Giving thanks

I think sometimes when we share our “list of things we are thankful for” it can seem, or even be, more braggadocious than grateful. But this year I’m seeking to remember that nothing I have has not been given to me. It is a gift; which in and of itself makes boasting nonsensical. So I wanted to take the time to hone in on 10 specific and simple gifts I am particularly thankful for over this past year:

1. Friends who love our kids well

I never knew just how much it would mean to my mama heart to see our people (of all kinds) loving our kids. And man do they ever. They sing, read, play, laugh, and dance with them. They meet me in parking lots to help us get inside when Kyle is gone. They babysit and thank us for the time they got with our kids. They squat down to toddler level. They treat our kids as little people with little hearts. And it’s truly on the top of my list this year for greatest gifts (although this list is in no particular order of significance).

2. Blue scrubs

I’m thankful for every evening that I see those blue scrubs come through the door. For the fact that they stay on until bedtime most nights (both because they’re comfy and because the guy wearing them is too busy soaking in every last minute before his kids go to bed). Those blue scrubs signify a job that not only provides outwardly but also fulfills inwardly. A job that has broadened and toughened and softened Kyle (and me in different ways as well).

3. Bath time

I’m thankful for cute lil dimpled buns. For the shamelessness of nakey children. For a toddler who enjoys starting the bath water and for a baby who comes fast crawling down the hall to join in. For seeing my own kids do something I used to do with my siblings. For distinct markers of childhood like bubbles and rubber duckies and Alfalfa-styled hair and being wrapped in a big towel. And for post bath skin sniffs.

4. Our house

This past summer marked a year in our first house. This house has given us space (literally) to try new things. It’s given us opportunities to physically dig out the old, to plant the new, to cultivate, to change, to keep, to maintain, and to grow. And it’s done the same in the hearts of the people who live inside the home.

5. Blooming relationships

Even though in some ways it’s taken over 5 years since having moved to Louisville to reach this place, we are starting to see and appreciate the sweet bud of deep rooted friendships. Part of me has spent the better of the year begrudging how long relationships can take to build. How wonky they can feel. How wheel-spinningish they can seem at times. But as this year winds down I’m particularly thankful that relationships really are a mess worth making.

6. The Jesus story book Bible

Little did my Grandma know that when she got this book for Reese it would also serve as such a gift to Kyle and me. I love hearing the stories from it being read from Reese’s room most nights. I love when Kyle says to me “have you read this one yet?” I love how it is solid and simple. And mostly, how each and every time I read it I’m reminded afresh of the greater story of the Bible and how it all so beautifully and brilliantly points to Jesus.

7. Podcasts

This year when I was asked in a little Get To Know You game, “what is a new revelation you can’t stop talking about?” …It was this. In true Natalie fashion, I joined the podcast party in my own good time. But I’m here and I’m all in. For me podcasts have done the often neglected hard work of good self talk and filled my own mind for me with things that have distracted it, stretched it, deepened it, broadened it, solidified it, etc. It has settled my brain and also stirred it.

8. My Yeti

I still can’t get over the fact that thanks to my Yeti I can reach over and grab fresh cold water in the middle of the night (because there’s nothing much worse than lukewarm water for midnight parchings) or that I can fill it with a large sized ice coffee and drink half of it one day and the rest of it the next morning. I also love looking at the state stickers on the outside of my bottle and being reminded of the road-trip of a lifetime that we were able to take this past summer.

9. Saturday morning prayer

For the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of getting together once a week with a few women before the sun rises to pause in petition and praise. These mornings I usually wake up sluggish and fuzzy brained and walk away deeply energized and renewed. This time, and these women, have helped me to better understand what it means to pray God’s Word. To better know His heart and to also pour mine out to Him. It’s been one of the most tangible ways to recognize the new morning mercies that I’m waking up into that very day.

10. Fresh air

It’s so easy to go from one thing to the next. To be too busy or too bored. To be cooped up or spread thin. But I’ve found the simple pick-me-up of internally slowing down and breathing deep in the midst of the mundane minutes or the moments of madness. I’m thankful for the deep breaths of fresh air (metaphorically but also literally) that remind me how good it is to be alive.

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