ThankFULL

I have ALWAYS loved Thanksgiving. I think I get just as excited about it than I do about Christmas. There is something so special about Thanksgiving to me. For us, this is the only time a year we see some of our extended family. Growing up, we were super close to all my mom's family, her aunts and uncles & cousins. We would have family members at the Thanksgiving dinner table that I had grown up knowing, but had no idea how they were related to me. Come to find out, they were my 2nd cousin twice removed on my mom's dad's side. Or something like that. Thanksgiving growing up was always a LOT of family with a LOT of food and a LOT of conversations. All day long. 

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I have many, sweet Thanksgiving memories. One year, when I was a little girl, we went and visited my great grandmother's house, where my mom spent a lot of her childhood. It was like stepping back in time, and my mom & aunts had gobs of stories & memories from growing up there. There is also this cousin, (I guess he's actually my 2nd cousin?!) who every single year, my mom, aunt, sisters & I will always find a way to put pepper in his drink. Every year. He always leaves his drink sitting around, and when he isn't looking, we slip it into his tea. You would think after all these years, he would keep a close watch on his drink. 

This year, Thanksgiving looked a little different. This is my first Thanksgiving being married. I remember last year at this time, I was up to my EYEBALLS in trying to graduate college, projects, senior exhibitions, exams, and planning a wedding. It was the craziest season of life. And, this is the first Thanksgiving in 2 years that we are NOT planning a wedding! Two years ago this time Gen was about to get married, and then it was me last year. So we thought it was going to be a very relaxing, stress free Thanksgiving. 

Until my parents, who have been trying to sell their house for MONTHS now, finally got an offer on their house. And they closed THREE days ago. Yes, the day before Thanksgiving. They have been frantically looking for a house to buy, put 11 offers on houses that, come to find out, had just been put under contract. That happened 11 times....! Unreal. And to make it even crazier, the house they bought won't be ready to move in until December 18th. Thank the Lord they have an RV that they will be living in until they get to move in. So needless to say, the past few weeks have NOT been relaxing, or stress free.

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As I was saying, this Thanksgiving looked a little different. Since my parent's and siblings have been in the craziness of moving, we weren't able to make it to our huge family gathering that we always go to. And since my parents don't have a house at the moment, we celebrated in the yard of my brother in law's family's house. It was so sweet and dreamy. Growing up, this family WAS like blood family to us. We did everything with them and our memories with them go waaaay back. They felt like brothers & sisters that just lived in a different house. After all those years of growing up together, John & Gen fell in love, and now they have been married almost 2 years!! And its so cool, because now they really are family. Even though it doesn't feel any different. They were so sweet to open up their home and let all of us celebrate with them. We ate outside under twinkling lights, ate so much GOOD food, sat around the fire pit, all loaded up in our cars to help my parents move one last load from their old house into storage,  all sat around their den playing a very competitive game of Catch Phrase, and then went out to do some Black Friday shopping. 

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I heard a quote the other day by Paul David Tripp and he said, "True love grows best in the soil of gratitude." I thought about it, and realized it couldn't be more true. The more gratitude I have for my husband, the more I love him. The more gratitude I have for my family, the more I love them. The more gratitude I have for my job, the more I love it. I heard a sermon on Luke 17 the other week, about the 10 lepers who get healed by Jesus. All of them were healed, but only ONE of them came back, in gratitude, and "threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him." (17:16a)  I always want to be aware of Jesus' love for me, that propels me to fall at His feet in gratitude. The verse before that one says, "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice." When we see Jesus, what He has done for us, and how much He loves us, we will fall down at His feet in praise. The more I see Him, the more grateful I will be to Him, and the more I will fall in love with Him. 

I have also come to realize that it doesn't matter what state, city, or house you live in. What matters is that you have great people, friends, and family in your life. I would rather live in my little apartment, with my wonderful husband, have a sweet marriage, and have wonderful friends & family to do life with, instead of living in my favorite city in my dream house. And that is exactly what I have, and I couldn't be more thankful. I have some friends who don't have the best Thanksgiving memories, who don't have great family to celebrate with, and who feel way more lonely on Thanksgiving than they are grateful. If that is you, I'd love to celebrate Thanksgiving with you next year. My family isn't a perfect family, but we have lots of love and great food to go around. I might not have as much as some of the world has, but I have WAY more than most of the world. Jesus is the giver of ALL the gifts in my life. And to Him I owe the MOST thanks. 

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving, and will be celebrating family, friends, and left overs for the next few days. xoxo

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