I love holidays, and Thanksgiving is no exception. There is no stress that comes along with this holiday, no difficult expectations...in fact, it's quite the opposite. You are expected to eat and be merry, and that is not difficult! As we get closer to the holiday, I am constantly challenging myself to think about and really appreciate the things I am thankful for. It's easy to see clearly the things going wrong or to focus on the problems. My expectations are high, things should go RIGHT, and the wrongs are just getting in the way. I should be grateful for the things that are going right, and recognize them as a wonderful gift. I decided, therefore, to focus my attention on those areas in my life that have made me who I am and brought the greatest joy.
I once read this book given to me by my Aunt, called One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. 221 pages of "gifts" as small as rainbows caught in soap bubbles, and I felt challenged to not be so vague in my gratitude. I've listed 5 things that I am extremely grateful for in this season of life, in no particular order of importance. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Yes, two words that rarely go together...but in my case, they do. I have a difficult time with balance. My husband works pretty long hours, but he is really good at this! He can have a tough time at work, and then come home and leave it at the office! My work follows me everywhere, I'm always thinking about it, I'm always fitting it in somewhere. So, when my James decides we need a vacation or a date night, I'm usually reluctant! Instead of getting frustrated, he invites me via google calendar for a weekend months in advance, so I can plan accordingly and I really do appreciate his willing to go the extra mile just to get me to agree to take a vacation!
When I was a kid and didn't want to eat my dinner, my Dad would tell me that there are 3rd world country children who are starving. I got it, but I didn't really get it. I couldn't relate, I didn't really understand how blessed we were. As a Mother, I fully appreciate this. My children's concern over who got more time with which toy is irritating, yes. However, I've changed my perspective here. I'm not the mother who has to worry about our next meal. I have been so blessed to have a comfortable home, a loving husband, and two healthy children who have the luxury of worrying about toys instead of food and shelter.
It takes a Village. You've heard this before, but without my "Village" nothing I do, could I do! I have extremely supportive parents and friends who have and continue to help me every single day. My parents stop by after work and help me with the kids when James is working late. My friends keep me sane. My fellow photographers are a huge support, at all hours of any day. We're doing life together, and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the people in my life.
Whether it's sheer exhaustion or a difficult project, or the dreaded Fall cold, I sometimes want to give up. In those moments, I hear way down deep in my soul, the still, small voice that says "keep going." It reminds me that I'm not alone here. I am never given more than I can handle, and it gives me all the strength and courage to continue moving forward in my life and business, knowing that I have Jesus walking beside me and guiding me. What better inspiration to carry with me as I create, than the source of creation Himself?
It's an odd appreciation, I know. But if I didn't have trials, I would never grow. I would be unable to problem-solve. I would never again feel that sense of accomplishment after a huge hurdle. It would be like taking a vacation, without anything to vacation from. There's no satisfaction in that! While I am not feeling very grateful for the challenges while I'm facing them, I am able to appreciate that I am not perfect, but I'm learning along the way, and God is never finished refining me to become the person He wants me to be!
Family photo credit: Barbara Wentzel