Everyday Mommy runs a weekly post called "Everyday Things" where she asks us to post something sort of "ordinary" for which we are thankful. That is what my post is. However, Blogger is having issues and won't let me upload the banner. So close your eyes and imagine really hard that there is a cute little blue rectangle with red, ripe tomatoes reading "Everyday Tomatoes" in this space.
It's a hot Saturday and I'm broke. Hubby is at work. The kids and I are home, cleaning up around the house. The kids are whining about staying home and doing chores. It's not really what I want to be doing either. I'm trying to think of something fun and thrifty we could do and weighing the cost of gas against everything. The kids earned coupon books from the Library's Summer Reading program for all kinds of free stuff. So I promise to take them to the candy store where they can redeem their coupons for free ice cream cones. After lunch we make our way to the Candy Castle at the mall.
I park in front of Dillard's because Candy Castle is right next to it inside the mall, and I don't want to have to walk through the rest of the mall to get there. The air conditioning cools our sticky skin and the smell of clean and new tickle my nose. I stick out like a sore thumb in my worn T-shirt and no makeup and I feel as though I've been transported to another dimension. I lead my three, hot children through the aisles of clothes, jewelry and shoes without having to stop and say "Don't touch!" even once. I suppose they are preoccupied with more exciting things, like a cold, sweet treat and riding the escalator. Whatever the reason, I am thankful.
We make it to the candy store without incident and order the cones. Strawberry Swirl for Sister. Chocolate Swirl for Brother. And Baby and I share Orange Swirl in a cup. We decide to sit in the cool food court and people watch while we eat our ice cream. Radio Disney has a stage set up surrounded by parents and kids. It seems they are playing games and handing out prizes. Brother wants to participate. We move to a table closer to observe. They play a few more games and have a mini-concert with three young, teeny-boppers singing about being true to yourself and following your dreams. A nice little "freebie" we didn't plan that added a bit more fun to our outing. The ice cream is soon devoured and close by are mechanical cars and trucks requiring quarters. So I give Brother 50 cents to ride once and Sister 50 cents to ride with Baby. After the short rides have ended, we make our way back to the van.
Since there are no distractions to keep them from it, the kids decide to stop, look and touch practically everything on the way back through Dillard's. In trying to focus them, I too, get caught up in looking. I wonder what it is like to come to this store and buy something. Not because it's 75% off, but just because you like it. Because it's flattering. Because it makes you feel good. Discontent creeps up on me and I try to bat it away. We almost make it out when Sister spots the fairy dresses next to the door that she had somehow missed on our way in. "Oh, Mommy! I want one of those!" The dresses are flowing and sparkling in pink, blue and mint with pictures of fairies on the front. A prissy little girls' dream. An older woman walks in the door and says to her, "You look just like one of those," pointing to a fairy. Sister smiles and I see her imagination spin a sweet, little dream of glittery wings and silken gowns. She would look every inch a fairy in one of the dresses. "Not today, Sweetie," I say and steer her out the door.
Once in the van, Brother asks me to drive by the movie theatre so he can look at the posters posted on the outside. But I'm hot, Baby is tired and I just want to get home. "No," I answer. "I'm going the opposite direction to avoid traffic. They're doing construction that way and I don't want to have to wait." Brother is angry and doesn't mind letting me know it. He slaps the seat in front of him, furrows his brow and crosses his arms. I feel the anger rise up to my ears. I begin my lecture. "Why is it that every time I try to do something fun with you, you have to find one little thing you don't get your way and get upset about it? You need to control your temper. When we get home, you're going to bed." This upsets him further and he keeps trying to push back. I am hurt by his ungrateful attitude and don't understand why he would treat me this way. It feels like I can never do enough. Like my gifts today, though small, were insignificant.
This morning at church I was so glad to be in worship. My heart was loaded down with feelings of hurt, anger and abandonment. Feeling like my God had abandoned me with a husband and three small children and not enough to give. But in worship I could give all those feelings back and not think about the emptiness my own discontent has brought.
Afterwards, one of our members gave a slideshow presentation from a mission trip to New Orleans. A group from our church went with Samaritan's Purse to help hurricane victims. There were video clips of the devestation that took me by surprise. I've seen it on the news. I know what happened. And yes, it is sad. But it has been too easy to keep it all at a distance and not really consider the horror of it all. Seeing those pictures broke my heart. Pictures of homes and businesses swallowed by water. People sleeping outside on the ground. Babies being given bottled water to try and satiate their hunger and keep them hydrated.
I began to cry. I cried for all those faceless, nameless people I had claimed to care for, but never bothered to consider their circumstance. I cried for their pain and their struggle and their loss. I cried for those children and their parents, helpless to do for them what parents ought to do. And I also cried out of shame. I thought of my hurt at Brother's reaction to all I had tried to do for him. And I realized my own reactions to everything God has given me was very much the same. I have a home, with a roof and air conditioning. A bed inside. My children have clothing. We have hot food. We have each other. And my focus lately has been on having more. In my heart I've been slapping the seat in front of me and wondering why I don't have everything the way I want it. There are people in New Orleans who have had all those things taken from them. God forgive me.
So, this is a long way to saying I am thankful for the everyday things like four walls, a roof and a safe place to sleep. I have reprieve from a hot sun. I have clean water to drink.
I am thankful for the haven of home and family.