It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well…when you’ve got your act together, when dinner is ready by lunchtime, when your house is clean, when your kids are in great moods. But sometimes life throws you a curveball and you realize how much you take the good times for granted, how grateful you are for the ordinary days, how much you appreciate the help of friends and family.

For me, it’s hard to say yes to help (unless it’s my mom offering). I’d rather be the one offering help. But God is humbling me by showing me it’s ok to accept help and it’s ok when you can’t do it all.

Last Thursday, James Michael came down with strep throat, which also caused tonsillitis. He’s had a rough few days, feeling pretty good for a couple hours once medicine kicks in to looking pitiful and barely moving from his special blanketed area on the couch. He’s watched more TV in the past 5 days than he has this past year, and honestly, I’m fine with that if it keeps him resting and distracts him from not feeling well.

JM contracted strep throat this summer before Beau was born, so this isn’t our first experience. But for some reason, this time he isn’t bouncing back as quickly as that first time.

The fever is gone, thankfully, but he’s woken up crying several times in the night, probably because his throat is swollen and raw. And on Saturday night, somehow the strep made it’s way outside of his mouth, confirmed by a Sunday morning trip to the pediatrician, and he’s now on a topical antibiotic along with the oral one.

I had planned to have six women (whom I met in the breakout session of my women’s bible study at church) and their families over to my house on Sunday evening for a holiday get together. I was so excited to meet all of their families and just spend more time getting to know each other since we all have young kids.

After JM’s sickness, my mom and dad offered to come to my house Saturday to help get things finished at the last minute. My mom helped me finish decorating for Christmas since I had spent Thursday and Friday taking care of JM, and my Dad tackled several projects around the house that had been put on hold since Beau’s birth. My house was in stellar condition (for having two young kids!), and I was ready to do a quick cleaning on Sunday and cook before the party.

But poor little JM woke up three times in the middle of the night, and after seeing those bumps on his face and the confirmation that he was contagious by the pediatrician, I knew the party must be cancelled to avoid any other little kids getting sick.

I was definitely disappointed, but at that point I knew my first priority was taking care of JM and doing my best to make sure Beau doesn’t get sick. Soon after I notified the girls that the event was cancelled, two of them offered to bring us dinner this week. At first, I said no, but I soon realized I was being prideful.

How many times have I told my little sister it’s ok to ask for help with her newborn? How many times have I told her that family is there to help? And yet, it was hard for me to take my own advice. So I recanted, swallowed my pride and accepted their gracious help.

Could I make dinner for my family those two nights? Yes, I would have had to. But it would have been last-minute efforts after already-exhausting days taking care of my boys. It’s not that I couldn’t have done it if I had to, but this gracious gift has given me time to focus on tending to my boys and even rest a bit myself.

I grew up in a church where our family was close friends with several other families. Together, we went on weekend trips to state parks and day trips to Lake Lanier Islands or children’s museums. We had dinner at each other’s houses on weekends and ate Sunday dinner together after church. But these family friends were also friends during the hard times and helped each other out. They brought meals when a family had a new baby, they kept another family’s kids when a parent was sick, they hosted wedding and baby showers even as us kids grew into adults, and they prayed for each other’s kids when the need arose.

I’m convinced that these families were held together by the mothers, and for years my mom has encouraged me to get to know a similar group of women. I’m so grateful that I have met a great group of women, and I truly hope that our families can enjoy each other the way I enjoyed those church families growing up.

Even though the party was cancelled, I’m determined to reschedule after the new year. Some things are just too important to give up on.