I’m Grateful For

It was a very ordinary Sunday. A depressingly ordinary, grey, rainy day in Covid February. And yet I went to bed feeling uplifted and alight with a glow of gratitude for how blessed our life is. What made this possible? 

I borrowed from a friend the brilliant idea of writing down daily gratitudes, and for the 28th of February, that meant 28 gratitudes. 28 gratitudes noted and written down throughout the day. And it pretty much felt like a magic trick. The simple, the everyday, the small moments, when noted altogether, somehow took on a surpassing sweetness. I found myself looking for the good moments, and in the end had to delete some of my previous items because I had well over 28! 

Here is the list I came up with: 

1. The baby only waking to eat once in the night (after several bad teething nights too!)

2. Getting back in bed for a sweet snuggle with husband and baby after feeding her at 7. We used to do this all the time with our first, but don’t have as many opportunities anymore.

3. Husband (Micah) taking all the kids and letting me sleep in past 9!

4.Getting to see a sweet picture from Micah when I first checked my phone, of the two older kids “napping” alongside him.

5. The goodness of warm oatmeal in the morning.

6. Baby easily drifting to sleep in my arms and resting her soft plump hand on my chest.

7. Micah handling some trickier parenting moments with patience and good boundaries.

8. The simplicity of church at home. And the care that is put into making the young children’s church videos. While I really miss the community and eventfulness of in-person church, there are mornings where the slow pace and ability to do church in our bathrobes is a real blessing.

9. The fact that Micah and I now have matching bathrobes 🙂

10. The kids’ excitement at participating in worship rituals—setup, lighting and snuffing candles, and opening and closing the Word. Sometimes it feels like the ONLY thing they get out of church… but it’s at least something tangible.

11. How good 4-year-old sister is at entertaining the 4-month-old baby.

12. The earthy smell whenever I go outside. A promise that spring is really on the way.

13.  The ability to be warm and dry when it’s cold and wet outside.

14. That Micah does our taxes!!! 

15. How happy it makes the kids to have rice for lunch.

16. The way babies smile at you with their whole tongue-sticking out joyful being.

17. My body’s making everything needed to sustain a baby all on it’s own. It feels like magic.

18.Getting some time to just relax with Micah during nap/quiet time.

19. My hair being so low maintenance right now makes it easy to feel put together. #momwin!

20. Tea from our beautiful handmade teapot.

21. Canada geese calling overhead always makes me think of ha-dee-das. And make me think of (and long for) South Africa.

22. Standing in the kitchen talking to Micah while two-year-old son goes back and forth between us, wrapping arms around each of our legs in a joyful hug. “Mommy!” Hug. “Daddy!” Hug.

23. Watching some GBBS and being cozy as a family.

24. Rain boots on kids and puddles to tromp in. I love that I can send the older kids outside on their own!

25. Communication on sensitive topics, and the time to really talk once the kids are in bed. 

26. The small group that I’m leading and the ways it pushes (forces) me to think of others.

27. That writing these throughout the day lifted my spirits for the whole day and turned a very ordinary, grey day into a rather special feeling one.

28. Saying the Lord’s Prayer with Micah before bed. The only daily ritual we have maintained our entire marriage so far. It feels like a lifeline and I’m very grateful for it.

I know I’m not sharing anything new here. It is a well known truth that focusing on gratitude is a recipe for a happier and more fulfilled life. I have heard and practiced this idea many times myself. And yet I am still surprised by the power intentional gratitude holds: the power to transform so many simple, earthly moments into something much more like heaven. 

Another powerful and simple gratitude practice that our family has greatly benefitted from is  a Good Things Jar. Throughout the year when good things happen my husband and I write them down on little pieces of paper and put them in a special jar (ceramic pot), then read them together on New Year’s Day. The notes cover everything from significant events, kid antics, meaningful conversions, and sweet interactions. We are currently in our 5th year with this tradition, and it has only grown in meaning and power. I look forward to when our kids are old enough to participate too! 

I borrowed the ideas for these practices from others and I hope others will borrow them from me. Spring (as it is here in the Northern Hemisphere) can be an easy time to notice how good the world is. Gratitude obviously doesn’t take away hardship, and I’m not trying to suggest that we should focus on gratitude and ignore struggles. But if each of us was able to spend a few more moments every day in noticing our blessings, I think that the world would quickly feel like a much more heavenly place. 

“Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

About Tania Alden

Tania is a wife, mother, artist, and South African American (in that order). Born in the USA she spent her formative years in Westville, South Africa, only returning to America to attend Bryn Athyn College. Tania and her husband Micah now live in Bryn Athyn with their small and delightful daughter. Tania loves to share memories and discussions, especially when they are centered on South Africa, parenting, art, the movie "Gladiator," and spiritual life.

8 thoughts on “I’m Grateful For

  1. Tania, you may not be ‘sharing anything new here’, but it’s still good to read some of the things that make another person grateful. I think I WILL borrow some of these ideas from you…. I clearly recall thinking just like your number 10, when ours were small. And now I’ve seen that same tangible remembrance of ‘church’ in my grandchildren. It’s very special, however small a thing it might seem right now.

    1. Thanks, Dale! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And yes—so important to remember that these little rituals mean so much. Even when they feel chaotic to the parents!

  2. “And yet I am still surprised by the power intentional gratitude holds: the power to transform so many simple, earthly moments into something much more like heaven.” THIS. Gratitude is a gateway to heaven on earth. Thank you for sharing your lovely list and insights.

  3. I love this list! I’m planning to start the jar thing when we move, and I have the perfect jar in mind.
    You are so cute. So cute.

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