As it is past midnight, it is now Thanksgiving Day.
I have had conflicting emotions leading up to today for quite some time now. It's the first major holiday where the kids and I are without their dad. Earlier today, I was having flashbacks to last year, and how wretched it started, and suddenly, for a while, I didn't miss him anymore. I prayed that my children don't remember times like those, and was thankful that this year we will not experience a beginning of the day like that.
But, still, I go back and forth.
Last Sunday, in church, our pastor spoke on being intentionally thankful.
We were challenged under the call of this verse (pictured above) to be thankful in all circumstances, for even in the worst, there's something to give thanks for. We were challenged to make a list of 100 things we are thankful for (this is my evening project later today), but to also practice intentional thankfulness for 40 days (up to the new year).
As I wrote a few days ago, I have been walking through a valley. Knowing that, I gladly accepted this challenge. I am now four days in, and I already feel a shift. I am not on a peak yet, but I am getting there.
This year, through the sadness and heartache and the lingering fear that I may burst into tears at a friends house over dinner, I know I have much to be thankful for in this valley.
I am thankful for the valley, for I know that in the valleys, we draw nearer to God. We are humbled and broken and rebuilt in strength, hope, and faith. We grow in patience. We become resilient.
I am thankful for our neediness. Yes, it is a struggle to live paycheck to paycheck, with sick children keeping me from work many days, but in our neediness, I find true friendships, humility again, and the boundless grace of God's provision.
I am thankful for sadness, as it reminds me that my heart has not become calloused, and I can still love and care deeply.
I am thankful for exhaustion, because it's a reminder that I have three children who love and need me enough at all hours of the day, and that I have a job to provide for these children. Consequently, I am thankful for sleep, even if it's only a couple hours at a time.
I am thankful for struggles. They are showing me my strength, and showing me God's never-failing love and companionship, and He keeps reminding me of these things, often through the words of others, because sometimes I just can't hear His voice on my own.
I am thankful for this continued and recently increased wrist pain, as it reminds me to take it easy on myself sometimes, and that it is okay to relax. It also has taught me resourcefulness and ingenuity.
I am thankful for this lingering fever, because it's a sign my body is still doing its job to fight off the many illnesses I come in contact with throughout the week, and that I am fortunate that nothing has taken me down.
I am thankful for the huge mess the children have strewn throughout the apartment, as it is evidence that they have enough clothing to keep them warm, and a vast collection of treasured items they are excited to play with day after day.
I am excited for a slippery wet, flooded bathroom floor. It shows me that I have taken control of utilities myself and we have warm, running water every day for the kids to splash around in.
I am thankful for stubborn children and mischief, because they keep me growing, learning, and they are mine, even though I was told I may never have them.
I am thankful for more "typical" things too, of course.
But this year, I feel like they hear more weight than years before. I'm thankful for a home, knowing now what it was like to be without one. I am thankful for food and the ability to feed my children. I am thankful for a job, even though it meant giving up my life of staying home raising my children. I am thankful for friendships, while some have faded away, others have strengthened, and new, beautiful blessed ones have formed.
I am thankful for family, both blood family and "adopted" family. Family has anyways bean important to me and this past year has been rough on some levels. There have been family I thought would always be there regardless who have faded off to the distance, but the majority, especially my mom(s), sisters, and brothers, have poured out their love in countless ways.
I could go on and on, I know.
I am thankful. I am blessed.
I hope you all can see the same is true for your own lives.