Tag Archives: thankful

Homeschool 2016: Thinking With Forever Glasses On

It’s the first week back.  That means we’re still eating breakfast — the good kind, with fruit and waffles and mmmm, bacon.  We can still locate sharpened pencils (though we did somehow misplace a book on Monday.  Monday, people.  The first day.  Not to worry, it turned up, obviously, in the closed, dusty, cabinet under the computer desk — you know, the one where all of the old hard drive equipment used to go.  Of course.)  But it’s still fresh.  There’s laughing.  Interest.  We aren’t impossibly far behind… yet.

What if it could stay this way?  What if we were still laughing and curious and well-fed in February?  What would it take?

I think it would take anticipation — cultivating an expectant attitude every day.  And I don’t suppose I’m very expectant if I’m in the throes of self-pity; pity-party Kate is not thankful, but grumpy, disappointed in what’s gone wrong instead of grateful for what’s gone smashingly.  I tell my kids I don’t speak Whinese — but maybe, too often, I do.

It follows, then, that it would take gratitude, wonder, recognition of little victories and amazement at the grand stage.  Living like I have an illness in remission.  (What?  I feel good?  I get another day with these people?)

Living with a forever mentality means remembering that life is so, so short.  The stresses will pass; the kids will grow up and move on.  (Theoretically) we’ll miss them someday.  My husband likes to say that every complaint betrays a blessing — the dirty socks on the kitchen counter (what, you don’t find dirty socks on the counter?) mean I have a delightfully absent-minded kiddo.  The dog-chewed wallet means I have a wallet (and a dog.)  Living in light of eternity means seizing the joys life affords, knowing they are fleeting.  It means remembering the big picture, the prize at the end of the race, the purpose behind the cost.

I’m not just filling minds with facts, I’m filling hearts — with what?  A contagious attitude (thankful, I hope, and curious, full of awe at the incredible intricacies of the world and fascination with its people), hope, determination, purpose, love.  I’m not plodding back through 5th grade lessons for the educational thrills; I’m investing in world-changing people that will explode like dominoes from our home and set off chain reactions in a thousand unpredictable directions.

This life?  This is my one life.  This is their one childhood.  Help me, Lord, to make the most of these wildflower days.%22To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.%22

It only takes a spark…

We are staying in a swiss-style chalet in Estes Park this week. If I set out walking, I could get lost in thousands of acres of pine forest, maybe get up close and personal with some elk. But I’m sitting by the fire, drawn like a moth. I remember sitting by a fire at about age 8, reading Pippi Longstocking and howling with laughter. I remember making breakfast over a Girl Scout campfire (burnt on the outside, doughy on the inside) circa 1987. There have been marshmallows with some of my favorite people, chardonnay with the Furman girls, many a soggy, smoky, drizzly event with kids in tow, and several memorable choruses of “Pass it On” from the teen years. I don’t know why the lighting of a match can change a mundane evening into a lifetime memory, but it can. It’s a little thing, but beautiful.

The other day as I was driving, a phrase popped into my mind: “The skill of small praises builds.” Small praises. Hmmm. Why is it hard to be thankful for small mercies, small graces, little things? Because they are everywhere and always lavished on us, piled up like the fall leaves composting in our yard. But to sing out praise for candlelight or cardinal or cantaloupe is to have always some new reason to sing, to never run out of praise. And so, like a hundred freckles that finally meld into one nice tan, a hundred little praises become one big hallelujah.

Annie Dillard tells a story of a rabbi seated to hear Scripture read. I may bungle the details here, but the gist is this: the reader began, “Thus saith the Lord,” and the little rabbi, ecstatic, leapt up to holler, “The Lord spoke! The Lord spoke!” until they had to carry him out. I love that story. What a gift, to see the gift! Wouldn’t really matter what He said, now would it, if God showed up and spoke? But we forget.

Small praises teach us, like repetitions of small exercises build strength. Small praises tune our hearts to praise. And hearts prone to wander need tuning. Here we are, plunked down in lives so tangled it’s like cosmic silly string has been sprayed all over us: bills and hospitals and petty crimes and mean words, all of it hindering us, dragging us back. But if we are to “throw aside everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” somehow we have to cut loose the ugly. Somehow we have to see the gifts piled up, layer upon layer, all around us.

My son, reading a Percy Jackson book, giggles where he sits by the fire. It’s a small thing. And it’s huge.