“The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
– Isaiah 11:6-7
Our William is very – very into making lists of favorite things these days. I find adorable pictures of his favorite Godzilla forms that he has spent a very long time drawing on our dining room table. The same goes for his favorite trains and tragic boat sinkings.
But by far – Will’s favorite thing to do is to list his favorite things. And he loves to invite other people to join him in celebrating their favorites too.
On Thursday evening as we were driving home from a family adventure we heard from the backseat – “Let’s list our top five favorite snakes!”
“Okay” – Jason replied – “I am in – but this one will be rather hard for your mom. You know how she feels about snakes.”
So – so true. I am trying to like snakes – really I am – but in the end when I read to Will from his favorite snake books all I can think is – “Snakes are scary. Snakes are really – really scary! Snakes are so very scary.” And as Jason has pointed out – it doesn’t help that Will always chooses to have me read to him about the deadliest of the deadly snakes like the black mamba, the king cobra, the bush master and the eyelash viper! Snakes that can rear up and look you in the eye while spitting deadly venom at you are terrifying to me, but they are seriously cool to Will and Jason!!!
Listing our top five favorite snakes was followed by our top five favorite spiders and our top five favorite dinosaurs and our top five favorite battleships and then our top five favorite animals. Will wrapped up the listing of our favorite things with the absolute ultimate list of “top five favorite things in the whole wide world” just as we drove into Fern Creek and Jason pulled into our driveway.
I love making these lists with Will. Sometimes (rarely) I even get to pick the topic. Then I will pick topics like top five favorite foods. (The marketing folks at McDonalds would be thrilled with Will’s list. Everything started with “Mc” something or other!) Or top five favorite craft supplies or top five favorite ways to play outside.
When I stubbornly suggested top five favorite yarns and top five favorite flowers – I had to play those rounds alone . . .
I love the insight Will’s lists give me into his mind and his interests – Jack and Jason’s too. I learn something about my family almost every time we play the favorites game.
I think William has started a game that will be with our family for a very long time.
I especially love the positivity of Will’s game. Listing favorites. Listing things you like. Listing things that make you happy. Listing things that interest you. Listing things you enjoy. Listing things that delight you!
I have already thought of my next topic when we play our game again: “List five things you would like to learn more about!”
Or how about “List five things that make you happy.”
Or “List five things that intrigue you or inspire you.”
Or “List five things you think are nice.”
Or “List five things that are beautiful.”
Or “List your five favorite candies.”
So often we focus on what we don’t like in this life. We focus on the bad. We focus on what is wrong. We focus on what we don’t like and on what has us unsettled and upset. We focus on the disappointments and on what is missing from our lives. We keep our gaze on the bad – the ugly – the uncomfortable and the annoying. I think this is especially true during stressful – hard times like we are living through right now. It may simply be human nature to focus on the negative.
I know I can get this way. I will focus on the sore elbow (thank you strange symptoms caused by the autoimmune disease I am learning to live with) instead of the fact that the rest of my body is pain free and working just wonderfully! I will focus on the one tiny mistake in my knitting (that no one else can even see) instead of the 1,000’s of perfectly lovely stitches. I will focus on the glass the McFarland son left in the living room instead of the socks he remembered to put in the laundry hamper!
I am not a winter person – AT ALL. I don’t like the cold and the dark and the COLD and I really – really – really don’t like the lack of glorious green. So I tend to get rather grumbly and annoyed as fall descends. When other folks are delighting in all of the fall colors – all I can thinks is “the long dark night of the soul is coming!” Fall should be fine. But I hold a grudge against the entire season of fall because it keeps reminding me that winter is coming.
Anyway – this year I am working on my attitude. I am shifting my focus. I am going to focus much more on the things I love. I am learning from Will to make lists of things I love. I am making quick little lists in my head of God’s blessings to me.
I walk into a room and list five blessings that I see rather than five tasks that need to be accomplished. I cannot tell you what a change this makes in my attitude. Yes – I still see there are dishes in the sink and there is laundry – but I think of what a blessing it is that we have tons of food to eat and closets full of cozy clothing to wear. I am appreciating the fall colors more. I am enjoying the beauty of my life more. I am feeling far – far more blessed!
I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to make lists of things that make you happy. Make quick lists in your mind of your blessings. Make a list at the end of the day of five nice things that happened to you. Make a list of your five favorite foods and then cook one of them. (Or in Will’s case – sweet talk your mom into going to McDonalds . . .) Make a list of your favorite ways to spend an evening and then do one of them!
Join me. Make a list or two or ten of your favorites. It can be a lot of fun. And it really can bring a smile to your face.
These are challenging times – but God is with us. And we have all been blessed.
You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
In Christ and with Love –