I just re-read this post from my friend Jana as I was preparing to post it here, and it’s just so good. Sometimes I need these reminders to be thankful for what I have, even through the tough times.
Jana and I were college friends; she, her husband (Kenny) and I were part of the the same college ministry. Jana and Kenny have since gotten married, moved off to Kentucky and adopted two of the cutest boys you will ever see. Hope you enjoy her personal story of thankfulness, and if you want to know more about what the adoption process was like for them, definitely take a look at her blog, The Cook Commentary.
Thankful. Feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
Two years ago, I’m not sure I had an adequate grasp of what it truly meant to be thankful. But two years ago, life was totally different.
Two years ago, it was just me and Kenny, playing house, working, schooling…just doing what we do. Two years ago, we were knee deep in the never-ending adoption process that had lasted about 6 months longer than I had planned. Two years ago, we were living on two (half-way) decent incomes. Two years ago, I had all my family within six-hours reach.
Then things changed.
We brought home two of the most amazing little boys from Ethiopia. And everything quit being about us and became all about them. We instantly went from a family of two to a family of four. Literally overnight. That adoption process turned into life with kids.
I quit my so-called “real” job and began my dream occupation of Mommy, skipping that entire poop and spitting up stage and going straight to little people with personalities and opinions. (Who still poop a lot, by the way.) I went from worrying about meeting State-imposed deadlines, to remembering how to play Candy Land and watching annoying cartoons. I went from (mostly) intelligent conversations with adults to playing charades with two kids who didn’t speak English. And we began the delicate dance of a one-income family. Which includes lots of coupons, creative fun and making choices about what is absolutely necessary and what can be done without.
I got the dreaded 4 a.m. phone call that there had been an accident. And in an instant, I lost my best friend and little sister at the unfair age of 22. I don’t think I’ve ever spent time in such urgent prayer as I did on that very long plane ride that day, but I learned that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way that we want.
So my feelings of thankfulness changed.
I am thankful for the children the Lord has blessed me with because it means two little boys can be confident that they will always have a family to call their own. I am thankful for every single piece of paper that it took to bring them home because it means that we live in a world that is willing to help others, no matter how long it takes. Or how many trees we kill while doing it. I am thankful for dirty laundry, pee on the bathroom floor and dishes piled in the sink because it means God has blessed us with the family we always wanted.
I am thankful for every hard earned dollar my husband earns and take joy in making our limited budget work for our family. I am thankful the boys and I have a husband and a daddy that cares enough about his family to provide for us. I am thankful to have bills to pay because that means I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I am thankful for a stable place of employment and that we aren’t included in the millions of Americans that are currently standing in the unemployment line.
I am thankful for each second I get with my family. I am thankful for the aggravation of math homework because it means I got to spend a little extra one-on-one time with my 2nd grader. I am thankful for days filled with a million questions because it means I’m in the company of the funniest 4-year-old around. I am thankful for hour-long phone conversation with my mom because it means she misses me. For each visit, for each phone call, for each text, for each hug and even for each moment of frustration. Because you never know when you might have those chances taken away from you.
I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be thankful in the last two years.
The little things matter and the big things don’t. In the grand scheme of things, nothing else matters as long as I have God, my boys and my family.
Be thankful your husband has a job to come home late from even when he promised to be home an hour ago. Be thankful for the greasy handprints on the wall even though you just spent your afternoon cleaning house. Be thankful for the hand-me-down clothes your kids are wearing because they are cute no matter what they have on. Be thankful for your annoying sister, your crazy grandmother and your silly father-in-law because family gatherings wouldn’t be near as fun without them.
And just when I thought I had the whole thankfulness thing figured out, the Lord has made a way for us to expand our family yet again, and we have started the adoption process to bring home a little sister for the boys.
Yeah. I’m grateful. I’m blessed.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7