This hasn’t been an easy year. In fact, the last six months shook us to the core. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad… just hard. I think life is just this. The good and the bad, the mundane and the sparkling all mixed together.
We danced under the stars at our little girl’s wedding, surrounded by family and friends. We shared laughs and a meal with dozens of friends and family for a special birthday. Our family welcomed two new people this year. We explored distant cities and gathered up memories like pearls on a strand. We spent lazy days tucked under the covers dreaming about the future and slow nights chopping and stirring in the kitchen. We reconnected with family and friends and made commitments to prioritize these relationships. We cheered on our children’s new adventures, helping where we can, and marveling at how they’ve grown.
We also faced the hard stuff. We faced a year without both of Keith’s parents, which has forced us to reorient our lives and left a hole that can’t be filled. We’ve walked through a major health crisis with one foot in front of the other. The image of them rolling him through those double doors, still shakes me. We’ve faced a major shift in our lives in my resignation from a job I no longer loved. This new path is revealed as we walk and has its own challenges. The every day challenges wear on the soul, rubbing me raw. The big sweeping decisions of change leave me breathless.
My faith teaches me that I should give thanks in all seasons. That doesn’t mean I am thankful for everything that happens. There are certainly things I would rather not face. But I can practice the discipline of giving thanks… of looking for the beauty even in the difficult places.
- I thank God for the awkwardness of learning and growing. Although it makes me grouchy and tired, I recognize the process is vital and good. It is good for my pride to return to the role of the novice, to remember I don’t know everything.
- I thank God for the people who lend me their strength when mine has been all used up. Often, my vulnerability and need are only revealed under pressure. It is here, I learn again that I am loved.
- I thank God for the ordinary grace of love over decades. Facing each other and an uncertain future reminded me again of the fragile beauty within our marriage. When our hearts and lives are tender and raw, we have the chance to love each other well.
- I thank God for the hard conversations, the ways our hearts pour out the twisted mess. It isn’t always easy to look at what is true inside my life (or my people), but when mercy and forgiveness are applied, it can become beautiful and free.
- I thank God for another year. A chance to live and love, give and grow. I am so grateful for my real life, messy and vulnerable and missing the mark, but also deep and vibrant and filled with joy.
As we come to this Thanksgiving, we will share it with our growing family. There will be seven for dinner this year, or maybe eight, a first for us. We will gather and we will prepare, and we will make new traditions. This year, I give thanks for the celebration of my ordinary life.