With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas approaching ever too rapidly, I find it so helpful to slow down, and reflect on my blessings. This past weekend was especially abundant in all things GREAT, so I would love to share with you what's on my heart!
First: Not in a hundred years would I have fathomed we'd have kids so close together in age. In my 'dreams' of family planning, I remember very blatantly saying they would be at least 2.5 years apart. I'm thankful that I serve a mighty God, and that He had VASTLY different plans for that vision. He granted us a healthy son and fifteen months later, a healthy baby girl was placed in our arms. She is the definition of 'head-strong' and 'strong-willed,' but she has brought SO much joy and laughter to our family. Together, my kids teach me so much and inspire me daily to do better and BE better.
Having parents who are still married: I'll be honest, as a kid I didn't really know if that would be the case for my adult self. In fact, I remember conversing with my childhood best friend that I was pretty sure they were getting a divorce at one point. My oldest brother has severe special needs and they've been his SOLE caregivers for thirty-three YEARS. They've endured heart ache, loss, disappointments, confusion, loneliness, anger, and I've watched God spin a beautiful miracle between them. They're one of my greatest pictures of grace and redemption; they've helped me realize why a relationship with Christ is first and foremost important, and they've ingrained in me to NEVER GIVE UP. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for fighting HARD, each and every day, and for loving each other, in spite of life's many challenges.
My brothers: My oldest brother Nathan is a giant miracle, miracle. When I questioned my faith, he was the reason I always came back to this--there IS a God. He IS our Creator. Nathan is so loving, has a contagious giggle, and he NEVER lets life knock him down. And Sean, the guy who popped me on the head EVERY single morning; he's zealous and passionate, an incredibly hard worker, and loves with his whole heart. Sometimes as kids, our days were tough, and my memories are beautiful pictures of him being with me. Nonstop. Through all the challenges, the fun family vacations, the laughter, and the tears. My brothers are two of the biggest pieces of me, and I am so thankful to God for letting ME be their baby sister.
My dashing husband: the one I met in a coffee shop. The guy who has walked and talked with me for hours on end, the one who chooses ME, in spite of the ugly sin in my life. Guys, my mind spins a million miles a minute and he is always good to help me take a step back, and prioritize not only my to-do lists, but my life in general. In our dating years, I attempted several times to push him away, I've screwed up royally during our marriage, and when I look at this man, I think to myself: grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon GRACE. Asa Frank, I choose you today, tomorrow, and for the rest of eternity!
Our zoo, aka, our five pets: When people find out HOW many pets we have, because our Golden Retriever Elsa is the dominant one on my Instagram feed, their response is, FIVE?! Asa had our Lab Humphrey before we ever met, I picked Elsa out when we were dating, and through the years, we've inherited three cats: an alley kitten, a vet rescue, and our orange wonder from Sandy's Pet Shop this past summer. As much as I complain about them and the hair they shed, doctor appointments that they always end up needing... I really can't imagine life without any of them. [Any of you with me and can relate to my crazy cat and dog lady self? Eeeeek.]
Our beautiful 100+ year old home and ALL the crazy quirks it consists of: Do I want a house on acreage that will someday overlook my future horses and freshly washed clothes on our clothesline? You betcha. But God handpicked this current house for us and I believe that with ALL of my heart. When I saw pictures online, I told Asa, "This is our house." When I walked in the front entryway, without even seeing the rest, I said again, "THIS is our house. We will live here." And how cool is it that I've stayed in touch with the former owners, and can text her questions as needed and that not only is the couple who transformed this house an awesome one, but they're our brother and sister in Christ! Christians who once lived here, Christians who live here now, and I pray often that the next residents will also love and walk with the Lord. Reese's doorknob falls off every few days. Sometimes the water smells. The ice maker on the fridge is broke. We had to replace the kitchen floor. We need new carpet. And I complain often about needing more SPACE for the kids...but I sincerely do love every square inch of this place and I am SO thankful that it is our very sweet HOME.
My inherited sisters: I have two older brothers and I joked that God never gave me a baby sister because he knew I didn't really like girls... BUT, I couldn't have picked better sisters for myself with the four I've inherited through marriage! My brother's wife is such a beautiful soul. She's artistic and passionate, a hard worker, and the most gracious and loving wife. Asa's older sister in Rhode Island, we unfortunately don't get to see a ton of, BUT, the second I met her, I kinda fell in love. She's patient and attentive, an excellent and driven mother of three, has the kindest and most gentle voice, and shares my appreciation for all things animals and American Girl Doll. His other sister, a mom of two, has an extreme passion for labor and birth. She inspires me often with how willing she is to talk about any and every thing, and you know that her heart feels everything SO deeply. And then, his brother's wife, not only am I blessed to WORK with in a school setting, but I ALSO get to photograph weddings with her. We share a deep love for art and photography and we're both from the North, so it's like we were destined to be friends. She's *always* there when I need her, and is one of the only people that I text at LEAST every other day. Well, other than my mother... She helped me process a LOT of emotional baggage when I first met her and was just dating Asa, and she has taught me SO much about motherhood. I never would have guessed that I would be the baby sister to so many women, but here I am. And my heart is VERY full.
If I could sit here and write a paragraph for ALL the many things that I am thankful for, well, I think we would have a book. I've told you before that often I am a glass half empty type of gal, HOWEVER, I've been working on this a LOT. And why not share all of these good and happy blessings with you here in this space?
What's on the top of YOUR gratitude list this week? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! Let's chat and OH HEY, guess what? I'm also thankful for YOU. Yes, you. Reading this blog, taking the time to journey through this adventure with me. So thanks, and I hope you'll stick around!