John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

John, Sara Beth, Callum, Haley, Kobe, and Samuel

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reflections of 2011 (this week's Thankful Thursday 12-29-11)

I have sort of "skipped" out on my Thankful Thursday posts as of the past couple of months. I haven't meant to, really! I really enjoy doing these weekly posts but I have truly been too busy to even sit down and write them. This post is a little different. I am not going to list them out but I am going to highlight some things I am thankful for. As always, I am thankful for God, my Heavenly Father. I am thankful for the love,mercy, grace, and forgiveness from Jesus Christ. I am thankful for my husband, my children, my parents, my friends, and my church family.

This is my last Thankful Thursday post of 2011. This year has had so many ups and downs (as all years have and will). I am truly grateful for each and every single situation that God has placed me in this year. I have been blessed, rewarded, and taught lessons. The times that I considered "hard" (which some would laugh at me considering hard I am sure) were just lessons from God. He doesn't try to teach us lessons to harm us...they draw us nearer to Him. I am so glad that I serve a God who longs for me to draw closer and longs for me to talk with Him and walk Him. He gives and takes away but you better believe that when he takes away he gives back so much more!

I have prayed for a specific job for over 5 years. In August 2010 I lost my job. I was devastated. I thought my world would surely end. Being a newly rededicated Christian, I knew my Faith was being tested. I had  rededicated my life just a few months back in March. How easy it would have been to "fall off" then. I considered it such a blow to us financially but more than that (at first) I let it be a blow to my self esteem and to my mental well-being. I let the devil lie to me and tell me I was no good and not worthy. I had envisioned my children starving and ...OH I could go on but I won't...because I began praying... The Lord reminded me that not only would I not die from this... I would flourish! (Beauty for Ashes) The circumstances that surrounded this event in my life were hurtful and done out of malice toward me by a couple of co-workers. The Lord used this situation to teach me to be grateful for what I DID/DO have and to forgive. I am proud to say that since then I have reached out and PERSONALLY forgiven each and every person in person or over the phone. It is a great weight lifted. He taught me that my "worth" or "status" wasn't tied to anything here on this Earth...that  WAS Valued in HIM! He also showed me that what I thought was a "curse" was really a blessing. I was able to enjoy three months at home with my children. I needed those weeks with them to reconnect and just spend some good quality time with them. A few months later I got a job and was very happy to go back to work and help provide for my family. I found myself in a great environment with great co-workers but I was placed in a position that really didn't suit me. I loved the half of my job that was Accounting. I loved the spreadsheets and the paying bills and receiving payments and applying them to correct accounts...but the other half... was collections. I HATED calling people and asking for money. A few years back... that might have been a pretty easy task for me...but as we know God makes all things new and He made a new me... a nicer, more compassionate, caring ME. I no longer wanted any part of any type of confrontation or drama. I would leave crying on my lunch break and at the end of the day most days just simply because of the tasks on my "to do list" at work. I filled out application after application and I didn't hear back from a single one. Feeling rather disappointed, I went to John and we prayed about it. Finally, we decided that I shouldn't be working somewhere that made me so unhappy so I quit. I decided to help a dear friend and keep her little girl for her while she worked. We needed each other and it was perfect. I loved being home with Samuel and hearing first hand about Kobe's day at school and being there for them in a way that I hadn't been before. Several weeks into this I got a call. I got a call for an interview to the very job I had been specifically praying for for nearly five years. I was ecstatic. After a few weeks I was offered the job.  Every single thing that I had "went through" led me to this very "milestone" in my life. I was so thankful that the Lord went before me and paved and carved out a way for me. He took what was meant for harm and manifested my dream into a reality for me. He made ALL things work together for my good!

This year Kobe was invited to play on a travel basketball team. I am so grateful that he is on such a great team with such knowledgeable and supportive coaches. He plays for Muscle Shoals Trojans and is number 3. Number 3 on the court...Number 1 in our hearts! It has been somewhat of a reality check for him. He has always been the best player on the team. The one that always gets all the shots and all the attention. I had been talking to him about practicing more and really focusing in if basketball was his sport of choice because it won't be long until he can try out for his school team. I tried explaining that not everyone makes the team and even when you do... you don't get guaranteed playing time like with the Recreation Department. He didn't believe me ... but he does now. I am glad that he has been afforded this opportunity because I can see that he is learning and will continue to do so. I know that it is his first year and he still gets a little confused at times ...but that is part of the process. I am very, very proud of him.

I am thankful for opportunities that John has been given. He has gone to his first Men's Encounter as a participant and served at one. It has changed him so much... and for the better. I am so proud of him and I could not imagine him getting any better...but then he does. He has really stepped out in Faith on some things...and of course was rewarded. He has become a better and more loving head of our household, husband, and father. He has a dream to go out and minister to the lost and serve with missions. I knew of the desire in his heart to come in contact with some Godly men to form lasting and meaningful friendships with and the Lord has really delivered on that one. He has just poured friendships into our lives beyond our expectations. At one time, he mentioned to me that he missed the days he played in the Praise and Worship Band growing up. I told him to mention it to the band at church and see if they could use him. At the time, he was too shy. He said he couldn't... and I knew he didn't really want me to do it either. So I did the next best thing. I started praying for my husband. I prayed that his dreams would be manifested right before his very eyes. I prayed that prayer specifically listing his desire to be in the Praise and Worship band for several months. I then enlisted the help of my sweet and dear friend, Rachel Johnson. We prayed for him...without him even knowing it. And... of course... you guessed it... God supernaturally put him in the band. While he was a Men's Encounter as a participant one of the band members just randomly asked him if he played the bass guitar and of course John told him yes. He told him to stop by practice the following Thursday night...and the rest is history. You can imagine the tears of pure joy and heartfelt thanks I had (and have even now as I type this) that first service that my husband's dream was a reality...all Glory to God! Of course, as I glanced at my sweet friend Rachel in service her eyes were wet too! I watched him very diligently ask God to place a guitar in his hands. We didn't really have the money to go out and buy one but he wanted his own to practice with instead of just using the one at church. After a time of praying, he was practically given THREE guitars within a matter of a week! He has sold one and put money with that to buy the one he has had his eye on for some time. The other two are being updated and having a few minor repairs in hopes that he can hand one to a young boy/man who has a dream of playing but can't afford to buy a guitar.

I am so grateful for the insight and knowledge that the Lord has put into Samuel. Samuel is so smart beyond his years. He definitely has the "faith of a child". God is his Heavenly Father and he truly believes that God can do the impossible...which He can. We recently got our newest addition: a Mr. Leviticus Buddy Rainey aka "Levi" from the local animal shelter. We were looking for a dog to rescue and we found little Levi. He was a Pug who had been removed from his home due to neglect and abuse. His eye had been poked "out" and he looked a little sickly. Samuel chose that little sickly dog and began praying for his eye to heal ever since he first saw him. We decided that since Jesus loves us when we are not perfect that we will love that precious dog even though he is not perfect. It was a great lesson all the way around and I am so thankful for my sweet little Samuel.

Callum has really "stepped it up" on being a better big brother this year. We have stressed to him how much the two little ones really look up to him. He still makes mistakes...but don't we all? He is trying very hard to set good examples for the younger two by doing things around the house without being asked and inviting them into his room for some "big brother" time. He is really making a big improvement with his grades and his studying. I am very proud of him because this semester we told him that we would let him "have a go" at it. We told him that if his grades weren't good and he showed signs of not caring about school we would take over and do it our way. He pulled through...by the skin of his teeth at times...but nevertheless he pulled through and I am very proud of him.

I have so many things to be grateful for and I thank God each and every single day. I think about times that I wondered how we would manage...but we did...by His hand. He has guided us... and we let Him. He has definately showed out in our lives and I am so thankful for His never-ending love.

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