Thursday, October 18, 2012

Falling Again Into Thankfulness

This time of year is so nostalgic.  The leaves turning, the cool, crisp air.  I love it.  It feels like home.  It feels like a warm, baked apple crisp and burning candles that smell like pumpkin.  As the leaves change, and fall, the winter is close behind.  The holidays. The rush, and all that comes with it.  I've always thought that it was a good thing that Thanksgiving came first, as it prepares us for the joy of Christmas. It prepares our hearts. We go into a modern day, rush around, materialized holiday, or we should, in awe of what all God has given us.

Thanksgiving has always been such a special time of year for me.  Thinking back to family gatherings at Grandma & Grandpa's house ~ I can't help but share the very reason we celebrate.  THANKFULNESS.  Honestly, friends, I have so many things to be thankful for. It would be hard to share them all here.  There's the obvious things.  My family.  My girls. My husband.  My home. A good job.  So many dear friends. My Mom, my sister and my brothers.  My health. God has been good to me, and for that I am so grateful.  How could I ever say, "thank you" enough?

Now, in reality, sometimes it's hard to be thankful, right?  It's hard to say, but it's true.  There's those who are without jobs.  There are those who suffer with depression, Those who are lonely.  And unfortunately, there are those who have said goodbye to loved ones.  There are those who are suffering with cancer.  Honestly, friends, I've been in every one of those circumstances.  I've been without a job, suffered with depression, been lonely, said goodbye to loved ones, and I've seen, first hand, the hurt, grief and pain that cancer can leave in its path.  No, I don't have any resolutions or revelations on the "whys" and "why mes".  But I can say this.  I'm thankful.  Every one of those valleys that I've been in; I've come out.  I'm thankful that I had friends and family that stood by me.  Held my hand. Prayed for me. Loved me. I'm thankful that through the pain, God said, "You might not understand, but you will survive!".  We can, in everything, give thanks.  That's what I will choose to do. In the mean time, I will cry with those who are hurting and suffering. My heart aches for the brokenhearted, but like I've always said, "Hang on...because after the rain, the sun will shine again."

Hold on to the ones you love.  Take a long walk in this beautiful, fall weather.  Bake a pie, have a bonfire, help your neighbor....heck, just go outside and soak up this wonderful season.  FALL into thankfulness.  Gratitude is such a wonderful state of heart.

Journey On,

Leigh Ann

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wise Choice....

Life has been good to me.  I've made many friends a long my journey.  I'd like to go back a few years and tell you about one special friend named Michelle.  We met on the outskirts of Memphis when my family and I moved to Cordova, Tn. to minister at a small church.  The very first Sunday I knew there was something special about her and her family.  She cordially greeted and welcomed us, and within days we connected.  

Now, picture this.  This time in my life was hard.  My Dad was terminally ill, and so was my best friend, Shari. I knew the days ahead would be dark, and as I found out soon enough; so did God.  He knew that my heart would be in need of a special person to help me along.  And His choice was Wise.  You ask...why did I capitalize that?  Because Michelle's last name is Wise.  Corny, I know.  That I bring that up, but wise she is.  Not only was my father and friend sick, but we had moved to a strange place.  New people.  New house.  New adjustments for the girls.  I was lonely.  I was homesick, and my heart was grieving in a way that I had never experienced.  One minute pure joy for our new surroundings; the next overwhelmed with a cloud of darkness that burdened my spirit.  

Knowing my pain, Michele reached out.  She did what so many people don't do to new families that invade their church and community.  She called.  She invited.  One of my first memories is my birthday dinner that she had for me.  Yes, she cooked and made a delicious cake.  Honestly, I don't remember the exact flavor of the cake, but I DO remember that she had a candle for every year that I had been on the earth.  We laughed hysterically, as she walked the cake out ablaze and set the fire alarm off.  Simple times.  Endless memories.  There were many Christmases that we shared our families.  The girls became "little sisters" to her son Justin, and Mike became like a second Dad to them.  Many dinners together with our kids playing and arguing just like real siblings. Many hands of cards. Spades and more Spades. (And many loads of laundry, huh Mike?) They genuinely became our family.  There were shopping trips for Christmas.  I mean shopping trips.  We took finding a Barbie VW Beetle for the girls' Barbies very seriously.  That required a trip to Mississippi.  I didn't think we would ever find one, but we did.  We set out.  We conquered.  Oh, how we laughed until we cried.  We shared family vacations. Long road trips and all. On so many different occasions the laughter, tears and friendship became a part of who I was.  It defined me as a person.  And to this day, even though miles separate us, it still does.  

Life went on.  We moved to Nashville several years later, and our friendship remained.  Today brings about a new chapter in our lives. Michelle's son, Justin will be getting married in December.  I honestly don't know where time has gone.  It seems like yesterday when our kids were playing together.  Now one is out of high school, and one is getting ready to become a husband.  This makes my heart so full.  I miss the times that we've missed the past few years, but wouldn't give a million of anything for the ones we shared.  

So, friendships are choices.  You choose to be a friend; and another chooses to return that friendship.  Cherish your friends.  Love them always; and reach out.  Be the one that goes above and beyond for someone.  It's hard reaching out to perfect strangers, but that one stranger may end up being your most cherished friend.  
Micah, Justin & Paige 

Michelle, I can't wait to be a part of Justin & Rachel's special day.  I cherish your friendship, and will never take for granted the difference you've made in my life.  I promise to wear waterproof mascara & bring lots of tissues.  I will surely need them. Love you. Justin & you both too.  Can't wait to see you all in December! 

I'm ashamed to say that I don't have a picture of Michelle & I together. That will change come December.