30 Days of Thanks: Days 23 & 24

I first started taking part of 30 Days of Thanks in 2009. During the last 8 years, I have published these days of thanks on my personal social media account. This year, however, began with me teetering on the brink of financial and emotional ruin. Over the course of the year, GOD showed up and showed off time and time again. Out of the humility and gratitude of this year, I decided to share here my 30 days of Thanks here on my blog. I do hope that one, that in reading them it turns your own heart toward gratitude and that it inspires you to express that gratitude in your own way. 

Day 23: Steven, my fiancee’

You didn’t misread.

Steve of courageouschristianfather.com and I officially are looking to get married in 2018.

I never would have expected Steve. He is kind, gentle, and encouraging. He sees the beauty in my quirky nerdiness, finds my dimples and graying hair cute, and is patient with me slowing healing.

Steve is a broken person like me, and has by the fabulous Grace of GOD slowly began to rebuild a life- this time striving to keep it Christ centered.

I know he would be the first to confess that he isn’t perfect. And I know that- after all, he is a fan of my favorite team’s rival. Steve and I have had many conversations about our pasts and the weird things that GOD has used to grow us and to teach us things about ourselves and about Christ.

I didn’t know I would be able to love someone so deeply again. I certainly didn’t know that I would looking at getting married next year. I certainly have to say that this love that I have found in Steve & this future that we are looking at sharing together is nothing short of a GOD thing.

I can’t even begin to express my thankfulness for GOD placing Steve into my life.

Day 24: Joel The Brave

It is furbabyfriday, after all.

Joel also was a gift from GOD. I was struggling with unmanageable levels of anxiety. My job performance was suffering, my care of my home was slacking and care of my own well-being was nearly non-existent. I was sifting through Facebook, in some sort of means to distract myself from the disaster my life was in, and there was a post:

3 baby cats, needing a home.

And without a hesitation, I found myself responding: I want the black one. On June 23rd of this year, I welcomed into my home a tiny black boy cat that I named Joel The Brave.

GOD placed into Joel’s wheelhouse of knowledge a sweet demeanor and the ability to calm me down. Within 2 weeks of having him, my closest friends began to comment on how much better I seemed to be handling my anxiety. Within a month of having Joel, my anxiety was in half.

It’s certainly a GOD thing. Joel seems to know exactly when my anxiety is getting high and he will pounce into my lap and cuddle and purr. He will even take tiny paw and pet my face, as if in his own feline way saying “hooman..calm down”.

GOD certainly knew best when HE placed this lively, silly, firetruck loving fur baby in my life.

Happy Furbaby Friday, Y’all.

 

Advertisements

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

Day 22: For my Exs

Now, hold on before you call the crew with the white jackets and padded rooms.

I was first married in 1998. I deeply loved him. I made my mistakes and he his.

I was married a second time in 2011. We were good friends, but we were terrible at being a married couple. We certainly both made a ton of mistakes.

Then, I entered a dating relationship in 2015 that ended in incredible heartache and financial loss.

Because of these three men- 3 men that I cared very dearly for- I know so much more about myself. They have helped me to see my flaws, my weaknesses, and failures. More importantly, they have helped me understand what I do and don’t want in a relationship.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Day 21: My “Bunker” Apartment

November 21. 2014. 3 Years ago today, exactly. That was the day that I moved into what I lovingly refer to as my downtown bunker.

I had just walked through my 2nd marriage. I had been at my current job for 2 months prior, which was 30 miles from where I lived with him. Moving closer only made sense.

I had so little in the apartment that first night. An Air mattress, a dresser and a few blankets. It would take me a few weeks to be able to finish moving everything, and still I found myself with so little.

Today, my apartment is .. well.. lived in. I don’t particularly have a lot of things (but I have indeed become greatly LESS materialistic after my last divorce.

My bunker… is not the fanciest of things. It is cold real tile floor mostly through out, and not all of my neighbors are particularly very.. neighborly.

But it’s mine. It keeps me dry, it keeps me warm (well, somewhat.. I do have to improvise a bit) and it is shelter.

One thing true in life: you don’t know what you truly have until everything is taken away. I have never listed my bunker on my gratitude list the last two years. I had to go through nearly losing my apartment in March of this year to become very thankful for the little 2 bedroom, 1 bath place I have in downtown. For Now, it is home.

 

30 Days of Thanks: Days 18-20

Dear whomever has the ability to fix my technical issue- please do so. I don’t like blogging delayed.

Day 18: Thankful for the Pastors

I thank GOD that I was born to a preacher, but there have also been other Pastors influential in my life.

One of the advantages of growing up as a Pastor’s kid is that I got to meet many amazing (& not too amazing) Pastors of many local churches in my region.

One of those Pastors happened to me like an earthquake. Pastor Mark.

Pastor Mark pastors a small young church plant about an hour from where I now live. By GOD using him, I came into a true saving relationship with Christ Jesus in February 2011.

Mark lovingly would call me out when I did wrong, but also would remind me of what remains the greatest lesson that a Pastor has taught me so far:

GOD loves the mess we are, and if we surrender, GOD can use that mess as a MESSAGE.

Day 19: Thankful for the ability to hear, see and speak

I don’t know if my parents have ever told me what my first words were. But I grew up being a talker, often getting into far too much trouble for talking in class.

When I went into my 30s, I found myself retreating some and becoming less talkative. Much of that was maturity, I hope. Perhaps I have learned to listen more and talk less (2 ears, 1 mouth kind of reminder). Another part of that is that I began to write more, more than I had before.

As far as sight, I do indeed thank GOD for the amazing wonders of HIS creation that I have gotten to experience. I have hiked over 200 miles of trails, seen 20 different waterfalls, visited nearly every state east of Kansas (sans Maine, New York, and New Jersey).

I am thankful that I have also seen the adorable smiles of my sons, the beauty of my sister getting married and having her first child, and even seeing the final moments of a loved ones life.

Hearing. Have you read much of my blog? You may have stumbled over the fact that I am hearing impaired, having suffered profound hearing loss in my left ear.

Yet, I love Music. Music is such a big part of me. I love to listen to music from classical Chopin to the Christian Rock of Toby Mac.

I am blessed for what I can hear, though over the last year have taken more delight in sounds. Somethings I may have once heard easily no longer can I hear.

It is in that loss of hearing that I have TRULY learned to be thankful for what I can see, what I can say, what I can hear.

Day 20: I am thankful for my job and for my coworkers

I love what I do. Sure, like any other job, my job is not without its problems or things that I may even complain about. But I truly love what I do. I get to go to work Monday through Friday, knowing that I may very well get to help someone.

I get to work with some of the greatest, yet quirky, people alive. I love my crew. Each day as I leave, I always tell them the same thing: “Everybody be careful getting home”.

Because there have been the times I lost coworkers rather unexpectedly. Or they didn’t make it home without injury.

My current coworkers are a stellar bunch of all-stars. The department I work is in majority made of of employees that have been with the company at least 10 years. These seasoned Ladies and Gents share their work experiences, their life experiences, and their lives with me. We often see each other during the week more than we see our own families (sadly).

In 2008, the economy bit me hard. I not only went through the loss of one job but two due to cutbacks. Jobs were very scarce in my area, and many people moved away to find other employment. I stayed, applying with no results.

I would pick up some part time work, but would not return full-time into the workforce until 2010.

The economy in my area has greatly improved over the last 9 years, and new jobs have begun to peak through in limited amounts. I know how tremendously blessed I am to have had my current employer for over 3 years, and my current position in the company for just over a year. It is a triple blessing that I love my job and do look forward to it, even on it’s hardest of days.

My current job and coworkers have taught me a tremendous lesson over the last year: I have a work family, even when my biological family can’t be there for me.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17

Day 17: My hometown

I grew up moving quite a lot. By the age of 11, I had lived in four states and 6 cities.

Many of those places I love, but none of them am I more thankful for than my hometown.

My Hometown has a current population of 3, 170 (as of 2016, according to Google). Very small compared to most.

It doesn’t have a mall. Or a movie theatre. And the Walmart closes at midnight.

But it is home.

I grew up just outside of the city limits in a small community, population ?? I grew up on a gravel road, too narrow for school buses to come up. I went to the county high school, where I graduated in a class of 104.

My hometown isn’t perfect. Like many rural towns here in Appalachia, the city has been riddled with issues of drugs particularly over the last few years.

 

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16

Day 16: My Cousins

I was blessed to grow up with more cousins than most people. As I stated in my Day 14 post, I come from a huge family.

My cousins were my best friends, my play mates, and often times my closest family.

Two of those cousins in particular were the closest thing that I ever had to having older siblings.

I love recalling those days when we would be ankle deep in the creek trying to catch minnows or frogs.

The greatest lesson that I ever learned from my cousins is that it is more than okay to challenge yourself and, in fact, it is encouraged.

I am blessed to have at least two of my cousins currently serving in the US Military, so a special recognition to them.

What of you- did you grow up close to your cousins? If so, what lessons did they teach you?

 

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15

Day 15: My Uncles

As I stated in my post yesterday, I come from quite a large family.

My mom has two brothers that have passed away, and four living brothers. My dad only has one brother. But that only counts my uncles by birth, not those by marriage.

I have learned a lot of interesting things from my uncles. My dad’s brother begin to teach me chess at the age of 4. The most important lesson imparted to me by any of my Uncles is that I cannot forget where I came from.

I am not one that will ever say that we are forever confined by the raising we may have had. I will state that we must not forget our roots, or where we come from.

I know I am from a family rich in military history, plentiful in Christian faith, and sprinkled with a good dose of dark shadowy characters. I know I am also from a family where I am the first girl grandchild on each side to have a college degree.

What of you? Have your uncles taught you any life lessons?

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14

Day 14: My Aunts

I have a unique family tree, of which my mother is one of 13 children. My dad, however, is one of 3.

I have many aunts, and many of them have played an influential role in my growing up. Two of my mom’s sisters helped to raise me, and my dad’s little sister was like a bigger sister to me.

I won’t try to list something that they have individually taught me. That could be quite a lengthy post. The greatest lesson that I have learned from ANY of my aunts is that family is always family, but sometimes you have to distance yourself from them.

I have always had a strong sense of family, perhaps because of the large family that my mom comes from. I have had to learn as I have been growing up that I can still be someone’s biological family, but that does not mean that I have to have the person continually in my life.

What of you- have your aunts been a big influence in your life? If so, what lessons on life have you gained from them?

 

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13

Day 13: My Youngest Brother

1996 arrived, and I gained my second brother.

I was nearly grown when he came into the world, but I was still a big part of his life until recently.

My brother is a member of the National Guard. He completed Army Basic Training in 2014 and opted to go into the National Guard.

My brother is a very hard working young man, holding down two part time jobs in addition to his commitment to the National Guard.

My baby brother has imparted one very critical lesson, one that will haunt me always:

Weigh your words carefully, for you may have to carry them for the rest of your life.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 12

Day 12: My Oldest Brother

In 1991, I got my first brother.

The oldest of my two brothers is a hard working young man. No matter if we go weeks or days without seeing one another, we always seem to pick right back up where we left off.

I’m not sure if he knows how much his life has impacted mine. At the age of 10, my brother collapsed at school one day. Out of that incident, we found out that he had a heart defect.. one that would require him giving up all caffeinated drinks.

And so did I. Little did I know at that time, that that very decision would not only be just to support him but it would prolong my life.

“Brother”, as I often refer to him, has taught me a tremendous amount of things about life, about decisions, and about determination. The greatest lesson he has taught me thus far has been to try to be comfortable with who I am, flaws and all.