He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deuteronomy 10:21 (NIV)
Many of my thankful thoughts today will focus on my whirlwind trip last weekend. Last weekend, I left Indiana on Thursday afternoon for Cincinnati. I met a good friend and former roommate there. We piled in the car with her husband, her 3-month-old son, and another close friend to head to Knoxville for the night. Then, on Friday, we three girls and the baby headed to Georgia for a wedding. Jen (the bride), Kari (my former roommate with whom I carpooled), and I all worked together at a school in New Jersey. The three of us and two of our other fellow teachers went through some very difficult situations at that school. The resulting friendship has stayed very strong even though we have all gone our separate ways and are now living in four different states. We call ourselves “the Jersey girls” even though none of us lives in New Jersey any more. That very difficult situation was a defining part of who we are today.
That brings me to my thankful list:
1. I am thankful for the Jersey girls’ friendships that helped carry me through that difficult time. I can also always count on them to be my prayer warriors from their various places around the country and to listen and offer good counsel or a good laugh when I need it.
2. I am thankful for those trials. I could not have honestly said that while I was there, but through hindsight, I can see how it made me grow closer and more dependent in my relationship with God. I can also see how He used it to teach me more about life and to draw me into good and lasting friendships.
3. I am thankful that I was able to go to Jen’s wedding. It was such a blessing to meet her new husband and to sense her joy. He seems wonderful and godly, and her joy was contagious and encouraging.
4. I am thankful that all of the Jersey girls have wonderful things going on in their lives right now. Jen is newly married to a great guy. Kari has a beautiful 3-month-old little boy. Grace has a beautiful 1-week-old little girl (which is why she couldn’t be at the wedding.) Erin is engaged to a great guy with a wedding scheduled for August. I am living close to family again and enjoying a wonderful job.
5. I am thankful for the beautiful home where we stayed on our trip. Kari’s in-laws live in Knoxville, so we stayed with them. Their home is huge and beautiful, and they are incredibly hospitable. Also, Kari’s mother-in-law puts Martha Stewart to shame. She had printouts in
each room to let us know where we could find anything we might need–extra towels, soap, snacks, toothbrushes, etc. She had put chocolates on the beds, and as if that wasn’t impressive enough, the breakfast was amazing. She made a huge and delicious breakfast of pancakes and eggs. She kept the plates in the oven to warm them for us. She also offered me a glass of milk, which I very thankfully accepted. She served it to me in a chilled glass! I’m very thankful for the mini-vacation time at their home–I felt so pampered.
6. I am thankful for the carpool to Georgia. It saved us all on travel expenses.
7. I am thankful for the travel time. I’m not normally a big fan of lots of time in the car, but it was nice to have time to catch up with Kari. We also had time to call Erin and catch up with her. She couldn’t make it to the wedding because she coaches basketball and it’s tournament season. It was very nice to spend some time catching up with her on the phone, though. We tried to do the same with Grace, but she’s very busy with her newborn.
8. I am thankful that Grace is a mom now. We always knew she’d be wonderful mom, and she has wanted that so badly for so long that it’s wonderful to see it becoming real for her.
9. I am thankful that the wedding went well. It was a beautiful and simple ceremony. I even enjoyed the bagpipes playing for the processional and recessional.
10. I am thankful that I got to spend the weekend in beautiful, warm weather. It is still very “wintery” in Indiana, but the preview of spring was a good encouragement for me to keep pressing on through these winter doldrums.
11. I am thankful that I didn’t need to overspend my personal days to go away for the weekend. My school allows 2 personal days per school year. (I had taken one in the fall to visit my grandfather who is unsaved and whose health is failing. ) The weekend trip would have put me one half-day over my allotted, but since school was cancelled early last Friday due to a sudden storm, I didn’t need to use the extra half-day.
12. I am thankful for the time alone in the car from Cincinnati back to my home. I was able to spend lots of time on the phone with my sister who lives in Tucson. Her husband is stationed there for the Air Force, and the transition to being so far from family was a tough one. It has been a big encouragement over the past few weeks to hear how much she is enjoying her life there now. She and her husband are expecting their first child (a girl) in early July. Her husband is scheduled to deploy for six months beginning in mid-July. I am thankful that he should be around for the birth of his daughter. I am thankful that she has responded to the news of his deployment with such peace.
13. Finally, I am thankful that I can pray. It is always a comfort to be able to talk to God, but I especially enjoy it when I see His answers to prayer so clearly. It is really wonderful to be able to thank Him for His rich blessings on me and my family and friends. It gives me the motivation to keep persistently praying for the answers I have not yet seen.