As I stood over the sink tonight, and drizzled honey onto a piece of cornbread, I imagined it was sorghum.
Or as some might say, “MO-las-ses.”
Or as my family says, “sar-gum.”
(There’s a difference, though. You can read about it here.)
I envisioned the rich, deep amber syrup so completely I almost convinced my taste buds that the honey was something else. And on the verge of that fantasized tangy sweet taste, a memory moved slowly in the back of my mind, and with it, more memories came; all of them sticking together; all of them about sorghum.
Winter morning. Kitchen. I’m sitting on my mother’s lap. She’s wearing a soft red robe that’s keeping me warm. On the plate in front of us–a biscuit split open. On another plate–butter and sorghum. She takes fork and begins to mix the butter with the sorghum, turning it into a translucent spread. She covers one half of the biscuit with her mixture, and we eat together. Only mama eats her sorghum like this.
Year’s later. I’m grown. I have a husband. A family dinner with my parents. Cornbread. Sorghum, and the surprising revelation that my Iowa husband has never tasted sorghum. We fix him up. But he’s expecting honey and is not prepared for the bitter sweet, smokey tang that surprises his taste buds.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my project to be more grateful this year. I wanted my life to have MORE Gratitude. So I’ve been trying to keep up with it. I still walk down my hallway, erase yesterday’s message and write a new one. There have been days (this past Monday) when it was hard to be grateful. On Monday, I wrote “Today I’m thankful for Tuesday.” That’s how bad it was. I usually try to blame it on the kids, so I’m sure they had something to do with it, right?
My MORE Gratitude adventure, however, has helped me. It’s made me pause ever so slightly and think about things for which I’m thankful. Some are simple things. Some are important things. Some are things only I understand. But nevertheless, I try to write down three things I’m thankful for everyday.
A few days ago, though, my son beat me to it. If I have forgotten to erase yesterday’s list, he often will remind me at breakfast to write what I’m thankful for. But the other day, he took it a step farther. He fished out the dry erase marker and proceeded to write his own message of thankfulness. And when I peeked out of the kitchen to take a look at what he’d written, my heart melted. There in his little 1st grade handwriting he’d written “mom and dad”.
What makes this all the more sweet is that his thankfulness came on the heels of that really horrible Monday.
Something to know about my little guy is that he’s an encourager. He always knows when I’m down or upset or just tired of being Mom. And when he realizes those things, he often offers me an encouraging word, or a hug and kiss, or a simple gentle pat on my back. And other times he’ll tell me he loves me and that he’s so glad I’m his mommy. After that bad Monday, he knew I needed encouraging, and his thankfulness did just that.
It’s so simple, really, to say thank you to someone or to pause in gratitude for a particular thing or day or moment. But I pass it up so often. A little bit of gratitude can change a person’s day (perhaps even a life). I know it does, because that precious handwriting changed mine.
After being home with a sick little boy for a few days, I think we are in need of something refreshing. A poem by Li-Young Lee. Enjoy!
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we brought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy, to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
Growing up I had several pictures in my room that contained sayings or phrases. My mom loves just about anything with words on it, and this love was passed down to me. But one little picture has always spoken to me, has always been my favorite.
Given to me when I turned twelve, the simple phrase it contains has traveled with me for years: “Do What You Love”. There have been many times those words have come to mind, often when I was trying to figure out exactly whatto do. Words have power. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.” But Proverbs 18:21 makes an even stronger statement about the power of one’s words: “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” The words we say, hear, and read can be powerful not only to others but also to ourselves.
I want to surround my children with words that edify and pull them to something beyond themselves. So often, I say hurtful things to them–words that do not edify them. Those words hurt them and me. So where I often fail at providing the perfect words to steer my children in the way they should go, I hope to surround them with words of life that taste sweet and bring health to their growing souls.
I’ve found lists of phrases for parents to use with their kids. They include phrases ranging from “I need your help” to “I believe in you”. And these lists are great reminders for me to speak life to my children. But I also like words on the walls of my house. Words that encourage. Now, only one of my three children can read at the moment, but I know that will change quickly. Here are a few of my favorite picks for words I’d like on their walls—words I’d like them to read over and over and over again as they grow up.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. My goal is to make my own versions of these and customize them for each of my children’s bedrooms.
I like to plan. I like to make lists to help me plan. And I make perfect lists—every detail written down. I even make a little dash beside each item so that I can perfectly insert a little check mark when I complete it. It’s perfect. Beautiful, really. Everyone should make lists as perfectly as I do.
But you know, it’s not the lists I write down that get me in trouble. They aren’t the ones that keep me from actually getting around to it (whatever IT may be). It’s the lists in my head, the ones that never reach paper, that get me in trouble and make me a sorrowful perfectionist who has been unable to complete the project because she was planning it too much. Did you catch that? Because she was PLANNING it too much. Because she wanted it be PERFECT.
I have done this a lot. I think of a project I’d like to complete (host a children’s book club; have a cool little party for my kids’ friends, make a cute and crafty perpetual calendar journal (see below)), and in my mind I build it up to be a rather large, insurmountable project that requires my utmost attention to every detail. It must be perfect. And do you know what happens to my big ideas? They stay on the shelf and collect dust. They become too hard because “I can’t do it right.”
Somewhere along the way I decided “I don’t want to do if I can do it right.” I may have heard this while I was growing up, but lately I’ve decided that this mantra really just keeps me from trying. It gives me permission to just do nothing. I mean, we all know the Edison / light bulb story, right? Do you think if Edison had held to my silly little mantra he would have attempted to invent the light bulb? Doubtful. So why should I pass up numerous opportunities to participate in a beautiful life just because “I don’t want to do it if I can’t do it right?” Don’t get me wrong, perfectionism has a place…like surgery rooms, or cartography, and most definitely chocolate. But being a perfectionist shouldn’t keep me from doing things in life that interest me.
For example, I saw this darling little calendar journal on Pinterest.
I wanted one immediately. But it was going to require:
__ fruit box
__ 12 postcards
__ 180 4 x 6″ lined index cards
__ date stamp
__ paper cutter (or scissors)
(see my nice list??)
Ok, I didn’t have the fruit box. Poo. I didn’t have vintage postcards. Poo. I didn’t a date stamp. Poo. I didn’t have extra money to buy these things. Poo. My batting average was going down fast. Now, the perfectionist in me would have quit. But I LOVED the idea of this little calendar. So when the new year rolled around, I decided I’d had enough of this perfecting and planning. It was time to start DOING! MOREDOING!!
I started looking around. I did have a cute box. I did have note cards. I did have a pen that could write the date instead of stamping it. And I could make my own monthly dividers with cardstock I had on hand. So here it is:
I know it’s not nearly as cute as the one online, and it’s not finished, and it’s not perfect.
But it’s mine, and I did it, and I’m using it.
And that is the whole point.
(I know I need a better camera, but again, let’s stick to the theme this week.)
PS: I have tried and tried to fix the formatting of this entry, but I cannot get it to work! Sorry for the weird placement of “I”.