Thankful Even if the Gravy is Runny

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

My post this week was featured in last Sunday’s Florida Times-Union. It is one of my favorite and hopefully it will help you remember that things don’t have to go perfectly this week. Love has a way of softening messes and shaping imperfections into the best memories. That’s my prayer for all of you this Thanksgiving.

Below is a giant picture of my book. I made it giant so you could see the pretty bow and tag and the bookmark with the works of mercy listed on it. And also, I have gone blind and now have to ask salespeople to read the product information to me when I leave my readers in the car. I think it freaks them out when I tell them I can’t see but it also seems to make them seem less judgemental about my sometimes poor grooming habits.

All that is to say, I hope you will consider gifting Simple Mercies to the people on your list. Signed and personalized copies make a great gift and include the ribbon, gift tag, and bookmark. Signed copies are $20 and that includes taxes and shipping (because sadly I have to pay for both). Or, if you are local and are willing to pick it up from me, your cost would be $16 with tax included. I accept Venmo, PayPal, and Visa. 

Also, if you buy four books the fifth one is free! How fun is that?! (It’s fun. I promise.)

If you are interested, please email me at lpatangan@gmail.com or you can call to place an order at (904) 704-7567. Either way, please know how much I appreciate your support. I continue to be thankful for this space that connects me to like-minded people. It gives me as much hope as it does gratitude.

Here is the link to this week’s post https://www.jacksonville.com/story/opinion/columns/guest/2021/11/21/guest-column-thanksgiving-more-those-we-love-not-food/6379519001/

 

The Best Gift to Get

While most people fret over not knowing what to buy someone for Christmas, I have a different sort of problem. I love what I buy for others so much, I inevitably want to keep it.

I recognize that my propensity to want to hoard other people’s Christmas presents makes me like Dr. Seuss’s mean-spirited character, the Grinch. In fact, I’m afraid if I took one of those mail-in DNA tests, I might discover that my ancestry doesn’t descend from royalty like one hopes but from a tribe of hairy, pot-bellied, avocado-colored men whose hearts are two sizes too small.

Besides worrying about this fundamental flaw in my genetics, it’s a terrible nuisance to realize you still have more Christmas shopping to do because you kept many of the things you bought for others. My husband, who is a gifted enabler, lovingly wraps the gifts I hoard and puts them under the tree for me. I think it’s a relief for him because he doesn’t have to work as hard at trying to figure out what to give me for Christmas. So, maybe on some level what I’m doing is altruistic.

I know this behavior hardly conjures scenes from the nativity. I suppose I wouldn’t have made a very good wise woman anyhow. I would meet sweet baby Jesus with the gold I bought for him forged into a stylish bracelet around my wrist while explaining to him that his gift would arrive on the next camel.

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Self-acceptance blooms

Self-acceptance blooms

Midway through potting a plant, I could tell the flower was tilting, so I pulled the whole thing out, hollowed the dirt, carefully centered it, and filled the gaps with the black magic of Miracle Gro. Since it was still leaning, I added soil to the other side hoping its weight would tilt it upright.

When I finished, I had a pretty plant in a pretty pot lurching asymmetrically like a staggering drunk. Despite my efforts, it was crooked. This could be a metaphor for everything in my life, but it’s not. Well, maybe it is, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about self-acceptance.

My husband replanted the flower for me, and it looks lovely, nothing like the botanical version of the leaning tower of Pisa that it did when I planted it. I have come to accept that there are many things that I don’t do well. So much so that I often find myself saying, “That’s not my gift to the world.”

Most of the time I’m okay with my lack of gifts, but the crooked plant bothered me. I love to work in the yard, frequent garden centers, propagate succulents, and ask my husband to move heavy pots from place to place on the patio. So it frustrates me that I couldn’t do this seemingly simple task well. My husband doesn’t even like yard work, yet it’s nothing for him to plant a flower upright. It seems unfair.

Things that always appear easy for other people often felt hard for me. This always made me feel a little defective like maybe I should have a diagnosis, or my mother should finally admit she dropped me on my head as an infant. Still, I realize that my focus shouldn’t be on what my gifts are not, but on self-acceptance.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our deficiencies and forget all of the things that we do well. We forget that God made us for a purpose and it probably doesn’t have anything to do with what’s on Pinterest. Maybe it doesn’t even have anything to do with what we want to be good at.  He just wants us to love him and others. This doesn’t require a complicated skill set, and I don’t think it’s something we could ever do wrong.

By distracting ourselves with that we are not, we lose sight of who we are, which is always going to be beautiful to God despite our inherent imperfection. This is the mercy of his love.

The most important thing I have learned is that God loves me regardless of anything I do or don’t do. He doesn’t measure my worth by what gets crossed off my to do list or what attributes the world might value. So much energy is spent trying to prove we are enough, we are worthy, and we have value. But we don’t have to prove anything to God.

Knowing this makes it a little easier to embrace and share my gifts with the world even if there are still many days that I struggle with identifying any. My gifts may not include planting a flower upright, yet miraculously I still grow towards the light.

After all, even a crooked flower can bloom.

 

I realize I need to start thinking more about what my gifts are to the world.  At first, all I came up with was making banana bread but before I knew it had added rescuing cats, reuniting dogs with their owners, being a good friend, loving my family, a few more things that had to do with cats, teaching Children’s liturgy, writing, and dancing to “I Will Survive.”  

What are your gifts?  Please share!  Sharing is a gift!  Also, if you liked this post, you may want to check out: http://larapatangan.com/2014/09/04/one-word-you-need-in-your-life-right-now/