A Grateful Heart

Words can be such a comfort and a blessing. They can change a day by being the pivotal moment, bringing light in the darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, laughter in remembering.

Today a dear friend sent me a picture of her daily calendar. No message, just the photo. The January 15 entry:

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed.

Proverbs 11:25

It moved me to tears. Tears of remembering, of gratitude, of joy.

Today was Mama’s birthday. Our ninth without her here. I didn’t want today to be about being sad about that. She would not like that one bit. When my friend sent me this message, she had no idea it was Mama’s birthday. Or that this verse describes my Mama so well. Mama blessed so many people during her life, and gratitude was her focus. Even after the love of her life passed on, she continued to find things to be grateful for. Every. Single. Day. The last gift she gave me was a gratitude journal. I was not in a place at the time to fully appreciate it, as I missed my Daddy, and just a few short months later, she was gone from this world as well.

But over the years, I remember and I think about how she found things–big and small–to be thankful for. To give thanks and praise for. She never ceased letting others and her Creator know how thankful she was–no gifts or blessings too small.

Time and timing are fascinating to me. And with the message today and another one I received earlier in the week, I was reminded of my Mama, on her birthday, and to be thankful. To my Mama for the blessing she was and continues to be in my life. And I’m thankful for those who have reminded me, without even realizing it, of how she lived her life.

In honor of Mama and Daddy’s anniversary in December (this would have been their 54th), I created a wish list for a young teacher who teaches children for whom books are not always readily available. So many of you reached out and sent gifts to her classroom, and it blessed my heart. Thank you all for taking time to lift up this young teacher, with thoughts, words, prayers, and gifts. For whichever way you blessed her and her students–I am grateful. And so is she. Miss M sent me this note and asked that I pass it along. (Amazon doesn’t always make it easy to thank senders on a wish list, and she didn’t want to miss anyone.)

Dear Friends: As I’ve watched box after box arrive with books and supplies for my classroom, I’m reminded once again of how God works through the hearts of His people. I arranged all of them on their little shelves for them to come back Wednesday, and the first thing they wanted to do was grab them and start flipping through the pages. I don’t know to adequately say thank you enough on behalf of all of them! You’ve blessed a young teacher’s heart. And what is normally a hectic time of coming back to school after Christmas was made a little easier and a little more fun. Thank you all for your generosity to us!

Ms. M and her Kindergarten Class

Gratitude. Mama would have loved Miss M…..and her sweet students.

Today I’m thankful for friends who send photos without really knowing why, for teachers who love and encourage and empower young children each and every day, and for people who send books and supplies for children they will likely never meet. On this day of remembering my Mama, I am thankful for the way she loved books, loved children, and loved sharing books with children. I remember how she so enjoyed giving gifts and how her presence was the greatest gift of all. In a world where things can seem so frightening and chaotic at times, the reminder of what Mama’s last gift to me–that gratitude journal– encourages me to focus on, brings me some comfort and peace.

“Find something, just one thing, anything, to be thankful for, Tara. We are so blessed,” she would say. “The Lord loves a grateful heart.”

Thank you, Mama. Love you. And thank you, friends.

Love to all.

If you would like to send a book or crayons and haven’t had a chance to yet, here is Miss M’s Wishlist . Thank you all again!

The Little Light…..It’s not on, Clark

This is a public service announcement:

Please make sure your children know that any and all light outages should be reported to those in charge–namely, you.

New Year’s Day started off lovely. Miss Sophie and I had a long, pleasant January summer (Georgia–check the calendar please) walk, and the rain didn’t come like we thought it would. When we got back I went to our freezer in the garage, as I was preparing our traditional dinner, and I noticed the things didn’t feel quite so cold or crunchy. They felt wet and soggy. Oh NO! Y’all, at some point the power outlet that the freezer was plugged into had shorted or whatever they do when there’s a storm and it clicks off and has to be reset. I immediately shifted my schedule around in my mind, as I knew that my priority had to be on assessing what had defrosted and what was still frozen.

I went inside to put down a couple of salvageable items and to grab my wits and wherewithal. This was going to require both. I saw Cooter, who had prepared frozen pizzas for him and his sister during our “lit” New Year’s Eve party the night before. Remembering this, I asked him, “Hey bud, was the light off in the freezer when you grabbed your pizzas last night?”

“Yes ma’am,” he answered, pretty distracted by the pregame show for the upcoming football game. (Are you kidding me right now?!)

“Ummm, buddy, what did you think was going on? Why didn’t you come tell me?” I tried to hide my frustration. I really did, but ummmmm…..

“I just figured the light was out,” he shrugged. Teenage boys, y’all. Check on your friends with them, we might not be okay. (Just kidding–I love him as I love my teenage daughter, but their brains are still figuring out the circuits and sometimes I think they need to be reset.). Also, maybe we should be more attentive to replacing bulbs that are out in our home *try to remember if I’ve shrugged when someone has commented about a bulb being out*–yep, I might have brought this on myself. *sigh*

After educating Cooter on the importance of telling me when said light is out or not coming on or the interior of the freezer is dark for ANY reason, I moved on to my next project–trying to save as much as possible by cooking what was still cold.

Life is so funny. I once heard that what you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll be doing all year long. I take that very seriously. Just as seriously as not doing laundry or sweeping on New Year’s. I even plan out what would be good. Do I want to take a nap–so that hopefully that opportunity will present itself more often in the coming weeks and months? Or do I want to keep on pushing through the day, accomplishing all of the things to set a great precedent for the year? I even sat my people down talking to them about their task of unloading the dishwasher, so I wouldn’t be *nagging* on New Year’s. I definitely don’t want that to be a thing all year long.

So here I was. After planning so carefully, I was having to shift everything around and be a good steward of what we had and try to save as much as possible. In addition to our traditional black-eyed peas and collard greens, for their dining pleasure, I also offered burgers, macaroni and cheese, okra, broccoli, spinach bites, veggie burgers, and French fries. A veritable smorgasbord, not exactly traditional. It was and is laughable.

So if that set precedent for the New Year, here’s how I’m reading it. May 2022 be a year of doing what is needed to be a good steward of what we have, a year of being flexible in the face of a need to change plans, and a year of laughing in the face of adversity. Did it go as I had hoped? No, but my unplanned abundance brought family around the table–including ones who don’t live here, and there was laughter and requests for seconds and mismatched crazy food on plates. And today there were plenty of leftovers, as there are for tomorrow, so as we get back into the swing of things–I don’t have to cook.

Though completely unexpected and in no way wished for, not a bad precedent to set for this year. The year I have deemed as the one where I will figure it all out. Or at least make the effort.

Love to all.

PS–You might all be pleased to know that my putting off defrosting my freezer saved a lot of our food. That piled up ice really kept things cold. (So no, that is not a photo of my actual freezer–bless it.) Procrastinating for the win! *sigh*