Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

After the last couple years, this word has been my self-imposed mantra: gratitude. Because we’ve had a tough couple years. It’s hard to remember to be thankful in the midst of a struggle, or struggles. But here are some things I’m thankful for this year, and why.

Family – my older cousin and his family moved out of state this summer, my grandmother is aging and after a pretty bad fall has had to be moved into an assisted living facility, where she is not particularly happy. But we’re fortunate that we all get along pretty well, love each other, and that John and I still have our immediate family all within about an hour’s drive of us. What a great thing for the kids to be able to see all their grandparents on a regular basis, and what an awesome help it is to us for them to be near!

Friends – though I don’t get to spend time “out” with my friends the way I did B.C. (before children), we were able to celebrate our birthdays this year with friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. It was a great evening, and even though I don’t “see” my friends all the time, having sites like Facebook have really helped me keep in touch with people WAY more easily than I would have been able to otherwise.

Faith – some of the ministries of which I’m a part at church have faced some pretty big challenges this year. And some of those challenges are still being worked through. But I’m grateful that I have the freedom to worship when, where, and how I choose, and even more thankful to be part of a loving church community that pulls together when things get tough.

Finances – have been tight, to say the least, over the last couple years and we’re not out of the woods yet. But over and over we’ve been blessed with the ability to make ends meet, and after losing several jobs during 2011, John has been able to time and time again find work. We’ve been blessed with means to purchase a new vehicle this year, as my aging Mazda started having problems. And we’re blessed to have family that is local and willing to help out with the kids so that I have the freedom to seek out part-time employment.

Health – the girls and I have been battling colds, John has asthma and needs new glasses, and we have back medical bills to deal with from a HUGE deductible self-insure plan that we had while I was pregnant with Jessie. But we finally have a good, employer-sponsored health insurance plan and we’re relatively in good shape. I found out over the two weeks that I now a second friend whose child is battling cancer.

Our Immediate Family Unit – like every family unit, we have our issues. I try to remind myself that when I get frustrated with my husband, there are those whose loved ones have turned on them, whose spouses have passed away, either at an old age or have died an untimely death. So when I see dirty dishes in the sink and not in the dishwasher (LOL), I feel fortunate to be blessed with a husband who loves me and does everything he can to take care of us. When we have to deal with a logistical or financial issue around the oldest and with his mother, I try to remember that we are extremely lucky that Josh is doing well in school, has a loving family, and John and his ex have a pretty decent relationship, and that there are parents out there who aren’t able to see their estranged children for different reasons. And most of all, when I hear a little one cry out for me in the middle of the night (AGAIN), or Jessie whining, or Jilly throwing a tantrum, I try to remember that there are women out there who have been unable to get pregnant, women who have been unable to bear children, parents who have lost babies, parents who have lost children of all ages. And I give my little ones an extra hug. Because I am SO blessed to have such a wonderful husband and children around me all the time.

It's nice to reflect on the "we haves" on days like today, rather than the "we wish we hads". And to give thanks!

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