Corrie ten Boom's story The Hiding Place contains one of my favorite reminders about the Lord's direction to us to be thankful, as much for the annoying or even painful parts of life as for the blissful times. Her sister insists on giving thanks in her concentration camp prayers, even for the fleas with which they must contend in their barracks. The sisters eventually came to learn that the fleas were what kept their captors out of their barracks, thus giving the devoted pair the opportunity to read and study the Bible together. Corrie's sister had told her to be thankful, even for the fleas; her life was forever blessed for those fleas!
So we're acknowledging our family's "fleas", but we are going to continue to give thanks for them. Some of them bring blessings we can feel and see right away; some will take more patience and faith than others. All will be for our overall experience and eventual good ... we hope.
So let's talk about the relatively little, more tangible things first.
* Our cars. Grrr. Fleas, both of them! Imagine me in the rain, running back and forth from side to side of the car, trying to get the key to work in just one of the locks. Imagine my 4 kids waiting for me to get any one door open so we can squish into the car, where the heat may or may not be working but will surely not be working well, the door-open indicator light will stay on even if I've re-slammed and checked every door, and countless other non-inspection-passing problems will loom. None of this even takes into the account the fact that this car is quite painful for me to even sit in, much less drive. My back issues scream at me the entire time I'm sitting in this car. But at least we have it. We have a second car to cover us when the minivan won't start (which it has been doing quite often - so much so that we had to further stretch our budget to include the purchase of a new battery) and when the daddy needs to take the minivan on one of his many out-of-town scheduled work trips. We are definitely blessed to have a mechanic who we love and trust and who will work our needs into his hectic schedule so often!
* It's been unusually cold here in the last couple of weeks. Nights have been in the low 30's until this week. Several days didn't get a whole lot warmer. We haven't had any heat in our house, unfortunately. Friends at church offered to help us pay for someone to fix it when they heard about the situation, but we decided it's really not such a bad thing for our boys to know that hard times can actually be hard and that we don't always get what ever we want right when we want it and just because we want it. We've just been bundling up more, sitting a little closer to each other, and being thankful for the more normal weather we've had this week.
Then there are some less tangible, but deeply impactful situations for us to deal with.
* I took a job! I'm working at the theatre where the boys are performing. It's also run by my friend, so my friend and fellow church member is also my boss. I'm the assistant director in the current play (which started a few weeks ago and will wrap up on December 20th - and I take it on like I have nothing at all to do with my time during this particular season. Lol.) I do get some income and I also get BOTH of the boys' tuitions included - woo hoo! I also love the time I get in the car with my big boys. Most of it is spent singing together or talking about things they are very happy about, which is priceless time when they're such grumpy adolescents on a regular basis. My schedule is horrifyingly overwhelming these days, but I'm hoping the boys will one day know that I put in all this time and work to give them the gift of this experience.
I get the right of first refusal for the next play, too, which is going to be AWESOME. We just recently applied for all 3 of the boys to be in that one. This theater thing seems to be infectious - in a good way. More about this job's effect on our lives in a moment.
* Another good news-bad news thing is that my husband got a new job! He's excited about this company and that's a good thing. I want him to love what he does, you know? They can't match his last salary, but we're hoping that other benefits and the possible bonus will make it at least comparable. The company is based in our neighboring state and he'll have to travel there and throughout his territory regularly, but he'll be based out of our home. His territory is every state between NC and TX that touches water. Clearly, he's going to be gone a whole lot more. None of us is very thrilled about that.
That takes me back to my job thing. With the dad being gone more, I'm trying to figure out how to do MY job without having my two younger kids become too much of a nuisance at the theatre. I will have to take them with me some nights. This should be an interesting juggling act! As I wonder which would be the fleas in this case - my kids or the job - I realize I'm going to have to say neither, actually, since I wouldn't wish away either my kids or this opportunity under any circumstances I can imagine. I'm glad I've at least temporarily got the option to take the kids with me sometimes when I do this job.
* I'm also giving a lot of time and energy to a play we're doing at church. We'll be performing for the women's groups (called Relief Society) from my ward (church members who go at the same time I do and live in the same geographical zone) and my SIL's ward. It's the biggest deal of the year for us, and the biggest production we've ever tried to pull off. We're going to do a portrayal of the parable of the Ten Virgins. I've adapted and rewritten the script twice already, cast 11 parts, and dealt with 12 women's needs, schedules, and feelings. I'm also going to be acting and doing the first solo I've ever sung in front of this large of a group. Although it's emotionally and physically taxing, I think the spiritual rewards will be worth the work.
Every glass is both half-filled AND half-empty, right? Even glasses that are almost empty have something to offer. Glasses that are empty once held something that can be remembered and appreciated.