I know, I know. Its a pretty generic idea for a blog post right before Thanksgiving. But the holiday isn’t the reason this has been on my mind a lot lately. I think, as a mom, wife, daughter, friend, etc., I often take things for granted. Sometimes I forget to stop and look at the blessings surrounding me as I get caught up in the day to day stress. Its easy to do. We have so much stress when it comes to money, keeping house, raising our children properly, and countless other things. So today I wanted to take a few moments to point out the silver linings. This is kind of a personal post so I understand if you don’t feel like it applies to you. However, I think it is always good to be reminded of the positive things in your life. It is my hope that reading this will open your eyes to some things that you’ve taken for granted in your life so that you can be more thankful and therefore, happy.
#1: I am so thankful for my faith. I have been through a lot in 34 years- more than most- and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t stray at times and do things I’m not proud of. However, I was raised to always have faith that God has a plan for me. I was told that God loves me, no matter what, and that I can always ask for forgiveness and it will be given. People question my faith ALL THE TIME. How do I KNOW there is a God? How do I KNOW that Jesus is the son of God? How do I KNOW that something greater is waiting on the other side of this life? My answer is always the same. I have faith. Who knows? Maybe my concept of whats out there is completely off center. Maybe the way I think of things isn’t correct. Those are things that I’ll find out someday when my time on Earth is over. However, I have NO doubt that God is there, He is good, and He wants good things for me. I just KNOW it in my heart. That knowledge has gotten me through so many trying times in my life and still does. Someone recently told me that they have contemplated suicide because life is so hard. The only thing that has kept this person from killing themself is the family that they support. These words stab a knife into my gut because this person’s faith is obviously being tested and I just hope and pray that they will stay strong.
#2: I am so thankful for my husband. When I was young, I thought I knew what I needed in a husband. He would be perfect in every way. He would be handsome and smart and funny and childlike (in the good, fun way) and a strong christian and he would buy me flowers for no reason and he would shower me with presents and tell me daily how beautiful he thinks I am and send me text messages throughout the day telling me how much he misses me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that, while all of those qualities are great, I would’ve gotten very bored with that man. I don’t want to be married to the male version of me. My husband is flawed… but in good ways. He keeps me on my toes and he makes me laugh. He challenges me and sometimes infuriates me- but yet we never fight. I can count on one hand the amount of fights we’ve gotten in since we met over 8 years ago. He has helped me become a stronger person and has given me everything I’ve needed. He works his butt off daily to support our family because I always dreamed of being a stay at home mom. I know he wishes I had an income (trust me, I do too!) but raising my children myself is what I’ve always wanted so he doesn’t question it. I love him more than words can say. So when he’s being stubborn, or tactless, I just have to remind myself of all the things he’s done for me and how much he means to me. This may sound morbid but I often think “if he were to die today, how would I feel if these were my last words to him”… It helps keep me from saying things I don’t mean in heated moments. Someone told me that, in marriage, you should everyday think about your wedding day and the way you felt that day. Remind yourself daily of why you wanted to pledge your love to this person in the first place. When I think of my wedding day, I remember how incredibly happy I was and then I realize how that love and happiness has only grown each day since then. Even through life’s turmoils, I am happier now than I ever thought I’d be.
#3: I’m so thankful for my children. 4 years ago, after countless tries and tests and treatments, I was told that I would never be able to conceive due to severe endometriosis. I sought out a second opinion because I was just not able to accept that diagnosis. The second doctor looked at my records, did a few tests herself, then told me the same thing. “Some women just aren’t built to carry children”, she said. This made no sense to me. My entire life, I just KNEW I would be a Mommy someday. So… I grieved. I grieved the loss of my hypothetical children as if they had actually been born and died. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. When I started feeling better, Eric and I started making plans- or more like distractions. We planned vacations, a new home, scuba diving lessons… all kinds of things. Then, all of sudden, I started feeling funny and, on a whim, bought a pregnancy test. BAM! I was pregnant! Since then, my life has been turned upside down and knocked completely off axis. 3 wonderful years and another baby later, I have learned more from my children than I thought could be possible. They are my little angels, my little miracles. I feel complete now that they are in my life. The thing with this is sometimes even I forget. When Trinity won’t let me sleep at night, or when Preston is challenging every ounce of patience I have, it can be really hard to remember how grateful I am to have them. Sometimes I am slapped in the face with a reality check when I hear stories of parents losing their child or when I have friends suffering through what I did, trying desperately to conceive. I know that there is no way I can complain about anything my child does when someone else would give anything just to HAVE a child. Kind of puts everything in perspective, right?
#4 I am so thankful for my home. It’s barely 1200 square feet, the paint in the majority of the rooms is hideous and cheap, there isn’t much direct sunlight, there is NO storage, and we have had to put more money into it since moving in than I care to think about (plumbing issues, new windows, roofing, etc.). However, the memories we have made here already are priceless! We actually own our first home, and that is such a wonderful feeling to not be paying rent which always felt like throwing money down the drain! Plus, we have everything we NEED. Sometimes I tend to get caught up in wanting to have that beautiful house that I see in other people’s facebook pictures and other places but I need to remind myself that I chose to not have an income and therefore, we don’t have the extra money to buy nice things. Until our kids are in school and I can get a paying job, we have to do with our hand-me-down furniture. However, when I really sit and look around my house, I realize that we have more than a lot of people have and I can only be thankful for that. My children have a roof over their heads and food to eat. They have adorable bedrooms and more toys than they can possibly play with. They have a large back yard to run around in and a kitchen table to have family meals at. We have photos decorating the walls (which I prefer over art anyway) and comfy beds. We are so blessed and I don’t know why I sometimes let material things in to make me feel like we don’t have enough. That is something I am really working on.
#5 I am so thankful for my parents: I had an amazing childhood. My parents did everything for me and my brothers. We didn’t have a huge house or a ton of money but we had a cozy home with a nice backyard with a swingset. We lived in a beautiful suburban neighborhood where all the neighbors knew each other and sat on front porches chatting. My next-door neighbor would wait on his front porch daily to ask me what I learned at school and our neighbors down the street used to let me sit on their porch playing with their dog for hours. My best friend lived right around the corner and our moms would walk us to our street corners so that we were in sight the entire time while walking to each other’s houses. My brothers were protective of me (in the good way) and never let me get into trouble. I looked up to them more than they’ll ever know. My parents promoted a strong family bond. We ate dinner together whenever we could. We had family movie night every Friday night with popcorn and m&m’s. My mom spent countless hours sitting at the ice rink while I practiced. She practically gave up her life so that I could skate as often as I wanted. My dad came as often as he could to my competitions to cheer me on and helped work the lights at the local ice shows every year. My parents did everything they possibly could and made many sacrifices so that I could pursue my dream. Then, when I actually did achieve my dream and started skating with Disney on Ice, my parents travelled all over the country to see me skate. My first year, they came so often that my company manager got them a show ID! My parents have always stood by me in my decisions, even when they didn’t agree. Then they were there for me when I realized that I was wrong and they were right… again. When I nearly lost my dad a few years ago to a heart attack and he survived a 7-Vessel Bypass Surgery, I knew that I would never take him for granted again. My parents have a lot on their plate and a lot of stress in their lives, but they always make time to skype with my kids and come down to visit as much as possible. Despite everything, they have only grown stronger in their faith and their relationship with God and that is something that I really look up to. They have done more for us than I can say and I will always be so grateful that I was given them as parents.
#6 I am so thankful for my in-laws: You know, I hear stories all of the time that are like in-law horror stories. Mother in-law’s that won’t mind their own business or father in-laws who feel like you aren’t good enough for their child. I absolutely LOVE the fact that my in-laws are awesome. My mother in-law is an amazing woman who raised 3 boys all close in age. That alone is a feat that I would give ANYONE my utmost respect for! She is sweet and funny and loves to garage sale (like me!). She was an elementary school teacher and I absolutely LOVE to hear her read books to my kids, complete with different voices and all! My father in-law is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. He has been through some true horrors in his life and has come through them with such grace and perseverance that I truly admire him. He never fails to tell me how happy he is that my husband met me and that makes me feel amazing. He loves his grandkids so much and would do anything for them. My in-laws have also helped us out so many times that I can never repay them. They helped us with our house, our cars, and thats just the start of it! I wish there was a way I could show them how much they are appreciated because a lot of times “Thank You” just doesn’t seem sufficient.
#7 I am so thankful for my brother: My brother, my guardian, my personal comedian, my protector, my first friend. Growing up, I remember nothing but love from him- even when I was annoying him to death. With over 4 years between us, you wouldn’t think that we’d be that close but we definitely always have been and still are. He used to play Barbies and GI Joes with me, he would play outside with me, and he taught me all kinds of fun games. When we got our own rooms, he would let me climb into bed with him when I got scared and sometimes he would help me fall asleep playing “Patience” in his guitar. As I got older, he helped me transition through my awkward teenage years and told me how him and his friends would always be watching out for me in high school to make sure that nobody was picking on me or anything. When I was sad he’d always make me laugh- especially with his “well you LOOK good…” As an adult, my brother was always there for me through even the most intense times. He let me move in with him when I needed to get out of my house and never gave me a hard time for staying too long. Now, even though we’ve both moved on and have families of our own, we are still so close. He calls to read bedtime stories to my children and they just adore him. I am also so thankful that he has found someone to share his life with. His fiance is beautiful and sweet and keeps him in check, which is the perfect woman for him!
#8 I am so thankful for photos: For so many reasons. I LOVE looking back on my photos from my wonderful childhood. I love comparing pictures of myself and my husband to our kids to see who they look like. I love reliving my Disney days and thinking of my dear friends I worked with. I love that I can look back on my children from the time they were born so I don’t forget a precious moment. I love that the walls of my home are covered with photos. Most of all, I love that my children are growing up KNOWING their family, even though they live on the other side of the country. We look through photos all the time and I always point out who everyone is. I even got Preston a set of soft blocks from Avon a couple years ago that have plastic slots on the side that you can enter a picture. Each side of the blocks has a picture of a family member who lives far away. We play with soft blocks every night as part of his nighttime routine (nice, calm, non-electronic playtime) and he loves to name everyone on the blocks!
#9 I am so thankful for our military. I just can’t grasp what it must feel like to sign a document saying that you will gladly die for your country. These brave men and women literally stand on the front lines to make sure that the rest of us are safe. They leave their families, their lives behind and endure training in horrendous conditions and deployment in horrendous locations. I can’t even imagine the things they see and the mental toll that must take. I think a lot of people just see the movies and often just think of being a soldier as a “role” someone plays and not a sacrifice someone makes. We tell Preston that soldiers are real-life heros. Consider this: next time you see a soldier, go out of your way to say thank you to them. It might make you feel silly but they deserve to know they are appreciated.
#10 I am so thankful for smiles. I know that sounds silly but seriously… have you ever been having a bad day then someone just gives you a huge smile. Smiles have an amazing magic that goes deep down into your soul and makes you feel better. Smiles make you feel happy and loved and complete. Even better? When that smile is accompanied by a compliment. I have no idea why, in this world, people hesitate before giving a compliment. I think a simple, honest compliment can totally make someone’s day. So next time you’re out and see something worth complimenting, just do it! Like that lady’s dress? Tell her! See a haircut you like? Ask her where she got it and tell her how fab it looks! See a mom in the grocery store handle a tantrum-throwing toddler with what looks like grace and ease (we know she was cringing inside)? Tell her she’s doing a great job! If there were more smiles and compliments out there, I truly believe we would live in a generally happier world.
So I hope this post hit home for at least a few of you! I know, just writing it, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude and I know that, inside, I am one of the richest people in the world because of the vast amount of blessings in my life.
What are you thankful for? What would you add on to this list? Comment below and let me know!