today i turn another year older. chach has a december birthday as well. i am officially eleven days older but we have a remarkable thing in common. each december we get to celebrate not only another calendar year ending and a new one beginning, but another year of our own lives that has come and gone as well. after spending a day reflecting on the year that has come to an end, i feel the need to share a few things i'm thankful for. perhaps it can spur on a moment of thankfulness of your own.
i'm thankful for health. this last year, one of my good girlfriends passed away from cancer. another friend lost his life in a tragic car accident. other amazing girlfriends are battling hard against cancer. friends have faced sick children beyond what i can even comprehend. the young parents of my friends have passed away from various illnesses. i will never take the health of my family for granted. each day that i wake up and find that my biggest health complaint is another child with an ear infection is a day worthy of rejoicing. sometimes i have to stop myself from thinking that my life is difficult because i have two kids with colds at once. may i always have eyes to see things from a proper perspective and remember to be thankful for the huge blessing of a healthy family.
i'm thankful for this new baby and the kids and husband i already have. sure, i joke about my "never-had-a-baby-body." i have shared frustrations with people who have said things perhaps they shouldn't about this fifth pregnancy. there are days when my own children push me to limits i didn't think i could handle. here's, however, what i thought about today. my friends who have suffered miscarriage after miscarriage have been the biggest supporters of my fifth baby. one friend who had a complete hysterectomy in her 20's wonders what it would be like to lose her "never-had-a-baby-body." having a handful of children to care for at home is a dream for some women who would give anything to be mother at all. no matter what sacrifices are made, what difficulties are faced, or how much work is involved, these kids are my greatest blessings. having an amazing husband to share this experience with is an fantastic bonus.
i'm thankful for an amazing place to live. i love my house. i love my neighborhood and my current hometown. this, however is not what i'm referring to when i say i live in an amazing place. i lived overseas for over five years. my first three children were born while living in a foreign country. i know what it is like to live in the murder capital of the world. i know what it is like to look behind my back as i walk with my children in the evenings to make sure we're not being followed. i've fought in the grocery store over a bag of sugar and a carton of milk. i've been medically evacuated out of a country due to poor medical care. we've ridden in armored cars and traveled from one town to another only with large assault weapons accompanying us. i've been on email lists that tell me when a butcher has meat to sell, which grocery stores have been stocked with basic food products, and when the u.s. embassy will be able to provide food that we can't purchase elsewhere. i've lived in places where freedoms we daily take for granted are beyond what is currently possible. we live in an amazing place and we're amazingly spoiled. we find so much to complain about, from leadership to politics to economics, to a grocery store being out of a specialty item we are looking for. we need to learn to be thankful. the line to get into this country is still long. we are blessed enough to call it home. that's something to be grateful for.
i'm thankful for the freedom to be me. i get to blog whatever i want and, not only am i allowed to, but there is a select group of people who actually want to hear what i have to say. i am grateful. i get to go to church and worship without persecution. martyrs are being made the world over and yet i am able to attend services completely unharmed. i am thankful. i have girlfriends who are selfless and kind and who encourage me on a daily basis. i don't have to be someone that i am not when i am around them. they love me for me and i love each and every one of them. they are some of my greatest blessings.
along with the big things, i'm pretty content in the small things of the day too. i'm thankful that i was able to shower, wash and dry my hair, and shave both legs, all on the same day. i'm thankful for a starbucks chai tea latte, something that brightens any day. i'm thankful for love and hugs and kisses from my family. i'm thankful for facebook and a litany of happy birthday wishes from people who span my entire lifetime. i'm thankful for the haagen dazs ice cream bar that is waiting for me in the freezer once i finish writing. most of all, i'm thankful that today begins another year of this amazing life i have been given. while my journey may be different than i ever imagined it would be, i am blessed beyond belief...and indescribably grateful.