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Last week's gifts...
440. Adam's determination to make this week "count" before he leaves town for Annual Training
441. Creating a realistic "chore chart" for myself
442. Continual (and still needed) lessons in humility and vulnerability
443. Realizing that maybe my story is not so much for me, but for others, to read
444. A baby-proofing epiphany for our board games
445. Brooklyn's delight at finding her things on a low shelf - expressed by promptly taking them all off
446. Getting to Walk for the Waiting all together as a family
447. Introducing Brooklyn to astroturf - what is this stuff?!
448. Encouragement and conviction from the (in)RL conference
449. Adam stopping by with essential groceries, and flowers, on his way out of town

451. also, friends who will let us sit in their bathtub when there's a tornado

Sunday afternoon, as the rain began to spit from a dull grey sky, Adam left on a 2-hour westward drive to Annual Training, and Brooklyn and I spent a fairly normal afternoon alternately playing and napping. I fed her dinner, gave her a bath, then put her to bed and went to get my own dinner ready. Just as I got the tub of leftover stir fry out of the fridge, our friends who just moved in downstairs called to say that the tornado sirens were going off (they are? wow, I totally didn't hear that until you said something... and that is not sarcasm) and asked that we join them in their first floor apartment. I gathered a few things (mostly Brooklyn's), put on some shoes, rescued Brooklyn from the Sandman and trotted downstairs carrying her wrapped in her favorite blanket.

We spent the next hour-ish sitting in Heath and Kristin's bathtub --- at first, listening to the news, volume blaring so we could hear through the mostly-closed door. We heard that there was a confirmed tornado... that it was about 15 miles away... that it was growing in size and speed... that it was headed northeast (toward us)... that it had crossed the river (which is visible from our complex)... and then the power went out.

I love thunderstorms - I think they're beautiful, and awe-some, and if they happen at night then I sleep better for them. A line-downing ice storm meant that I got to sleep on the couch in front of my parents' gas fireplace, and get some extra reading and knitting done while waiting for the roads to clear. And once I slept through a hurricane as it swept through the island city that I was in, springing leaks in the ceiling of our third-floor dwelling as it went. But that's just me - silently wedged on a pile of pillows in the glow of a flashlight, Brooklyn solemnly sitting in my lap and turning a toy over and over in her little hands, listening to sirens with every molecule of my hearing ability and praying that that would be all I heard - that was an entirely different matter. I'm not inclined to hysteria, or outward signs of fear or nervousness (hence the humorous photo once communication with locals further from the storm confirmed that it was safe to emerge and the power was restored), but once we got back upstairs and Brooklyn was in bed (and my dinner was warming in the toaster oven), I sat down at the table to wait because I wasn't sure my legs would hold me up anymore. Having a tiny soul entrusted to your care changes your perspective on things.

452. Others' generosity toward us, enabling us to be generous toward others
453. Watching a community come together to love their neighbors in a time of crisis

Reading and journaling through 1000 Gifts and writing down my gifts here for past 5 months has shifted my focus. Because once I was able to think in thoughts, my first reaction was gratitude and my second reaction was... an action. We may have been "unaffected" but I couldn't allow myself to be unaffected - just being glad that I still have a car and a home and all of my stuff isn't enough. So the next day, Brooklyn and I went through that stuff, finding things that we could give to those who were affected.

Gratitude on its own isn't really anything - just a feeling, and one that doesn't last very long. But if our reaction to that feeling is to turn it into action, then we can effect lasting change - not only in ourselves, but also in those around us. And it was a gift in itself to see that even my blind, selfish heart is beginning to change, softening and shifting to a more outward and upward focus.

454. Adam being called back to Little Rock on a Public Affairs mission (photographically documenting the damage), and getting to come home at night
455. Finding an ethical accessory line at an unexpected place - I needed the encouragement, because I was beginning to believe that few existed and that they all came with typically high price tags
456. Brooklyn's determination to help me empty to dishwasher (she took out the forks... and put them on the floor)
457. A family dinner date to celebrate the end of an unexpected extra two days together
458. Group hugs goodbye, and the way that Brooklyn will reach so that she's touching both of us, too
459. Brooklyn providing moral support and comic relief during a research field trip
460. Talking and laughing over the phone with Adam when he called to say goodnight

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him."
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us in a weekly link-up to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and add your own below (please stay relevant to the topic when linking up!) and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned
   Kelsey [at] Faith Fun and the Fergusons

Are you counting gifts and/or practicing gratitude? Have you noticed a change in your own outlook or behavior?


Kayla said…
I love your call to action -- that gratitude means nothing to those around us if it doesn't change us. :) Great post!
Kelsey Ferguson said…
I love your thoughts here on gratitude and action. You always leave me with so much to think about. SO glad you good downstairs neighbors to invite you down.

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