Gratitude: A Happy Habit to take up for Lent

At the beginning of Lent, I was chatting with a close friend on the phone and she told me that she and her husband planned to give up guilt for Lent, in favour of gratitude. By this they meant not guilt for actual wrongs done, the natural response to sin and hurting others, but rather shame—the feeling of unworthiness or unlovableness that we can sometimes fall prey to when we make a mistake or fail to prevent something out of our control.

Giving up such negative feelings, and looking for ways to turn difficult situations into opportunities to see the good and give thanks for it struck me as a great idea. So in the spirit of practicing gratitude, I will share a list of blessings I’m grateful for with you right now:

1. When my mother-in-law sent me birthday money this year, I decided to put it towards Kindle Unlimited, and have been enjoying reading lots of books on my iPad when I can’t sleep lately. Tonight I’m reading 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, and the first one they don’t do is indulge in pity parties! So I’ve put away the balloons and party hats, and brought out my gratitude list instead. 🥳

2. Various back aches and late pregnancy cramps made the midwives give me an ultimatum: no more vacuuming or carrying heavy things like the laundry basket to your outdoor laundry room under the stairs. What great things to give up for Lent! 🤣 I’m grateful my husband has taken over the laundry, and that he now has more first hand experience of this charming chore. “Is there more dirty laundry already? I feel like I just did a bunch!” Exactly honey. So it goes.

3. I had a nice outing to the dollar store with my daughter on the way home from ballet class, and bought cute socks for myself and the baby to put in our hospital bag. His have tiny blue stars, and mine say on the soles, “If you can see this, rub my feet.” Thought they might make the nurses laugh.

4. I’m also really grateful for Jenn Dean, a parenting coach from the Families Matter Most podcast. I first saw her speak at on online homeschool conference recently, and found her approach to fostering positive thinking though addressing core beliefs which influence our behaviour so compelling that I’ve started doing some coaching with her on Zoom. She’s great!

Jenn encouraged me to journal and keep track of my thought processes, especially when something goes wrong, so I can be aware of what core belief is affecting my response. Sometimes that belief could actually be a lie, such as “Such and such went wrong because I’m useless and mess up everything.” In this case, awareness of the lie is a necessary step to be freed from it and embrace the truth, which is simply that some days are harder than others, and tomorrow is a chance to try again. I liked this journal and got it for myself.

5. I’m also grateful for the sweet surprises my friends have brought me lately, which are such a tangible sign of their affection and support. Isabela and Claudio brought us pizza buns and homemade chocolate chip cookie dough, Lisa brought us tiny red velvet cupcakes made by a talented coworker, and tonight, Sister Corina brought us Purdy’s chocolates and a fruit topped cheesecake! Yes, this baby is destined to be chubby and cute, and everyone is ensuring their part in that! 🥰

6. I could just keep going, but this list is getting long, so the last one for tonight is my amazing neighbour Lorie, a retired nurse who does professional house cleaning part time. She has been a total Godsend, and has been helping us declutter and clean our house, one room at a time. First, we tackled the garage, and after hiring the great guys from Half-Price Rubbish Removal, we now have so much more space to store things in an organized way. Everything is being sorted and labelled, such a bins of clothes for various kids to grow into. We even strung up a rope in the garage to hang extra or off season coats, so I can see what we have before buying new ones.

Sometimes it’s a struggle emotionally to let someone else help me deal with my mess, but in those moments I’m trying to reframe things. Instead of thinking, “I’ll never get organized on my own cause I’m too sloppy,” I think, “Caring for all my kids and house is a big job, and I’m so grateful to have friends willing to pitch in and help.” Lorie does such and good job, and is so cheerful about it, that we call her our “Fairy Clean Mother,” whose super power is making things sparkle. The kids love her, too, and are inspired to help out more, which is a huge bonus!

Tiny super helper!

What is one thing you are grateful for today?

Katie to the Rescue!

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Have you ever had one of those months where you get a mouse in your kitchen, your stove breaks, you’re pregnant during what feels like a heat wave (and wearing charming compression stockings that make you look and feel about 80), the leftovers get burned and set off smoke alarms late at night, and on top of it all, your back goes out?

Times like this, it’s amazing to have a mind-reading friend, a really good old friend from university, one of the people who is like family to you, email you out of the blue and offer to stop by and bring you dinner. The friend you wanted to call for help but didn’t want to disturb, who heard your silent prayer and took time out of writing her thesis to help you. This is what happened to me.

My friend Katie brought a green salad, Thai chicken soup, cherries and her sweet company. Simply wonderful. We dove into a great conversation about homeschool, writing and being contemplative in the midst of busy daily life. How being prayerful helps us to focus and be inspired when we write. Nothing like a really good talk to feed the soul.

Here are some pictures of the dinner we were lucky enough to receive!

Thai Chicken Soup with red peppers:

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Don’t forget fresh lime…

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“Yum!” says baby.

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My 8 year old said: “It tastes Thai-tastic!” and “The cucumbers are cucumber-licious!”

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She’s my big helper.

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“Aaah, that’s cool!” My 6 year old had seconds of chicken and salad and said “It tastes good.”

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So Katie, thanks for being so lovely! My world is a more beautiful place because of you, and dinner was delicious, as was the break from cooking! 😉 Getting to chat with you over iced coffee (life-saver!) reaffirmed the goodness of the world, and put little struggles in perspective. Life can’t help but be wonderful when you are loved.

Also recently my Dad brought me flowers, my mom called to say how much she loves me, my brother found and cleaned up the icky dead mouse (heroic!), my landlords bought us a brand new oven, my friend Ida brought us bread from Cobbs and Milton brought us treats from Starbucks, and my friend Sara took my big girls swimming with her daughter twice to give them an outing and me a break. There is so much to be grateful for! For every challenge, I bet we could all count three blessings. One of them is that challenges help us to be humble enough to reach out and ask for help, which gives people a chance to be heroes and show us how much they love us.

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May you all be blessed with friends and family like mine!