I struggled with depression all week, which hits me from time to time. It’s a thick cloud that creeps into the edges of my life — it doesn’t take away my ability to function, it just seems to steal my joy. I’m sure it doesn’t help matters that our house is still in disarray and that David was out of town for a few days.
Last month, very suddenly, we lost some friends at our Classical Conversations campus, who died in a house fire. My heart still aches for what happened and I don’t understand it at all. My friend Mandy and her husband died, as well as two of their four children. I’ve been thinking about them so much, about a couple of conversations that she and I had this semester. Mandy loved Jesus and children and adoption and homeschooling. She struck me as someone who was content with her life.
And even though I’m sad, I’ve thought more than once that the way I can best honor my friend is to choose joy. Every day. Even when my life feels stressful. That’s the way I’d want people to honor me if I died. I’d want them to open their eyes wide and look around them and see the gifts, and treasure them.
I think of Mandy, who is with Jesus, but who had hoped to grow old with her husband and raise her kids into adulthood. And I remember, Life is a gift. Even the hard is a gift. Even waking up with the thick cloud is a gift, because I woke up.
In this season, in the moments when I’m tempted to complain, I’m trying to cut myself short and instead say, “Life is good.”
That’s not some superficial, wishy-washy thinking that ignores the reality of trials. It’s just true. Life is good. There are always, always things to be thankful for. Always. And because we’re human and the bent of our hearts is to complain, we have to fight every day to see them.
And so here’s a little Friday gratitude:
1. Delays in our renovation process this week meant three wonderfully quiet days, with no strangers in our house.
2. We had a good, hard rain last night and all our plants are happier today
3. Our little flock of chickens brings endless delight and amusement (and yes, a lot of poop)
4. But the poop is good for making compost!
5. David got to spend three days in NC with a group of pastors. My husband who spends his days pouring into others got to relax and have fun and be poured into by people who really care about him.
6. The most delightful Mysterious Benedict Society series, which Judah and I are loving
7. Noah: “When I grow up I’ll get married and become a daddy. And my hands will get bigger so I can put my kids to bed.”
8. School is finished! And I just get to be Mom for awhile.
9. The first milky white blossoms on our Little Gem Magnolia
10. The At Home Podcast
11. The Wild + Free Podcast
12. When I feel depressed and helpless and at the end of my rope, I cry out to Jesus more
13. God is exposing my sin of anger and a bad temper. It’s humiliating, but I trust that this is a needed step in becoming free
14. Realizing that there are things I can’t do in life, and people I can’t possibly love, without supernatural help from the Holy Spirit
15. Our swim team friends: both friends for my kids and friends for me
16. Today was the last gathering of our Book Club and Field Trip group, and the first year was a great success
17. Piling on the sofas at night with David, Judah, and Amie to watch season three of the Great British Baking Show
18. Indah Coffee, which just opened up and is less than five minutes from our house (and where I’m sitting now with a chai latte to write this blog post)
19. CPC’s new worship space, which is right next door to Indah! Renovations on our space should begin soon
20. Disney movies. They’ve brought happiness and fun memories to my life from my childhood until now (Pixar too, for that matter). Every month or two I purchase a classic, like Beauty and the Beast, to add to our family’s library. The kids’ current favorite is Moana, and we have the soundtrack on repeat.
21. My husband is home, and after we’re apart there’s always a fresh new sweetness to our marriage. Also he’s painting our new bathroom and giving me an afternoon out
22. Trader Joe’s
23. Money to buy things we need for the addition, and even a few things we don’t need
24. I finished reading Little Dorrit! It wasn’t my favorite Dickens novel, but as with every single one I’ve read, it had a very satisfying ending
25. A baby bird with the sweetest golden throat flew into our kitchen this morning
26. I found a way to manage one cup of coffee per day! The trick is to use decaf and brew it a bit weaker and not drink Starbucks, which is what seems to make my stomach so upset. It’s just lovely to have that one cup to sit with my Bible at 6:00 am. After that I switch to tea.
27. Amie can now make a plate of scrambled eggs completely by herself (now if only I could get her to clean up her dishes all by herself …)
28. We had two lovely years with our house-cleaner, Sandy. She was a pure gift in a time of need.
29. A new plan for tackling house cleaning, and a summer plan to make the kids a bigger part of my chores and cooking. We’re going to be a team!
30. Our social worker, Tricia, who two years post-adoption is still our friend and gives such wise advice