I had intended to try to do a post a day this month with something I am thankful for, but suddenly it is Thanksgiving already and none of the aforementioned posts have actually happened. I will, therefore, consolidate them into a single, albeit epically long, post.
(Note: these are not really in order of importance or how I would necessarily rank these blessings. I numbered them simply to match days in November leading up to Thanksgiving.)
I am thankful for…
1. My sisters. Sisters are built in friends with whom I share a bond that exists with no one else. They can drive me nuts sometimes, but I'm sure I drive them nuts sometimes too, so it's all fair. Also, no one else can truly nail a game of Spades like we can. But, then again, we've had a few years worth of practice in that area.
2. My church family. I have been exceedingly blessed with being a part of two wonderful fellowships of believers. I always viewed the people in the church I grew up in as my extended family, and really hated to miss a Sunday at church for any reason. Leaving them to go to college was as hard for me as leaving my family, and whenever I go back to visit I feel like I can pick up right where I left off to catch up with everyone—I guess distance cannot break that bond of love.
I never even considered I might find another church body where I could love and be loved as much as I was at FBF, but God has shown me that His body is not limited to a single location and He blessed me with a church where I am accepted and loved, and am able to serve in such a way that the more I pour out the fuller I become. And while my family may live nine hours away, I feel as though I can actually reach them with a ten minute drive.
3. Uplifting songs. Those I have lived with know I can go through stages where I am stuck on one song and will play it on repeat for days on end (I will no longer admit to the play count that the Anne of Green Gables theme has in my iTunes…) Songs can usually touch me in a way that is difficult to communicate, sometimes on a more shallow level where I just marvel at the beauty of them (See The Light from Tangled, for example) and sometimes on a deeper level that opens my eyes to Truth (I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin, Better Than I from the Joseph: King of Dream soundtrack, This is My Destiny by Dennis Jernigan, and this list could go on and on…)
4. Joy. Joy goes deeper than happiness and can be present even in the midst of pain. What a precious and needed gift from God.
5. Friends, part 1. My friends from Virginia, to be more exact. No matter how long it has been since I've seen them, we can jump in and talk like we've never been apart. I greatly value the memories I have from my teen years, and I am so thankful for that time of my life. Even now just the mention of a name can bring a smile to my face. I was able to be myself in a larger group and was able to learn to love past differences. Now I am blessed by being able to see how God is leading and directing and blessing these same friends, even as great physical distances separate us.
(Way Back When…)
(Even Further Back…)
6. Friends, part 2. My friends from Asbury. While college was fun, being able to extend the social aspect of it and live with my closest friends for another year and a half has been a treasure. I am challenged and held accountable daily by them, and share so many inside jokes that we must appear at times to be speaking a different language. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share life with them and to be close enough to them to be able to see how God has changed and shaped and grown them over the past five years. Seeing God work in others' lives is as big of a blessing to me as looking back on my own and seen what He's done for me. I can honestly say I would not be anywhere near the person I am today without the presence of these friends in my life.
7. Love never dying. Until my junior year of college I could easily keep one hand on things at school and one on things at home and reach everyone dear to me. After that year, though, so many moves happened that I have people I love all across the country. I am so thankful that distance cannot dim love, and that one day we will all be in a place where distance is no longer a factor. I am so excited at the thought of what Heaven will be like!
8. The future. While unknown, it holds great promise. "For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
9. Lying in bed, listening to rain falling and a cat purring.
10. Beauty. Beauty in the world, and beauty in people. "There can never be a more beautiful you…you were meant to fill a purpose that only you could do…"
11. Enjoyable interests. I love that I can enjoy baseball and Psych and fun things in life.
12. Children. I am so thankful for the number of children I have had in my life that I have been able to love and be loved by. I have probably learned more from them than from anyone else. (And I am thankful for the parents who have let me love their kids!)
13. God's perfection, and His grace for my imperfection.
14. My years at Asbury. They transformed my life. It was there that my faith went from something I knew I ought to believe to something that I actually do. Through several influences there I began to understand exactly what my identity in Christ is. I wouldn't exchange those four years for anything.
15. The example my parents set for me. I never attended church because I had to, but because I could see my parents wanted to be there and so I wanted to as well. Being involved and giving time to the ministry of the church is just what you do. I also see another influence from them…I'm always one of the last people to leave on Sunday. Maybe that's why they want to get me a key :-)
16. Laughter. How empty life would be without it.
17. My education. While it is expected in the U.S. for everyone to have an education and we take that for granted, it is not something many people around the world are blessed to receive.
18. How God has provided for me. I have never been lacking for anything, but have always had exactly what I need. Seeing His provision in the past gives me confidence that He will continue to provide, and that is one worry that I do not even have to consider. "My God will provide all my needs, according to His riches in glory…"
19. Baking. I love to bake. I love to bake more than I love eating what I have baked (and this goes back to being thankful for my friends: I'm thankful that they will eat what I bake, so that I can bake some more). Baking seems to be one of those activities that you can learn in a day, but have to work at it for a lifetime to master. I think that's why I love it so much.
20. Lessons I have learned. With each step of life's journey, I am able to look back and realize important lessons I learned through that experience. It also allows me to see how God is directing my steps, and I am humbled by how much greater His wisdom is than my own.
21. Books. From a good novel to a history book to historical fiction pieces, I can get lost in another world through reading and experience things I otherwise would not be able to.
22. Giving. The more I give the more I am filled, because it really is more blessed to give than receive.
23. My glory being all the cross. I don't have to prove myself to anyone or spend my life trying to make a name for myself. My glory is all in Christ. "May the love of Jesus fill me as the waters fill the sea. Him exalting, self abasing—this is victory! / May His beauty rest upon me as I seek the lost to win, and may they forget the channel, seeing only Him!"
24. Mashed potatoes. And turkey. And stuffing and gravy. And a day for the world to stop and to remember to be thankful. I really love the thanksgiving meal (which is fortunate for me, since I get two of them today!) , but, more importantly, I enjoy getting the hear and read what others are thankful for. Because that reminds me of other things I, too, have been blessed with.