Grateful for the Ordinary

I convince myself that I can only write when I’m inspired to write and when something out of the ordinary has provoked rumination. If life glides along routinely, what could possibly inspire me to write stories about it or delve deep into the idiosyncrasies of human behavior or even compose a life update? But today I sit here, thankful for the ordinary.

Tonight Thai food is on the menu because of a dear friend who lives in Thailand and a few other dear friends who took me to my first Thai restaurant. Thai food isn’t ordinary, but cooking – chopping veggies, boiling pasta, cleaning the stove top – is as ordinary as it gets. Tonight I’m thankful for that, for time to try new recipes, and for an Asian foods store which sells Thai tea.

Last week, I entered the same classroom every morning. This makes over 575 times of starting a school day in that classroom. Whew. No wonder some mornings I feel less than excited to be there again. And yet, I’m grateful.

The week past was our hot drinks week. One corner of the classroom was designated to my hot water kettle, an assortment of drink mixes and tea bags, and 8 mugs. My students used an entire honey bear in one week. They also asked to use the bathroom – a lot. We had fun, nonetheless. In fact, this week is going to be another hot drinks week. We’ll keep going until we run out of honey again.

On Friday, we started research papers. I pulled out my old research reports, and I remembered how excited I was about decorating the folder, taking notes, and getting out of normal language class. Now I get to share that excitement with seven others. They are hard workers, and they take initiative on projects to go above and beyond. I’m looking forward to this, ordinary school days or not.

Last evening, Gabriel and I drove to town for a few Walmart necessities. Rather than go out to eat, we relived one of my fondest memories. We drove around to as many fast food restaurants as possible, picked one thing from the menu that we had never tried before, and shared it. We managed to stop a total of eight places. I can’t decide if my favorite was the caramel mocha milkshake from Dairy Queen, the steak and bacon grilled cheese from Sonic, or the McChicken from McDonald’s. No, I’ve never had a McChicken before, and yes, I loved it. We had a bad experience at Popeyes right before the McChicken, and we were pretty hungry at that point. It was drool-worthy. Town trips can become tiring when we have so few free evenings, but this one was special and memorable. For that I am grateful indeed.

This afternoon I sat on my front porch wrapped in a blanket because our warm start to January left us. I turned on the string lights to make my porch time more special even though it was 3 PM and broad daylight. My entertainment was a surprise magazine subscription from my neighbor. I lounged on the new bench I just built for comfortable front porch seating. It lacks a little bit in the comfort department. It would help if I had made it wide enough to sit on securely. Gabriel thankfully helped me out by saying he would build better seating for my birthday present. I sat with my magazine and my mango Izze, and messaged Abby about the Thai food I was planning to make. I also sent her a life update. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the simple, ordinary things I had to tell her. No, I haven’t traveled anywhere, gone on any spontaneous adventures, or done much at all besides teaching fifth grade and keeping my home habitable. The ordinary is extraordinary though.

I’m grateful for an espresso machine at school, lattes every forenoon for a pick-me-up, and occasional recess times off to eat Biscoff cookies.

I’m thankful for seven students who work hard and laugh at my jokes and for 5 co-teachers who listen to my rants and hold me accountable.

I’m praising God for a home that needs to be cleaned – one with a front porch that I really like and built-in bookshelves to hold my collection. I’m praising Him for a husband who expects me to make him food and in return takes care of the bills and decluttering the papers in the office.

The ordinary demands my gratitude. All of it is a blessing disguised as mundane life.


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