"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." - Colossians 3:17
It's Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day 2010. But this year, it feels very different. We always celebrate Thanksgiving with my side of the family and Christmas with Emily's side, but this year, we are going solo. I think this is the first time that I've ever been away from my family on Turkey Day. This is Em's year in the holiday rotation at work so we were unable to go to the Woodlands with the Koelling clan. And with Mom's move to Oregon, we didn't have a lot of options. So as I sit here watching Abbott eat breakfast while Em is at work, it really just feels like another day. But I am determined to get in the holiday spirit and make it feel like Thanksgiving for us at home and I thought a good way to kick off the holiday cheer might be to write some things that I'm thankful for, so here goes.
First of all, if you're reading this, I hope you don't hear me complaining or pitying myself. It's just a little different and a little weird. I'm so thankful for all of my family and the fact that everyone is getting to celebrate together in some form or fashion. I'm particularly thankful that Mom is spending Thanksgiving with Charlie and the rest of her family up in the northwest. I'm so thankful that Em and I both have good jobs, even if they do keep us from doing what we want from time to time. I'm so thankful that we have a roof over our heads and a way to get from point A to point B. I'm thankful for the freedoms and the luxuries we have in this country. I'm thankful for the fact that we don't have to worry, at least for now, about if and what we are going to eat or whether or not Abbott is going to be provided for.
I'm thankful for my friends, of which I have many. Many of my best friends have been so since elementary school and remain so to this day. And many of my best friends I've gained along the way. I'm thankful for my family. Despite my parents' divorce, they managed to instill in us the values, morals, and wisdom that we have today. And because of that, I remain very close with my brother and sister and, despite all the turmoil, we've somehow managed to keep our heads on straight and work together with Mom and Dad to keep this family together despite it's division. I'm thankful that even though they couldn't work things out between them, they loved us enough to "raise us right" as my brother-in-law, Hudson, would say. I'm thankful for Emily and her family, because in the last decade they have been a source of stability for me when things weren't really stable on my end. I love them all so very much and am proud to call them my family.
I am so thankful for my beautiful wife and my precious daughter. And I am so thankful to the Lord for the blessings He has showered on my life through them. Emily is such an amazing strength in this marriage and family. She does so much and gives so much of herself that I marvel at times. Anyone that knows me knows exactly what I'd be doing if I had to work today, tomorrow, and over the weekend. It wouldn't be pretty. Yet I haven't heard, or even detected, a single hint of negativity or complaint from Emily. She's much better at removing her wants and needs from most equations than I am. And she's such an amazing mother. Watching her with Abbott makes me love her a little more every time. I'm so thankful for my Fridays off with Abbott, but it ain't a cake walk by any stretch. And for Em and all you other mothers that stay home with the kid(s) on a more frequent basis... wow! Anyone that would talk down at being a stay at home mom has absolutely no concept of the hard work it is. I'm thankful for wives and moms, and if any of you men out there haven't taken a minute to reflect on all the hard work they do while we are sitting on the couch, or at work, or doing "guy stuff", you should do it now. It's the perfect day for it!
Watching Abbott grow up, especially at this phase in life, is like watching an ongoing daily miracle. I'm probably a little biased here (just a little), but she is so smart. She catches on so quickly and she's so sweet and playful. Not the biggest cuddler, which has been hard on Daddy, but we have our moments. She is so expressive and funny, and slightly dramatic... I can't imagine where she got such qualities. It's kind of like here blond hair and blue eyes... what in the world is that all about?! Being a father is such a blessing. She has added so much joy to a life, marriage, and family that already had it's fair share. I hope and pray that we will have more children. And I would love to have a son some day. But having a little girl makes me kind of want more little girls. It's weird what happens to a man when a daughter arrives on the scene. I'm thankful for my girls, and I love being able to say "my girls".
I'm very thankful for our church family. We joined our church a few years ago but have only started getting plugged in in the last several months. A door was opened up for us to get involved with the college ministry and it has been quite a blessing. And I'm thankful for Mary, the leader of the college ministry who is opening her home this afternoon to us and a handful of college students so that we can all spend Thanksgiving in fellowship with friends and loved ones. I'm thankful for TURKEY BALL (if you don't know, you should find out!). And I'm thankful for awesome traditions like Turkey Bowling (because my family is awesome!). And yes, we will be passing the tradition along this afternoon, as Emily has obtained a set of bowling pins from the bowling alley. Pins, check. Tarp, check. Frozen turkey, check. Awesometown, check.
I very much believe that all of these things that I have to be thankful for are made possible only by the grace of God. I am so thankful that because of what happened on the cross, I have been given the gift of grace, and through faith I can have hope in something greater than all of these things. I've had very few real trials in my life, but I'm not promised 5 minutes from now and I'm so thankful that no matter what happens, no matter how the tides may turn, no matter which way the wind blows, my hope and my faith and my fate don't terminate here on earth. I stumble and stray more than not, but the beauty of grace is that I don't have to run away from God and clean myself up. I can press in to Him and keep trudging forward with an assurance like no other. Grace and mercy are hard to wrap your head around sometimes, but unmerited favor in the eyes of God is a powerful thing to be thankful for and I probably don't thank Him enough.
"Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." - 2 Corinthians 4:13-15
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thank you very much if you took the time to read this.