Monday Musings: Fractured Plans and Gratitude

What do you get if you take this toddler with a penchant for trouble:

Trouble lurks behind that charming smile

And a larger version of this seemingly innocent contraption?

(It’s a slide)

You get your carefully laid plans as fractured as a leg that has been trapped beneath a daddy while going down that seemingly innocent slide.  That’s what you get.

This bright green cast represents many hours spent doing things that were not according to my plan.

So now, the next four weeks will involve, among the other things of life and school, trying to keep my incredibly active toddler from re-injuring himself.  The guys who put on his cast today said to me, “Good luck, Mom,” when I was told that he is really not supposed to walk on it.  Yeah.  Good luck indeed.

Therefore, now I am evaluating my plans for the next four weeks- what needs to go and what needs to stay?  And I have many plans- I have always lived by that advice, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  So what happens when my plans fail because life gets in their way?

My Grandma holding X-man when he was just 6 weeks old!

For some reason, this reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks.  Gratitude.  It started with my grandma.  I was talking to her one day a few weeks ago and she happened to tell me how she had been asked to summarize her entire life (and it has lasted close to 90 years!) in five words.  This is her life, according to her: “Forgiven. Protected. Guided. Eternally Grateful.”

This was not meant as advice, but I think all words coming from the mouth of my amazing 87 year old Grandmother can be taken as advice.  Eternally grateful.  Gratitude.  It is a very important attitude.   A friend recently posted a picture from Operation Christmas Child that truly was a powerful reminder of the blessings of gratitude.

I looked up thankfulness and gratitude in my concordance and I found several passages that talked about the importance of being thankful.

Romans 12:1- Jesus gave Himself for and to us and our response should be to gratefully offer ourselves back to Him.

Psalm 100- This song praises and thanks the Lord for His provision, protection, and love.

Luke 17:11-21- Jesus healed 10 lepers and only 1 returned to thank Him.  Jesus commended his thankfulness and his gratitude glorified the God who healed him.

Ephesians 4:20- Being filled with the Holy Spirit should should be expressed in speech filled with praise, thankfulness, and the Word of God.

Colossians 3:17- In whatever we do, we are to give thanks to God.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18- Gratitude in every circumstance is God’s will for us.

As I think about these passages and contemplate gratitude in my life, gratitude seems important for two reasons.  One, God deserves it.  He has given us so very much.  Every good and perfect gift is a blessing from Him.  He gave us life, this world, and His Son so we could have eternal life.  Even though He does -sometimes or even often- bring or allow difficult times and challenges into our lives, He loves us completely.  He uses difficulties to bring about good change in our lives.  After all, suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character gives hope.

The second reason that gratitude seems important is that it truly is a transforming attitude.  It turns what we have into enough.  It changes the way we look at our challenges.  It makes us happier and kinder and more humble people.

I’ve noticed that nothing wearies me more than my children’s whiny, complaining words that reveal selfish, ungrateful hearts.  Ingratitude is deflating, fatiguing, unpleasant, and unattractive.

So I will take these lessons to heart and try to have (and pray for) a thankful heart in the midst of my plans changing and the challenges that face me in the next few weeks with a healing toddler and throughout this next year, trying to homeschool while caring for four children five and under.  I can be thankful for the enforced rest these next few weeks as I will need to curtail my outings for Z’s sake.  I can be thankful for the opportunity to develop character when I am interrupted.  When I grow weary of the work involved with keeping all the kids at home with me, I can be so very thankful for the time I have with them.

Today, I am very thankful for my mother-in-law who rearranged her entire schedule to stay home with the other three children while I took Z to the doctor.  I am thankful for Z’s happy smile and indomitable spirit even while we had a long, rough day.  I am thankful that the fracture was very slight and there was no displacement, so it should heal well.  I am so thankful for the cast guy who went and got a wheelchair so I could wheel Z out instead of carry him as I had all day (boy he’s getting heavy).  I am thankful that my husband brought home dinner (and a chocolate shake!) so I didn’t have to cook.  And I am thankful for Netflix streaming which helped Z take his mind off of his pain and discomfort this afternoon.

I go to a busy bag swap tomorrow evening and I was already planning to come up with a few more toddler activities for Z to do while we homeschool.  It is even more important now to come up with some new and interesting things that he can do sitting down.  Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll be able to report on some activities that are good for keeping a 2 year old busy while either you are homeschooling or he is in a cast.

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