful than others; some wake up smiling and look easily on the bright side, and others are more pensively broody. I would be the latter type by nature, but years ago, as a young mom, I became determined to try to change – with God’s help.

It was exercise that did it – the exercise of giving thanks. I began counting blessings - before sleep each night: at least ten blessings listed. Before feet hit floor upon waking: prayers for joy and the Fruits of the Spirit, and a prayer for eyes opened to blessings and a heart of thanksgiving.

Here’s the thing I found on my search for blessings: most of them were in the small, the overlooked, the moments that don’t pass this way again and that we so easily forget if we don’t take the time to notice and breathe thanks. Two small helpers in footie pajamas stirring pancake batter; nightly tea with husband; cats perched on porch railing; hummingbird visiting the clothesline. My list grew, and my heart began to change.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Then, through the years, came tough times – things you don’t plan for and that rock your world and what is there to give thanks for? Amazingly, I found not only that there was much to be thankful for, but that thanksgiving changed me most at those times. Sometimes it’s a sacrifice of praise through tears that pulls us closer to our maker and connects us to our purpose of giving Him glory.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

And so I’m remembering now, in this month of March, to stretch thanksgiving muscles along with legs, and I’m trying a new discipline – writing those blessings down and numbering them. Small black notebook, bedside, receives pencil scratches each night as I review the day’s treasures in my mind. This week, among my 50 recorded blessings and countless others, I am thankful for:

-         flashes of red and yellow at the feeder (cardinal and goldfinch couples)
-         long walk through God’s handiwork of trees and mud and rocky slopes
-         candlelight on Lenten spiral at dinner
-         Husband cooking dinner – and washing dishes
-         29 years of dating my best guy
-         laughter with boys and dog
-         purr of cat, contentedly curled upside down at my side
-         Wrestler baking brownies
-         lively narrations and great conversation with boys
-         laughter with Artist

Giving thanks and

Trusting in Him,


1 comment:

  1. Such a good reminder today. Why is it that complaining comes so easily, but it's like pulling teeth for my heart to remain thankful?!