Simply Sather

BUILDING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

The dishes have been washed and dried and put away, we’ve had our morning coffee and some time reading the Bible and here I sit in my writing closet in awe.

We made all of the recipes we set out to for our Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday. It was fun, but exhausting. We worked so hard at it that when it came time to get ready for bed, I felt like I’d run a marathon and led an aerobics class on the same day; I could barely see without feeling dizzy and lightheaded. This was the first time I’d taken on an endeavor like this one and I will tell you, it was a lot.

A quick aside: Mom, Dad, thank you for all of the times you’ve hosted this meal (and other big ones) and allowed me to partake without bringing anything to the table. I appreciate you both.

The jury is out on whether I’ll take on as much next year, but I really wanted to try this year. Partly because of the challenge, partly because of fear and partly because of the unknown.

Last year, at this time, I was beginning to recover from major surgery. I’d had an abdominal hysterectomy to remove my right ovary, uterus and many rapidly growing benign cysts. To give you a true picture as to how serious this was, my OBGYN called in a senior specialist because what they removed from my tiny body should have caused more problems for me.

It was rough; the surgery but especially the 10 to 12 weeks of recovery.

Just a few weeks ago, I learned that surgery is now again imminent to remove my remaining ovary and another (thankfully benign) rapidly growing cyst.

News
just after receiving confirmation that surgery would be needed

I thought I would have more time between the two surgeries, really hoping in my deepest parts that I would not ever need another surgery at all. I have wrestled with this news and the emotions that come along with it. And to be honest, I’m still wrestling.

My wrestling has made some folks close to me feel very uncomfortable. Because with this time of year carrying so much negative news through the years, I have been concerned (more than even than last year) about being one of the ones in thousands who succumbs to the risks of these kinds of procedures.

And it just hit me as to why.

I’m more fearful, worried, anxious, prayerful, clinging to scripture and the hope found in Jesus this time because I feel I have more to lose.

So I wanted to cook the mess out of a Thanksgiving Dinner. Like I said, partly because I wanted to see if I could (which yes, it’s possible when you don’t have youngins to tend to and a helpful, supportive partner in the kitchen) and partly because I wanted to take on the challenge of doing something new (the turkey – my first time making it!). But mostly, in the quietest parts of my soul was this whisper…

What if this is the last Thanksgiving?

I know, I know. Please keep reading…

I don’t like to be a morbid person and I’m not sharing this to gain any sympathy, compassion or support for my thinking. I’m not sharing because I want you to rush in with comments about how “it’s all going to be okay” or “that I’m going to be just fine”. In fact, this may not make sense, but you don’t know those things to be true and they are phrases that simply trigger horrible memories from my past.

These were the very things people said repeatedly when I was faced with a husband lying in a hospital bed for 9 months with a dent in his skull from where they removed part of it to let his brain swell in the hopes of having enough room for it to heal. With no more certainty than we had in that situation about the outcome, this situation feels the same.

I’m not less faithful in God now than I was then, so I believe in what He can do, but more importantly I rest in who He is. And this is what brings me peace. This is what calms my spirit. This is where I practice my faith. Because no matter how the surgery turns out, God is in control. And this is what I want to hear. This is what I want people to remind me of. This is what I want to stand on.

And because of how far He has brought me in the past year – y’all, I’ve squeezed a lifetime into one calendar year! – I did not want to waste time, energy and opportunities on the Thanksgivings I’ve missed or the ones I may not have. Instead, I wanted to try the Thanksgiving tradition and do it well.

Which Mister says I did. Thank you Mister.

And while the meal preparation and serving went well, there were elements that were not as great. Challenging even. Things that hurts a parent’s heart and conflict that makes you see your selfishness. All of that still makes it Thanksgiving because of the invitation to look for ways to be grateful, for all the ways that we are truly blessed.

This sermon from this past weekend, was exactly what I needed to help me frame the things that did not go as planned properly.

I encourage you to listen and hear the points this man shares about having an “Attitude of Gratitude”, not just at Thanksgiving, but throughout everyday you get to live and be.

No matter how your Thanksgiving celebration goes this week, how the food turns out (or doesn’t turn out),  I encourage you to heed the advice of this message and seek God in who He is, what He does + in understanding that He rules.

 

 

 

Simply Sather

sipping my drink slowly, equal parts gratitude + grief

It’s raining in Texas y’all!

This is special and big and wonderful because it’s happening on day 3 of the challenge (sip your favorite drink slowly) and it’s a day where most of you Soul Tenders are not having to work. I am giddy over here.

Giddy and a little melancholy too.

Instagram Challenge - Day 3
sipping slowly while listening to the rain

While sipping my Guatemalan coffee (it’s as delicious as it sounds!!!) with our office window open, hearing the rain and listening for what’s stirring in my soul, memories arise.

Slowing down makes room for my past to pull up a chair and stare me in the eye. This is harder for my past (good and not-so-good) to do when I’m in my regular routine. I’m too busy, I’ve got a list, I need to get to the next appointment, I have to take care of business. My “busy badge” is shiny and visible for all to see.

When I’m honest with myself, I recognize it for what it is – a mask.

A mask, a shield, a sentinel, if you will…

While sitting and slowly sipping my coffee in these perfect-for-reading conditions, my heart swirled with gratitude and grief.

Gratitude that I’m able to appreciate rain. Able to enjoy the quiet time to sit with myself and watch God do what He does. Elated that I live in an area where most things slow down because of rain. And on a holiday???

There is also grief.

So many things have been lost at my pursuit of the wrong things or the right things with wrong motive. So much wasted time moving through life trying to please, impress or satiate others for approval. Being widowed at 33yo and in the way that I was shook my whole world – and my perception of “normal” – upside down.

While sitting and sipping my coffee, my heart was equally grateful and grieved. A lot was lost and a lot has been gained.

As I became more honest with what I was feeling and gave myself permission to call it what it is, I felt my shoulders relax and my body release the tension of the conflict I’d been carrying.

It’s been important for me to do that.

To release, surrender even. To give myself permission to feel deeply. It doesn’t make me fall apart. It doesn’t keep me from moving forward – at least not permanently. It doesn’t make me weird or wrong.

We all have unrealized dreams or “what ifs” that pop up from time to time. Be real with yourself. It’s what we do (or don’t do) with them that impacts our soul.

For me, today I’m sharing my gratitude without guilt. I am incredibly grateful to be married to a man who also sips coffee, reads his Bible and smiles at me from across the room while I blog this post, sip my coffee or take breaks to read my book. All without my hair being done and face being fixed. (They’re out there ladies!!!) And I’m sharing my grief without shame. I grieve the death of my first husband. Especially as I witness the toll it takes on our only child as he transitions into young adulthood without his own father. It smarts.

As you sip your drink slowly – whether it be coffee, tea, a smoothie or wine later this evening – let whatever comes up and out be free to rise up. It is holding a place in your soul and needs to be tended to. Today, let the tending be identifying something(s) you may not have wanted to before.

And let me encourage you. If you had a moment like me today – even if it was a bit challenging, go schedule in two or three more days this month where you leave room to sit a little longer and a bit more still to sip your drink slowly and listen to what is in your soul.

Enjoy your day Soul Tender! No matter how you’ve started this challenge or how you feel it’s going, choose grace and keep taking the steps to tend to your soul.