Every night, after our nightly prayers, giving thanks and all, I tuck my children in, and an hour or two later, I’d crawl into my warm, cozy bed while “Freddie Teddy,” my ever first teddy bear, is fixed steady on one side of the bed, staring blankly at anyone looking at him, with the pink personalized ribbon around his fluffy neck. In my quiet moment, I start to reflect on a lot of things… my life especially. And at the end, I am always thankful.
Many, due to different circumstances, wander the streets, with no place to call home. I do know that as long as God blesses us with the gift of life, hope overflows.
Every morning, I wake up with the sun and I am reminded of how blessed I am, to be able to breath in and out… without pain… without any kind of an external support. So, I breath… freely, with a grateful heart.
I must tell you this: Aside from my strong faith in God, my children keep grounded. They don’t act like kids because they are kids. Sometimes, it can be a challenge when they go overboard exhibiting those childish behaviors. Instead of overreacting, I take deep breaths, take God on board with me, and handle each behavior accordingly.
A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old son, Chima, refused to eat the healthy meal I had prepared for dinner. He wanted to eat some “junk food” instead. As disciplined as I am especially when it comes to their wellbeing, I told him that he has two choices, “Eat the meal or go to sleep hungry.” He turned down the two choices, and was whining for more than a minute. You see once in a while, I allow my kids to tell (well, to ask) me what they would like for me to cook for them. I don’t just have a kitchen because it came with the house. I love to cook in it. As a matter of fact, the kitchen is my favorite place in a house. There, you know my secret (laughs). They get to place orders as if in a fancy restaurant, and I prepare each meal according to their taste bud.
It was now past 7:45 p.m.! The house was finally quiet from Chima’s whining, screaming, and crying his eyes and heart out. I still did not succumb to his wish of eating “junk food” from a drive-through eatery. He sat on the floor, motionless, with his left hand on his left knee, supporting his chin up. I grabbed my computer and Goggled a few photos… photos of kids in remote areas of Africa and beyond, dying of hunger and thirst, and of course, lack of medical attention. Anyone who has blood flowing through their veins would be heartbroken too, looking at the photos. I am inspired to keep working harder and harder, in an effort to one day, feed the hungry. Many of us know what it is to be hungry and thirsty.
I gathered my children around my computer to see what I was seeing. My oldest child, 14, started to tear up… She gets emotional about stories like that. She too hopes to one day be an angel to the needy. My 8-year-old could not comprehend how a child like him is so thin… thin enough that even a blind person could see his rib cage. He then asked:
“Why does he look like that, Mommy?”
“Well, his family doesn’t have food to eat. This little boy has not eaten for more than a week. That’s seven whole days, baby!”
At this point, he started to cry again.
“Do you know how happy he would be if he sees your food right now?” I continued.
Chima still said nothing and was so focused on the image on the screen while wiping away his tears. My 10-year-old covered her mouth with one hand, and had that kind of look on her face that said, “Oh my God!” And my soon-to-be-13-year-old pulled his baby brother towards him and said:
“Now, you see how lucky you are to have food to eat? You better go eat your food.”
Chima ran to the kitchen, grabbed his plate from the countertop, and popped it in the microwave. Before we knew it, his plate was empty, and he rushed back into my bedroom and said,
“Thank you, Mommy. You are the best cook. I promise to eat my food all the time.”
Each day, I never fail to remind my children (and anyone who cares to listen) the importance of being thankful at all times… even when things are not going your way or seem hopeless. (Remember the word here is “seem.” That something appears to be doesn’t mean that it is). There’s no special day to be thankful. Everyday is a special day. Be thankful.
By the way, the name Chima is short for Chimaobim, meaning, “God knows my heart.”
The text in bold below is a song I was taught during my nursery school days in Enugu, Nigeria. It never left my heart. Sometimes I sing it to my children as a reminder of how blessed we are…
Some have food, but cannot eat. Some can eat, but have no food. We have food and we can eat. Glory be to you, Oh Lord.
We constantly complain especially about those things that we wish to have. Yes, it’s only natural to do so. But when we dwell on those wishes, it takes away our focus from the things that really matter; what we have. Ungrateful? Yes indeed.
It is important, therefore, very necessary, to make time for reflections. Some might ask why. Reflections aid growth, our growth. When you make time to reflect on your life, where you are (who/what needs to be in it or not be), where you were, and where you envision being, then you would have grown in mind and in spirit. You will begin to look at things from different perspectives. Teach your children and neighbors the importance of GIVING and being THANKFUL.
In the midst of life, the good days and those bad days, it really matters to be thankful… show it, say it, and feel it. Take life, not just one-step at a time, but one breath at a time. Learn to appreciate every breath… every step… every struggle… every hope… everything/everyone that matters. Don’t wait for the end of the year to make your New Year’s resolution(s). You are given the chance each day to resolve to be the best that you have been destined to be.
As long as the clouds remain, the sun will be right behind it, and will shine when it’s time… That’s hope. So, do more than exist… live 24/7, thankful.