One thing I'm super emotional about is giving THANKS. My gosh, there is just SO MUCH to be grateful for; it overwhelms my soul. I think I've always been a pretty appreciative person but what really helped put this life into perspective for me was during my second missions trip to Peru in 2004. During this trip, we lived with 20 homeless boys in a small "shelter" on the Amazon River and that experience completely and irreversibly changed my life. Some of the boys we lived with were as young as four years old and many, MANY of them had not only been abandoned by their families but had been forced to be prostitutes before finding their way to the shelter. Once there, it took a while most times, they were transformed. Their was a light that shone in their eyes that I can only imagine was from a Spirit much greater than me. They approached everything with joy and thanksgiving and humbled me to my core. I have thought about those beautiful boys on an almost daily basis for the past 8 years; their love really showed me the beauty in the every day and how VERY MUCH we have to be grateful for, no matter the circumstances of the day.
So, it's in honor of their sweet souls that I share with y'all the seven gifts that I'm most grateful for during this season of thanksgiving- my family.
My sister and I were raised by a single mom who worked her butt off so that we could have such transformative experiences throughout our childhoods. My mom is caring, loving, nurturing and encouraging. She is a nurse by trade and exhibits every characteristic of someone who would embody that thankless profession; my mom is absolutely beautiful, she's selfless and is the best role model I could ever ask for.
|mom and me, 1981|
My sister is 8.5 years older than I am and has always been a bit of a second mom to me. She is, hands down, the most GENEROUS person I have ever met. She will help anyone who needs it and the majority of the time, no one knows that it was her... her servant's heart strives me to be better than who I am and I am SO VERY proud to be her sister.
|sis and laura, 2012|
My brother-in-law, Mark, is a guy I never knew I wanted in my life. ;) He and my sister started dating when I was 13 and got married two years later. At their wedding reception, I infamously started my maid of honor speech with "Well, I didn't like Mark very much at first..." but little did everybody know that I still didn't like him very much at the time. HA! Since then, I have grown to love Mark and rely on him. He takes care of his family in such a godly way and, like my sister, is one of the most generous people I have ever met. I'm really glad we have him... even if it took over a decade for me to figure that out. ;)
|mark and molly, 2004|
The babies... oh my goodness, am I thankful for the babies my sister and Mark gave to us! Though my twin nieces are now nine and my nephew is five, they will always be our babies. These guys caused my heart to nearly explode with love and gratitude the first time I saw all of them. When I look at the three of them, I see all that is good and right and hopeful in the world. I love them with an undying love that will never go away and I pray that they always know that their titi will be there for them no matter what roads life takes them down.
And then there's the one person I got to choose to be a part of my family, who I've made my own family with- Heather. I love this woman with every single ounce of my soul. She is the most beautiful person I know and who she is overwhelms me. Her life has not been easy but she has accomplished more, despite the struggles, than most others would have who had an easy road to travel. She is caring and sensitive, hard working and kind, forgiving and patient. She loves me when I am most unloveable and takes care of me when times are hard. I am so grateful to God that He brought us together and I pray to Him that one day I will call her my wife.
|us, celebrating our 6th anniversary this summer|
When it comes down to it, I am a BLESSED person. I've been given the most amazing people I've ever met to call family and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for allowing me to be a part of their lives. I hope that tomorrow, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in this country, that you too will look around at the beauty that surrounds you and not take it for granted; that you give thanks for your gifts and that you try to be a blessing for others, as others have been for you.