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Toast and Tea

"Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea."

-author unknown

I have bumped into this quote several times over the years and every time I read it, I love it. My old nature is pessimistic and my new nature is forever trying to adjust my eyes. I want to be the type of wife and mother and friend who looks at bread and water and throws a tea party - I want to muster up the small amount of imagination and energy needed for this transformation, but some days I forget how.

A few months ago I was awakened to all three of our children crying. Not my favorite way to wake up... When I rolled over and growled this observation to my husband he responded "How wonderful" which I assumed would be the end of his remarks. But what he actually said was, "How wonderful that we have children." Oh man. So true! His comment re-framed the situation for me, shifting my thoughts from frustration to gratitude. I think this is the "secret" that Paul talks about in Philippians - the secret to being content in all situations. I think the secret is saying 'thank you'.

Phil 4:12-13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

But it is hard to say thanks in the middle of trying and terrible things. It is unnatural and I resist, like a child resisting medicine. And in His loving kindness the Lord reminds me time and again that gratitude is the discipline my soul needs. In fact, this offering of thanks is one of the ways He strengthens me. With this in mind, I conjure up each burden and will it to turn so I can examine it. I'm hunting for something Philippians 4:8 style. Is there anything excellent here? Anything worthy of praise? I look hard and long and always - every time, I find it - that bit of sparkle amidst the doom and gloom. And I grab that 'golden ticket' and smile wide because I've won. Because gratitude is always winning - always triumphing over despair.

Phil 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

If bread and water can so easily turn into a tea party, what else can be easily transformed?

Could a power outage and crying children stumbling in the dark become a flashlight camp-out in the living room. Yes. Yes, it could.

Could cancelled plans due to icy roads become pjs and cozy blankets and a warm night at home. Yes. That is also good.

Could my frustrations with my aging body turn to thanks for eyes that see and health I enjoy and limits that humble me and help me to lean on the Lord? Yes.

Could kids crying out for me in the night become, "Isn't it wonderful that we have kids?"

I am writing this for me. I need the reminder. I am currently on day 7 of being stuck at home with sick children and I am tempted to be cranky and thank-less. But maybe I am writing this for you too. Maybe there is something shiny, something excellent and praise worthy hiding within your bad day. In fact, I know there is. Let's hunt for and grab hold of those golden tickets. Let's wave them before heaven and say "thank you!" Let's smile wide because we have learned the secret. Then let's sit down and enjoy our toast and tea.

Psalm 116:17

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD.

"Turn in thanks and everything turns."

-Ann Voscamp

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