Thursday, November 28, 2013

In ALL things, give thanks...

I would love to always write about the good stuff and say that life is always happy here, but I’d be lying. It’s no different than anyone else – some days are just HARD. Saturday was one of those days. I think we all must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed (though some beds are pushed up against the wall, so I’m not sure what that means.) I didn’t help anything by letting the girls stay up until 10 the night before (in the hopes that they would sleep in this morning, sleep-in morning.) And of course, they were up by 6:30 and not in the greatest of moods. So, I was already grumpy by the time the guys woke up and came out for breakfast. We had planned to take a trip to Winston-Salem, NC to visit Old Salem Village. But one thing after another kept delaying us. Saturday chores seemed to take half the day and then there were bad attitudes and issues to deal with and I just felt like everything was met with a fight – like everything I did was wrong. UGH! I hate those kinds of days. We ended up not going on our trip, which made everyone grumpy. Then, when we were trying to figure out what to do with our day, we got a phone call from a local lodge group saying they had food they wanted to donate. So I took my girls and a couple of the boys down to pick it up – and it was a TON! Although it wasn’t a big outing or anything, it was enough to break up the day (and break up the bad moods!) During the drive, one of my boys shared with me a little about life leading up to Joy Ranch and it brought things back into focus for me. It made me think less of myself and the things that I was choosing to be grumpy over. It made me thankful to be here, with these boys. When we got back, we all were in better spirits. I don’t know whether to attribute that to getting out of the house for a bit, or the fact that I brought back massive amounts of food to teenage boys…either way, it worked.

 At night, we do Praise & Prayer time after dinner. We keep a notebook and write down any praises and prayer requests from the day and then we pray together. The guys don’t exactly love it, they’re still getting used to the idea. But, it’s part of our devotional time with them. That night, when we did praises, I said I thanked God for bad days. At least three of them got whiplash turning to look at me, like I had 3 heads. “That makes no sense!” they said. I explained that it’s all a part of living together – we have good and bad days. And the bad days remind me how much I need Jesus. I have nothing to give them without Him. I can’t be patient, kind, loving or gentle without Him. I can try awfully hard, but I will fail – and I do. I asked them to forgive me for my bad attitude that morning and they assured me they did. And my prayer request was that God would help me to be more like Him – to have His love, His patience, His kindness and His gentleness. So, yeah…bad days are a bummer, but they are also quite wonderful in a weird way. I need the bad days because I need the One who orders my days. And despite moments of wanting to cry that day, as I sat around the table with our boys that night I realized that the contentment and joy I have is so deep-seated, bad days can’t take that away. When all is said and done, I know we are exactly where God wants us to be and I know that these boys are something special. I’m glad to share the good AND the bad days with them.

Like many Americans, today we celebrated Thanksgiving. Many of our kids are on a home visit, but we have 3 of our boys here. We had a special breakfast this morning with everyone on campus, then we met back together again for a feast of a late lunch. There was SO much food! And we wanted today to be special for the kids that have to be here over the holiday break, so we used fine china and decorated the tables and enjoyed a meal all together. It may not have been the kids' first preference, but I think it was a nice day. Many of them helped serve and clean up and seemed in good spirits. It was a special day. To top it off, we took the kids to see Frozen at the local movie theater. Can I just mention that I have a new favorite kids' movie? :-) Just putting that out there.

With today being Thanksgiving, most of us are thinking about all the reasons we have to be thankful. Like I mentioned above, I'm learning that giving thanks happens on the good days and the bad. We ALWAYS have reasons to be thankful and remembering that takes our focus off our circumstances and directs it to the Giver of good things. Some of our boys are in some miserable circumstances, they often have trouble finding things for which they can give thanks and need some reminding. It is our hope that they realize, like the rest of us, that God is good and gives good gifts all. the. time. And that we all will choose thankfulness every day, not just on this one day a year.

And now, I am choosing to be thankful for the Christmas season which is upon us! YAY! It's not too hard for me to choose thankfulness on that one, seeing as how I've been listening to Christmas music for 2 months already. But now it's socially acceptable. So, bring on the twinkling lights, the smells of evergreen, the sugar cookies and the carols and the sweet celebration of our Savior's birth!

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