Gratitude, Life, Thankfulness An Unexpected Souvenir

Thankfulness: An Unexpected Souvenir

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Image courtesy of chayathonwong2000 at freedigitalphotos.net

The vacation started off as most for our family. I pushed hard to organize and plan, make sure the boys packed the necessary items in their suitcases. I chose not to cringe at the pile of clean, crumpled clothing bunched into their pullmans.

I organized for our stay at a rustic cabin in Yellowstone National Park. And planned “on-the-road” surprises for the boys—activity books, Star Wars books and Legos. Lots of Legos.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

Our first morning there, we drove the southern loop. The sulfuric odor of the geysers told us when we were nearing one. Old Faithful, with it’s water and steam spewing into blue skies, filled the boys with wonder.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 Our cameras snapped dozens of photos, creating memory souvenirs of the beauty, and bison everywhere. Every gift shop and general store lured the boys to hunt for the perfect memento and fun toy.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 Horseback riding on a trail ride gave Peter and Edmund their first adventure on four legs. We loved watching their uncertainty transform to delight as they learned how to control their horses with reins. A bison wallowing in the dirt near our path created stress for one boy. And his mama.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

It’s one thing to drive near a bison in a car, completely another to ride close to one while on horseback.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 On a hike near our cabin that mid-vacation afternoon, I stepped wrong, felt my ankle twist and give way beneath me. I collapsed into the uneven dirt. All banter ceased as two little men and one full-grown hero rushed to my aid. Worried eyes studied me, compassion etched in them. I limped the half-mile to our cabin, holding onto smaller hands or leaning on one strong arm. Seeing my boys’ hearts written all over their faces strengthened me for the walk.

The nearby clinic verified the sprain I already suspected. The smallest movement of my foot shot pain throughout my body.  This was one souvenir I never anticipated.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 My boys’ concern, my husband’s tender arm around my waist, wrapped me in their care. Sometimes dependency opens my heart to resting in others’ love. Tucked back in our cabin after supper, the boys insisted I decide what board game we played.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 While hubby and the boys visited other sites, I considered the timing of this sprain. Forced stillness helped my heart to meditate on all the souvenirs God had given us on our vacation. We’d seen most of the park, taken horseback rides, viewed animals and geysers aplenty.

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By Jeanne Takenaka

 I was thankful for the way my family met me at my point of need—selflessly, tenderly. Thankful God allowed it to be a minor sprain and not a major break. Thankful for the beauty He allowed me to see in the hearts and actions of my guys.

 This unexpected souvenir forced me to slow down, to ponder God’s tender care for His children. He gave me the opportunity to choose gratitude instead of complaining. To rest in His love, lived out through the hands and words of my family.

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From the Takenaka photo album

I would have never asked for this souvenir, but seeing His fingerprints in my life was the true gift.

What about you? What is the most unexpected souvenir you’ve brought home from a vacation? What about the most surprising?

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12 thoughts on “Thankfulness: An Unexpected Souvenir”

  1. Ya know, MAYBE, just maybe God had to trip Jeanne so the guys could pour a little bit on you what you lavish on them? So they could see that Mom is NOT invincible and needs as much TLC as they do? That maybe the boys need to see you vulnerable and see Dad fussing over you, so that when they are older, they will know how to be tender when the woman they love needs nurturing?

    Unexpected? I brought umm, some “internal guests” home from Brazil in 1984. They finally left in about 2009. I am serious.

    Most surprising? A Murano glass necklace and earring set from Amalfi,Italy. Love it. Bringing it to ACFW…

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    1. Love your thoughts, Jennifer. And I firmly believe God had multi-faceted purposes in allowing this when He did. Yes, I did think about the example I set for our guys, and that my hubby set. 🙂

      Internal guests are no fun. I brought some home from Istanbul, and it took a long to figure it out .

      I can hardly wait to see your lovely necklace and earring set (I promise I won’t plot how to lift it from you. ;))

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  2. Beautifully recounted. I have two boys and a daughter–I remember the precisely folded clothing of my oldest son and my baby girl (who are both still very precise at 32 and 26!) and the clean, but messy piling of my middle son (who is still the same, though very precise in his job as an electrical engineer!) I sprained my ankle on Cape Cod, had crazy blisters after snowshoeing in Keystone, Co., and fell face first on a major street in Seattle. Obviously, physical grace is a problem for me, but God’s grace remains sufficient and “grace-ful”!

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    1. Wow, Cindy. I’m sorry about your injuries while on vacation. It always adds a deeper perspective, doesn’t it? I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who is less than graceful. 🙂 And like you, I’m glad God’s grace is always there, lifting me up.

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      1. It’s become a running joke in my family! My hubby always holds my arm if there are any bumps on the trail or even the street! My students laugh as a fumble around my podium! I laugh about it all the time. Craziness.

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  3. We plan little for vacations (the few we’ve ever taken) and “wing it”. Lori has bad ankles too, and Isabel takes the time to try and rub Momma’s ankles when Lori’s laid up. Legos are an excellent distraction, though more for me than Isabel 😀

    I’m glad you had an enjoyable vacation (aside from the ankle). I would have been far more nervous of being on a horse than being next to a bison.

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    1. I’m sure you haven’t figured out that I’m a bit (I hear the clearing of the throats) of a planner. 🙂 It sounds like Isabel has a tender side to her. And yes, our vacation was wonderful. For the record, I’d MUCH rather be closer to a horse. Bison can be mean. 🙂 Although, one of our wranglers invited a rider in our group (not from our family) to do a bison chase with him. Um, I think I’ll stick to the trail, thank you. 🙂

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  4. Aw, such pretty pictures and even more beautiful thoughts about your trip. I love that you chose to see the good in a situation some might have found crummy. You inspire me, friend!

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    1. Aww, thanks, Lindsay. Thanks for the kind words. Can I be honest and say that I don’t always choose gratitude quickly? But, I’m working on it. 🙂 Perspective is everything. For the record, you inspire me too.

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  5. This is an amazing post with inspiring photos of what will be a well-remembered family time, as well as wonderful thoughts (as usual) I think most of us don’t quickly choose gratitude when plans don’t go as we think they should… Especially those of us who like to plan (hear the clearing of throats?) But the fact that we can let go of our plans and listen is the beautiful way of God’s grace. Thanks for this post!

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    1. Yes, I’m definitely a planner too. I’m learning the beauty of choosing gratitude, but I’m not always quick to do it. “But the fact that we can let go of our plans and listen is the beautiful way of God’s grace.” I loved this. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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