I’ve had a blessed day. Of course, I’ve had a long string of blessed Mother’s days, beginning in 1985 with the birth of our first child. Today was delightful. Brunch with Eric, Amy, Mason and Seth was perfect and brought that deep sense of joy and fulfillment one feels when dear people go out of their way to say, “I love you.” Who wouldn’t feel blessed?

I am exceedingly grateful. No one deserves such a full cup as I experienced today, as I experience every day. So what was nagging at me, under the surface? I have come to realize that there’s a part of my soul that is never contented with enough joy, but always wants more. It’s embarrassing, really.

So to counteract my ever-expanding appetite for pleasure, I’ve been practicing the art of grateful praise. I know it sounds corny, but the more thankful I am, the more pleasure I actually enjoy. The less I expect from others, the more I enjoy the love they do share. When what people give me is more than what I expect to receive, I am always contented.

“Want to know how you can always be happy with me?” someone wise once said. “Lower your expectations.”

As I was thinking about the coming day last week, I remembered the pain of being childless, single, of grieving the loss of children unborn. I remembered the pain of Mother’s Day and all its accompanying unmet expectations. I thought of my friends who are estranged from beloved children, who are looking at empty cribs and failed marriages. I thought of them and prayed for comfort for them. Then the idea came to me that our friends on North 1st Street might have an extra share of this kind of pain today. My garden is bursting with iris. I decided it would please them and honor Jesus to take each mother a pretty flower.

I’d like to think I gave a little beauty where there is a whole world of ugliness. I’d like to think I brought some comfort to lonely people. Truthfully, what they gave to me was greater. I drove into the driveway of my home in a comfortable, tree-lined neighborhood where Sunday Mother’s Day brunch is a normal, expected sort of joy, and I realized just how overflowing my cup really is. What we give away is all we keep. What we do for others in His name is all that really lasts. Truly it is better to give than it is to receive.

Happy Mother’s Day 2013. May what you give keep you.

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