Many of my Facebook friends have been posting things they're thankful for as their status updates this month. I haven't done that, but I think that's an excellent exercise in gratitude. So today, on Thanksgiving Eve, I'm playing catch-up.
I'm thankful for...
1. My Father God, who loves me in spite of me.
2. My mom and dad who raised me to know and love my heavenly Father and who continue to teach me how to make my way through life's challenges, from health struggles to money issues to parenting dilemmas.
3. My husband, whom I love more every day. I'll never forget that Midtown singles Christmas party when we met. We were playing Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, and I could tell I needed to get to know that tall guy who laughed at the same goofy things I did. Brett takes such good care of me and our kids, and he's the perfect even-keeled complement to my sometimes emotional temperament. He works harder than anyone I know, and he shows kindness to everyone he meets.
4. Our children. Ryan and Katie bless us every day with their sweet spirits, their insight and their humor. God has blessed us with them, and I try to do right by them.
5. My in-laws. Brett's parents are such wonderful people. Not only did they raise a wonderful man for me to marry, but they also have supported us over the years with babysitting and, most recently, with housing! I love them so much, and I thank God that we can live so close to them.
6. Our house. Oh, my goodness, I'm so thankful for our house! It took a while to get here, but I'm so glad we're finally here! I'm grateful for our friend who helped us navigate the real estate waters, too. He put in countless hours to show and sell our old house and help us buy this one. We're forever grateful.
7. My church family. I love Heritage, and it tickles me to see how much our kids love it, too. It's wonderful to have such a strong group of believers to worship with, to have a place to serve our Lord. I thank God for leading us to Midtown where Brett and I met, and I thank Him for leading Midtown to the Heritage community where so much growth has been possible.
8. My job. There's PLENTY to gripe about and much lately to be sad about, but today I thank God for putting me in a school with so many caring professionals who work so hard to enrich kids' lives. This is my 19th year there, and in those years, I've grown to love my Bell family so much. In times of hardship, that family has kept me afloat.
9. Summer! I LOVE having a job that gives me summers off! I wish I could've been a stay-at-home mom, but teaching is the next best thing. I relish my time with the kids. I have to remind myself of that when I'm bringing home mounds of papers to grade or when I'm working late every single night, but still.
10. Football season. Letting go of summer and going back to work is hard every single fall, but football season makes that transition easier. I love everything about football season, but the best part is getting to make those Austin trips to see my Longhorns play. The camaraderie with other Texas fans, especially our Section 1 friends, is unparalleled. It's nice to be among others who think burnt orange is the world's greatest color. (You think I'm extreme? There are women who paint their toenails burnt orange. I don't even do that!)
11. Facebook. I know that electronic friendships are no substitutes for real ones, but social networking has enhanced my life by allowing me to keep in touch with those real friends from days gone by. What's more, it's helped me keep up with friends I live near now but don't get to see or talk to as often as I'd like. That "ambient awareness" of what everyone's up to helps me stay connected, lets me know when and what to pray for, and gives me reason to rejoice with and for my friends.
12. Twitter. Again, many don't get the point of Twitter. They see it as some narcissistic nuisance. But for me, Twitter's not about what I'm saying; it's about what I can read from others! It's like being Facebook friends with famous people. Funny tweets, insightful tweets, some informative, some ridiculous—I enjoy the quick hits of info when I'm on the run. It adds to my sports-watching and enhances the way I get my news.
13. My iPhone. I joke that my phone changed my life. Now it hasn't really changed ME, but it has changed my lifestyle! When we were looking for a house to buy, it was awesome to go online and look up prices, square footage, etc. on the phone as we drove around town. When we need a movie time or a map or a score, it's right there. Too easy. Wonder where to eat? Give the phone a shake! House-hunting, vacationing, watching sports—all have been improved thanks to that phone.
14. ChaCha. You'd never know I'm not a cat person from the way I dote on my cat, but I'm not. Really!
15. Air-conditioning. I remember going to school before our elementary was air-conditioned: those big box fans, the open windows, the dirt, the sweat, the smells... I also remember that glorious first day of third grade when air-conditioning had arrived. I'm so thankful to live in a time and place where that luxury is so common!
16. Our cars. As frustrating as our cars may be sometimes, it's such a blessing to have our own transportation! Especially in our public transportation-poor area, this is such a necessity, and it's something we've never had to worry about. I take it for granted, but I shouldn't.
17. Proximity to shopping. Now that sounds superficial, but it's wonderful to be within minutes of a pharmacy, grocery store and gas station!
18. Plenty to eat. We're never hungry. Ever.
19. Plenty to wear. Now I may not like my clothes on any given day, but when we moved, I discovered that I had more clothes than I had closet space. Talk about an embarrassment of riches!
20. Adequate health care. Unlike many in the United States, our family is insured, and considering our needs, that's essential! I'm thankful that my insurance has no lifetime cap because we would have surely reached it by now.
21. Digital photography. Free from those rolls of 24 and 36 exposures, we can shoot to our hearts' content. Every now and then I have to remind myself how awesome that is!
22. Blogging. Even though I usually cheat and just post a bunch of football pictures, I still love having a creative outlet online. I'm a writer, after all, and at work, much of my writing is limited to responding to students' writing! I'm also grateful to have so many wonderful blogs to read (in all my spare time).
23. ESPN Radio. Because the Ticket is sexist and never seems to talk about, you know, SPORTS when I turn it on.
24. Blogs like Rude Truth. I'm thankful for women who call for the church to allow all Christians to use their spiritual gifts.
25. Kohl's, JCPenney and Belk for sparing me the hassle of shopping at the mall.
26. Chuy's bean and cheese stuffed sopapillas with tomatillo sauce. And the creamy jalapeno dip!
27. Our crazy dog. I usually refer to Frisco at Brett's dog, but she is really OURS. She's certifiable, but I'm glad she's ours because she makes Brett so happy!
28. The Brady Bunch, The Price Is Right and all the other mindless TV shows that remind me of my childhood.
29. YouTube. Sure, there's plenty of garbage on that site, but some of the old clips found there are gold!
30. These United States of America. We the people are blessed to think for ourselves, vote for ourselves, and express ourselves, and I'm thankful for all the men and women who have given their lives to preserve those rights for us.