Today, I am over at my friend Becky’s blog writing about my daughter’s grateful tree. You can read the post here.
Growing up, I always thought that I was such an easy child to raise. My parents hardly had to do anything, as I made good grades and was obedient. Except for the time that I seriously protested the family dinner when my parents started the Fit For Life craze diet in the 80s, I was a pretty perfect child. You would have protested the special mayo and alfalfa sprouts combo in the Pita bread as well, trust me.
I still thought I was a pretty easy kid and that my parents got off easy until I was given the opportunity to raise a miniature version of myself when my third child Emily was born in 2003. Boy was I naive.
I have learned more about myself through watching Emily grow up than any self help book or counselor’s direction could have provided. Emily is a kind, fiercely loyal, competitive, water loving, great belly laughing, little force who is passionate about life being fair and free of disease and injustice. Due to this innate desire for life being fair, Emily struggled with the transition back to the normal routine of life after our family encountered some health issues. She wanted to be given 100% confirmation that my cancer wouldn’t return and that Jeff and I would live until we were 100 years old. As much as Jeff and I wanted to give her that reassurance for many reasons, we were obviously unable to.
Jeff and I are determined to raise Emily and our other three kids with a focus centered on gratitude and hope for the future, rather than fear, anger, and resentment that often trials can bring. But we knew that it was going to take more than words to change the spirit of our home and that it needed to happen quickly.
We started by simply saying what we were grateful for every night at dinner. That quickly turned into painting and decorating paper tags with things we were grateful for. And then Emily made the suggestion to hang the colorful tags from the branches of our dead tree in the front yard. The irony of hanging beautiful sentiments full of life and gratitude from a brittle, lifeless tree has not gone unnoticed.
Emily has several hundred tags hanging from her tree. Her classmates at school made tags and strangers have knocked on our door to contribute tags as well. It is such a joy to watch them twirling around with the slight cool breeze and to watch the morning walkers stop to read the sentiments. It’s even more of a joy to see that a ten year old is realizing that she is making a difference right where she is at.
Emily is starting to dream big and hoping that other children will start making their own grateful trees. Last night before bed, Emily asked, “Can you imagine a world with hundreds of pretty, grateful trees?”
So today I am simply grateful. Grateful for second, third, and the hundredth chance at living a full, blessed life. Grateful for leftover scrapbook paper that was just sitting around waiting to be filled with grateful sentiments and water color paints. And grateful for a 10 year old who is more focused now on a world filled with grateful trees than a world riddled with cancer and injustice.
It’s good to be back. Life is so good.
I have been quiet on this site and for good reason. Instead of dwelling on the reason(s), I am simply going to move forward. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago, that this site would be about gratitude and intentional living. I take great honor in knowing that your time is precious and want you to leave here feeling encouraged, inspired, or having learned from one another. I believe that I am back in a place where I can give that to you now. For those of you who have been here since the beginning… I’ve missed you. And for those of you who are stumbling upon this post or site for the first time… I look forward to getting to know you and learning from you.
For those of you who have sent me emails of concern and encouragement, thank you. I hope the blessings are returned tenfold.
Blessings sweet friends,