I was standing at my kitchen counter making homemade pizza crust, and my attitude was terrible. I had been busy, more like crazy busy, all week and I finished up a project just moments before I had wanted to start making pizza crust. Fridays are always Pizza Fridays at our house, which means homemade pizza, boards games or movies, and lots of fun. Almost nothing interrupts Pizza Friday, and we all look forward to it every week.
Pizza Friday is a wonderful tradition that has created almost a kind of liturgical rhythm to our otherwise crazy lives. Most weeks, I can feel the tension of whatever stressors I’ve encountered through the week melt away as I start kneading the dough.
But, this week, I was stressed out. My house was a mess, Thanksgiving was coming quickly, I had an extra service to plan for with our ecumenical service coming up, and it seemed like one little problem reared its head after another. Every time I thought I was making headway, something would happen to set it all back.
And, so I stood there at the counter griping and complaining under my breath. I don’t want to make pizza. I don’t want to do one more thing. I just want to sit down and do nothing.
Talk about a first world problem.
As soon as I put the first crust in the oven to pre-bake, my daughter started crying. Soon she was screaming. She couldn’t straighten her legs. She had been standing at the window decorating it with Christmas window stickers, and suddenly she was crumpled in a heap on the floor.
I tried to rub her leg. I looked at it, and nothing appeared to be wrong with it. She hadn’t fallen. She hadn’t hurt herself. But she was screaming and I had no idea what to do to help her.
We packed up the car for a 30 minute drive to the emergency room. We sang songs to try and distract her from the pain, and eventually we started praying out loud fervently when the pain became too severe.
What followed was six hours in the emergency room, countless pokes and prods, scans, and questions. My baby screamed like I had never heard before, and I was completely and utterly helpless. I tried to reassure her and remind her to take deep breaths. A nurse gave me a tissue so I could wipe the tears from my sweet little girl’s eyes.
“Would you like me to pray that God would help you, baby?” I asked.
And so I held her head close to me and I whispered in her ear a prayer that God would be close to her and hold her and help.
Not long after, we had an answer, a plan of action, and it was a relatively simple fix. Something surprising that no one had considered originally. The leg pain was either referred pain or a compressed nerve from pressure in other parts of her belly. Everything was going to be OK. Once the action plan was in place, she improved dramatically. Soon she was eating, smiling, and asking to watch TV.
By the time we were released from the hospital, a freezing rain advisory had been issued, which meant driving slowly and remaining vigilant on our drive home. We carried our sleeping child to bed, and then my husband and I crashed.
The next morning, I woke up before everyone else in the house. I walked into the rooms of both of my kids and listened to them breathe. I marveled at their peacefulness. There, in the darkness of their rooms in the quiet of the early morning, my heart was overflowing with thankfulness. These children are gifts. My life is a gift. So many of the things around me are gifts, and I miss them because I’m caught up in the friction, the tension, the struggles.
It makes sense. As the cliche says, the struggle is real.
We are so close to our blessings that so often we can’t even see them.
Our blessings are so good, and so daily, that we forget the miracle that each of them are.
This Thanksgiving, in whatever it is that you are doing, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the blessings in your life – especially the ones closest to you. I know two little blessings in my life I’m feeling especially thankful for today.
Toilet Paper Roll Turkeys
Toilet paper tubes – 1 for each turkey
Construction paper – (orange, red, and yellow)
Glue (regular or hot glue)
Googly eyes (I used ones with adhesive already on them)
Artificial leaves (I got mine at the dollar store) or more construction paper for tail feathers
Stick eyes onto toilet paper tube. Cut beak, wattle, and feet out of construction paper. Glue in place. Arrange artificial leaves or construction paper until the feathers look like you would like them to. Glue into place.
For our centerpiece, we took another piece of construction paper and used alphabet stickers to spell out “Give Thanks.”
Have fun, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!