Choosing Gratitude

In our world, I find it is so easy to get caught up in all of the things we wish were different about our lives, rather than all of the things we are blessed with. I love that we have a holiday dedicated to doing this. This year especially I am making a point of taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and looking at all of my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for….

Here are a few…

Annual photo of us being goofballs.... Note our best surprised face imitations of the statue character's perfectly square mouth.  Ha!
Annual photo of us being goofballs…. Note our best surprised face imitations of the statue character’s perfectly square mouth. Ha!

I am thankful for traditions. I love the predictability of the food, the conversation, and the chaos. While I won’t ever tell him, I love that every year my dad tries to turn our Thanksgiving dinner into “brunch” so that he can drive like a bat out of hell to go hunting in Idaho sooner. If he could find a way to convince the rest of us to eat a full turkey “dinner” at 9am, he would be thrilled! This year he even made a petition for Thanksgiving dinner to be held a day early. Sorry, Dad, not going to happen. So far, the rest of us are holding firm at noon for our meal, no earlier. Oh, how I love tradition.

Tim and our little June
Tim and our little June

I am thankful for my wonderful husband. He is a hardworking, talented, intelligent, manly-man of a sweetheart. He is one of those people that makes me feel completely safe, loved, and cherished at the same time. He puts up with my antics and balances my craziness. At times, I feel completely inadequate. He is so much more amazing and accomplished than I will ever be. He never stops amazing me.

I am thankful for my family. I love the unique characters that make up our little slice of happiness. We may challenge one another – which is a nice way of saying don’t always get along – but would all do absolutely anything for each other. I love, what my husband has dubbed, the “yammering” that happens when we get together. We hop from topic to topic as if they were hot potatoes and are apparently allergic to completing conversations. No sane person could follow the discussions, but lucky for us, none of us qualify as sane – except maybe my husband, who is baffled by the whole loud, chaotic interaction. We aren’t perfect but we have a complex and deep relationship that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I am thankful for God’s provision. I don’t only mean this financially, although I am so thankful for that as well! I am thankful that He provides guidance – and man, have we ever needed it this year! He doesn’t leave us to navigate alone. I am thankful that He has a plan and knows the answers, whether He reveals them in the form of closing one door to open another or slowly guiding my bumbling self to the right decisions.

The things I am grateful for to me are somewhat normal, even mundane: tradition, a loving husband, family. and a God who provides. I think their normalness makes them even more dangerous – easier to take them for granted…

For me, these things represent

stability,

consistency,

normalcy,

familiarity,

and love.

These are four things that I hold so dearly. Yet they are so easy for me, who has never truly known otherwise, to take them for granted. This year, I choose to remember that they are blessings.

For children in foster care, without a family, or even adopted children, the holidays can be a difficult time. For many, their life does not feel stable, consistent, normal, or familiar. They never forget that these things are not only blessings but also luxuries. These children may miss the holiday traditions that they once knew or just wish that they had traditions to identify with. Many adoptees find themselves wondering about their birth family over the holidays. “What are their traditions? Are they thinking about me, too?,” are common questions that may run through adoptees minds. The concepts of a great sense of loss and lack of belonging around the holidays have been well documented, studied, and confirmed by therapists specializing in adoptee and orphan psychology.

Can you imagine: What these children whose whole lives have been turned upside down must be feeling? Being torn away from your family – for reasons that you may not fully understand – and placed in an unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people and unfamiliar traditions?

Can you imagine it? I can’t.

I pray for these children this holiday. I pray that they would find strength, resilience, and peace. And I pray that stability, consistency, normalcy, familiarity, and knowing they are loved are on the horizon.

For the blessings in my life, both the ones I listed and the ones I didn’t, I choose gratitude.

Go hug your loved ones a little tighter and don’t take anything for granted. Happy Thanksgiving!

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