Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you to anyone who has read this blog even once. It challenged me to think more about how I have been blessed, and I realize that I am blessed with many more things than just what I posted here. God has been present with me through all of the ups and downs I have been through, and He is always with you too. Even when you're in the toughest season of your life, please try to remember that you are NEVER alone.
Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I challenge you to consider what you're thankful for, both today and every day. Just like we don't need a specific day to express our love to someone, we don't need a specific day to give thanks. I won't be keeping up with this blog daily as I have been this month, but feel free to check back every once in a while for a random thankful post! God bless you, and happy Thanksgiving. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24

día veinticuatro: Today I am thankful for my brother, who turned 24 today! I am blessed to have a great friend in him, no matter how much he picks on me. :) Happy birthday, Ben!!
Dear Lord, thank You so much for my brother Ben! He really is a friend as well as a brother. Thank You for creating him just as he is. He is such an intelligent man - use his knowledge and skills to glorify You. Ben is an inspiration to me because of his determination and his strength. God, You have placed some challenges in Ben's life, and he has worked so hard to overcome them and succeed. He takes having difficulty with something as a challenge and faces it head-on. God, I have never known Ben to give up. He is such a fighter (but the gentle kind). God, thank You for his great determination and all that You have helped him achieve because of that. Thank You for his education and place in a steady job right now. But showing his determination, he seeks a full-time job. Lord, work to allow him to obtain the full-time position in Materials Management. Be present in that situation and use Your mighty hand to get Ben what he needs. Of course, whatever happens is according to Your will and Your plans. If that position doesn't work out, show Ben another opportunity. In everything, may Ben continue to use his determined spirit.

God, thank You for making Ben so strong. He is strong physically, but I thank You especially for his emotional strength. He has an incredible faith that everything will be okay and a great handle on how to act in a given situation. In tough times that can cause even the strongest people to break down, You have assured him that You are with us. Thank You for Ben's faith in You. Continue to pull him closer to You always. Use him to share Your wondrous love.

Thank You for the relationship that Ben & I have. It's a typical older brother / younger sister relationship with bickering and silly disputes, but there is love covering every moment of it. Thank You for his genuine care over me and how my life is going. Thank You that we can talk about things and be a support system for each other. He has always protected me and wanted the best for me. I am so blessed to have him as a brother and a brother in Christ. Surround him with a community of believers that gives him fellowship and with whom he can share some fun times. Bless his life in any and all ways. Grow us closer together, no matter if we're physically together or not. Lord, thank You for Ben, the best brother that I could ask for. Amen.

Day 23

día veintitrés: (Day 23, yesterday) Today I am thankful for my dad. Things have been rough over the pasta few years, but I am still thankful for the love and support he gives Ben and me.
Dear God, today I want to thank You for my dad. Not just for the dad he was to me before my parents' divorce, but also the dad he's been since then. Lord, it has been really easy for me to avoid seeking a better relationship with him again because of the wall I've put between us. God, continually open my eyes to all the things he does for Ben and me and the love he continues to show. He's always wanted to be a good dad to Ben and me... thank You, Lord, for that passion of his and the ways he has shown that. While I do not appreciate some things he has done, I do realize that everything happens for a reason. I also realize that You have been by my side during everything that has happened. Thank You for being a perfect Heavenly Father, especially in times when I have felt that my earthly father has fallen short. But God, even in the tough times of separation, divorce, and remarriage, my dad was never too far away physically or emotionally. He never decided to turn his back on the family, whereas many people would. Thank You for Dad's devotion to us. Thank You that he has done what he can to try to improve our relationship, even when I have been the least interested in that. Lord, continue to work forgiveness in my heart. Show me what grace really looks like and how I can extend that to my dad. You have forgiven us of any sin we commit - You even gave Your Son Jesus as a sacrifice for us. Whenever we mess up and confess it to You, You tell us it's okay and work in us to change. That is grace, over and over and over. Help me take hold of that and give some grace to my dad.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." -Ephesians 4:31-32
Thank You for the relationship that my dad and I had as I grew up. Help us attain something like that again. Lord, help me to be my smiling and laughing self around him again. Thank You that he has never given up on me. Thank You that You, God, never give up on me. Work in this relationship and help me show Your unfailing & unconditional love. Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 22

día veintidós: (Nov. 22, yesterday) Today I am so thankful for Andrew Hudgins and his wonderful family. I couldn't ask for more caring people to be such a big part of my life.
Dear Heavenly Father, today I want to thank You for the incredible people I was able to spend this past weekend with. God, thank You for Andrew and his family. In giving gratitude for Andrew, I don't really know what to say or where to begin. God, he is such a blessing in my life. Thank You for creating him to be exactly who he is, and thank You for him accepting me exactly as You've created me. Lord, I feel comfortable being completely myself around him. You've blessed me with more than a boyfriend in Andrew - You have also given me a best friend in him. Spending time with him and talking with him is so effortless, God. It doesn't matter what You have us doing or saying. Thank You for all the fun we have together. Thank You for being able to spend time together in the first place. We've been doing the long-distance thing for much longer than expected, but You have made our relationship stronger because of that. Thank You for giving us the time and means to talk to each other (online, phone, Skype) and spend time together. God, You've made it so enjoyable just to be in his presence that I never want to leave. Thank You, God, that we were able to be such good friends before we started dating. That was a huge blessing to me, and I feel that it's definitely the way You wanted it to play out. Thank You for Your hand in every part of our friendship and relationship. Thank You for making Andrew so caring, thoughtful, & loving. God, he is so set and growing in his relationship with You. Thank You for Andrew's continual push of me toward You, as well. He does everything he can to make sure I'm in a good and growing relationship with You. God, thank You for being the center of my relationship with Andrew. I am so blessed to have a boyfriend who cares so much about glorifying You in whatever he does and whatever we do. Thank You for our shared morals and values. Lord, thank You for showing me Your love through Andrew. Your unconditional love is shown to me so clearly by our relationship. Thank You for placing Andrew in my life at a time when You know I need that love the most. You have sent him to me to provide such incredible support. He doesn't/can't even realize how much he has helped me and continues to do so. You have placed him by my side (literally, next to me) while I've faced the hardest thing I've ever gone through. And he is still always here for me during the effects of that. God he is a constant reminder to me that You are always with me and always loving me. Thank You for working through Andrew to bring me closer to You.

Thank You also, God, for the amazing family that Andrew has. Thank You that he has grown up with abundant love and support. Now they are also showing that love and support to me. Lord, Andrew's parents are so generous in many respects. They are making my transition out of my house so much easier. Thank You for Mr. & Mrs. Hudgins' generosity in allowing me to store things at their house. You have given them some room to spare, and they are sharing that blessing with me. Thank You for their sincere & generous offers to help me move bigger things there, as well. When that time comes, I pray that it is a generally easy process. Lord, thank You for the Hudgins' sincerity and hospitality. I feel so at home at their house. They open up their doors and their arms to me at any time and for however long. Lord, thank You for their generosity and their love. Just as it's easy for me to spend time with Andrew, it's also easy for me to spend time with his family. God, I really look forward to seeing Erin more when I am back at school. Thank You for making her a JMU Duke! I pray that You allow us to spend quality time together frequently. You have made Erin to be such a nice and funny girl. She is such a genuine joy to be around. Thank You for the fun and laughs that we are able to share together.

God, I always look forward to the next time I will be able to spend with the Hudgins family. Thank You for the long weekend I was just able to spend in Altavista, and thank You for my upcoming weekend in Roanoke Rapids. Bless our time there in celebration of Thanksgiving. I look forward to meeting more of Andrew's family, and I pray that they will enjoy meeting me, as well.

God, thank you for Andrew and his family. It is incredible to me how You have placed me in such a great relationship when I've really needed some extra love. I pray that my relationship with Andrew will only grow and become deeper. Help us work through any problems that may arise in the future. Most of all, may I remember how blessed I am to have Andrew in my life. Thank You for all he is to me and all he does for me. Thank You for showing me Your love through him. Amen.

"They were sitting
They were sitting on the strawberry swing
Every moment was so precious

They were sitting
They were talking under strawberry swing
Everybody was for fighting
Wouldn't wanna waste a thing

Cold, cold water bring me round
Now my feet won't touch the ground
Cold, cold water what ya say?
When it's such
It's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day

I remember
We were walking up to strawberry swing
I can't wait until the morning
Wouldn't wanna change a thing

People moving all the time
Inside a perfectly straight line
Don't you wanna curve away?
When it's such
It's such a perfect day
It's such a perfect day

Now the sky could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time

Could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time

Could be blue,
Could be grey
Without you I'm just miles away

Could be blue
I don't mind
Without you it's a waste of time"

-Coldplay, "Strawberry Swing"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 21

día ventiuno: (Nov. 21, yesterday) Today I am thankful for the gift of marriage for my friends who are recently engaged or newlyweds.
Dear God, You really have a way with placing people together. There is meaning behind every interaction we have with someone. You plan so carefully to put us with the one we will spend the rest of our lives with. On behalf of all those who are currently engaged or have recently gotten married, Lord thank You for the gift of marriage. I pray that we can all see what marriage really means - both in the earthly relationship and in our relationships with You. God, work in each couple to lift each other up to You. At no point should You be anywhere but the center of the relationship. The other day it really hit me that this is the stage of my life I'm really in. That day I learned that two of my friends are engaged (not to each other - two separate couples), and I got a message from another trying to organize a bridesmaid luncheon. Lord, in this exciting time in each engaged couple's life, let them be aware of how blessed they are to have found each other. Bless their marriage and may it last happily for the rest of their lives. God, I thank You specifically for Heaven & Russell's relationship. Thank You for my aid in it in the beginning (way back in sophomore year of high school...), and thank You for holding them together ever since. Lord, it is really evident how much they care for each other, and I am confident that they will never lose that love. Bless the planning process leading up to their wedding next summer, and bless the rest of their lives together from there. I pray that they can & will continue to support each other through anything. Thank You for their strong friendship & relationship, and thank You for allowing me to be such good friends with them. God, marriage means a lot, and I pray that we don't lose sight of that. It is meant to be a lifelong commitment, and I pray that You can help everyone keep that commitment. Work in marriages to promote fair and right and loving treatment all around. May the love in a marriage be the sharing of Your unconditional love, God.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." -1 John 4:10-12

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20

día veinte: Today I am thankful for being blessed with good general health.
Dear Lord, today I want to thank You particularly for something I take advantage of. You've kept me in good general health my whole life. A cold here, maybe a stomach virus there, but Lord You have kept me away from so many illnesses. Even fairly common illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, and mono have stayed out of my body & out of my brother. Thank You for giving us strong immune systems and knowledge of how to kill & keep away harmful bacteria. Lord, thank You for the creation of immunizations. Vaccines are such clever things - to actually insert a version of the illness in someone to build up their immune system against it. You equip us with the means necessary to make our bodies healthy & strong enough to fight. (Similarly, You are with us as the Holy Spirit inside of us, always prepared for any tough season of our life.) God, we are so fortunate with vaccines and medicine and vitamins... may we use those as we are able and make them available to more people in the world. Thank You for the medical organizations that go out and treat those who have nothing with which to fight. Keep supplying them with materials to help them and materials to leave with them. Work through those caring individuals to teach the sick & those related to people who are sick how to properly care for them. Through those experiences, I pray that Your love can be shared across the nation and across the world. Lord, You are the Almighty Healer. Heal all those who may have little hope. Give them faith and optimism in You, and equip them with the physical and emotional strength to fight. Thank You for Mom's faith and strength as she battled cancer. Lord, thank You that she is healed and comfortable with You now. Although we didn't get the miracle we were praying for, we got a different miracle. Lord, in any bad illness/disease, give people hope. Place people in their lives to support them and love them in every step of the process. Also, don't let those who are sick be defined by their sickness. Thank You for my grandma, who has beaten breast cancer as well as coped with her husband's sudden suicide and her son's death to AIDS. God, despite all she's been through, she is so happy and outgoing. She has a wonderful faith in You, and that is an inspiration. Thank You for blessing her with loving family, friends, & community. Lord, thank You for my health and that of my loved ones. Please keep us all safe & healthy, though we know You're with us no matter what.
Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. -Psalm 103:2-5

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 19

día diecinueve: Today I am thankful for music!
Hey God :) Thank You for helping me arrive to Andrew's house safely today. Please bless this weekend & all the fun times we have, glorifying You all the while. Today I am thankful for music and what a great companion it is at any time! Lord, You made the drive up alone today a fun adventure because I had something to entertain me. You work through different kinds of music to set my mood sometimes. Today I listened to a roadtrip mix CD from Andrew, Taylor Swift, & Sugarland. The whole time I was singing along, just loving life. You used the music to keep me in a good mood about the car trip. Thank You for keeping me safe on the narrow, curvy country roads. Without the music, I would have gotten tired of the trip & even more anxious to just get to Altavista. Thank You for using music to calm me down, also. Schoolwork is very rarely fun, but music makes it better. You actually use music to help me focus on my work... I love that. Thank You for using music to bring people together. Concerts are such fun events, & my friends and I often look back on them with awesome memories. Lord, thank You for introducing Allison, Jessica, and me to Kelli at the Paramore concert. What are the odds of that friendship being made? You have made Kelli to be a really great, caring girl, and I can't wait to get to know her better. Please work out a time over winter break for us all to get together and have fun. Thank You for using music to bring us to Yourself. Worshipping You with music connects me to You on a more personal level. As I sing those songs to You, God, remind me that they're not for anyone else... just You. Thank You for allowing music to be the biggest joy in some people's possibly tough lives. I love seeing people from all over the world singing and dancing to the tune of their own music. God, secure that happiness & fun-loving spirit inside of them. Thank You for making music a way to express ourselves. What we listen to & the music we make ourselves are all parts of our own individuality. Lord, thank You that music comes in all different genres and that people are drawn to unique styles. Please work in people to realize some bad content in songs and avoid that. May the music we listen to be uplifting and glorifying to You, God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100