Saturday, December 6th is the day that God chose to bring me into this world 32 years ago. I thought that I would take a few minutes to reflect on the many gifts, blessings and lessons He has taught me thus far in my life. I know I have so many more lessons to come…but I am so thankful for where God has brought me…the good and the bad…the hard times and the joyous times. So, here are my 32 blessings…(oh my goodness, I didn’t mean for this to get so long!! You might have to take a few days to read this…if you make it through at all!)
1. First of all, I am thankful for my parents. Growing up (especially as a teen) I wasn’t the nicest to my parents…and I am thankful to say that today they hold no grudges! My mom has been and continues to be such a servant to me. Someone once commented on my blog that they loved reading the comments made by “Nana.” Well, that is my mom…and if you go back and see the comments she has made on my blog, you will see just a glimpse of the blessing and encouragement she is to me. I want to mention my dad too…we haven’t always had the best relationship, but I am still thankful for his role in my life. God has used my dad to teach me many things about Himself…and for those lessons I am thankful. At this stage in my life, both of my parents are a HUGE source of help to me! They take my kids quite often, babysit with last minute notice, do my laundry, and just help me in more ways that I can mention. For the gift of my parents, I am thankful.
2. If I was starting at birth looking back on all my blessings…first I mentioned my parents, the next big influence would probably be a youth minister that I had in middle and high school…Steve Flowers. I give God the glory for bringing me to Him…and He used Steve in a major way in my life regarding my salvation. I remember thinking about Steve that I could truly see what being a Christian meant…what it meant to live for Jesus in everyday life. I thank God for showing me Himself through Steve.
3. The gift of my salvation…I truly believe that salvation and God’s saving grace on my life has been such a process. He is still in the process of saving me from myself…daily. I thank God that He saw fit to make me His child…to adopt me into His family. What a gift.
4. Another gift that I treasure greatly is my time spent at Carson-Newman. The years that I spend in college was a time of great learning for me, while I did learn educationally, mostly what I cling to are the spiritual lessons and growth that God gave me during this time. While at Carson Newman I found friends who taught me how to draw closer to God. Those friends taught me about prayer…about digging into God’s word to see what He had in store for me there. I cherish the eternal blessings that God brought my way during my college years.
5. After my undergraduate years I met the man who would become my husband. God brought me such a tremendous gift when He brought David into my life! David and I spent lots of time hanging out with our “gang” of friends from church…and lots of dates to walmart (ha!)…and 10 years later we still end up at walmart alot! We have been married a little over 8 years now and God has done so much in both of us. I started out as and continue to struggle with being a selfish wife…but God has blessed me with a patient husband. David is truly my better half…and God knew what He was doing when He put us together…that balance thing. David’s very laid back personality does wonders for my highly sensitve, emotional, roller coaster of feelings inside me. His patience to wait for things reins in my tendency to be impatient and impulsive. God has given me a great daddy for my kids as well…he plays with them, he truly does just about as much as I do when he is home! David also has such integrity and responsibility when it comes to his job. I am grateful and forever indebted to the Lord for this gift of marriage He has given me.
6. Shortly after we were married, we found out we were expecting Hannah Elizabeth. Truly, God was giving me the desires of my heart. All my life I had wanted to be a wife and mommy. He gave me alot more than I bargained for in Hannah!! Oh, Hannah brings me such joy!! Hannah also has brought me some hard lessons! She has taught me that this thing called motherhood is not going to be easy. Hannah has taught me that the things I thought I knew about children are not always true. Hannah has taught me patience and perseverence…though I certainly still have so far to go in both of those areas. Hannah is one of the most strong-willed children I have ever seen. (and remember I taught kindergarten, so I saw a lot of children!!) The Lord has used Hannah to show me the ugliness in my own heart…how impatient I can be…how much I have to learn about grace. I am sad to say, that I think I was too strict with Hannah in the beginning. How I wish I could go back and hold her more, not make her cry it out in her bed, not spank her so many times…but praise God, the grace of God covers a multitude of sins. Thankfully God’s grace is more than sufficient for Hannah as well as me. I’m sure I have scarred Hannah for life (just like we all are) but God has taught me so much about grace through her. Hannah is such a gift…her stubbornness and all. She is a joy to teach – loves reading, loves learning, loves drawing, loves all things crafts. God has blessed me so much with my firstborn.
7. Amazingly enough, 14 months after Hannah was born we were blessed with another daughter…Emily Grace. Emily was a fussy baby, but a truly pleasant and joyful child! She is my sensitive hearted girl. She loves animals. She loves to be a helper…I believe that God is molding her into a beautiful servant. Emily has had her moments…she can cry and scream like no other! But, that is just the ugly side to her sensitivity coming out…that sensitivity that I have learned probably comes from me…the beautiful thing inside her that I call a gift. Emily fulfills her role as middle child quite well…trying to be peacemaker in many situations. Emily is such a sweet and tender hearted little girl…I thank God for the gift of Emily.
8. And then 2 years later our boy finally arrived! Caleb David was born and his birth brought answers to my prayers for a boy! Oh I would have loved having 3 girls…but I longed for a boy and wanted that for David too. I can still remember getting tears in my eyes when at our 20 week ultrasound the nurse said “boy!” I was thrilled. And today, this boy still thrills my soul! What can I say? His blond hair and brown eyes melt me…and gosh, have I spoiled him! I say that with a little bit of fear and trepidation in my heart…watch out world, who knows what this boy will do! God took my regrets with Hannah and allowed me to cherish every moment with Caleb. I held him, I rocked him, I held him some more. I still have trouble putting him in his own bed at night after he has fallen asleep in ours. He is all boy. He loves taking the wheels off of any and all trucks/cars. He loves throwing balls. Everywhere. Anywhere. How I love my boy!!
9. As our kids have gotten to be school-aged, God has blessed me with the ability to homeschool our children. I truly look at this as such a GIFT!! As a kindergarten teacher before Hannah was born, I loved teaching! I can honestly say that though my students are a little more difficult, I still love teaching as much (or more) than I did before! I love planning out our unit studies, I love the hunt for a perfect craft, I love reading all these great children’s books, I loved hearing the girls as they sounded out those first words! What a privelege to spend my days with my children…though I fail everyday at keeping the right attitude and treating them as Jesus would, I still count it a huge joy to be with these 3 little people all day everyday!
10. Throughout my life God has blessed me with the huge gift of music. As a young child I began piano lessons, not knowing how much music would encourage me, minister to me and grow me throughout my lifetime! In college my degree was music. I have taught piano lessons. I have taught music at a Christian school. But, the biggest blessing that comes from music is the gift God gives me of worship. I just can’t explain how God has used worship as a blessing in my life…that He would take my meager offerings to Him and bless me in return?? Amazing! God has used worship to draw me to Himself, to help me feel His presence, to encourage me, to teach me, to show me more of Himself…and it is my earnest prayer and hope that as I share my music with others, I can allow Him to work through me to bring those same things about to those who are listening.
11. When I married David, I also married into a wonderful family. The Crabtree family was a family I admired from a few pews back in church. I was so excited to be a part of this family! Little did I know…HA! I say this in love, because now I am one of them…but God has taught me, through this family, the power of relationships in my life. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I have seen God at work and seen the power of forgiveness at work. I know collectively we each have so far to go…but God has taught me that a little love can go a long way. I am blessed to have this family as a part of my life…yes, all of them! Each and every one! Even though we may not always get along perfectly, they are a gift to me…a gift that I cherish greatly. The lessons God has taught me through these relationships are lessons I would not trade for anything…hard lessons, but God has shown me much about myself and is growing me…and that is my desire.
12. Along with my own immediate family and the family I married into, another life changing gift God has given me is the family of God. Growing up as a pastor’s child, I saw all along that Christians weren’t perfect. This was a good lesson for me to learn! The perfectionism in me tends to make me critical of others…and God has shown me time and time again that His children are all sinners…we are all saved by His grace alone…and we are all on this journey together. I went through a period a few years ago where I was very hurt by and felt abandoned by a church that I felt were like family to me. God has used that time in my life to change me, to mold me and to bring me to a place of total dependance on Him. I can’t say that I have perfected that complete dependance on Him, but what He has done for me is shown me that when I place my hope and dependance on other people…I will be let down. This isn’t a bad lesson that I have learned…it is so important. He has shown me that I have to put that hope, trust and dependance on Him. He has shown me that He truly is the faithful Friend. God has used the times I have felt lonely in my life to bring me closer to Him. How can I not be thankful for that? God has used the hard times I experience in “church” life to show me more of Himself. He is good. All the time.
13. One of the hardest gifts that I have had in my life is depression. I call it a gift, though. For many months I experienced feeling lower than ever before but would not, could not say the word “depression” outloud. I couldn’t say that I was depressed, I was just moody. Well, I am a moody person…but this time period in my life a few years ago was such a dark time. It wasn’t just a mood swing…I was in a dark place and could not pull myself out of it. God had to place other people in my life to help bring me out of this period…He used David, He used a marriage counselor and He used medication. I believe that with all my heart. I can look back on this time in my life with thankfulness now. I can say with true peace in my heart that God allowed this darkness in my heart for His purposes. I can say with gratitude in my heart that now, after having been through the valley, God has drawn me closer to Himself than ever before. He has shown me a small, tiny glimpse of the darkness and loneliness that Jesus felt. He has shown me that He uses suffering in our lives to draw us to Himself. He has shown me that going through dark times makes the joyous times so much more joyous. He has shown me that His grace is more important than I ever thought it was before I went through this time. I am so thankful for this journey…and thankful for where He has brought me.
14. After God restored the joy of my salvation, He led us to a new church. God has used this church to bring healing to me in many ways…especially through worship. God has used our worship leader (Kevin Cook,) the music that God places on his heart, the fellow worshippers in the Body and time spent worshiping to restore me. He has shown me and taught me about the sacrifice of praise. God has blessed me when I have lifted my hands, through tears, to praise Him. That is a gift.
15. The gift of God’s word…that love letter written to each of us…is a gift I have come to treasure greatly in the past few years. Through Bible studies with other believers, sitting under the teaching of Godly leaders and hearing people like Beth Moore speak, my love for God’s word has grown. God’s word is such a huge source of encouragement and comfort to me. The Psalms comfort my soul like nothing else. God has used His very written words to speak to me, encourage me, guide me, comfort me, teach me. His Word truly is life to me.
16. Another spiritual blessing that God is still growing in me is the power of prayer. I have always known the power and importance of prayer…but my prayer life has had ups and downs…like I’m sure it does for many. But, over the past year or more maybe, God has just blessed me so much by teaching me more about prayer. Something I learned from Beth Moore – praying the scriptures – has changed my prayer life! I feel like I can pray with more confidence because I am praying God’s very words…I know that what I am praying is in His will!! I don’t have to wonder if what I’m praying is pleasing to Him or if it is in His will. Prayer draws me to the heart of God. Prayer changes me. Prayer is a gift.
17. I consider the health of my children to be a huge blessing! I have read about, watched, wept over children suffering with horrible diseases. I know that it could still happen at any point…but for now, I am so thankful that my children have been healthy. I’m thankful that the biggest reasons for our doctor’s visits are stitches and ear infections.
18. God has gifted us by providing for us faithfully. David has always had stable jobs and for that I am so thankful. I have been burdened often for those around the world with so much less than we have. But those are worries that I haven’t had to have. Sure, I have dealt with wanting more. Unfortunately, I love shopping. But, God lovingly reminds me every so often of just how much He truly has blessed us! We have so much!
19. Our home has been a blessing to me! God has given me a truly content heart with being in our home. I admit, sometimes I see bigger and newer homes and wish away. But, generally speaking, I love the home that God has provided for us! It is the first house we bought…we have done so much work to it…and there is still so much to do! But I love our home. It is home.
20. I consider my blog a blessing! I started my blog just to see if I would enjoy it…and well, I have! I have learned that I enjoy writing…I’m not great or anything, I don’t consider myself a writer or anything…but I have learned alot about myself through the keeping up with this blog. Writing is easier for me than talking. Writing can be theraputic! I have always loved reading and now have learned that I enjoy writing as well! I have also met some precious ladies through the blogging world!!
Ok, sorry folks…I could not make it to 32. How sad is that? Seriously, though, I was starting to list things that just weren’t quite so meaningful and it just wasn’t the same…God has blessed me so much and I wanted to point out the those things in my life…so I’m going to take the lazy way out and just stop here. Sorry to disappoint, but I think this post was waaaaaaay too long anyway! I also want to add how *draining* this blog entry has been! I sat down to write out this simple thread and ended up deep in thought, teary eyed, lots of memories floating through my head…but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to count my blessings and name them one by one…
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17