Gratitude: Learning How to Embrace the Now

The other night the bedtime routine was particularly hurried and stressful, mostly on my part. The sounds of laughter and fighting echoed down the stairs, and I was frustrated before I even walked up there because they weren't following instructions.

I grabbed the last of the things they had forgotten and huffed up the steps, reminding them loudly that they were supposed to be brushing their teeth and wondering why in the world I must always be standing over them to get them to listen at night.

Teeth did get brushed, forts deconstructed and beds remade, blankets and drinks collected, and there were quick hugs and kisses all around as I finally tucked them into bed. Relieved, I changed into sweats and headed back downstairs, where my husband would continue to remind them to be quiet and go to sleep.

I gladly slumped down onto the couch, ready to relax and enjoy the quiet house. But when I pulled out my phone to check the Newsfeed, I read a story that put life into perspective in a flash. A story about grandchildren dying in a house fire. They were 8 and 4.

Two of my children are {almost} 8 and 4. 

Suddenly, the things that had irritated me so greatly this evening seemed trivial. Guilt flooded in like a tsunami and almost knocked me off my feet. I wanted to run back up those same stairs and hug them tight, stroking their hair and telling them I love them so much. And I was sorry. So sorry for being crabby.

Because what if a house fire claimed the lives of my children this very night?

That's not something you can prepare for, nor would you ever want to. But it happens, and with tragedies like that, you never see it coming. It can be the most ordinary day in the history of your life, and with the next tick of the second hand everything could change. That quick.

You can't control what life will throw at you tomorrow, but what you can do is live well today. Keep short accounts with the ones you love. Play on the floor with your children. Put your phone down and look at the life around you. Snuggle with your kids. Hold your husband's hand. Learn how to embrace the now, the present, so you don't spend the future wishing you could turn back the clock.

We can get lost in the emotion of a situation and it can blind us to the things, or the people, that are truly important. No matter how rough the ordeal or the argument or the trial, at the end of the day, the people you treasure are still here.

They're still here.

There's room for grace and second chances, time to say I'm sorry. An opportunity to find beauty in the mundane and joy in the mess. To embrace the crazy that can be our life sometimes. To forgive and move on.

Because when you truly live in the now and soak it all in, smell the smells and touch the people, you won't have to go searching for gratitude. It will find you in a million ways.

Don't waste those small but fleeting opportunities this season, my friends. Push through the awkward, wade through the pain, and make it right while you still have the time. Because at the end of the day, no matter what has transpired, they're still here. Don't waste those moments, those precious gifts of people that the Lord has placed in your life.

Live well and love well this holiday season, in His strength.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!