Here we are, another year has come and gone, and even during the midst of a great stormy year, I have abundant blessings…had you asked me a year ago, if my life would change this much, I would have sad no, and would have said I was perfectly happy in my current state, but Olivia leaving and pushing me closer to God and out of my comfort zone has been the greatest blessing of all.  I found my voice, my heart, my purpose, and my life over the past year and for that, I am very thankful.

I have joined two groups at church and grew more in the past year than I have in the 47 years God has given me on this earth.  I am happier, have the ability to be more open and honest with my self and others, and have learned to lay all my secrets, shame, despair, and joy at the foot of the cross and move forward with life.

I have said goodbye to past hurts, let go of what I cannot change, and learned I am worthy of much more respect, compassion and love than I have ever let in and I am thoroughly ready to experience it full force.

I have talked about my first ex husband, abuse I suffered as a child, and learned others have walked the same path.  The stories may be different, but the outcome is the same – feelings of being unworthy and shamed – feelings of letting your spouse, your family and more important, God down.  I have learned there are other women and men out there who have suffered at the hands of loved ones, strangers, and the greatest enemy of all – ourselves.

I have learned it’s okay to have a prodigal child.  We are not given a handbook at the birth of our children and told how to deal with every situation in the perfect manner so as to not hurt our children with baggage from our pasts, and stressful situations we find ourselves in.  This knowledge, has helped me forgive my own parents for what I feel are their “mistakes” and move forward to only want to love them and spend whatever time they have on earth enjoying their presence if I can.

I have learned I do not have to stay in relationships that are “stuck” in what was and what could be – and be the only person working towards a goal of good communication, respect and commitment to a better future.

I have learned it is okay to stand up for myself and state what I do and do not like about my life.  I am within my rights as a human being to have my own opinions, thoughts, and wishes for my life.  I do not have to live for everyone else, I can live for me.

I have learned it’s okay to be a “Jesus freak” as I have recently been called.  He carried me through this past year and never left my side.  He spoke to me through friends and family and told me “I have you” and when I asked, He gave me answers to some of life’s toughest questions and gave me the strength to deal with the pain, the tears, and reconciled my heart to know “it’s okay to not be okay” at times.

I have learned when you are walking with those who truly love you, your pain becomes their pain, and in times of deepest sorrow, your pain is carried – by them – and when you are healing – you are able to help carry the pain of others.

I have learned there are people who will stick up for you when you are attacked and will fight for your dignity and honor.

I have learned sometimes people truly are put in your life for a season and it’s okay to let them go when the season has ended, wish them well, pray for their happiness and know you served a purpose for them too.

I have learned God doesn’t promise us life will be easy, He promises us when everything around us is falling, we are held.

I have been blessed, as I stated earlier, with several new friends and am enjoying celebrating their blessings – new babies, IVF treatments, job successes, pregnancies – the list is long and joyous.

I have been blessed with love – love from people I never imagined possible.  Love from the past, love with hope for a wonderful future, love with no conditions, no boundaries, no expectations or limitations, full of respect, compassion  – love as Christ intended love to be…

So as I face this thanksgiving season without my daughter, I have a lot to be thankful for – and I am so humbled and overwhelmed.  I will miss her face, her hugs and will miss watching Christmas Vacation after eating our Thanksgiving meal, but that is short-term – if I look to my blessings, I have a wonderful employer and his wife (my friend) who I will be spending the day with, I have love in my heart, I have a new house waiting for me to make it my home, I have friends who love me for me, and see Him in me, I have two dogs who touch my heart with their wagging tails, does the list end?  No, because in Christ  I have a brand new life waiting for me to embrace it – and I couldn’t be happier to have a peaceful heart, a humbled spirit, and a renewing of my life.  Blessings my friends…Romans 5:1-5…

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