Most families we know are gathering around the table today. As I write this, last minute preparations are being made, check lists are being marked off, and dashes to the store for a forgotten ingredient are underway. For my family, Thanksgiving falls on a workday. As we do, we made the holiday adjust to our reality and celebrated last weekend. We gathered and feasted and enjoyed one another. Today, we will finish the last of the turkey soup.

There were so many years that the reality of living in an EMS family left me feeling frustrated and sorry for myself. This year, I find that I am grateful. Today, there is time to reflect and to truly consider my many blessings. My heart is full, and my life is better for it. Some things I am grateful for this year include:

Perspective– My ordinary, messy, beautiful life is perfect. I’ve spent so much of my life feeling unsatisfied with my current reality. I’ve wasted time and energy wishing my kids into the next phase of their lives, waiting for the next season, holding my breath until the weekend. Today, I am wallowing in the imperfect reality of this moment in my life. Of course, there are things I would change if I could, but I won’t allow those things to take one moment of joy over the actual reality of this season, this moment, this day. This shift has filled me with joy and gratitude.

Connection to the natural world– I’m not sure if it is because of the up-close reality of the vulnerability of my life, but suddenly I am aware of the natural world in a new way. I am paying attention to the sunrise and sunset, the way the trees change from day to day and month to month. Occasionally, I have to pull over on the side of the road to appreciate the way the sun hangs low in the sky, wrapped in mist struggling to shine through. Drinking in the sights and sounds of the world around me fills my soul in a new way.

My body– I’ve had a love hate relationship with my body for as long as I can remember. This year, we called a truce. Instead of fighting my body to make it be what I thought it should be, I have determined to love and listen to it instead. I’ve cut my body slack, learned its language, and developed a new appreciation for the way it serves me day in and day out. This is relationship that I’m determined to develop.

A web of relationships– Over the last year, I learned that I live tucked into a web of relationships that provide support, encouragement, and a deep sense of community. These relationships have bolstered me during the darkest days. I am so grateful for all the ways my friends and family have loved me. I am humbled by the outpouring of support and help that buoyed us through difficult days. Cultivating these relationships remains among my highest priorities.

Time– Suddenly, time has a new meaning to me. I have always lived as though time were endless. It isn’t. This new reality has required me to determine how I will now live. I have new clarity about what matters to me, and what doesn’t. Being honest with myself and others about what I am willing to spend time on and what I’m not has been freeing. No longer will expectation and what others think determine the use of a single hour. I believe my life is a gift from God, and what I do with it is a gift to God. I am now living out that reality.

Serving others– According to my text books, it is completely normal in this stage of life to consider the meaning of life, sense of purpose, and consider one’s legacy. It’s a good thing! Among the things that have become completely clear over the last year is my need to serve. To pour out some of the bounty that has been poured into my life. This desire has always been there, but now there is a new urgency and clarity about what that looks like moving forward.

As I move through this imperfect Thanksgiving, my heart is full. We are expecting some of the kids to stop by for a bit. There are cinnamon rolls cooling on the stove and soon, I will make Keith’s favorite holiday meal, pork pie. We will drop off some goodies to the ambulance base to remind the crews that people care. This evening we are planning to curl up in front of the fire and watch the Lord of the Rings. Life is very good around here.

I am grateful for God’s intervention in my life, for recovery and health, and for the bounty of family and love. I pray that you might have some time today to reflect on the beauty of your ordinary, imperfect, messy life and to thank God for the wonder of it.

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