1. For the story of me and Kurt. Not many people know the in-depth story of our dating, engagement, and courtship. There were challenges, hurt, and a specific trial that we went through, even though we dated just a few short months from July-December (we got engaged officially in January). I won't go into that for the sake of privacy, but over time, I have dealt with a lot because of this. The Lord chose to "chisel" me through this process, and Kurt and I are incredibly blessed and beyond happy to be together. If we had not experienced hardship, we wouldn't appreciate each other as much. Sometimes you don't see the good end of things until MUCH later. So I am thankful for the Journey.
2. That I don't have to date ever again. It consumes your thought-life and makes you an analytical freak. Marriage is awesome. Difficult sometimes, but WONDFERFULLY awesome.
3. For my husband, period. Kurt is the best gift that God could've given me. He is tender, kind, and focused. He recognizes his mistakes and forgives me for mine.
4. For old movies, musicals, and music. This covers a lot for me. There WAS a simpler time way back when, and I love to re-live it.
5. For FAMILY. What would I do without them? I could go on and on, but words cannot express the love and devotion that I have to "my people." Thank you, Lord!
6. For being born into a Christian, evangelical, missions-supporting family. Oh, and add to that list Conservative. I take that for granted sometimes, but I've been exposed to our wonderful Lord since birth. How many kids REALLY get that chance?
7. For people who aren't passive, don't live by double-standards, and have black and white opinions on things. I have certain convictions on social issues, all the way down to social drinking, which may offend some people. Granted, they are my own personal beliefs and convictions, but I am thankful for people who are consistent with their lifestyle and the message they preach.
8. For babies. They are beautiful, innocent, trusting, and accepting. They laugh, see the world through pure eyes, and are so wonderful to cuddle. And they smell so good :)
9. For memories. Think about it: God gave us this little thing in our brains that retain memories and past events and allow us to relive wonderful moments in our lives. He didn't have to do that for us. For some people, memories can be painful...we all have moments we want to forget. But picture life with no memories of childhood, friends, or vacations. God was good to give us a Memory.
10. For forgiveness. Daddy just finished a series on this topic and it was awesome. God's forgiveness is so vast and consuming...and the most important part? He forgets! I beat myself up about things over and over, when God completely forgot it happened.
11. For travel. I am a changed person because of the places I've seen, the people I've met, and the education I've received through other parts of the world. From Big Ben in London to the Eiffel tower in Paris....from the Andes mountains in Peru to the beautiful New York City...we have a world out there that can literally change our lives. I'm so thankful for what I've gotten to see.
12. For Christmas. Not only the decorations, songs, nostalgia, and cheer, but the gift of our Savior. The birth of a little baby....what a majestic night it must have been.
13. For the Bible. I take it for granted, and I KNOW I don't read it enough. But it's God's letter to us. Some Christians in other countries hide their Bibles and fight to get one. We can go to Lifeway and pick any color we want, from 200 translations, and we can even pick the font we want our name engraved in. Let's appreciate it!
14. For cozy houses and relaxation time. I am so thankful for my little home that I have been able to take care of. Spending time in it makes me so happy.
15. For education. I complain about it, but I could be doing manual labor in a factory somewhere. I need to appreciate the opportunity to learn.
16. For the internet. I spend way too much time on it, but it's astounding what's at our fingertips.
17. For Target. It sounds trivial, but what a wonderful place. Bringing quality, fashionable, and unique merchandise to the masses. At great prices. Gotta love that.
18. For unexpected blessings that God gives you out of nowhere. Just because He loves you.
19. That I married someone that believes that marriage is permanent, and not just a flippant thing. We're in this together for life.
20. For good books. Literature is powerful. It doesn't even have to be deep (although it's good when it is) to be thought-provoking.
21. Speaking of literature, I'm thankful for Kristin Billerbeck and her FABULOUS books. There was this one passage out of a Kristin Billerbeck book that sticks out in my mind. It was in her third book in the Ashley Stockingdale series (my favorite), called "With This Ring, I'm Confused!" In the book, this single girl meets a doctor, and after several hardships, they get married. It describes their wedding with a 1940s swing band, and all the details that I personally would love. I closed the book and cried and cried. I closed my eyes and distinctly remember saying: Lord, this is a fiction book! What are the chances that a doctor will drop out of the sky, he'll be perfect for me, and we'll live happily ever after!? It just doesn't seem possible! The very next week, I met Kurt Lancaster, a handsome young doctor, who was and IS perfect for me. I'm not saying that God answers prayers right down to the details all the time, but you know what? Sometimes He does. I didn't even care if the guy was a doctor, but I do have a weakness for scrubs :) God loves to give us surprises.
That's a very short version of my thankful list, because I have a MILLION things to be thankful for. God is good. Let's count our blessings this holiday season. Hugs to everyone---and I mean everyone---who reads my blog :)