Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Gratitude

I am not always good at figuring out what is going on within my own heart and mind. That's one reason I blog! When I write, I discover what I am thinking and feeling.

Since Schoolhouse Rock ended, I've been feeling kind of empty. What do I focus on, now that it's over? Going back to laundry and homeschooling seems so mundane! I couldn't even think of anything to blog about.

But as I mulled over possibilities, I began to tease out an emotion that was there, somewhere, very deep...and then, in the middle of a conversation with Bantam13, I identified it! It was JOY.

In the car, he said to me, "I feel sad that Schoolhouse Rock is over. It wasn't till the last two performances that I began to really enjoy myself. Swing dancing is fun! I wish I could do it again."

That's when the emotion leaped out and grabbed me by the brain. "I'm so happy!" I realized. "I am so deeply grateful at how God answered all my prayers for this show to be a positive and healing experience for my kids. I am absolutely joyful!!"

You see, pulling our kids out of the DuPage chapter of our youth theater group was the most painful thing about moving here, and they were ambivalent about doing a show with the Lake County group, knowing that we'd also have to leave it, if the Kenosha chapter became a reality. We encouraged them though, because we saw the huge gap that it had left in their lives. Without a Christian peer group to uphold certain standards of behavior, our teens were experimenting with things like swearing, dirty jokes, innuendo, and watching movies (at a neighbor's house) that Mom and Dad wouldn't have approved. And their hearts were following their behaviors.

So we had strongly encouraged them toward theater, but at first, it wasn't a smooth transition. As new kids, they found it hard to break into established friendship circles, but as time went by--thank you, Lord!--they were accepted and included. And by the end of Schoolhouse Rock, Blondechick16 was saying to me, "Mom, I really see the difference, now, between my school friends and my theater friends." She went on to describe not only behaviors but character traits that were clearly on opposite ends of the spectrum. Her own resolve was to strip off some bad ones she had put on to fit in with her school friends, and be more like her theater friends--and her old self. Great joy for a mother's heart, there!

And to hear Bantam13 say he was sad that SHR was over gave me goosebumps. Over and over, I'd heard him state angrily, "I can't wait for this show to be over!"--back when he was struggling so much with learning the flips and other tricks in his swing dancing number. "I never wanted to be in this--you guys forced me!" he'd accuse.

But we had heard God right on that! Yes, we had pushed him to audition. We just knew it was something he needed to do...and God was so good to challenge him so much, with a really great part, and then grant him so much success as a result of his efforts! And enjoyment--what a plus!

"I am so proud of you," I told him once, in between performances. "I'm proud of myself," he admitted.

I just couldn't have engineered circumstances that would have taught him so much!

Bantam9 had a blast too, doing the show and hanging out with his new buddy Max. They've been inseparable! And I enjoyed doing makeup again--a great way to get to know the kids--and pure creative fun for me.

Another thing I feel great joy about is the buzz that is building about the new chapter, the Kenosha County group we are starting. Some of the Lake County kids are interested, two Lake County families told us they have interested cousins in Kenosha, people have offered to help, and suddenly, even though it means saying goodbye again, our kids are excited about the new chapter. They have been a little ambivalent, because it's been hard to imagine something that is currently nonexistent. But now, with other kids talking about it, their imaginations have been sparked and they are finally really excited about being part of it! And I'm really excited too, despite all the work I know it will be if it becomes my actual job. But the more I learn about it, as I have during SHR, the more confirmation I feel that it would be a good fit for me.

As I began to unpack all this joy, I was shocked to think that I might have just turned right from the final show and on to the next demands for my attention--homeschooling, laundry, upcoming birthdays--without even thanking God! In fact, that was what I had been doing, before I suddenly realized what an occasion for immense gratitude this was.

How often does God answer our prayers in magnificent ways...and we accept them as only a matter of course? Moving right on to the next thing on our to-do list, worrying anxiously about the next set of cares, coming to Him with our next pressing need? Without even a prayer of thanks and praise for all that He has done, for the ways that He has moved on our behalf?

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”

4 comments:

Susan L said...

:::How often does God answer our prayers in magnificent ways...and we accept them as only a matter of course? Moving right on to the next thing on our to-do list, worrying anxiously about the next set of cares, coming to Him with our next pressing need? Without even a prayer of thanks and praise for all that He has done, for the ways that He has moved on our behalf?:::

So good! Thank you for this encouragment. :-) And I'm glad it all went so well. God indeed is good.

Susan

Donna Boucher said...

Such a beautiful post!

Melinda said...

I really needed to read this post today. Lately I find that I tend to focus on stuff we need to accomplish and forget to experience the joy of all the recent blessings God has given us. It was refreshing to read about how your kids recognized the difference in their school friends and their Christian friends. That is a credit to you, that they are able to see that.

MomCO3 said...

Thank you for this post. So many prayers answered... God is so good. Thank you for pointing it out to me (again).
=)