The thing that bothers mie about it was plainly this - today is December 1st. How many people are going to stop focusing on being grateful now that the 30 days are up? How many "Day 31" posts are we going to see? Probably not as many. Clearly this doesn't mean people are grateful, but it did make mie pause and eventually consciously decide to not participate by posting my own daily list and rather continue with my regular activity. More than anything, it made mie in my heart (if not on my blog) focus on how grateful I am as a lifestyle/character trait so I can check the long-term success of being grateful in my own life.
Nevertheless, I am a grateful person and what a fitting day to intentionally share my gratitude than on Thankful Thursday. No need to point out how ironic-if-not-hypocritical it is for mie to have a weekly feature on gratitude when I kind-of-object to a 30-day daily movement in November. I know.
- My God who saves mie and allows mie to be in relationship with Him for no other reason than He loves mie.
- My husband who has committed 9+ years of his life to living life as "us".
- My son Logan who has been a tremendous blessing from day 1, as in the day we were blessed with him through pregnancy. He was and remains "the one we waited for".
- Our infertility - it made us appreciate our son that much more even though the extent to which we were infertile wasn't made known to us until well after his birth. Additionally, it led us down a path that brought us closer to God and we believe has taught us so much more about His plan for His people here on Earth that we would have missed had we not struggled with infertility.
- Our foster care license - on our recent vacation someone (yet again) mentioned how "amazing" we are for being foster parents and living this life. Though I appreciated the sentiment I replied, probably the first time with complete and utter honesty, no reservation, that we are the ones who are blessed through foster care. Though having children in our family is great, the life-lessons and blessing through our participation in foster care has been more than we could have ever expected and by-far makes up for any stress caused by having "that many" "kids from difficult places".
- God's provision through our jobs - we are incredibly blessed financially and we believe that is 100% so we can provide for others. You don't have to have a large home to foster, but it sure has helped us be able to do more for more kiddos than we could have in our old smaller home. Between the two of us, we've faced a few difficult years in our jobs but it has definitely, once again, been a turmoil that has caused growth in us that wouldn't have happened otherwise.
- Our tenant - a good woman and friend and her family that we can trust with our other property. It's a blessing to us to be able to trust she's going to care for our home probably better than we would have.
- Our daughter - It is so wonderful to have a daughter whom we would have never thought we'd have. More so, she is a perfect match for our family in her personality, likes and dislikes, and just basically everything about her. We love her so much and couldn't imagine life without her. And now I know 1200 ways to take care of ringworm.
- A good pediatrician - speaking of ringworm - so grateful for our wonderful pediatrician who is smart, well-educated, personable, caring for each of our kids, and probably most importantly to me willing to partner with us as parents to treat our kiddos, doing the right thing for their individual needs rather than just running through some textbook script.
- My friend Amanda and all of my friends running in the marathon relay soon who encouraged mie in training to run 5.2 miles, something a year ago (5 months ago) I would have told you was impossible. Apparently, it isn't impossible and I know that now because of their support.
- My parents - Not perfect but wonderfully supportive. They mostly tell it like it is but allow us to live our own life, encouraging us to make our own decisions as adults. They did a good job raising us as kiddos into capable adults, which may be why they trust us to make our own decisions. Not to mention, they make it known that they love us and have gone out of their way to support us in fostering.
- My siblings - each of whom I'm proud of and I know are there for each other (and mie) through thick and thin. Sometimes it's really thick and sometimes really thin, but we stick it out and make it work in the long run!
- My husband's family - they are really friendly people who have taught us many lessons along the way.
- My extended family - for so many reasons. Not at all perfect. Some are closer than others and that's ok. Has taught mie the value of boundaries, family bonds, unconditional love, and many other things. Not to mention how fun it is to have a large family - how many people can say they have 60 first-cousins?
- Marie Callendar's Dutch Applie Pie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. It makes everything better.
- Our church family - so many great friends to share our life with over the past 6 years.
- The principals at the schools my son might be attending next year - they each have agreed to allow our son to go to 1st grade if he tests in to their schools. This has taken a HUGE burden off mie as a momma who believes my son who can read and do most basic math at 5 years old does not need to do kindergarten again next year just because his birthday is 30 days after the cut-off. I don't mind putting him in kinder again if he belongs there, but not just because of beauracracy.
- God giving us what we can handle - the trials and tribulations we've faced over the past few years, though very challenging at times, have chipped away at some of the ugliness we naturally carry as humans. If we only had a "perfect" life where everything went our way and we didn't face hurts, we wouldn't be where we are today. Not to mention the way He's demonstrated His endless capacity in these situations that felt impossible at the time.
- Our swagger-waggon - the 2011 Sienna. It does really feel like the perfect car for us. I know many struggle with reliable transportation, sharing one vehicle, having to transport large families by public transit on a regular basis. The Sienna is a big blessing to us.
- Our annual Thanksgiving vacation tradition - we look forward to taking our kiddos to see family and having the ability to stop off along the way to see some gorgeous sights. Stopping off along the way gives our immediate family a few days of "alone time" together to vacation and bond before spending the rest of our vacation with extended family, which is also great.
- Plenty of food. I'm grateful the only hunger my children have had to face in my home is not wanting to eat something I serve rather than not having something available when they're really, actually, starving - something they've never had to experience.
- Clean water - I am so grateful that so many of my friends and church family ran this year with World Vision to raise money and awareness for clean water, something that is a luxury for some people and something for which we don't even think about on a daily basis. I'm so proud of them and their efforts and grateful we have enough to drink.
- I'm choosing to be grateful that "our son" Aaron never came to be and instead baby Zachary went to live with his adoptive parents far away. I don't understand this and I may never will, but I'm grateful anyway. I know God had his hand in it and though I think it was terribly wrong on so many levels I believe He knows what He's doing better than I do. I'm grateful that it remains a sore spot on my heart because it continues to remind mie that I'm not in control and that I continue to need God's help in this world, if for no other reason than to be grateful despite the heartbreak I have with the situation. It gives mie an opportunity to pray for a family that I don't really know as they raise a child through adoption, a family that is my extended family whether or not we ever really know each other. What a wonderful example of how God's family is - completely messed up from His original plan yet all pulled back together through His efforts to adopt us as his children, thereby creating the extended family in Christ.
- I'm grateful my husband and I fought for our marriage years ago. There at least a couple points at which we were on the brink and could have "rightly" ended our marriage and yet making a choice to honor our vows "in sickness and in health" has gone on to teach us so much more about ourselves and Christ and now we have a happy marriage that continues to grow.
- Christmas is coming! The season is here. I LOVE the holiday season and I'm grateful that we don't have to get sucked into the drama that is commercialized Christmas.
- I'm grateful my son resembles my husband. I joke about it occasionally - I'm glad people can see my husband's features in my son particularly in light of the cause of our infertility - but honestly I am very grateful for it. We may only get one shot at having a biological son and it's very cool that he seems to be a perfect mix of both of our features.
- I'm grateful we've only been allowed to adopt one of our foster children. It has given us a flavor for adoption and allowed us to be at peace with "keeping" our forever daughter. Additionally, not being able to adopt our first set (and subsequent sets) of kiddos has enabled us to foster many more children than if our house was full in the beginning, but also has given us a passion for foster care beyond a means to adopt.
- I'm glad I finally learned I have allergies - it makes life so much easier to be able to function when I can take allergy medicine and the symptoms I've had my whole life just go away.
- I'm grateful our daughter has blue eyes. Not that it matters all that much, but in our family we have very characteristic blue eyes. In all of the family (remember my previously mentioned # of cousins and many of them have kids) I think we counted 3 or 4 people who carry our blood but don't have the blue eyes. My son does not have them. It's cool our daughter does, even though she doesn't carry the blood :)
- I'm grateful for the break I've had from school over the past 6 months. It's given mie a bit of rest and a feel for what it's normall like as a parent who works but is not in full-time grad-school, something I hadn't experienced before!
- I'm also grateful for my friend Pam who earned her Ph.D. this week. We started the program right around the same time and I'm glad to see her finish. It makes mie very jealous that I'm not quite done, but has given mie the insipiration to know I too can do it and to get my butt back in gear to finish it even if it means I have to climb some more obstacles first.
- I'm grateful I still have my cell phone. I should have lost it in May but I've been given grace to keep it for now.
33. I'm thankful for my blogging community. I get encouraged by your comments and the stats to know that our story is reaching others, hopefully positively benefiting your lives and shedding a positive-yet-realistic light on orphan-care, among other things. You all bless mie a ton knowing you're out there. I also am thankful for those of you whose blogs I follow - sharing your stories also encourages mie (and often sends me a good laugh!).
I don't know if you all made it to the end - doesn't really matter I suppose - the point was for mie to spread a little gratitude on day 31.