Aside from the blessings of eternal life, hope in Jesus, everlasting Love from God, there are more tangible blessings in every day life which we should meditate more on and be in constant thanksgiving for.
So here, my friends, is a list of some of our blessings; not to brag or make you feel envious as I'm sure you have much (and maybe more) to be thankful for as well, but to share with you that despite how awful things seem for me/us (as I write about them a lot here on this blog), I am also aware how truly blessed we are. I hope it will inspire you to sit down in the quiet part of your day - if you have one; they're scarce here! - and create an inventoried list of your own blessings. And then take the time to really thank God for all that He bestows upon you.
Our Five Beautiful, Amazing Children
ALL of our children are a blessing, but I find it really enjoyable and inspiring to take a moment sometimes and think about them individually and thank God for His perfect design. Family dynamics always intrigue me. God is a god of order and wisdom and He makes perfect plans for each of His children. It is absolutely NO mistake what birth-order our children came in, or the specific personalities they were given, or even the individual challenges they each face. Our oldest, Angelina, is so bright, so full of life; loves dancing and singing and anything artistic. She is definitely a right-brained child and therefore has trouble with things like Math and Reading. She is very high-strung and anxious and this part of her personality often presents a challenge for us, and herself. But, her heart is so full of love and she is such a wonderful little girl, so helpful and caring. Aidan is next, such a sweet-heart, so smart and such a B-O-Y! But he exhibits a wonderful balance between the typical destructive adventurous spirit and a deep sensitivity, which makes him mostly a lover, not a fighter. Isabella is our second girl and we definitely have our work cut out with her! She is so amazing, though; LOVES her baby brother to pieces, and reminds me MUCH of myself when I was young. She's a free-spirit, but has a wise face and I just know she's going to do great things when she is older. Sophia is next; we call her our little Dennis the Menace. But she is so...easy...and so goofy and silly and we can forgive her for just about any of her crazy antics because her bright blue eyes and little button nose refuse to unhand us unless we do. Last (so far) is Jeremiah. He's so cute, so happy, so full of life. Just started crawling. Loves his mama. I don't know what else to say but how very blessed we are with each of our children. I can't wait to see what the Lord does with their lives.
Our Family Business
This is one that is a little bit difficult to view as a blessing at this moment in time, but nevertheless it makes the list as it should. We started our business in 2009 and actually did well the first 3 years considering the state of the economy and the fact that it was a new business. Though the 2011 season seemed to be a sign that we were on the right path and only getting better, this past season did not bode well for us. I feel if we didn't have the faith that we do, and the desire in our hearts to go a specific route with our business, we would be devastated and truly down in the depths. But, the Lord is sovereign and merciful and He takes good care of us. We never have to fear because we know that no matter what our bank account says, we are one of the richest families in the world and we will be taken care of. Starting our business despite the challenges we have faced was one of the biggest blessings thus far. We have learned so much and we have grown closer as a couple, a family, Catholics, business owners, and parents. The challenges we have faced have served as great reminders to keep our eyes fixed on the cross and to always trust in Jesus. No matter what.
This, too, is a difficult one, as we have been wanting to move for some time now. God has said 'no' each and every year we got the itch to start looking for a new place. We want land to grow our business, and a slightly bigger home. But it is not time. And in the moments I find myself really anxious about this, closing my eyes against the view, I am so blessed to suddenly look up and have a new appreciation of my home as I see my kids running through it filling it with laughter, watch them playing alongside each other, see the love poured out in tangible ways all throughout our home. It may not be the best or biggest home, it may feel cramped and dated and often suffocating at times. But it is our home. Our first real home. I have literally had 3 babies here. We have worked together on countless projects in this home, growing our love and respect for each other. We have welcomed so many of our family and friends into this home for birthday parties and holiday celebrations over the last 6 years. It is truly where we belong at this point in our life. It takes a lot for me to concede to this aspect of God's perfect plan. But I must.
My Extended Family
My husband and I have been through a lot in our marriage. There has been much pain and much suffering, many moments of despair. The one most constant thing, other than our Heavenly Father, throughout our ups and downs, has been my family. Time and time again they have surprised both hubby and I with their generous love in the form of advice, wisdom, food, counsel, financial help, grace, prayers, support. My husband just wrote a little note to them on our family facebook page about them helping to teach him what unconditional love is, and how grateful he is to have them in our life. I can't agree more. Though I have always known how loving my family can be, they never cease to amaze me when they put that love into action. We are truly blessed to call them family. Not only that, but we have been blessed by the opportunities to show them our love and support in all the above mentioned ways as well. People don't often realize that allowing others to help [them] blesses those others in so many ways. It is part of God's perfect calling to servanthood.
Joe and I don't have a lot of friends. We don't go out often. For a long time, we craved the types of friendships we had before we got married and had kids. We wanted so much of the social aspect of life before. But God showed us what was more important than going out every weekend with other people. And we do have a few very good friends. And they're good friends because they don't let us get away with being less than God wants us to be. Our friendships are ones of encouragement, trust, prayer, respect, and support. It is amazing the way God has shown both my husband and me what true friendship is, the value that lies in it, and the measures He takes to bring it about. We are truly blessed in this area.
When we first got married, things were really tough. I have written several posts on here alluding to aspects of our relationship, one of my favorites being this one. But suffice it to say that we have come such an incredibly long way in our short marriage. God has really changed us both. He is where the glory lies. Joe and I worked hard but our efforts were meaningless with out the blessing of the Lord, His grace and strength which kept us going. It was not Joe and me, really, but the willingness we had to allow God to transform us into what He wants us to be. There is much more work to be done. There is much more to let go of, to relinquish to Him, to pray about. But I can say without a doubt that He has done great things for us, and He is wondrous indeed! Our marriage is truly a great testament to God's love.
The SacramentsLastly, but most importantly! Over the years, I have become more aware of how beautiful the sacraments truly are, and how perfect is His plan in instituting them. Grace abounds through each sacrament we are able to receive. It is an amazing thing to get to go to Mass (though I know we all struggle with wanting to go sometimes), to receive the body and blood of Jesus each and every week, or more often if we are able to. It is an amazing thing to be able to confess our sins to a fellow sinful human, knowing full-well that God has supernaturally bestowed a power and right to that human to absolve us of our sins in His holy name. It is a wonderful thing to have received Baptism, chosen by my parents to welcome me into His one true Church, and Confirmation, chosen by myself to continue on my journey in my Catholic Faith. Marriage as a sacrament never had more meaning to me than it has in the past few years. I finally understand why it is a sacrament and I am so blessed by it.
This of course, is a partial list, as I could stay up late and spend much time going through every single blessing I can think of in our life. But these, I felt, were the most important. I hope you will find some things to be thankful for in your own life.