I meant to post a thankful entry before Thanksgiving. Alas, I was too busy trying to reacquaint my house with cleaning. So here are some random things for which I am thankful (not bad grammar for a math major & college drop-out, eh?):
No, I'm not trying to win brownie points for judgement day here. I'm thinking that God is number one here because he has carried my sorry butt through 2007. This is a year that could have broken me. The dissolution of my marriage was almost my undoing. But God positioned me in the right neighborhood, in the right town, in the right church. He surrounded me with people who have already walked this path and could really empathize and advise. He showed me the true meaning of "Abba, father!" He broke down all the walls I had kept up - even with him. As I've posted before, he stood with me - neck deep in the cess pool. He never once left me. He never once let go of my hand. He never once gave me reason to believe he wouldn't get me through it. He conquered all of my doubt, my self-loathing, my feelings of vengeance, the pain of betrayal, my loneliness, my anger, my pain, my fear. All of the people who have walked this path before have told me that I am on the fast track - God is fast forwarding me through the worst of it. And that is very specific answer to a very specific prayer for exactly that. God has answered so many of my prayers this year in very tangible ways. And in some very shocking timing. Which makes me anticipate with a real excitement all of the ones as yet unanswered.
Mom & Dad -
I honestly do not know how I would have survived those first 7 weeks if my mom & dad hadn't put their lives on hold to come rescue me. Mom flew out here and lived with me for 7 weeks. She basically stepped in and carried my household and kids while I barely functioned in a zombie-like state. Dad sacrificed having his wife with him for 7 weeks. At the end of this time period, he drove all the way from Florida up to Virginia - ALONE - to start getting the VA house ready to sell. I'll toss in another praise to God here in that he found a buyer for their house in the 11th hour - when the market was worse than soft. My parents pulled up stakes and bought a house in my development - basically in order to rescue me. And I am so incredibly grateful to them for that. It has been a miraculous blessing to me. It has terrified me at times. Someone pulls up their whole life and moves to your area to rescue you? That's a big responsibility. I feel like, if I do one thing wrong, they'll regret their decision. I told that to my mom and she just laughed. Because she is mom. And moms don't just walk away from their kids - sacrificial move or not. Mom & Dad rock.
Big Sis & Her Ridiculously Tall Husband -
Big Sis has always been my ice breaker in life. She has always done everything first. She has gone ahead, cutting a path through the jungle with her machete. Then I just traipse right in all la-dee-da - so easy because she did all the prep work for me. She is the main reason I chose this part of the country back in 2005. And I am so thankful to live near her. She is the most amazing, generous & devoted aunt to my boys. And Her Ridiculously Tall Husband is the most patient, present and giving uncle I've ever seen. That man will play Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Candyland, trains and some made up Pokemon games with my boys until they pass out. My boys adore Big Sis and The Tall Dude. I do, too. They are also fiercely protective of me. That kind of unconditional love and support has been invaluable to me through my whole life. But this year, especially.
My Coworkers & Having a Job -
I've posted before about how awesome my coworkers are. I don't know what I would have done without them this year. I can see how major life disasters can derail you enough where you could lose your job. Because of my wonderfully supportive coworkers and managers, I still have my job. So I'm thankful for every single one of them. And I am hugely thankful that I have a good job. Especially being a newly single mom. I am one of the rare mothers that will be financially stable after her divorce. And not because of some settlement. But because God has blessed me with a good stable job.
My KIDS -
Their position in this list obviously means diddly. They were almost first but God really had a lock on that position. HA! They are both strong, healthy, intelligent, loving, sweet, ornery, contrary, joy-filled and oh so cute. On Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to have Lil' Bro standing at my bedside asking to cuddle. So I pulled him into bed. Then The Boy asked if he could get in, too. So at one point, I was laying under my big comforter with Lil' Bro and his stuffed dog on one side and The Boy on the other. They both kept snuggling closer and closer. I remember thinking, "Yah, THIS is how Thanksgiving should be started!!!" Pure heaven. They are the most amazing joy in my life. They teach me so much. They make me laugh. They hold me accountable in that brutally honest way young kids have. Every night, I thank God for them. And my words of thanks just sound so puny compared to the huge amounts of love I have for them. Sometimes I think of how I adore my kids to the point of bursting. Then I try to wrap my head around the fact that God loves each and every single person on this planet even MORE passionately than that. I really can't grasp that. I try. But just can't. Man oh man. I am so ridiculously blessed with those two gorgeous little men.
A Strange Kind of Freedom -
This is a weird one. I don't mean to sound morbid or trite here. But I have realized a certain level of freedom lately. I am free to be me and make choices based on what I want or what my boys want. That's a weird thing when you're used to considering someone else's feelings for 16 years. I bought a whole bunch of Christian CDs recently and felt so happy doing it. I was never stopped from doing that before. Not directly. But I always felt it would elicit a certain amount of covert eye-rolling from the future ex. But I bought a bunch and played them all as soon as they got here. And didn't worry about keeping the volume low. It was pretty cool. As I made my way through the new Super Target here today, I realized the same thing about buying items for the house. I could buy what I liked. I bought a few things today that were completely MY choices. I know it sounds silly. But it was very interesting to just satisfy my desires today. I told my sister that I won't want to date again because then I'll have to go back to caring about someone else's opinion. HA! But mostly, I have the freedom to follow God all I want. And I feel like I have invited God to reign in this house. And he stays. He doesn't have to leave and then be invited back. He is king of this house. And he knows he is welcome and wanted by everyone in it. I think that's a really cool thing. And on a lighter note - let me tell you, having a big bed and bathroom all to yourself? Yah, I have gotten quite used to that. Like I told Big Sis today, I'm going to be hard pressed to share with someone else some day. Hahahaha!
Food and Other Necessities -
You know, I listened to this food drive on KLOVE this past week. They were asking people to donate to shelters - a very small amount of money would feed like 20 people for Thanksgiving. And they were interviewing people who had recovered their lives from homelessness, drug addiction, etc. Each of them had started their return journey with a meal at a shelter. I was so blown away by a lot of their stories. And here I am, a newly single mom - able to buy a brisket, turkey breast and ham from Whole Foods - not just some generic items from my local grocer. It still boggles my mind that - in this country of plenty - there are homeless people. And I'm not just talking about the self destructive people who don't want to do honest work for honest wages. God has blessed me incredibly with a beautiful house, plenty of clothes, more than enough toys for my kids, all sorts of extras. I always have food on my shelves (no matter how many times I poke around the kitchen thinking, "There's nothing to eat!"). I do NOT take it for granted. I totally understand how blessed I am. And how fragile this life is. How easily that could end with one natural disaster, one act of war, one lost job, one anything.
A long time ago, when I was a bouncer in that night club back in Boston (so this was back in the early 90s), I asked God for something very specific. I had a relationship with God. I talked to him ALL the time. I prayed even while in that club. I often prayed for him to help when things got ugly there. But I didn't trust people who claimed to follow him. Christians had failed me. They had shown their ugly side. They had shown they were full of crap. They were hypocritical, selfish, judgemental idiots. Just like me. I didn't need that in my life. I trusted God. And he is all I needed. But I really wanted to find other people like me. Other people that loved God and believed in him. I wanted to find people that I could relate to, that were fun, that enjoyed the same things in life as I did. I had begun to believe that it was impossible to find God-people that could be loving, truly patient, fun, interesting, cool, intelligent. So I prayed quite often - and over a couple of years - that God would surround me with his people. I believe my prayer went something like, "God, please send me your people. Your real people." And when I said it, I meant the people who really tried to follow God's word and way. The ones who weren't perfect and could admit it, but tried really hard to follow God. They weren't judgemental - or if they were, they tried hard to overcome it. They were real and loving and fallible. In my mind, I have always called them God-people. I'm sure you all have examples in your life of people who really represent God or what Jesus taught us. There is something different about them. But that's what I wanted in my life. I asked God to bring them into my life - surround me with his people. And he'd have to bring them into my life. I certainly wasn't going to go join some church! And God did it. In very specific ways where I knew these people were from God. The first one was the guy who played Jesus in our production of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was a rather well-known rock singer - huge in Japan and pretty big in the US. I pre-pegged him as an ego maniacal jerk. Because I'm a God-person and love to do snap judgements on people I know nothing about. He turned out to be one of the most sincere and humble people I know. We both joined the cast with the caveat that we would pull out of the production if we thought it was becoming irreverent. I found that out about him much later. We both slowly realized that we both really loved God and this play was much more than just some off-off-off-Broadway thing. That was the first God-person that God put in my path after that prayer. Since then, he has put them in my work place, my apartment buildings, they've owned diners I've frequented, he's put them in my blog walk (IE - many of you), he has made them one-time random encounters with strangers, he has filled a church in Cambridge and Austin with them, he sprinkled them all through my new neighborhood. It just blows my mind how he has never stopped fulfilling that request. And I hope he never does. I now make that same prayer for my two boys. And believe it or not, I have prayed that same thing for the future ex. Before all of this divorce stuff and since. It is one of the best tools God has - his true people. You start meeting enough of them and it can undo many years of cynicism and mistrust.
I'm Actually Thankful -
I could go on and on for things I'm thankful for. Isn't that amazing? I mean, when I think of the year I've had, I realize how easy it would be for me to just wallow in the self-pity. How easy would it be for me to just lean on the anger and become that bitter griping harpy? So when I spent this past week all excited and really thankful, filled with joy and happiness...I realized that God is walking me through this mess. He has lifted me up out of the cess pool. The big deep ugly cess pool is behind me now. I'm not quite out of the woods yet. But at least I'm out of that cess pool. And God is still walking next to me. Never leaving. His hand is still outstretched - ready to catch me. He has turned my heart so that I spend most of my time feeling joy - that anticipation of the ultimate good that I know he has for me. I think that's a miracle right there - the fact that I'm able to be thankful.
Thank you God. You rock. I love you.