This is an easy one. It was actually something I wanted to talk about yestrday, but there was SO MUCH to be thankful for that it had to wait.
These two got their vaccines yesterday! I could not be happier or moreTHANKFUL that they are on their way to greater protection. They are great little troopers about wearing their masks, even at school when most of the other kids weren't, and were brave about getting their shots. (I am also thankful that their school instituted a mask policy soon after the year started.)
I also realized that yesterday's post about Kristen's adoption and today's post about the vaccine have an interesting link. Here's the story: Kristen's adoption was delayed several months because in 2003 China was combatting the SARS Covid virus and adoptions were put on hold for about six months.
In response to the SARS outbreak a group of scientists started doing some serious research on vaccines to address coronaviruses. While most of the world was only slightly impacted, it could have been much worse, and the scientific community knew that sooner or later we would be faced with a far more contagious and deadly version, such as the MERS virus in 2014. While not on the public's radar, the research continued to evolve giving the scientific and pharmaceutical community 16 years of data and experience when the nighmare scenario arrived in 2019.
Much like the myth of the "overnight sensation," the vaccines that are saving our lives today may seem to have miraculously arrived overnight, but in fact are a result of years of research prompted by that epidemic in 2003. While I was frustrated by the delay that kept me from my baby then, I am thankful for the people who recognized the risk and have spent their careers preparing for this moment and protecting my grandbabies. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
What am I thankful for today? Easy peasy. Not a what but a who....this girl. Eighteen years ago today she was placed in my arms, and my life has never been the same in the best possible way. There are not enough words or enough time to say all the ways that she makes our lives better, brings sunshine to hard days and always brings a smile to my face, even when I try to be stern.
I cannot say I am thankful for her hard start in life; no child should have to go through that. But I am thankful that I have been a part of her story, that I have been able to be her mom when it was impossible for her first mother to play that role.
God has blessed me with 18 years of loving this girl. I only hope he gives me at least another 18 to remind her how much she is loved and how thankful I am for every.single.minute.
"This much I know is true, that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."
I am thankful that I went out for a walk today. Sounds simple enough, but somehow it takes a good deal to get me out of the house most days. I am not proud of that. It's not a big deal, but walking to...nowhere just seems so pointless to me. Most days I am actually pretty happy once I am outside (today wasn't actually one of those days).
I wear my old lady headphones because my ears are sensitive and earbuds either fall out or hurt. I listen to music that I LOVE. The music is by far the best part of the walk. If it weren't for the music (thank you Spotify) I would probably never get out. The bad thing about the music is that it pretty much requires hand gestures: air guitar (Stay/Jackson Browne), drumming (Angel of the Morning/Juice Newton), some sign language (This is Me/Greatest Showman), punching the air (Fight Song/Rachel Platten), arms flung wide (Let It Go/Frozen) or a microphone (I'm A Believer/Smashmouth) . Or some kind of movement that is not like walking (All Star/Smash Mouth, All the SIngle Ladies/Beyonce, Kokomo/Beach Boys - cha cha cha). I do try to restrain myself, which takes a lot of the fun away. I don't know anyone here so I probably shouldn't think about it so much, but since I walk the same route almost every day I would prefer that someone didn't call the police to check out the loony woman.
So now you know my rather eclectic taste in music (it's actually FAR more eclectic than the list above, but maybe that's a post for another day.) My kids tell me it's old people music which seems odd since I was in my 20s and 30s when most of it came out. I guess that makes the music old but not really for old people, right? Well, I don't really care what they say. The music makes me sing...and dance...and throw my arms in the air... and get out of the house for a walk. Maybe I am thankful for the music more than for the walk. Either way, I am thankful.
Is it okay to say that I am struggling to find something to write about today? Not that I am not thankful or even having a bad day. I guess what I am thankful for today is that I cleaned my apartment. That sounds odd, right? I don't love cleaning, but there is a pretty nice feeling when it happens. Well, when it's done. And as I think about it I think what I am actually thankful for is that I accomplished something. Now that really does sound bad, but in my current life sometimes I don't feel as useful or productive as I would like. And trust me, I like. I am a list maker and list crosser-offer. Big time. I am happiest when the to do list is a mile long. And while I have things to do, good things... as I expressed to a friend awhile back, there isn't the sense of urgency that has pretty much ruled my life since I was 7. Maybe that's a good thing? Slowing down doesn't come easy.
So what does that have to do with cleaning my apartment? Well, as I was recounting my day...to myself... I could tick off all the things I did today: laundry, dishes, took out the trash, put groceries away, cleaned the bathroom, picked up the living room, made my bed. (That's a big one, I never make my bed.) And I went for a walk. In the context of my pandemic life, that's a pretty good day.
A day from now I will get the month's sponsor reports from China, and I will once again have a deadline to meet and all will be well in my world. But for today, I am thankful that I had a different kind of work to do today, and I did it.
I may take a circuitous route to get to why I am thankful today, so bear with me.
First, what I am thankful for are sunny days with blue skies and puffy white clouds. Even better if it's a fall day and the temperatures climb into the mid-60s (warm for Chicago!) like today.
What makes this notable, at least for me, is that the place I long to be can be a bit short on sunny days. Hengyang does grace us with days like this though more often in the summer than the winter which can be hazy with coal smoke or rainy (very). In Beijing we took note of those beautiful days and didn't take them for granted, especially as there seemed to be fewer with each passing year. In Jiaozuo we hardly noticed that we didn't have blue skies...until we went someplace that did. Would I go back? In a heartbeat.
While I would trade these blue sky days in a New York minute if I had the chance to return to China, I am also thankful for this bit of sunshine (literally and figuratively) in my life while I continue this season of "wait and see." In fact, I believe that it's the years in China that make me smile a grateful smile every morning when I open the blinds and feel the warm sunshine streaming in.
I am thankful, very thankful. Not just for the sunshine and blue skies, but for the way they point me toward gratitude even on my grumpy days.
It's time to turn back the clocks, so what am I thankful for besides this meme which made me laugh? Don't worry I won't say Daylight Savings Time. What I AM thankful for is all the electronics that have made the "oops, arrived an hour early for church" jokes obsolete. And yes, that did happen to me as a kid several times. I remember sitting in the parking lot with my dad waiting for people to start arriving and trying to act like I had not been sitting there for an hour. Good times.
In a normal lifetime, which I haven't actually had for a very, very long time (and no complaints!), I would be thankful for an extra hour of sleep. In China, however, we never change the clocks (and there are no time zones) so we don't get an extra hour in the fall, but we also don't lose an hour in the spring, and we don't arrive at church an hour early. Trust me, I don't miss it.
In my current existence an extra hour of sleep is kind of normal. I don't have to get up at a set time most days so it isn't even something I worry about. Or think about. And guess what? I am thankful for that! As hard as this in-between-life is, I keep trying to remind myself to enjoy the little things, like no alarm clock, for as long as it lasts. Because, hey, nothing lasts forever.
And when I do wake up? The clocks are smart enough to know what time it is. See, lots to be thankful for.
Today I have been mindful of so many things to be thankful for; it was difficult to choose just one. I'll admit I once again find myself especially thankful for something we often take for granted: a grocery store. Not just a grocery store actually. What I am really thankful for is that there is a grocery store within easy walking distance. In the US most of us don't think much about what is in walking distance and what is not. We assume we will drive to get what we need and feel very good about ourselves when we walk.
I have come to realize what it means to not have a car and the challenges it presents, even more so during a pandemic when public transportation has been disrupted. I have also realized how not having a car limits our choices, even the size of our world. But this post is not about difficulties, it is about thankfulness.
So I am thankful that there is a grocery store less than a mile away. I will admit that I have large grocery orders delivered (which I am also very thankful for), but knowing that I can get food and other necessities - including covid vaccines, flu shots, and money orders to pay the rent - when needed relieves me of a worry that I am afraid others around the world, and yes, even here in the US, face daily.
I gave a lot of thought to what to share today. I realized that my thankfulness spans a wide range from the mundane, like my bed, to the sublime, even the divine. But I realized I kept coming back to really simple things. Or simple things that are only simple until you don't have them.
So today I am thankful that despite the uncertainty of this extended "visit," Kristen and I have always had a roof over our heads. Most of us don't think about whether we will have someplace to live next week or next month. It's not something I have thought a whole lot about for most of my life either, until the past year. (I will admit there were a few times in my younger -- much younger -- days that I took housing a bit too much for granted and ended up in a pickle. And there was that time in grad school when I rented a teeny attic room that leaked.)
Not only do we typically take the fact of having a home for granted, we also think of it as due to our own hard work and perhaps in some ways something we are entitled to. Nothing could be further from what I have experienced in this season. We have lived in three different places over the last year and a half, and each one has been due to the thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity of others. I can honestly say I have been humbled and truly, truly grateful for those who have opened their hearts and homes to us in such special ways. Whether poolhouse, basement conversion, or missionary apartment, all these places have been, in one way or another, gifts to us. I will admit that I am not completely without stress about our housing situation; there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future. But as I look back over these months and see how each home opened to us and how the needed funds have come in, I know I need to let go of the worry and let the thankfulness flow in.