A couple of years ago when I started this blog, A Life of Gratitude, I did so for two reasons. First and foremost, as a way to express my sense of gratitude and wonder for all that I have in my life, not the least of which is a wonderful wife and two beautiful boys. Second, as a constant reminder to myself that on days when I may not feel as blessed as I do other days, I need to look around and be reminded that I certainly am. Gratitude is always a reflection of our attitude toward life, not our circumstances in life.
This weekend I was introduced to a third reason for this blog.
Saturday night I happened to be breezing through the living room. I used to spend some extended time in the rooms I now breeze through running to or from two young boys. As I entered the room, a television show caught my eye. It was animated. And like no time in my life since sometime back in the late 60's and early 70's (wow I'm getting old), animated shows capture my attention.
The show was Shark Tales. A bunch of animated fish living in an animated underwater world. A mob world if you haven't seen it, which could be the subject of another post I suppose. But at the time all I could think of was how much Elliott would probably enjoy watching it. So I grabbed the remote control and hit the record button. Oh, how I love the DVR. Do you remember VCRs?
When Elliott got up Sunday morning his first request was to watch the show. By the time we left for church he had watched the entire show and was working on the re-run. Like many children his age, he couldn't get enough of the non-stop action and colors of a cartoon world.
On our way home from church during a relatively quiet stretch of the drive, stretches that usually last no more than a few feet, Elliott threw out one of his tidbits that caught me off guard. "Daddy," he said, "thank you for taping the fish story for me." It was so innocent, so sincere. And it wasn't long before he was right back to talking about one of his wild adventures with purple monsters at one of his farms or far away houses. But for some reason he was compelled to insert a thank you in there.
It was nice to feel Elliott's appreciation. But more than that, it was encouraging to see him begin to experience the value of being thankful. The receiving end of a grateful heart feels nice, but on the giving end is a life truly shaped by the same heart. As parents, we see plenty of evidence each day that makes us question if there was sound reasoning behind the decision to place us in that role. Thank you, God, for even the briefest moment to believe our applications had some redeeming qualities.
It is worth mentioning again that Ian idolizes Elliott. Most days he'll shove Katie and me out of the way to get to his big brother. I drive home at night with a backseat chorus that asks over and over - Elyet? Elyet? I only mention this to comfort myself. If Elliott is going to be Ian's adopted mom and dad, then just maybe Elliott can provide some direction that doesn't make us cringe.
In fairness, Elliott is equally shaped by Ian. Elliott has always looked at the world in a very orderly way. Everything has a place and his endless curiosity drives him to try to understand how the world is arranged. Ian, he lives with a spirit that the world was arranged for him to dismantle and put back together in more fun and exciting patterns. And some days, Elliott appreciates the chaos of Ian's order, or lack thereof.
I think they actually make a nice balance. And if not, I know if makes for a wonderful show. It may not show up on the DVR, it may not get a thank you, but it is a show we are blessed to be a part of each and every day.