Recipient of Goodness – Thanksgiving 2017

My favorite Sunday of the year is Testimony Sunday, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

This past Sunday was that Sunday.  After three New Lifers shared their very different stories of gratitude and hope, Pastor Rich told us that being grateful, simply saying “thanks,” is different from living a life marked by gratitude.

He shared this definition of gratitude:  *Gratitude is a knowing awareness that we are the recipients of goodness.*

As Thanksgiving and my firstborn’s birthday is upon us, I wanted to shout out Olive, who is a living, cooing reminder that we have received a tangible outpouring of goodness Memorial Sunday 2017:

Dear Olive Hope Kim,

Thank you for being Thanksgiving personified for our family this year.

During tough times, choosing to be grateful all the dang time was a challenge, a challenge I wanted to rebel against.  Other times, it is too easy.

This year, you make it too easy.  When I think of you, see you, smell you, hear you, let you sleep in my armpit when you creep over from your crib, you mark me with gratitude. Even now, you are perched on your tummy on your playmat next to me as I type and when we meet eyes, you beam at me.

I just saw a picture on Facebook from a few years ago, a picture of our family of four, when you were just a fantasy I thought I needed to put to bed because…c’mon now!

Thank you for joining us.  Thank you for allowing us to experience baby joy all over again.  Thank you for filling our cluttered household with awe, even with the overstuffed diaper bag that your dad went from saying, “Never again.  It is finished,” to “Do we have enough diapers in there?”

When I see your brothers surround you, joke with you, hold you, my hands raise to the heavens as a reflex.  Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord.

Thank you for making it seem like there was never a time before you.  Thank you for reminding us that there is still good and blessing in this world as I watch terrible current events unfold.  While I was watching news about the Vegas shooting on 10/2, the morning after your Ellis brother’s 5th birthday, you rolled over for the first time.  What a contrast:  the evil that lurks everywhere and a still-pure you, rolling over in the safety of our cozy apartment.

Watching you grow into a real human will be one of the top five periods of my life I will reminisce about in my old age.  Sure, I’m tired and now that it’s cold, I’m carrying All the Jackets and I can’t get past the tables at the library or in the aisles of T.J. Maxx.

Some days, especially from school pick-up through bedtime, I want to yell or actually yell at your excitable brothers who seem to have hearing problems when I speak.  Then I’ll catch a glimpse of you lying around in some corner of our living room, beaming like we are celebrities, or searching the room with your bright eyes, moaning for somebody to come poke you in the belly or just pay you some mind, and then I’ll be back at Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord.

Right now, there is no separate Olive and Mommy.  You are an extension of me wherever I go.  Even at church, when Daddy asks to hold you, I miss you and I want to feel your warm body back in my arms, gazing at me and punching my chest as you nurse.

Your precious infanthood is already almost halfway done and it isn’t hard for me to cherish every moment, as the cliche goes, because I now know all too well how fast it goes before I’m chasing you at the playground and trying not to say something I’ll regret.

Under a Friendsgiving tarp this past Sunday, with the rain beating down, your dad decided to dance with you while he was holding you.  He told me that he got teary-eyed as he imagined dancing with you decades down the line, Lord willing, perhaps under a tarp with loved ones, and you still beaming at him.

I’m done typing now so I can hold you, our Thanksgiving star.  Publishing now before our laptop crashes again.

Love,

Mommy

IMG_9074IMG_9082IMG_9134IMG_9148IMG_9149IMG_9158IMG_9251IMG_9300

 

 

Advertisements

Family Fun at the Farm (after attitude adjustments)

This weekend was perfect.

Not because we spontaneously skipped the boys’ Saturday activities to catch the last weekend of our favorite pumpkin patch, or because of Sunday’s storm accompanied by Kevin’s homemade pho, or the video game-like World Series Game 5 between the Dodgers and the Astros providing much excitement and bonding for everyone across the country late Sunday night.

The forecast showed that Saturday would be in the 60s before Sunday’s storm and though I craved rest, AND I didn’t want the boys to miss their Saturday sports, I couldn’t pass up this last chance to take Olive to our favorite pumpkin patch for her first visit.  We hadn’t missed a year yet for maybe the past four years?

But this would require effort.  Effort beyond scrounging up something to wear these days for my still postpartum body.

Grabbing all the costumes, refilling the diaper bag, packing extra blankets for Olive, charging the camera, finding and charging the selfie stick (which we never used once we got there), and other mundane but necessary To Do’s.  I even insisted on M and E getting haircuts before we headed out because I can’t stand looking at shaggy hair in my holiday photos.

Kevin took them to the car first because I can’t hear myself think when we’re trying to head out.  I packed a final tote bag of more stuff, to add to the corned beef and PB&J samiches I had packed during their haircuts and Olive’s morning nap.

I was already sweating from getting ready and I had grown irritated that getting out the apartment was harder in part because we had to repeat ourselves.  The boys were hurting my supersonic ears and Kevin reported back that the boys had fought the entire way down and had gotten in his way AGAIN at the garage steps, where he has to hoist the Snap n Go to level ground.

By the time I got into the passenger seat, I warned them that I was NOT having it:

“It’s already hard for our bigger family to get out the door but when you guys don’t listen, and get in our way, it makes it harder and it is NOT okay.  You guys know better and can do better.  You have to choose the right thing.  Mommy doesn’t even feel like going any more when you fight and make it harder to leave.  When it’s already hard, you should say, ‘How can we help?’ rather than make it harder.  And if you can’t help, at least don’t make it worse.

Now, I won’t force it but can someone other than Mommy or Daddy pray for me and for the rest of the day?  If we want to go, we can’t go like this.”

I was sure that they would sulk so I was surprised when M volunteered.  “Please Lord, help us to listen better and to break the cycle.  Thank You for letting us go together and please keep us safe.”

I am all too familiar with going to fun destinations and having a horrible time because we weren’t able to break the cycle of conflict and emotional turmoil before or during a special event so *THIS* was the highlight of my weekend, as awesome as the rest of it was.

This gift of UNDERSTANDING at a young age that just because you messed up, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in it and sabotage the rest of the day in order to subconsciously or consciously match it up to the initial jacked up-ness.  The kids are grasping this idea that at any moment of any given day, THEY have to power to redirect themselves.  There is always more grace and His mercies are not just new every morning but every moment.

I didn’t live this out myself until recently, after about five years of struggling in our marriage and now that I’m doing much better, this day at the pumpkin patch started off on the right vibe and the picture perfect moments were truly that.  Also, as third-time parents, knowing how crazy I get about preserving ALL the moments, we intentionally practiced the art of taking a deep breath and saying, “That’s enough picture-taking.  Let’s just take stop and enjoy.”

So, Olive turned five months old at the pumpkin patch and as the third child, she is inheriting an emotionally healthier family.

Here are some photos:

IMG_8648IMG_8657IMG_8664IMG_8681IMG_8691IMG_8695IMG_8698IMG_8706IMG_8713IMG_8743

 

 

 

“Immeasurably More…” – Mother’s Day 2017

Mother’s Day 2017 started out with the boys scurrying around with their homemade cards and origami flowers while I enjoyed a prolonged snuggle with my Snoogle, our old pregnancy pillow that we miraculously didn’t throw out over the years because Kevin liked it for himself.

The boys presented me with their bounty and also did their Mother’s Day choreography to Boyz II Men’s “Mama you Know I Love You,” directed by Daddy since 2015.  Kevin made me a veggie omelette, which Ellis also nibbled on.

Micah’s one gift was a handmade heart that said, “I love you so much it’s as easy as drawing a heart.”  He also added, “And you’re also easy to draw, Mommy, because I’m good at drawing fat people now.”

We went to church and all the adult females were gifted with a single pink carnation.  Ellis asked, “But Mommy, why you take the flower when you said we can’t buy you any kind of plant because then you have to take care of it?”

Pastor Rich Villodas spoke from Ephesians 3:20:

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Now he pointed out that though many focus on “immeasurably more” as in blessings in our personal lives, the passage is actually referring to how God can bring opposing groups together, immeasurably more than we ever imagined.

But I was marinating in the “immeasurably more” as in more blessed than I’d ever imagined.  There were two times in my life where I struggled with a debilitating depression.

While in the pit, I informed my parents that fine, I will stay alive because I have to but that I won’t ever thrive in this here life.  Sorry for being so broken and such a burden but you guys will have to take care of me for the rest of my life because of the darkness I just can’t emerge from.  As a parent now, I think about how devastating that would be to hear from your child who “should” be having a blast in those much anticipated college years.

Talk about immeasurably more than I ever imagined.  Despite those earlier dark times and even tough times in more recent years as we struggled in our marriage, here I was, sitting in the balcony at my colorful church in Queens, NYC, with a bonus baby in my belly, my two sons who crack me up daily, and a husband who just may be the Most Reviled husband for making others look bad.

But I have to put myself on blast as the day took a different turn.  I swear I was thinking about my Immeasurably More Blessed status even as we drove to Brooklyn for the Mother’s Day Brunch that Kevin had reserved.

On the way there, Ellis warned us he was getting carsick so we parked very far from the restaurant to get him some fresh air.  Whew, vomit averted.  We walked many blocks to the restaurant.  One block before the restaurant, Ellis gagged and bent over, vomiting onto the sidewalk, like a little man hungover.  Passersby commented, “Aww poor kid.”

As far as vomit goes, this was ideal.  Sidewalk vomit, only a mild spittle on my shoes.

I don’t know if my bad attitude started brewing then but once I saw the set menu, I went from basking in my Immeasurably More Blessed status to griping for Immeasurably More than the limited fancy egg or samich on the menu.  I still don’t know how I went from beyond grateful to pissed off so fast.

I started getting crabby as the boys fought over the phone, which I had hoped would not have made its appearance but Kevin was worried about Ellis’ stomach so he thought it’d be a good distraction.  Then I noticed all this glassware on the table that no one else seemed to be mindful of while I could picture spills in slow motion.

No kids’ menu so they were gonna have to order same overpriced egg or samich from the adult set menu.  The waiter said he would bring the kids some pistachio ice cream for their dessert later and because we were harried, we both said, “Yum.”  Then I called him back to say, “Oops, he’s allergic.”

My attitude spiraled down from there, as I thought, “Man, I wanted to just tag along today.  Clearly, I can’t just be passive for one day.  Mama still has to be hyper-vigilant.”  Again, unfair since Kevin totally holds it down so that I can mostly be passive.

Ellis remarked, “Mommy, you MEAN on Mother’s Day.”

I just wanted to confess this Mother’s Day attitude that I later apologized for.  I dunno if it was the hyped up holiday or my hormones, but even at my most grateful, I jacked up AGAIN.  I might have stayed up too late the night before, finally trying to catch “Catastrophe” with Kevin, or I just had too high expectations, unbeknownst to me.

After I apologized, I asked Kevin to not surprise me next year as his veggie omelette was way better than the $40 egg I had at Glassware Galore Restaurant.  He reminded me that last year I had requested brunch ambience aka White Papple ambience, so that is why he chose this place but that next year, I can chime in since my cravings are ever-changing.

Anyone else’s Mother’s Day take a topsy turvy turn?

FullSizeRender(59)

FullSizeRender(60)

At least the $40 egg included homemade cinnamon donuts with caramel sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaccommodatin’

Substitute my brother’s white Mitsubishi Eclipse from decades ago for our silver Honda Odyssey minivan.  And my 20-something self with my bigger 40 year-old self with pregnant belly protruding onto the steering wheel and basically, we have the same scenario.

When I was younger, I would blow off steam by driving in the familiar San Fernando Valley streets with music blasting.  I hadn’t realized that driving alone to de-stress was still an option for me until this past weekend.  Lemme back up.

Spring Break was upon us and this year, it went on for seven full weekdays.  So counting the weekends, it was for 12 days straight.  Kevin took one day off for our trip to local Bear Mountain.  I noticed during the break that my boys have grown much bigger in stature and presence.  I could not physically control them like I could when they were morsels I could lift in and out of their double stroller.

The most stressful moments of Spring Break were when we had to get somewhere by a certain time.

Like on Good Friday, the tail end of that first week of break.  The boys entertain each other so well these days that I am practically a third wheel to their inside jokes, songs, and secrets.  Until they fight.  Right when we had to go get the car to get to our parking-challenged church for Good Friday service, Fight Club was at it again.

Perhaps because this was the end of a fun but long week, I started seeing red.  I wanted to swat them.  We somehow made it to church and I noticed that en route to church, they had fallen asleep.  They must have woken up earlier that morning and that was why they were more rambunctious than usual.  But I didn’t care.

I needed to tap out.  I counted the minutes ’til Kevin could meet me in the church parking lot when he could tend to the sleeping angels and I could take just Me Myself and I (and obedient, compliant, quiet Belly Baby) into the sanctuary.  I hoped Kevin knew from my terrible mood to not try to find me once we were in the sanctuary.  BECAUSE I NEEDED ME SOME SANCTUAAAAARY!

I sat in the balcony, my favorite section.  I couldn’t even sing or pray.  I just kept fanning myself, just feeling beyond drained from the week of quality time with my boys.  I was at a -10 in self-care.  I didn’t know how to get them to listen to me, these growing, galloping horse boys in our apartment.  In some ways, this stage was much more taxing than a baby with no visible neck, just sitting there, with all of its delicious rolls and sausage arms to objectify and nibble on.

As I was fanning myself, Kevin texted me, “We are downstairs,” right after I saw them walking in.  Because I was so tapped out, my first instinct was to hide!  (Family – if you ever read this, I LOVE YOU.  But I am also human and I need to tap out and recharge).  My beautiful Denzel-smiling Micah located me right away and looked up at me in the balcony.  He beamed like he and his Fight Club partner hadn’t just put me through the wringer.  I smiled back but didn’t budge when he gestured for me to come down to their level.

I gazed down below at a family of six, sitting together, the youngest nuzzling into Dad’s neck.  Father, Lord, help me, I just can’t right now.

I was able to savor my solitude throughout the beautifully planned special Good Friday service.  I wanted to clap back with an exclamation of, “Glory Hallelu!” when Pastor Rich Villodas pointed out in his sermon that Jesus did not say, “You are a good good Father!” when He was being crucified on the cross.  Instead, even Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  And we can take comfort in that because it gives us permission to be human and voice our anguish to God.

And man, I felt VERY human on Good Friday.  I couldn’t get over how hard of a time I was having just taking care of myself, Belly Baby, and Wrestlemania Kims.  As I was headed to different, interactive centers set up throughout our church for focused meditation and reflection, a couple people kindly informed me, “I saw your kids in the Elephant Room!” as a way of greeting me.  Usually, I would beam at any mention of my kids but this time I thought to myself, “Good, they there with they Daddy and Mama here in the Upper Stage Room, still ketchin’ her breath.”  I did peek in without being seen and was relieved to see that they were enjoying a jellybean Jesus activity instead of absorbing my Tapped Out Toxins.

I was still emotional even after we were able to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt at twilight with our friends.  I told Kevin, “Hey, I know I am repeating myself but I am so tapped out.  I cannot repeat another day of Fight Club.  It sounds extreme but I cannot take care of anyone tomorrow.  Please.”

Kevin heard me but still said, “OK, but remember, tomorrow I have to check out open houses and all you would have to do is take the boys to soccer.”

Tread lightly, brother.  “All you would have to do?”

I got salty because that sounded tame for any other day but I was tapped out.  And taking the boys to soccer meant walking them over, taking them back home, feeding them, keeping them from fighting, and little details you don’t quite think about.  Suddenly, I had a lightbulb moment.

“Hey, *I’MMA* go to open houses and you will take them to soccer.  And I will return laaaaaaaate.”

That is how I found myself on the highway, blasting my radio and driving like a free bird.  I always thought I hated driving but I had to check myself and qualify that:  I hate driving in our congested neighborhood with my precious treasures in the backseat, demanding The Weekend and Ariana Grande at the same time, but driving ALONE AND UNENCUMBERED with full control of the radio on a highway to a land of parking spots galore!?

I NEEDED TO DRIVE ALONE BY MYSELF ON THAT SATURDAY!  Sure, I came back and reported to Kevin that one house was very close to a Taco Bell/Pizza Hut and that was cool so now he needs to go re-visit houses for me, but that Saturday of Solitary Driving saved me.

Added bonus:  Kevin reported back to me that his staying home with the boys was just what he needed to rest!

We reaccommodated our roles and were much better for it.  I drove home, loaded with gyros and Greek chicken soup that night and was able to miss my boys again.  Recharged for Resurrection Sunday.

Now we lookin’ for more ways to reaccommodate our roles after I experienced some cramping and contractions that we first chalked up to a rare Taco Bell consumption.

FullSizeRender(56)

When you feelin’ like this, REACCOMMODATE (but not like United)!

Searching for our Next Home on MLK Jr. Day 2017

“Hey, Micah, tomorrow is your special day!” Ellis and I joked as MLK Jr. Monday approached.  Micah sheepishly answered, “No, Mommy, I’m only named after him.  So it’s not really MY day.”

MLK Jr. Day is a special day for our family.  We named our firstborn “MLK” as we couldn’t think of anyone else we both wanted to pay homage to.  (No, Kevin, we will NOT be naming any of our kids after your William Martin Joel.)

Though Ellis was actually named after Ellis Island, after Kevin had stumbled upon the cool-named baseball player “Ellis Valentine” while catching up on his Sports Illustrated, our Ellis was conceived on MLK Jr. Day 2012.

This year, on MLK Jr. Monday, we spent the afternoon starting the search for our next home, exploring houses in a local suburb after a couple friends bought homes in the area.  We are not sure about Musts v. Wants,  other than urgently needing more space, commutes under an hour, affordable pricing, and good (not best) schools.

We rolled into town and some of the neighbors glanced over at us, just to see who was driving down their block.  My immediate response was, “Yo, I can’t do this.  Was our radio on too loud?  I feel like I need to bump some Tupac or Guantanamera.  Where my do-rag at?”  Kevin reminded me, “You’re not REALLY Black.”

I knew that these neighborly glances from their garage or while walking their dogs were most likely innocuous but this is the part of the home-search that I am not yet at peace with:  Can I do without people of color?  Is lack of diversity a deal-breaker?  If so, our options are even more limited for our budget.  I also still yearn for that California vibe where folks would just say “hello” to strangers but I’ve accepted that that’s just asking for too much.

Say that we find a home that meets most of our criteria BUT it’s located in a town that is 95% white.  Okay, now my heart is beating more rapidly as I type.  I don’t want my kids to be THE Asians in their class or school.  I don’t want to hear compliments about the Kim boys who are “just lovely, such good boys.”  I don’t want to become Borat while hanging out with White moms, explaining, “In my count-trrrryy, we have postpartum ritual we like to call…”

I don’t want to feel as Other as MLK Jr. and Coretta, fighting the good fight, while raising up our family in a homogeneous community, whether it be all White or all Chinese.  (And I know that with our Model Minority Mugs, we are hardly fighting the same prejudices as MLK Jr. and Coretta with the Good Name).  Friends have brought up good points:  that we can start the trend, and more Asians and other people of color will migrate soon enough, especially if there are good schools around.  “If you build it, they will come.”

I’ve had the good fortune of attending only diverse schools, from the moment we immigrated to Los Angeles when I was couple months shy of turning five.  I started kindergarden and stayed silent for a year because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, sputtering out pitiful, laughable Ingrish.  It was the first time I had seen people with light hair and blue eyes and it was a lot to process.  My first teacher was an older woman whose light hair was turning blue so there were so many new colors I needed to digest, after only seeing Black hair and nearly Black eyes back in Seoul.

Even during my silent year, I did speak to Korean classmates, working out a system where I’d do their math and they’d help me out with Ingrish.  I even developed my first crush on a Filippino boy named Carlos without really speaking to him directly.  (And Kevin IS sporting Bruno Mars’ hair lately).

Later, when my little brother and I were bussed from Koreatown to the boojie Laurel Canyon area to attend a gifted magnet school,  I did develop an inferiority complex as so many of our classmates were wealthy.  Even then, we still had so many classmates who were also children of immigrants, also getting bussed in.  This continued through college and graduate schools:  so much color all around.

Now, Kevin, on the other hand, totally had a different experience.  He was THE people of color in his graduating high school class.  When I attended his high school reunion in CT as his then-girlfriend or then-fiancé, I started twitching as we were THE people of color (plus one classmate’s husband who was also Asian and mistaken for Kevin).  While the classmates were getting they drinks on, one girl “complimented” Kevin:  “Don’t you worry, KK, you were as White as the rest of us.”

I don’t know where we will end up yet but I don’t know how to reconcile my urge to start rioting when I visit an all White community, even for a single afternoon visit to a children’s museum in CT or at a Billy Joel concert.  And now we in a Trump era…

 

fullsizerender-4

Please lead us to a nice next home, Lord!

This is Us (A Christmas Post)

Today, Christmas Eve Eve, was the kids’ last day of school before six days off for their winter break.  It was also Kevin’s first day of vacation from work.  I will also be home the whole time.  We’ll all be taking next week off together to do or not do whatever we want.

I attended Micah’s class party in the morning.  Kevin and I then had about three hours together without the kids.  I hadn’t heard of any movies that I was dying to watch but I saw that a “Manchester By the Sea” was getting rave reviews.  Kevin warned me that he had heard that it was overly depressing but when I looked up the synopsis, I said, “Excuse me?  Do you not know me?  This movie is my soulmate.  It has everything I’m drawn to.”

No spoilers.  It was a story about a family.  And that’s my jam.  I love getting a glimpse of family dynamics beneath the surface.  Speaking of beneath the surface, I’ve been able to bask in the holidays this year.  When the boys were younger, I would feel such holiday angst and an overload of emotions I didn’t know how to channel:  Memories of how my parents had to work so much they could not prioritize celebration and how I wanted to rewrite that story but not feeling equipped to do so.

I don’t know exactly how but this year, I am able to fully embrace this Christmas season and it feels downright magical, with gratitude oozing out of my 40 year-old pores.  Nothing feels like pressure.  Everything feels like a privilege.  Unlike my immigrant parents whose peak season as storeowners was the holidays, we are blessed with more than a week of luxuriating in free time together, neither of us having to run ragged at any store, with our only “job” being relaxing and enjoying (and maybe some cleaning).

Halleluyer for this breakthrough.  Thank you, God, for new traditions and just plain enjoyment.

And…while not the only reason for my holiday inner makeover, I would like to take a moment to share our Christmas joy.

Early morning of my 40th birthday, while the rest of my family slept, I walked over to the CVS across the street, calmly made a single purchase, took that purchase to my gym bathroom, ironically, for some privacy.  I was there to confirm what I knew in my gut.

Pregnant for the third time after about two years of Should We or Shouldn’t We Go For It (Of COURSE We Cannot, It Would Be Crazy, Right?).  Actually, we are the biggest fans of NBC’s “This Is Us” and I just wanted our children to be able to do the Big Three chant.

While it was a completely natural conception, the story of this baby’s creation is supernatural.  I hope to share more in 2017.  And I don’t believe in TMI.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  Wishing you the best for 2017.  (And if the holidays are tough for you to navigate, you are not alone.  You are loved.)

fullsizerender34

We’ve celebrated the conception of each child at the same restaurant.  We didn’t realize until after we had ordered but our entrees were perfect for the occasion:  a trio of pasta for our trio of children.

 

 

 

 

You Loved Me

As part of what has become somewhat of a Sunday tradition, Kevin made us breakfast on that late October morning.

It was the boys’ first taste of canned corned beef hash.  So bad for you but just once a year, it sho’ does hit the spot.  I even sniffed around for Dinty Moore Beef Stew at our Key Food but (thankfully) they didn’t have it.

As Kevin cooked behind the closed door with the stove fan whirring, I asked the boys if they could recall their dreams from the night before.  I recall every vivid detail each night, while Kevin cannot recall a thing so I wondered who they would take after.  The boys told me some of what they could remember.  I told them that I dreamt of when I was in my 20s, laughing with my girlfriends.

Micah commented, “But we weren’t around then.  Did you miss us in your dream?”  Ellis chimed in, “Yeah!”

[Feeling tears form] “It was long before we ever knew there would be a precious Micah and a precious Ellis.  That young Jihee didn’t know what she was missing!” [Kissing their faces after wiping corned beef hash grease offa my lips].

I had to head out to Manhattan while the boys went to church.  I had (finally) signed up for a photography class through Groupon so that I could learn the basics of my DSLR.  I hate to miss church on any given Sunday but this was the only time slot that would fit my schedule before the colder weather set in.

I packed everything into a huge, 90’s-esque, pink backpack I had found in our closet and made sure I took my red thermos.  It was going to be cold and some of the class was going to be held outside.

Early as usual but once the big class got underway, I took a still-hot sip from the red thermos.  That was the moment I teared up with gratitude.  I felt it warm my body from head to toe, and it wasn’t just the warm liquid in my bones.

I had been fed a savory hot meal by my husband, flanked by two sons who could not fathom a 20-something Mommy before they were glimmers in her eye, and now I was privileged enough to be in a class I had been wanting to take for years, sipping hot barley tea from this red thermos.

Everyday, I know I am loved.  But in that moment, I felt all of it.  I FELT so loved that my eyes leaked.

I don’t even own my own thermos because I didn’t think I’d use one.  This red thermos I keep talking about was passed off to me the night before at our dear friends’ house.  These are friends who have made me challenge the belief of my parents that “only blood will truly be there for you.”  These are friends who make folks feel so at home in their home.

Other folks may have bigger, fancier homes but can also make me feel like I got to walk on eggshells.  I would make sure I am not a burden in any way and when my kids were babies and toddlers, I would make sure I didn’t leave a trace of them anywhere.  The gift of hosting truly is a gift.

As we left that night, my friend knew I was headed to my little photography class and insisted I borrow her thermos.  I kept refusing because I didn’t want to take her stuff.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer as she packed us up some homemade pumpkin pie that her baker sister had baked while we were together.

I had already felt so loved and cared for when she practically made me take her thermos.  I think I love to be bossed around sometimes by loved ones.  I am not the mom or the big sister in those moments.  It makes me feel cared for.

When I started drinking from my friend’s thermos among this motley crew of strangers wanting to learn how to use their cameras, I felt an urge to testify:  I AM SO VERY LOVED.

I can’t include all the other moments from this year alone where I *FELT* so loved because this post is already too long.  But man, those moments are such gifts that I can’t help but raise my hands to the heavens and say, “Thank you!”  Just one example:  When Micah was hospitalized for 2.5 days in May for a severe asthma attack, one of my O.G. friends from Cali reached out to me:  “Of course, we are praying for you but I need to do something more.  Can I please send you a meal?”

Because of our close friendship and the way she didn’t say, “If there’s anything I can do, name it…” (which is also kind but hard for me to ever respond to), I was able to say “yes” without feeling like I was putting her out.  As soon as we were sprung from the hospital, with another good friend driving us home, some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had was brought to us without us ever having to make a single decision about our next meal.

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, I thank God for these You Loved Me moments that make me a rich woman.  Please share your You Loved Me moments!

*And please know that though you may not FEEL it every moment of every day, YOU are so loved.*

You are God’s precious child, a parent’s unique gift (there is no one else like you), a friend’s comfort and delight (quality, not quantity), and a part of this universe’s miraculous story.

Wishing you a Red Thermos Thanksgiving 2016.  You are beloved.