I'm thinking that it's a long time since I said thankyou. I soak up blessings each day as if they are my due and focus on the grumbles and complaints. I think I've been doing a lot of that this week. It seems to have been a hard week, though nothing truly disastrous has happened....
I've got a cold. Now, perish the thought that anyone would suggest that I've been anything less than stoic, because when my husband has a cold I am quick to identify 'man-flu' or worse, a touch of 'manthrax' and pass him the paracetamol without shovelfuls of sympathy.When it's my turn to be afflicted, as it has been this last week, all that needs to be said is that I suffer in silence. I am sure that for those around me, the only evidence of a desperately serious head-cold has been the proximity of a box of tissues. Nobody would have noticed, I'm sure...
Just clearing my (slightly sore) throat.
So, I admit that I've been less than my usual sunny self this week.
Since my headache is resulting in some difficulty in stringing together coherent sentences, I'm going to go for the automated bullet-point format, if it's all the same to you, Lord God. Got to save my limited energy for the coughing and sneezing, you understand.
Thankyou for a bright sunny day where the sky is blue and the air crisp. Not so crisp that I had to scrape the car windscreen, though. Just the right level of crispness. Thankyou.
For coffee and a toasted teacake with a young friend of mine preparing to go to University next year. She's an inspiration to me.
For coffee and toasted teacakes. What's the received wisdom? 'Feed a cold and starve a fever?'
For the hospital appointment with Katy a few days ago in which we arrived late but found the clinic too was running late. Where I dropped off Katy with Daddy and fought my control freak instincts to risk not being there at the appointment as I went off to park the car, only to find that they were still waiting when I got there. Might sound like not much, but for me that was a huge and compassionate answer to prayer.
For the wonderful fact that the lumps on Katy's neck * are smaller. The doctors don't know why they came, or why they're going, but two have disappeared and the largest one is shrinking. Thankyou thankyou thankyou. I can't thank you enough that we're not having a repeat of last year's nightmare.
For Katy, who really could teach me what stoic means.
For family members who are always there, no matter what mood I'm in.
For paracetamol and decongestants. Did I mention I've had a bit of a cold?
For Christmas plays at primary schools. Yesterday was Katy's dress rehearsal and I had to shoe-horn her into her angel costume on arrival at school. She was greeting her classmates and admiring the new decorations and I kept hissing, 'Katy! Concentrate! Put your foot in here!' and 'Stop messing around! Will you take off your other trainer before you try to put on your tights!' and then she was transformed into a little white and gold angel and my tune changed. 'Oh, my little love. Come and give me a hug.'
Thankyou for little throwaway lines such as, 'Mummy, how come I'm always at the back of the queue when they're handing out haloes?'
For warm beds, squishy pillows, warmed wheaties and bedside lamps for early nights with books when the rain is raining and the wind is blowing.
For friends who text encouragement and support just when I'm overwhelmed and discouraged.
For music that lifts the spirits when the spirits need lifting.
For your Spirit that picks me up and carries me whenever I let him. It's just that sometimes I push him away in order to have a good wallow. I don't know why; it makes no sense at all. Thankyou that you are always still there when I come to my senses.
That's the tip of the iceberg of thankyous. The other nine-tenths, or eight-ninths or whatever - the larger bit - is pretty much entirely made up of you.
Christmas is coming and I am realising what a huge thing it is that you did. Christmas trees are nice and pretty and presents are nice and the food is wonderful, but the truth of Christmas is that you sent your Son as a tiny, vulnerable baby, born with every disadvantage, when he should have entered the world in a blaze of glory and fanfare. You knew the end from the beginning; did you weep as you saw him laid in a trough with straw around him? Did you wonder what it was that you'd started?
A tiny baby boy. Bewildered parents. Harassed innkeepers. Displaced cows. Confused shepherds and amazed astronomers. An oblivious world.
How blessed am I that I know something of the meaning of that first Christmas? That I have the chance to look beyond the fairy lights and the wrapping paper and receive the biggest and best present that anyone has ever given?
This Advent, as I'm waiting for your birthday, Lord, tip my iceberg upside down, will you? Show me what really matters.
You sent your Son to save me.
Thankyou for that.
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