Sometimes things just don't go the way you plan. Sometimes the calendar doesn't reflect reality.
Sometimes a day can bring surprises that can throw everything into a whole new level of crazy.
Sometimes an ordinary day can take an unexpected turn, and can end up knocking you down and wiping you out.
Because you can make plans, and you can make lists, and you can think you know how a day, a week, a life, is going to go - but then that day, that week, that life happens and it throws you a curve you didn't expect, and you realize, again (because you knew this already, you've learned this already, but you forget, you always forget) that you really don't have control over everything like you think you do. And sometimes your perfectly planned day gets flipped upside down and jumbled all up and you end up feeling a lot like Alexander, wishing you could just go to Australia.
Because sometimes your kid comes home from camp and you find the dreaded lice in her hair.
And sometimes the other kid gets sick and throws up all over her room in the middle of the night.
And then sometimes the one with lice also gets swimmer's ear and has to go to the doctor and is awake all night in pain.
And sometimes the dog gets sick on the floor and the toilet clogs up and then you spill a bowl of boiling water down the front of you...and you wonder if life really would be easier in Australia...because these past few days have just been a series of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days...and will it ever let up?
So I sit here in my pajamas, in the middle of the afternoon, after combing through hair again, and putting drops in ears again, and cleaning up messes again...I sit here too tired, to worn down, to even go shower and get dressed...and part of me just wants to disappear, or cry, or both.
But the other part of me knows what I need to do...I know how to make it through these "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad" days...I know, but I must make myself remember.
I must remember to give thanks.
Because gratefulness in ALL things is how I make it through all things. Because this life, all of it, every day of it...the good and the bad and the sad and the horrible and the trying and the disappointing and the glorious and the overwhelming...they are ALL a gift. Life is a gift. Each day is a gift. And each day is FULL of gifts. I just have to slow down enough to notice.
So I go outside and I cut some flowers. I grab a handful of hydrangeas from our bushes out front and a few marigolds from the garden out back. I bring them in, and in the middle of all the crazy, I fill some mason jars and small vases with water, and I add my fresh flowers...then I place them around the house...I add these gifts of beautiful grace to each room. And I smile. And I count this gift.
And then we bake some chocolate chip cookies. And I give thanks for these yummy gifts of grace and this moment of sweet enjoyment.
Then I sit with my sweet girl whose ear is hurting and who is just about as tired as I am from having to wash her hair and pick through each strand yet again (because oh my word, these lice are resilient and so hard to get rid of!)....I sit with her as she holds her ears, and I pray with her...and I thank God for His grace, and I thank Him that we can trust Him because we know that He is working every thing together for good...even when we don't understand, and even when we don't like the process. We can thank Him because God is ALWAYS good, and we are ALWAYS loved.
"Every little thing is going to be ok, because God is working good through every little thing." (Ann Voskamp)
So I pour myself yet another cup of coffee...and I give thanks for this grace in a mug and for a moment of peace in the middle of the crazy.
And I come to the window when Lilly runs in, so excited that she saw a lizard out on the fence, and I pause and enjoy the moment with her and we take a picture so we can show Daddy later...and I give thanks for the grace of this moment.
And I strip the beds and wash the sheets and pillows (again)...and I give thanks that I can do this...that I get the joy of serving my family this way. I give thanks that we have a washer and a dryer and a home and a life that is so very very blessed.
And I pull out the book and I read it to the girls again - about a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day - and we laugh about our days this week...and I give thanks. Because really, the bad days aren't so bad when you can see God in all the days. Even the bad days are full of good...full of grace.
Because the truth is, sometimes schedules change and plans fail and lists go unchecked and projects go undone. Sometimes friendships fade and paths fork and hurts happen and storms bear down hard. Sometimes the unexpected happens, sometimes the unplanned things trip us up and threaten to steal our peace and our joy. And in those moments, in those days, it's so easy to throw a pity party and to fuss and pout and complain about our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day...week...life. It's easy to just want to disappear or escape to Australia. But some days, some seasons, are just like that...even in Australia.
And the way you get through them is the way you get through everything in this life....by giving thanks in ALL things.
My verse this year is Colossians 3:15: "Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts...and always be thankful." I want that verse to not just be words on my lips or thoughts in my head...I want it to be ingrained in my very heart and soul. I want to live every day with His peace ruling in my heart, and with thanksgiving always on my lips, even on the bad days when everything goes wrong...especially on the bad days when everything goes wrong.
This takes practice...I have to be intentional. In the middle of these "Alexander" days is when it is the hardest for me, and I have to literally make myself stop and refocus on giving thanks. I have not been perfect at it these past few days...I admit, there may have been more than a few tears shed and a pity party or two thrown before I remembered to look for the good and not just focus on the bad. But today, I am claiming peace. Today, I will comb through hair and put drops in ears and wash clothes and clean the house with a heart that is focused on giving thanks, even in these things.
Because the truth is:
Even when plans don't work out....God is good and I am loved.
Even when lists and projects go undone...God is good and I am loved.
Even when the unexpected happens...God is good and I am loved.
Even when things don't work out the way I thought they would...God is good and I am loved.
Even when the day falls apart...even when life seems to fall apart... God is ALWAYS good, we are ALWAYS loved, and ALL is grace.