I am thankful, very thankful. A few weeks ago, Steve and I discussed "getting through" the holidays, but it has truly been much more than that. We have been blessed, especially this year, with answered prayers and opportunities to grow closer to God, we've been challenged and tested, our hearts have been broken, and I feel as if we are beginning to come out the other side still seeing so much love, joy, and hope. I cannot deny the grace and love that I've experienced this year. Here are some things that I feel especially grateful for:
Steve and I have prayed diligently for a few years now for God to lead us to a church family, and He has done that in such a significant way through Harvest. We have never felt so welcomed and loved before in a church setting. I adore this family, and I am honored to call them my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know they are refining me and helping grow closer to the Lord. I'm thrilled to be a part of this exciting church and ministry.
I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with old friends from O-town this summer. Holly, Nancy, Shantel, MC, and I had so much fun on Diamond Lake just being goofy and almost burning down the boat house with our mad grilling skills. We had long talks, swam the lake, drank coffee, and sang songs on the piano. I love these women so much. Ya ya!
This year Steve, Alex, and I took a family vacation, and it was awesome. Bald Head Island was the kind of vacation that we always wanted to take. There were no cars on the island, we drove around a golf cart, sat our butts on the beach, made some new friends, and just CHILLED! I even loved the two day drive through the mountains. It was wonderful and memorable.
Although we have faced deep grief this past month, I have never been surrounded with such love and comfort from our friends, family, and community. I feel as if I've learned so much through TJ's passing. I've learned what it means to be there for someone, and how wonderful all those beautiful prayers, gestures, phone calls, messages, and hugs truly feel to a hurting soul. I feel as if Steve, Alex, and I have been lifted up to God in such a significant way. Unfortunately, through this human experience I know that someone else will experience pain like this, and I hope that I can be there for someone else as significantly as our friends and family have been there for us. It has given an added dimension to how I see this world. Even today, I shed tears over our little boy, but I couldn't do it without remembering the love that we have been given during this time. I understand on a much more significant level how it is that among our Lord's greatest suffering, we can experience His greatest joy and triumph. I'm beginning to feel that this is TJ's greatest legacy.
My daughter amazes me on a daily basis. She's funny, and she's so her own little person. I'm grateful for her tender heart and her new passion for telling me EVERYTHING she may have done wrong since her very existence. Although she has been driving me crazy from time to time telling me things that may be questionable in judgement, I can see the Holy Spirit working in her heart; she wants to bring EVERYTHING to the cross and ask for forgiveness and guidance with these things that are weighing on her conscience. She has a more acute awareness than most adults I know for what God wants for her life; she's feeling that and dealing with that. It's so huge right now, and to have this opportunity to see her grow closer to God is so amazing. I'm thankful, and I wish I had her sensitivity, awareness, and willingness to acknowledge and repent for things that I think we often blow off as adults. This little force is teaching me every day. I love her so much.
How I got blessed with Mr. Stephen Craig is beyond my comprehension. The devotion, passion, and love that he brings to this family every day is beyond words. He loves me, and there are times that I don't know why. I'm a pain in the butt. He still thinks I'm funny. He would do ANYTHING for us. He feels our pain and joy greater than we feel it ourselves. He is an amazing man.
I get to go to a job that I love every day. I get to laugh with kids and help them be the people they want to be in this world. It's hands down, the best job ever. I work with talented and passionate people who get goofy and ridiculous along side of me. It's amazing to have this.
I still have questions and confusions in this life, but how can I not see the blessings that are here before my very eyes? I'm grateful to be able to see this a month from TJ's passing. I know that in and of itself is a gift.
So thank You, Lord. Thank You for being in my life in these significant ways. Help me to care for these beautiful blessings as they have cared for me. I am honored to be Your child. It is an experience that I wouldn't want anyone, friend or stranger, to be without.
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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