gratitude

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Good Things the Seventeenth, November 2018

Hey! I missed this. I never posted it on December 1, for good things from November. I did have the list. Here it is now, one good thing for every day from November. I get to still say #blamethecancer because, well, I’ve still got it and still got foggy brain, too.

1 soup. hot soup from my dear friend. And an orange. I can’t talk to even say thank you. That’s why she brought soup. So, now, thank you.

2 sleeping with a big fluffy cat on top of my legs

3 resting with my mother-in-law while the men went hunting (I am so thankful for my in-laws, doubly so during cancer, they have been wonderful)

4 fresh venison on the grill

5 one, last long-ish run around the lake and feeling my heart race and my legs move and my breath, foggy in the cold, and feeling happy I’ve had this running joy for ten years and hopeful that I will have it again eventually

6 post-surgery nurses, especially the one with whom I had this conversation.

Nurse: “How is your pain? Honey? How is your pain?”

Me: (rolling from side to side and moaning and almost vomiting and mumbling) “Idontknow maybefour.”

Out of a ten-point scale.

Nurse: “Oh honey. Let’s say it’s a six.” And then she gave me more meds. That was awesome. And a good reminder that being tough isn’t always the right thing.

7 at least one morning post-surgery with my husband before he left for Djibouti. Not long enough and I miss him like crazy already, but it was better than no time and choosing gratitude doesn’t mean being nit-picky

8 emergency room doctors and parents who make healthcare decisions for me when I can barely finish a coherent sentence

9 something not-cancer related: going to my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s wedding dress fitting. She picked a gorgeous dress but she makes the dress move from gorgeous to stunning. So happy for my brother and for her.

10 old friend from far away, one of my first-ever friends drove through multiple states to visit me and sit with me and drive me around

11 walking in the snow on a silent Sunday morning

12 talking about Third Culture Kids with women who love them deeply

13 one week post-surgery, one week sans thyroid, feels like a milestone

14 being an extra at an extended friends Thanksgiving dinner party

15 hearing about a childhood friend’s dream for serving single mothers

16 meeting a writer friend at the Loft

17 high school friends (we haven’t changed at all)

18 Austin Channing Brown, preaching

19 Kenyan tea with an old friend who oozes gentle wisdom

20 one college student, home for the weekend

21 second college student, home for the weekend

22 American Thanksgiving

23 American Thanksgiving #2

24 young cousins attacking their oldest cousins with pillows

25 good conversations with my adult(!) children

26 post-op appointment: cancer didn’t spread

27 raspberries

28 brunch with new friends who have big hearts

29 turning in the final draft of Welcome to Djibouti, a guidebook

30 the Nutcracker Ballet with my mom and pork chops with cherry glaze for dinner

Good Things, the Sixteenth. October 2018.

Taking note of one good thing every day. This month was hard and good. From Italy to New York, the Evolving Faith conference to meeting my two new nephews, all topped off with cancer, what a ride. Still, I’m thankful and here’s my monthly review of why.

1 bad news from the doctor, so what is the good thing? He is a good doctor and understands, since he grew up in South Africa, the international complications of my situation

2 happy birthday mom, let’s fly to Italy

3 the warmest possible welcome into the town and family of the subject of my book

4 speaking about Annalena Tonelli and a love that is stronger than fear to 250 Italian high school seniors

5 I’m in Italy and I’m not thinking about Kavanaugh or Ford. I’m thinking about sacrificial love, courageous service, and hard, hard work, about community and peace and hope

6 university lectures I can sort of follow (barely) in Italian

7 one last bowl of gelato before leaving Italy

8 flying home-ish

9 good news from the doctor after a second biopsy – probably it didn’t spread

10 picking up Tom at the airport, now we are in the same country for a few weeks, like regular married people

11 night photography class and city lights reflected off water

12 collecting red, orange, and yellow leaves

13 leaf-covered bridges

14 listening to live music with my husband and taste-testing beer (I never like beer but it does look pretty)

15 trampolining fun with the newest kid in my life, fun to play little kid games again and who doesn’t love a good trampoline bounce?

16 coffee with a woman I met on the airplane, never done that before, I’m a no-talker on planes, but enjoyed how our thoughts and live have traced similar trails in recent years

17 quick pre-op physical (because darn it all, other than the alien beast in my neck, I’m perfectly healthy)

18 talking with an expatriate who had to leave her job abroad because of health issues, she gets it

19 Jones family Halloween party complete with relay games, scavenger hunt, and eyeball spaghetti

20 watching my daughter work on an experiment in her chemistry lab at University, then hiking Gooseberry Falls on a gorgeous MN fall afternoon

21 my husband cooked a feast for me while I worked

22 long run, ran the whole time, maybe the last double digit run for a while

23 deep and vulnerable conversation about the broken places in our lives

24 meeting my two new nephews for the first time since they were adopted

25 adding another sister to the mix, in North Carolina

26 Evolving Faith Conference

27 Still. Evolving Faith Conference.

28 true community living, a radically upside down way of life and love

29 talking books and publishing and dreaming

30 250 high school students with open ears and hearts to a message about moving away from comfort, toward need

31 giving directions to a Somali couple, in Somali, in my little suburb. Laughing together and welcoming them to the neighborhood where all are welcome.

What are you thankful for?

Good Things, the Thirteenth, July 2018

1 Ethiopian coffee at the mall

2 emptying freezers for friends when they leave

3 desert golf date

4 lasagna lunch with friend also launching a child to Uni

5 new books for the school library

6 American cheesecake at a party at the US embassy

7 one whole week, no power cuts

8 still able to run in the heat, still wanting to run in the heat, makes me feel strong

9 gathering memories for a Djibouti basket graduation gift: volcanic rock, shells, salt balls, the nation’s flag, favorite cereal, and more

10 goodbye to Djibouti, for too long, for not long enough

11 senior night, all the memories

12 graduation times two. All the feels.

13 watching musicals on a long haul flight

14 jet lag-fueled sunrise run in garden of the gods, colorado

15 endless supply of Lindt chocolate while debriefing and crying

16 slip-n-slide

17 hike with family and a new writer friend

18 breakfast on the veranda of a real, live castle

19 blueberries, granola, and yogurt for breakfast while talking books with new friends

20 pancake breakfast with old Djibouti friends, away from us for five years, the friendship not changed at all

20b airplane travel without any layovers. Get on, get off, you’re there

21 the farm, the cousins, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles

22 picking raspberries to refuel after my country-road run

23 open house, pulled pork, all the yummy desserts

24 cousins who turned the old barn into a bowling alley

25 25-cent massages from my sweet nieces and my daughter at the farm pop-up spa

26 happy 18, times 2!

27 TCKs from Djibouti and Kyrgyzstan

28 open house and a great cloud of witnesses

29 TCKs from Russia, Djibouti, and Kenya at Valleyfair together

30 axe-throwing double date (it is what it sounds like and it is just as awesome)

31 lemonade stands

Parents Need to Model Gratitude for TCKs

Quick link: Parents, Call Out the Beauty

Writing at A Life Overseas about how to help our kids see beauty, even in hard things.

I don’t think parents should ignore hard and ugly things where we live, but I know that what we emphasize, kids will emphasize. While we need to give our kids language for dealing with poverty and injustice and loneliness, we also need to model choosing gratitude. This might mean literally lifting up our eyes to see beyond garbage dumps to the mountains beyond.

Giving our kids a love for the unique beauty or kindness or hope in their place is a gift we give them.

I don’t know if there are studies about this or if it is purely anecdotal, but I have heard over and over that how kids respond to a life overseas is directly related to how parents, especially moms, respond to it.

No pressure, moms.

Seriously, no pressure. All is Grace.

But also, seriously, how ya doin’?

Some days are so full of purpose, language success, and cultural deepening that our joy overflows and we dance around the kitchen with our kids.

Some days are so lonely, breaking, hot, dusty, disappointing, and frustrating that if we had our first choice, we would be on the way to the airport right.now.

I absolutely think it is valuable to be honest and vulnerable about our struggles, but what we choose to emphasis around our children matters.

Especially when kids are little. As they grow and become teenagers, are able to see more nuance and are facing their own struggles, we can become more transparent about ours. But when kids are young, if we want them to thrive and enjoy living in our new location, we need to help them.

How?

Click here to read the rest, including several practical suggestions: Parents, Call Out the Beauty

Good Things, the Ninth. March 2018

Taking note of one good thing, every day. Learning to pay attention.

1 boys, now men. girls, now women.

2 thick, Kenyan, mountain fog

3 Herman the Python (was going to post a photo of two boys who have asked for a couple of years now to be on Djibouti Jones. I can’t find the picture. Sorry guys.)

4 a longform essay, terrible first draft, tolerable second draft

5 a desert hare

6 friends who are joyful servants

7 welcoming a new boss

8 American Easter chocolates, melty in Djibouti

9 hilly 15-mile cool-weather running

*image by Jessica Gardner

10 feeling shepherded

11 finding out a friend is a fellow podcast junkie

12 fruit cups with kiwi

13 #3

14 sunrise over an abandoned ship in the ocean

15 beach-tired

16 lost down the time-tunnel of photographs for a graduation slideshow

17 that time he posted a photo on instagram

18 hearing a friend’s voice over the miles

19 work at home day during which I work

20 lunch out with friends who stay

21 the ability to travel, at a moment’s notice, when needed

22 generous wisdom, vulnerability

23 a long quiet

24 they’re home

25 baby giggles

26 watching the tide sweep in at Turtle Island

27 lunch meat surprise: rabbit

28 school movie night

29 more mystery meat lunch: lemon pepper chicken for a crowd

30 long run, long conversation, new friend

31 Watching the sunset while grilling kebabs at the beach