Sunday’s Seven Gratitudes – 3rd Edition – A husband home, Learning at our own pace, Christ’s miracle turning water to wine, Hearing “I love you,” Daughters who listen to God, Catalog descriptions, and Rain.

seven TomatoesIt’s a rainbow day.

Gratitude #1: Mr. Hot Stuff is home.

It’s a rainbow day, not because of the weather, which has gone from rainy, to cloudy, to sunny and is making my grass green up. It’s a rainbow day because my emotions and experiences have covered nearly the same string of changes that the weather does to create a rainbow. It started out waking up next to Mr. Hot Stuff, which you may or may not know, has been a rather rare event these last six weeks, due to the globe-trotting nature of his job these recent days. And so a wake-up nice and slow next to him was a blessed moment of peace and feeling God’s promises and gifts in my life.

Gratitude #2: I’m grateful that Heavenly Father, in his mercy, allows us to learn at our own pace.

Do you remember that Old Testament story about when Jehovah commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac? The son he waited for and trusted God to send, who finally came along after his wife had already entered menopause? That son. This story was the subject for Sunday School at church today. I confess this been my least-liked story of the Bible since I was old enough to read it. “What kind of God does this?” I always wondered. But all the other stories helped me see God’s love, so I tried to ignore this story and exercise faith in a God of love. Faith in a God I loved.

And then our family moved to China for a handful of reasons. One reason was The Company asked us to. The other main reason that really mattered was that we felt God wanted us to. Then we got there and my youngest kids were shoved into international schools where they were treated with varying degrees of kindness and unkindness by both teachers and other students. It was the most trying and difficult time of my life. I saw my children hurt and angry and close themselves off emotionally, although they tried to be forgiving, and understanding of others. Anyway, I felt at the time as though I was being asked to sacrifice my children’s well-being for God’s will in having us live there. I did not handle the request as valiantly as Abraham. I yelled and fought and cried against what I saw as great spiritual risk to my family.

I wondered where was our angel and the ram in the thicket that God was supposed to send? Well, today in hindsight, I found the angels and the ram.

They really did show up for us. They showed up just when we could no longer continue the course we were on. It came in the form of friends and family who stepped up to be there for us when we decided that it would be best educationally and spiritually if we had one of our children remain in the U.S. for the first semester of a new school year, after which time, we would all return home to the U.S. to live. For whatever reason, I did not recognize this blessing for what it was. At the time, while it was a help, it felt like just more of the trial. I didn’t realize that while Abraham was certainly grateful to have the ram, he probably got plenty of cuts, scrapes, and bruises trying to get that wild ram out of the thicket.

Gratitude #3: Christ turned water into wine.

It seems a little strange to me that I would be feeling particularly grateful for this particular miracle that the Savior performed. After all, it’s not like I was there, or that it was at the wedding of a close friend or relative. But in church today I learned several ways that this miracle applies to me now. I learned that sometimes when I need a miracle, all I need to do is ask for what I need. I re-learned that to get a miracle, I will need to step out in faith; put water in my vessels, so to speak. I learned that I am like the water that Christ changed. My ordinary work adds up and the Savior, through his grace, makes enough of me to do the work he has asked of me.

Gratitude #4: Hearing the words, “I love you.”

On a paper that was handed out at church listing ways to become more Christlike, one of the items listed was, “When appropriate, verbally share your love with others.” A kind woman saw this on the list and leaned over to me and said, “I think this is an appropriate moment to share this – I think you are a wonderful friend and I love you.” It touched my heart so deeply that it brought tears to my eyes. What a wise, kind friend she was to me in that moment.

Gratitude #5: I have daughters who desire to learn and do Heavenly Father’s will.

I’ve seen them struggle to know God’s will and do it in their own lives even when He seems to require difficult things of them. Whether it is following promptings regarding what foods they put into their bodies or how they proceed in their relationships with men, they prayerfully seek God’s will and then obey the answers they receive. I realize this is sometimes difficult and I know that occasionally they too, have prayed for an angel and a ram in the thicket. They are there, Daughters, but sometimes it takes time to see them.

Gratitude #6: Catalogs with creative copy writers.

“What?” you say? It doesn’t seem to match in a list with all of the above things. Nevertheless, catalogs are a part of my rainbow today. After church, I brought in yesterday’s mail. Among the credit card offers was a catalog that is new to me. It’s “The J. Peterman Company, Owner’s Manual No. 115.” I thought it looked interesting, so I chucked the credit offers in the trash, and opened it up. What I found is a clothing catalog with descriptions that belong in literary fiction. I hope it’s not inappropriate for me to share some of their entries. Here is one for a woman’s English Walking Blazer:

“Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment…” —Jane Austen, Emma, 1815

Highland countryside in spring, past the ruins of Idrigill and through the valley of Glac Ghealaridh. I’m waiting for Daphne, and a “proper” English picnic. “Dress smart,” she says, “and bring enough Pimms for two. Some scones and clotted cream would be lovely, too. And maybe some jam?” Seven hard miles later, I wait, contemplating polishing off our alfresco refreshments on my own, when she finally comes across the knoll—a vision in her crisp pin-striped blazer, delicate little bow tied pertly in the back.

Turns out the Victorians were on to something.

How’s that for putting a spell on you? I got to the men’s section of the catalog and found this description for their Oravalo Mountain Shirt: 

What’s so good about this shirt is what it is not.

It’s not this week’s fashion statement.

It’s the real thing: the actual cotton work shirt actually worn by the actual mountain people of Otavalo, Ecuador. For about the past four centuries. The tiny wrinkles and creases in the fabric guarantee that you will look neither starched nor disheveled. You will look merely at ease.

You will also look just a tiny bit interesting; a little more so for every mile more distant from Otavalo you happen to find yourself. (A dozen pleats on either side of the four-button front placket, gathers at the back yoke and cuffs. Faintly swashbuckling.)

Men will look broad-shouldered, brave, and secretly kind. Their female friends will encourage them to go without shaving for a few days.

Women will look narrow-waisted, innocent (but with a hint of wildness) when wearing it with trousers. Worn with a soft skirt and a wide belt? That’s another matter entirely. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. 

Don’t you just want to hurry up and buy it? It’s practically guaranteed to make any man (yes, even yours) worthy of the cover of a romance novel and every woman the strong, romantic heroine.

And then I arrived at the pièce de résistance, the World War II Army cotton drawers [underwear], 1945 edition, Men’s. And I quote:

Yes, you can wear them to the beach or a backyard barbecue, but that built-in sense of mission they have may be just the thing under a business suit these days.

We can all use some extra momentum.

Doesn’t this one get better and better the longer you think about it?

To read more of these wonderful literary clothing descriptions, or to purchase these and other romance-imbuing items for yourself, please visit their website at jpeterman.com.

Reading this catalog made me nostalgic for our family’s old homeschooling days when we would get the American Science and Surplus Catalog. They too, were quite creative with their product descriptions. You’ve got to love this one:

STEIN-O-ANTS
Nothing says family-room fun like leaving this beer-mug ant farm on the table to make your Aunt Sally faint dead away. You get a 5-3/4″ tall x 3″ dia acrylic beer mug with brew-like gel inside. Includes a lighted base (the better to see the ants with) with amber LEDs in normal and dim modes, powered by the included adapter or a couple of “AA” batteries that you add. Ants? You mail off the included order form with $4.95 and you get the ants by return mail. Bonus: when the ants make tunnels in the beer, it creates a nice sudsy head. 
Check out this and other fascinating things at www.sciplus.com.
(For the record, I don’t receive any financial compensation for talking about these companies, I just like reading their catalogs and thought you might enjoy it too.)

CameraZOOM-20140302151700347Gratitude #7: Rain

It’s been raining. The snow on my neighborhood lawns is melted. The crocuses have popped up and the grass is getting green. Spring is on it’s way.
winner-winner, veggie dinner 🙂

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