Monday, February 21, 2011

Just in Time

A couple of years ago, I guess closer to three, I came to terms with an ugliness in me: a root of ungratefulness.

Ungratefulness creeps in pretty silently. It masks itself as a helpful critic, one who sees quickly how things might be changed or improved, rather than finding joy and thankfulness for the way things are.

I needed a new discipline. I needed to change my thinking.

I bought a new journal, and I began to write down something each day. Something to be thankful for. I chose one particular genre: Robb.

For two years, I wrote something each day. I claimed something to be thankful for, a reason to smile over him. This discipline proved especially effective and particularly challenging during our rough days of disconnectedness, our harder seasons of living parallel instead of unified.

I began writing, one page at a time, until it was complete. I'll share a few excerpts with you...


  • July 15, 2008: I am thankful for Robb's playfulness, for the joy he brings to our home.
  • August 19, 2008: I taught the preschool class at church this morning. Robb helped get Tuck and Ty settled in their nurseries, and then he came to my classroom when a little boy needed to use the restroom and I couldn't leave. So thoughful.
  • August 26, 2008: We are trying to potty train Tucker. To help Tuck feel confident in the process, Daddy declared a No Pants Night. All the boys: pants off. He makes me laugh.
  • September 16, 2008: Tuck is in the hospital. Robb came home early from his business trip to take care of us.
  • November 12, 2008: Robb is out of town. I am thankful for his encouraging phone calls and texts. He helps me to remember that he remembers.
  • November 24, 2008: I am thankful for Robb's delight in Christmas. He starts decorating shortly after Halloween.
  • January 8, 2009: Robb brought flowers to me this week. And before that bouquet died, he brought me another one. Twice. In one week.
  • March 16, 2009: I am sick in bed. Robb brought me a drink and told me he 'misses his favorite friend.'
  • July 12, 2009: Surprise! Robb planned a huge party for my 30th birthday. Total surprise. I feel loved and celebrated. Abundantly.
  • August 8, 2009: Robb is helping Tuck learn to swim.
  • September 12, 2009: I am thankful Robb does Bath Night.
  • October 1, 2009: We have each had a horrendous day. Robb is buying ice cream at DQ. Quiet date for us: TV and ice cream. No little boys allowed.
  • October 31, 2009: We have a Superman and a Dragon for Halloween. I am thankful for Robb's fun spirit for great traditions.
  • November 15, 2009: I am driving to Arkansas today. Robb shoveled the driveway before he left for his business trip. All before 6 AM.
  • December 16, 2009: Robb folded all the laundry tonight. Loads and loads.
  • February 13, 2010: On our flight to Chicago, Robb let me sit across the aisle. By myself. I read, while he managed the flight with two little boys. What a husband.
  • February 23, 2010: Tonight as we climbed in to bed, Robb teased, "I do everything around here. You never notice." I can't wait to give him this proof: I notice.
  • March 6, 2010: I am thankful that Robb is supportive of my writing. In every way.
  • March 12, 2010: He is laughing with our sons as they throw a stuffed chicken around the living room. I am thankful for a partner in raising these two precious little guys.
  • April 6, 2010: I love when Robb lets me read to him. Even though he hates books.
  • May 3, 2010: I love that I married a leader.
  • May 10, 2010: Mother's Day was a pure gift. I am thankful to be appreciated, to be married to a man who celebrates me.
  • May 29, 2010: My brother is in town. I am thankful for the friendship between these two cherished men in my life. Together, they love me well.
  • June 22, 2010: He is sitting on the deck, teaching the boys to each push-up popsicles. I love this man.
  • June 24, 2010: Tonight after dinner, Tyler wanted a red popsicle, then a blue one, then a green one, then, no, a red one finally. Tucker wanted a cookie. No, a popsicle. Robb complied with all of their indecisiveness. Quietly returning to the garage freezer, again and again.
  • July 3, 2010: He makes me feel beautiful. Even on a camping trip.
  • July 9, 2010: We leave for Mexico in the morning. I am thankful to run away with this man. Happy Ten Years To Us.
I wrapped the journal with glittery paper and wire-edged ribbon. I gave it to him in Mexico, on our second honeymoon. He sat down in a cushy chair in our hotel suite and read it all in one sitting. (Even though he hates books.)
If I had waited six months longer, he never would have known. He never would have seen my words, known that I noticed. I gave it to him just in time.
This weekend, as I sorted through his many things, I found it.
And now it's mine again, to keep forever.


Melody said...

You got me again. What a beautiful gift you gave him. And yourself.

my3boys said...

Thank you for this, Tricia. In an effort to never take my own husband for granted, I think I'll take up this journal idea. What a gift to him, and a blessing to the marriage, I'm sure.

Renea Flaishans said...

Just beautiful! What a great idea to show someone how much you really care.

Your writing just blows me away.

Suzanne and Greg said...

I love that you did this. Two years, what discipline! Your comment about ungratefulness is so true. Thanks for helping me see this. I'm going to also go try and practice this discipline.

Stephanie said...

what a priceless treasure!

Melissa said...

Your willingness to be vulnerable and open on your blog is challenging a lot of wives to be better at what we do. I hope you know that. Someday, God is going to give you a book like the one you gave your husband, full of the ways you have blessed other women though simply sharing your heart. Beauty from ashes.

I've only been reading your blog a short time, but already I love you and your boys and am praying for you.

thewonderfulhappens said...

what a gift you gave him. (and what a gift he was to you). I am so glad he got to read all of that while he was still with you on this earth.

DenverSop said...

Awesome. I actually did this while Eric and I were still dating many years ago, and I taped the list on the wall next to the computer where we could both see it. I've misplaced it in the move 6 months ago and need to find and rehang it. I also think that I should start a new list. It's easier to show gratitude when we're still dating. He needs to know that I still appreciate him. Thank you, Tricia.

mombish said...

I don't know you and I feel thieved - I couldn't say robbed! But I feel robbed of knowing Robb with two b's now because of your writing. I have come to know you because of Jen and Brad. They used to be at my church in Laramie, WY. I miss them. They taught us, even if they were there a short time. You don't get over people like them. You and your family are making an impression on this world. You remind us there is a refreshing glass of cool water in a world that thirsts for love and is quenched by love and laughter and grief and daily living. Thank you for letting us peek into a beating heart and one in heaven.

Katy said...

Oh Tricia. Thank you for your continued transparency. You touch my heart every single time.

Katy said...

Oh Tricia. Thank you for your continued transparency. You touch my heart every single time.

Carr525 said...

I love this. I love your honesty. I love that as much as you two loved each were still so real. Don't we all struggle in our marriages? And you put it so perfectly when you said you were living parallel, not unified, lives.

I take your challenge, friend. I know it maybe doesn't feel like this now, but I keep thinking about Ephesians 3:20..."Now to Him to is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine..." That journal may have rooted things out in your heart, reinvigorated your marriage, and even more - but do you see what He's doing with it now? There are lives that are being changed because of you, dear one. Marriages. Families. Legacies. And not at your expense...but for God's glory through you. I love you.

Terry said...

dear tricia...when connie first introduced you, i came and i read most of your blog...i read that surprise birthday post more than once and oh what a delight it is.!
this journal is i was reading it, i kept wondering if robb had ever read it and when i saw the last paragraph, my heart was full of joy that he HAD and your last line to this post?...i am speechless!
i think that this is a hallmark scene for sure!...god bless you tricia! terry

Cynthia in Kansas City said...

I've been reading your blog for a month, and It has brought tears to my eyes countless times.

The time at Starbucks when you brought the boys, and the next visit you discoved a special box only for your boys.:)

The description of the men in blue.

You talking about going through his things.

And now this.

My prayer for you is God will continue to show His goodness to you. I can't imagine your ache. But know this, a stranger in Blogland is praying for you & crying along with you.


RAS said...

That is beautiful and proof that God had this all in His plan before you ever knew. Robb lived knowing how much you loved him. Not many men have that gift. So many of us go through life never taking time to align priorities and tell our loved ones what they mean to us. Thank you for the reminder and for the glimpses into your broken heart.

What a wonderful gift to give to the man you love so much and what a wonderful gift you gave to yourself, as well.

We, too, are grieving. My nephew died of SIDS on 2.27.10. Our journeys are different, but our hearts know the same pain. Continuous prayers for you and your family.

nan said...

Tricia, I am a good friend of Sarah V, who went to high school & youth group with Robb. she shared your story with me and I found your blog. You are often in our prayers. I have several young-mama-widow friends; it is such a horrific "club" to have to heart aches for all of you, each day. My mom died 16 years ago, when I was 20, and grief has been such an incredibly-deep-&-unwanted journey. I am deeply grateful to Jesus for His gift of new life, in countless ways...but walking the road of grief is such a difficult thing, especially as a mama, I have no doubt... love to you from kansas, nancy

Deanna said...

What a blessing to be able to have shared your gratefulness with him.

Melanie said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful!

Honeycutt Family said...

Such an amazing gift!!!!