If ever there was a picture that summed up the last couple of weeks, it would be this one.

On top of my growing workload, schedule demands, and battles with various illnesses, my oldest two kids have been out of school 5 days in the last 3 weeks. FIVE days of 13 – that closing in on almost 40% of the time they would have been in school, they’ve been home. We’re on day 2 of no school for this week, with almost certainty that they will also be off tomorrow.

You see, our teachers in my school district have been holding sick-outs to protest the activities taking place in our state legislature. For those unfamiliar with the term sick-out (until last year when this happened before I hadn’t heard of it), it means teachers call-out sick in masses to the point where there aren’t enough substitute teachers to cover classes and schools safely. I’m not one for political debates or even political talk in general (read: never ever, not even in the slightest) but I believe in our constitutional rights and that includes the right to peaceful protest. These actions certainly fall within that, and while I support both why our teachers are fighting, and their right to do so in the  manner they are, I’d be straight up lying to you if I said all this missing school wasn’t cramping my schedule and giving me a serious case of the “grumps.”

I wasn’t ready for all this “together” time. Unlike summer, where I’ve had time to mentally prepare for entertaining kids all day, each day we’re playing an anxiety-filled game of Russian Roulette – will they or won’t they have school. My kids are feeling it too. They thrive in structure and routine – especially my oldest who struggles with ADHD. The truth is we all do better with consistent routines and schedules.

In the midsts of this less-than ideal turn of events, God has been tugging at my heart, as He always does, to turn to Him. My thoughts have more often turned to my own displeasure with the circumstances and how it impacts ME rather than to HIM and His goodness in this season.

“In everything give thanks…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In everything give thanks….Hmmm, I can’t say that’s been the stance I’ve chosen to take. I haven’t offered up thanks when I got the call of no school. I certainly haven’t offered up thanks when my plans have been interrupted by others. There were no thanks given when my littlest guy fell sick this week. And yet, we’re called to give thanks IN EVERYTHING. In the good and the bad. In the joy-filled and sorrow-filled times. In the moments when we want to pull our hair out. In the moments we don’t understand. In the moments we don’t want to understand. Thanks Always. Thanks above all else.

Can you relate? Have you been offering up praise for your circumstances? It’s hard to offer praise for unloading the dishwasher for the 1 millionth time. It’s really hard to give thanks for the dinner you planned, shopped for, and prepared but no one wants to eat. For the bills that never seem to stop coming and the money that seems to never come. The illness that has no happy resolution. The divorce you didn’t see coming. I get it, sister. I feel your struggles in my bones.

This morning, after everyone had been fed, I found myself here…

Sitting on the bathroom floor. Little #3 was in the shower (he’s been sick for 3 days and the shower is one of the few places that has given him comfort and me a little break from the crying and clinginess that comes with it). Little #2 was begging to finish reading me a book we started last night. Little #1 was busy with homework. And I just desperately wanted some coffee. Right there, on the hard, cold, tile floor, God met me with the answer I knew but needed to hear again. Gratitude. The Holy Spirit reminded me that sometimes gratitude starts with a list. Finding the beauty in even the simplest places.

It’s not easy, but on that floor, I started making my list. To turn my grumbly heart into one of gratitude and joy. It can be hard to start, but here’s my list from this morning.

  1. Coffee (Yep – I started with coffee!)
  2. Ability to be home full-time
  3. Flexible job that I can do at home
  4. Quentin being fever free
  5. My proud Kindergartener who is reading on his own
  6. Indoor showers with hours of hot water
  7. Sunshine filtering in the window
  8. My comfy black leggings that don’t judge me or my food choices over the last couple of weeks.
  9. A husband who jumps to handle things without being asked – especially the dishes that needed cleaning last night while I caught up on work
  10. A stack of good books waiting to be read

It’s not a particularly holy list, but my gratitude is honest and true. Even in the 5 minutes that it took to make my list, I could feel my heart softened.

What about you? Quick – name 5 things you’re grateful for. Can you find the beauty in the midst of your current situation? How does your spirit fill writing out those things? Do you have 5 more? Go ahead and write those too!

If you’re feeling really brave, would you share your list? I’d love to see it! I’m going to be sharing my gratitude list on Instagram. Come join me.

Our situations might make us say “Ugh” but there is still beauty within the places we find ourselves. It’s our choice to see it, and our choice to give praise for it.

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