I realize it's very cliche to write a blog post about what I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving. Trust me, I get annoyed by the endless "post something you're thankful for every day this month" statuses on Facebook. However, in the spirit of the season it's important to me to take stock of the blessings in my life. The whole point of Thanksgiving is to stop and take a moment to reflect on everything in our lives we can be thankful for.
I decided to narrow it down to my top 3.
3. My Job
I'm sure this doesn't come as much of a shock considering my last post, but I am so thankful for my job. When I first decided to become a teacher I thought to myself, Working at Har-Ber is my dream job. Then I would laugh at myself, accept the fact that there was no way that was going to happen, and I continued job searching in areas that seemed more likely. Seriously, I never thought I would be working here. It seemed way out of my league. Har-Ber is such a nice school, still new, and the teachers working here are top-notch. There was no way they were going to hire a 23 year old brand new teacher. No way. I had accepted the fact that I would probably have to work at a smaller school in a smaller district for awhile and gain some experience before I could work here.
There are times in our lives when God surprises us. Sometimes they aren't good surprises, but when he decides to work a situation in our favor it's always a surreal experience. That's how I ended up here. I had an interview at a different school for a job I didn't get for various reasons. The principal who interviewed me was impressed enough that she contacted my current principal to recommend me. I had never met this principal until the day I interviewed. And when I found out I hadn't gotten the job, I thought it was just a failed interview. They happen. Weeks later, school is about to start and I still don't have a teaching job. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to be a substitute until I got in good enough with someone in charge at a school (any school...I wasn't going to be picky). The Wednesday before school started I got a call from my current principal. He was offering me an interview the next morning for a position at Har-Ber. I showed up for an interview at 6 AM and had the job by noon. I'm pretty sure I had a smile plastered to my face for the next 72 hours straight. I couldn't believe it. It turns out, the interview I thought was a failure, was more just bad luck and bad timing. My failure turned into one of my biggest successes. That never happens! I won't go into a lot of details of my job. . .you can read my last post to get a better idea of how I feel about what I do. (Spoiler alert: I LOVE IT!) I have administrators who will always support me and back me up. I have teachers who will help me when I struggle, give me advice when I need it, and who will let me vent when nothing else seems to help, and I have students who make me excited to get out of bed and go to work every morning. I'm proud to be a Wildcat.
2. My friends
There are a lot of people in my life who I would put in this category. I'm thankful for our couple friends who make group outings more fun. I'm lucky because most of my friends have husbands, fiance's and significant others who are friends with my husband and vise versa. I'm thankful for friends like Amanda, who have been around a long time and have seen me at my best and my worst and still decide it's worth it to stick around. I'm thankful for friends like Courtney and Chris, who are blazing the trail of parenthood for the rest of us (and are doing a fabulous job so far, in my opinion). I don't want to get into a trend here of naming a lot of names and giving each name an explanation. I know there's no way I can go through everyone without leaving someone out. My point here is simply that Jake and I are surrounded by people who love us and care about us. People who don't care if our house is messy or if they come over and I'm wearing sweatpants (because let's all be honest, if I have to change out of the leggings/giant hoodie/thick cozy socks combo I'm wearing in order for you to come over....we may not be all that close). I'm grateful for the friends who support and encourage me, for the sweatpants movie dates, for the craft nights (that may or may not end well), for the ugly Christmas sweater parties, the float trips, the Paint the Town Red galas and the baby/wedding/lingerie showers. I'm also grateful for our friends who live elsewhere, in places like St. Louis, MO, St. Joe, MI, or even Japan. I'm grateful for the fact that, on top of everything else, my friends are fun! There's never a dull moment when we get together. We goof off, we act stupid sometimes (i.e. running around outside in houseshoes in 6 inches of snow during the Super Bowl because we thought that snow ice cream seemed like a good idea or watching 3 grown men spend what felt like hours all playing the same football throwing game at an arcade because they just HAD to beat their own high score). We just do life together. I'm happy that I have people to have fun with. I'm grateful to have neighbor friends, work friends, college friends, church friends, new friends, and weird friends (because we all have those). I'm grateful that my friends see me and like me for just being me.
1. My family
I saved this one for last because the level of gratitude I feel for these people cannot be described using mere words. Each of them deserves a whole blog post in itself. My parents have been married for 30 years. They have set an incredible example of a godly marriage and godly parenting for my siblings and I to follow. My mom is a true Proverbs 31 woman. She has selflessly served our family for my entire life. She is kind and loving and in spite of the fact that I know I've broken her heart on multiple occasions, I've never once doubted her love for me. I aspire to be the wife and mother that she is. She is a firecracker and is full of confidence and spunk. She has taught her 3 daughters to find their worth in Christ and not in other people. Her heart is so big and I've never met anyone who loves as much as she does. She has a sense of rhythm that I regret to say, was not passed on to me. Any time you turn on Michael Jackson, The Gap Band, or "Yeah," by Usher, she's going to dance. Every time. No matter where she is or who is watching. Because she is who she is and she doesn't care if you know it.
My dad is just as stubborn as my mom is. It's a wonder that they mesh as well as they do. Both of my parents have very dominant personalities and somehow they make their marriage work. It's incredible how selfless they are when it comes to each other. My dad is not a romantic by any means, but he loves my mom more than anything in this world and that has always been obvious to my siblings and I. He took me on dates when I was little to make sure I knew that guys should always treat me like a princess. He and mom were always on the same page when it came to raising us. They don't keep secrets. I knew that if mom said "no," then dad would too. (Although, if I went to daddy first I usually had a better shot at getting what I wanted.) I am definitely a daddy's girl and I'm not ashamed to admit it. My father has more integrity in his little finger than most men do in their entire bodies. He may not say much, but his faith is strong and if you get him going you'll hear all about it. He takes care of the people he loves, even if they can't repay him. He's getting much softer in his old age. I see more and more of his heart every day, and it is the purest heart I know. He's rough and rowdy at times. He has a tendency to think he has the body of a 25 year old, which can get him into trouble. And you can always make him laugh with a well placed "O Brother Where Art Thou" quote. (We thought you was a tooooaaad!)
My baby brother isn't a baby anymore, and that's a hard concept to grasp. I have never met a kinder or more compassionate person. That little boy (alright...young man) has the biggest heart. He is so sweet and so kind. He is the perfect person to talk to if you need encouragement. And let me tell you something about my little brother; he loves Jesus. I don't say that lightly. Our parents have done an incredible job of exemplifying Christ in our lives and sharing their faith. I can't remember when it was that my little brother transitioned from a kid I had to set a good example for to a young man that I looked up to, but somewhere in the last 5 or 6 years that's exactly what he did. His faith is so strong and he's unashamed to proclaim it. Logue is like Paul; bold and excited about Christ and all He has to offer. He is going to make an incredible husband in about 6 months. A big sister is always going to be anxious about the girl that her little brother decides to spend the rest of his life with, but I couldn't have found a better girl than Sarah. I'm so excited for him and where his life is going to go. He has a lot of opportunities ahead of him (probably because he's basically a genius). He is strong and protective and has the worst dance moves of anyone I know (except maybe dad...), and he is the best little brother a girl could ask for.
My sister is about to graduate high school, which is crazy. She's one of my best friends, and for that I am extremely grateful. I'm glad we've grown closer as we've gotten older, because she drove me absolutely nuts for her first 8-12 years of life. Anna is unique. She got our parents confidence and she doesn't care one bit about what anyone thinks or says about her, which is good because there are several videos of her dancing/singing or otherwise acting really ridiculous. We like to pass these around at family events. I'm glad she's staying close for college, because I can't wait to see what kind of person she grows up to be.
Jami is so full of life and energy. She's smarter than all the rest of us combined. She's the only sibling I have who loves to read as much as I do, which is awesome and I have done my best to encourage that hobby. She was the best "accident" that ever happened to our family. (Anna thought her name was going to be "Oopsie" the whole time mom was pregnant with Jami.) Everyone who spends any time with her can't help but love her. She's hilarious and so much fun.
And then there's Jake.
How do I even begin to describe my husband? The first word that comes to mind is goofy, but most people who know him would never believe me. Jake and I were friends for a long time, and it was hard to get past his exterior. Once I did it was impossible not to fall in love. He is so strong and smart and funny and sexy and kind and wonderful and fun....you see where I'm going with this. I could go on forever. Some days he drives me insane, but most of the time I can't believe I was lucky enough to snag him. He loves me so much and he makes sure I know it. He is a good person, I mean a really good person. That seems lame to say, but there aren't many genuinely good people left in the world. He succeeds at everything he does and he doesn't do anything halfway. He gives everything 100% all the time. Sometimes it's exhausting just to watch. He loves my family and my family loves him. And his family...they're half the reason I married him. They remind me of my family, which isn't perfect but is pretty close. We are so blessed, so loved, and so supported. I don't know where I would be without him.
I'm sorry for droning on and on. I recognize that this isn't the most interesting post I've ever written. I'm not good at sentimental things, and sometimes I know I don't tell the people I love everything I should tell them about how I feel about them and how much they mean to me. Writing is easier. So, if nothing else, I've taken the time to gather my thoughts and write down a reminder for myself of everything that makes my life awesome for days that I forget. After all, it's Thanksgiving, and that's what this whole time of year is for; to reflect on our blessings and realize that we are much better off than we tend to think we are.