Living Abundantly. That is my new motto. What does it mean? It means I know that I have enough. God has given me enough to provide for me and my family. It means feeling freedom to buy groceries and feel satisfaction when we come under budget. It means enjoying watching a movie with my children or a walk around the neighborhood. It means that I still have time to help out friends in need, to take a warm meal over to a family welcoming a new baby, to volunteer at my son’s preschool. It still means that my family can find ways to take in extra cans of food during our Vacation Bible School food drive. It means supporting causes like the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life through donations and purchases of luminaries honoring those who are fighting cancer.
Now I don’t know that I have always followed this motto. In fact, in the last several months I have come to realize exactly what it does mean and how it plays out in my day-to-day life. My family has been through some ups and downs this past year as our unwise financial habits caught up with us and we realized how much debt we owed. Yet in the midst of our financial free fall, I’ve been reminded several times for just how much I do have to be grateful. Thus, here are my top 10 reasons why I am grateful this Thanksgiving.
I have three beautiful children; all five years of age or younger. They keep me busy. Their smiles and giggles warm my heart and make me feel better about the future that lies ahead of us. They love me with their whole being. They are a reminder of why my husband and I are sacrificing so much now in order to pay down our debt and keep a roof over our heads. It’s them. There is so much more I am thankful for concerning my children – their well-being, their wonderful teachers, their energy, their determination, their creativity, and their compassion. I learn as much from them as I hope they learn from me.
At the end of the day, I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t hear my praise often enough. He is working hard to give our family financial stability, security, and freedom. He’s taken on a second job, and we have cut many expenses like our satellite television service. No matter what we are going through, my husband still loves me. As tired as we both may get from our day, caring for the children, dealing with work, we still love each other. He still finds me attractive and he still desires to spend time with me, although finding that date time is rare. I am all too aware of how the financial issues could have torn us apart and I am grateful we are trying to work through them together as a team. We celebrate eight years of marriage in 2009.
I have wonderfully supportive friends who have understanding of my trials and praying for me. They have been there to cheer me on through my successes and have been there when I have faced health issues. They have come to my aid in so many ways and for that, I am thankful. I am thankful that I could share in their lives as well – through joys of births and pregnancies and through tougher moments like lost jobs or sick children. I am grateful to be a part of their lives.
I am a direct sales representative for an amazing company! I started my own business three years ago and while I have questioned where my business is going, it has been there for me. It was there when I needed a little extra income and adult interaction. It’s been there for me when I needed to take it easy during my pregnancy with my daughter. It’s been there for me when I needed to help pay off our debts. I’m truly amazed at how much my business has offered to me and given me. I’ve seen amazing growth in my business this year and look forward to the coming year as I’ve set some high goals to achieve.
My Spiritual Journey
While I know it is said that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, I believe He knows you well enough to know when you will lean on him when you’re in situations that are over your head. Throughout this year, I’ve come to rely on God a lot to calm my fears and anxieties. I have read more books concerning dealing with your giants and with your spouse. I have plugged into music that speaks to me. And I have become a prayer warrior. I am praying for many people and started an e-mail devotional that I send to a few friends. The intention is that the devotionals are helping them – but I often find that they are helping me as they continue to ground me in my faith journey and to center me on God. The spiritual growth I’ve experienced will only help me as I continue on this path and encounter any trials and provide me the strength that can only come from God.
I wish I could say I was in perfect health. Granted, I probably need to eat better and exercise since I really don’t exercise now. In general, I would say I am relatively healthy. But I am dealing with a couple of minor health issues and then I got a health scare this summer. I thought I had breast cancer. It turns out to be a false alarm. But there’s nothing like the threat of cancer and your mortality to make you turn on a dime and re-evaluate your priorities and your values. I am thankful for the new perspective this experience gave me and hope that I never lose that perspective.
My children are primarily responsible for this area of thankfulness. They are discovering new things all the time and amazing us with their new found skills. They discovered the moon outside the our mini-van windows at night. They discovered how tomatoes grow in pots in our backyard. They discovered the beauty of the night sky in their room as they gaze at glow-in-the-dark star stickers. They learned how to match socks and roll them into balls. They learned how to open gates and doors as well as putting shoes on the correct feet. They created amazing projects out of their toy trains and they discovered the wonderful world of pretend. I am thankful for these memories my children are creating for me and hope they look fondly back at these times in their lives.
Hope and Opportunity
I am becoming content with my life. Do I have a grand life and live in a mansion with money to spare? No. But I do have a comfortable house filled with the noise of three young children. Is my life easy? No. But I am not desperate for another life. I am not giving up on the life that I have because I have hope for the future and I see opportunity ahead. I am hopeful that my family will be debt free. I am hopeful that we will be able to enjoy life’s extras, even though we may have to define what the extras are (no plasma television set in our future any time soon! But we’ll gladly take a family night at the local ice cream parlor!). I am thankful for having this hope because I know the future doesn’t seem promising at times, for many people during these economic times. I am thankful for the opportunities for my family to do things that we may not otherwise be able to do – a trip to see family over Spring Break, earning a free trip to a Disney resort through my company, earning a free trip to celebrate our 10-year anniversary where we honeymooned, and completing home improvement projects without adding to our debt.
Small Victories and Accomplishments
When life happens, you have to celebrate the smallest victories and give thanks for them. I have learned that little victories along the way can quickly add up to a big victory in the end. So I will celebrate each time we come under budget for buying groceries for the week. I will celebrate when I have a dollar to buy a small ice cream or a small french fry order through a fast food restaurant. And I will be thankful for these small victories, knowing that every penny saved helps my family reach our bigger goals of getting out of debt. Without these small victories, five years of sacrifice to become debt-free would indeed be an extremely challenging road to follow.
I am thankful for Facebook I have been able to reach out and connect with friends from high school and college that I haven’t seen in years. It’s great to see what each other is doing and share tidbits from our lives. What I love most about Facebook is the chat feature which allows me to “talk” to any number of my friends briefly. These re-connections have made me realize how blessed I am to have so many friends and makes me wonder why you ever let these connections disappear. So, I am thankful for re-connecting with old friends and I hope I will continue to make many more connections in the months and years to come.