Today I am excited to share with you Steffenie’s thoughts on gratitude. She came into Rettland voluntarily just to be our friend and am I ever glad she is here with us. I hope you enjoy the thoughts that she put together to share with you. The costumes are put away, pumpkins are rotting, candy is stockpiled into a community bowl (to be used as dessert when mommy hasn’t made anything fresh) and for the parents to steal from while the children are sleeping. I’m glad it’s over, I don’t enjoy the glorification of all things scary.
It is now November and the general consensus is that I am magically supposed to be overwhelmed with thankfulness and gratitude. The only problem with that is… maybe I have a hard time feeling thankful. It is not that I cannot recognize and give thanks. I can and I do, it is a wise thing to count my many blessings one by one. But can I just be honest and say, these holiday months can be difficult too.
This Thanksgiving will be our third without my son and our first without my dad. I will miss their faces a little more over the next few months than I do other times of the year. And yes, I will be thankful for the time I had with them. I will genuinely be thankful for the time I have with those still at the table this year… but it will be bittersweet.
I will give bittersweet thanks to a God that loves me even when I wrestle with what’s happening here on planet earth. A God who catches every tear and longs to right the wrongs of Cancer, Alzhimers, Rett and over all sickness and death. I will give bittersweet thanks for my family, my country and maybe even my sufferings because they have led me to make friendships with others who suffer.
Families like the Englishes who somehow thrived through their hardest month of October, giving me hope that maybe I can too. Maybe I can grieve and be thankful at the same time.
I am thankful that Jared lets his daughters paint his toenails girly colors and then sports it with pride. I am thankful he puts up with his wife and I being juvenile and often just plain ridiculous.
I am thankful not only for Chloe’s hugs but that she is aware what precious gifts they are. She amazes me with her love and compassion on a daily basis. It seems she has special powers that she uses to make everyday things seem magical and wonderful.
I am thankful for Claire who flirts with my husband and laughs when we sing Johnny and June Cash’s “Jackson” off key around the campfire. I am thankful that she is honest about when she’s sad and how she will sometimes let me hold her when she’s just too tired for my shenanigans.
I am thankful that Coleen has allowed me into her precious family. I will not document publicly the crazy things we do together but I will tell you her friendship blesses me deeply. I might have never met or connected with her if we hadn’t both known what it is like to practically live in hospitals or to hold a child who stops breathing….
So yes, I am bittersweetly thankful for my sufferings this November. While I would never have chosen them I can see with hindsight how God used them to pour wonderful things into my life.
If the holiday season is bittersweet for you too; you are not alone. Keep tallying up what you are thankful for. It may not give you the warm fuzzies or make you vomit rainbows but it will hopefully remind you of what you have and why you are here.