I was just lying on the couch a few minutes ago, thinking about how different people in my life have made sacrifices and how those sacrifices have made me into the person that I am today. I never realized how many and to what extent people have given up until today. It is a very sobering and humbling thing to think about. An overwhelming feeling of gratitude caused tears to trickle down my face. I owe so much to so many people, yet I know that none of them expect anything in return.
One thing I remember most is when Mom started taking piano lessons. I decided that I wanted to learn piano too, so I ask if I could take lessons. Shortly after I started, Mom quit taking them. When I asked her about it, she made up an excuse that she was too busy or something. As a 7-year-old kid, I didn't realize that the real reason was that we couldn't afford two lessons a week. As long as I cant remember, she has always unselfishly served others. Thanks, Mom!
Family is really imortant to Dad and I think it shows. He has always been a hard worker and provided for the family completely as he knew that it was important for Mom to stay home with us. He even held down two jobs at a time for awhile when things got tight. Jason and I helped him deliver papers on the weekends for awhile. As children, we thought it was great fun. I'm sure after working a 40+ work week, Dad didn't enjoy getting up before down, but he used the time to bond with us and make us feel important. Thanks, Dad!
Only ten years older than me, Lori has always been the "fun" aunt and is like a big sister or friend now. She let me move in with her when I was 18 and had me pay a minimal amount for rent. Not only was she a great roommate, but she saved my rent money and gave it back to me when I graduated university so I could take a trip to Europe some day. Her compassionate heart has been something I've admired for a long time. Thanks, Lori!
This past year I served as a missionary and had to raise support from churches and individuals for my income. Several people (some I knew and some I didn't) willing gave one time gifts and/or made monthly commitments that allowed me to serve as God called me to. Not to mentions the prayers, encouraging notes, and emals. I know many made financial sacrifices that they would never speak of in order to support the work that God was doing through my minsitry. No words can express how much I appreciate each person and church. Thank you cards just don't do it justice.... but thanks anyway!
There is no way that I can recount one memory for each friend that has made sacrifices for me throughout the years. They have held me when all I could do was cry. Prayed with me through depression. Brought me things when I was sick. Held me accountable to grow spiritually. Forgave me when I was less than nice. Listened when I needed to vent. Supported me when I had to take a stand for my beliefs. Skipped out on homework to take a walk. Bought me coffee just to be nice. Sent me cards in the mail so I would have something besides bills to open. Invited me over when I was lonely. And so many more little (yet, in the end, BIG) things that friends do for each other. How amazingly blessed I am to have so many caring people in my life. Thanks, friends!
He made the ultimate sacrifice (death) in order to give me life through His perfect grace and love. Actually, He has given me everything I've ever needed (including everything mentioned above!) and everything I ever will need. He's the best thing in my life and the more I get to know Him, the more I am in awe of who He is. Words can't describe, so I won't even try. I will just end up sounding cliche. Just trust me on it... or read the Bible and maybe you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. Thanks, God!
Ok, so you are probably wondering where all of this is coming from... Most of you know that the past year (especially the past few months) have been quite difficult for me in many aspects. Physically, mentally, spiritually... I was fighing a bit of depression for awhile. I just recently started to talk about it in past-tense, which is a huge step toward healing, in my opinion. I came to the realization that how I "feel" will never change unless I change my attitude. Meaning, I needed to stop reacting to life's circumstances and instead respond to them. (A reaction does not use the mind, while a response is thought out first).
Also, I realized that thanksgiving, praise and joy are more of a sacrifice to God when we are going through trials. It's easy to thank Him for what we consider good. Or praise Him when life is easy. Or be joyful when everything is going our way. But, much more beautiful and sweeter smelling are our prayers and worship to a loving God when they come from a soul in the midst of a storm. And He never allows us to go through trials for no reason.
So, I decided to be thankful for everything in my life, whether I considered it good or bad. Every morning when I wake up, I find at least 5 things to be thankful for. Every night before I go to bed, I thank God for another 5 things from the day. This, along with consistent time in the Word and prayer, has slowly brought me out of my long night of depression and into the light of hope. I am actually excited about this next year. Even though I have absolutely no idea exactly what I will be doing, if I will be going anywhere, or how my circumstances will change. I have faith that God has a plan for my good. This isn't to say I won't have days where I question and doubt, because I will. I'm not perfect. But, I am looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. I am appreciating that God has me in this present place for a purpose and learning to serve Him where I am, not waiting until I'm where I want to be.
And that's all I have to say about that....for now.