Emily over at Chatting at the Sky has made it a practice to record the things she learns each month. It’s a valuable habit, this habit of reflection, and so I’ve been joining her in it this year. If you’d like to join us as we remember, you can comment on this post with what you learned, or head over to Emily’s site and link up there.
I know I’m a bit late this month, but I don’t want to miss recording the lessons I’ve learned. Here’s what I learned in April:
1) A thoughtful gesture from a loved one means the world to me.
I celebrated my birthday at the beginning of April. It was a small affair, just a few friends for dinner and games, but it was absolutely lovely. The gifts I received ranged in monetary value, but every one of them was thoughtful, something chosen specifically for me for this time in my life, and I cannot tell you how much this meant to me. Jonathan’s gift cost no money, but is something I will treasure for years to come.
2) Gifts given to my little girl warm my heart as much as (or perhaps even more than) gifts given to me.
Katie turned one at the end of April (One! How did that happen already?), and we celebrated with a special edition of Friday Night Dinners. Friends and family brought their favorite “kids’ food” and, though we specified no need for gifts, came with brightly-wrapped packages to commemorate one year of life. Though the focus was on Katie, I felt loved – so loved – to have this community in which to celebrate, and I was delighted to open gifts designed with a toddler in mind.
3) When I give generously, it does good things for my heart and my soul …
There seems to be a bit of a theme here, doesn’t there? April was, it seems, a month about giving!
I think I sometimes approach giving (of myself, of my time, of my resources) with a bit of fear, concerned that maybe I am offering more than I realize, that I will come to regret it, that it will be too much of a sacrifice. However, while it’s good to count the cost ahead of time and to be informed so that I might have a reasonable idea of what to expect, I’ve found that when I choose to listen to the still, small voice prompting me to do something for somebody else, the personal rewards are many. Like the Grinch, I find my heart grows several sizes when I extend myself for others, even in the times when I think I have nothing left to give.
4) … but that doesn’t always mean it will be easy.
Following God, loving others – these things are sometimes easy and straightforward. Sometimes they come naturally and the road is smooth. Often, however, they don’t. I often have a give-and-take mentality that goes something like this: “Ok, God, I’m doing this hard thing so you’ll make other things easy, right? As in, Katie will sleep through the night for the duration, or she’ll take good naps, or it will be smooth sailing. Right?” Which is, of course, ridiculous. It doesn’t always work like that – a lesson I should have learned by now, but sometimes, it seems, I take repeat reminders to get it.
5) Five kids is doable. Hard, hard work and somewhat chaotic, but doable.
In April, I spent a week as “mom” to four boys – aged 10, 8, 6 and almost 2 – in addition to Katie, and I survived! There were moments of extreme chaos, of course, and a few times where I had no idea how to handle a particular situation. Going from one (and a baby girl, at that) to five was quite the shock. But I made it to the other side with the house intact and the kids alive, and I even had a bit of fun in the process. I consider that a win. I can see myself parenting a large family. Not tomorrow (please, Lord), but sometime in the future? A definite possibility.
What about you? What did you learn in April?