give thanks with a grateful heart.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of joy and cheer, of kindness and gratitude, of festive parties and sparkly dresses, of family traditions and time spent with loved ones. It’s a time that reminds us to pause and take a moment to reflect on the blessings in our lives and to look forward to a new year filled with hope and anticipation.

It’s a wonderful time, and it’s a bittersweet time. It’s the time of year I miss home and my family and holiday pastimes and living in a place with four seasons the most. There’s an added sting this year with Ben being gone, but there’s still so much in my life to be thankful for.

The tradition lives on. Without further adieu, here’s this year’s “what I’m thankful for” list…

Moments of pure joy. Earlier this month, I took a friend with me to see Stevie Wonder, courtesy of my favorite Lieutenant. We were six rows back from centerstage, directly in front of Stevie’s piano and keyboard. (Cue mini freak out.) It was one of the most magical nights of my life. Stevie played for more than 3 hours, surrounded by some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard. He talked to the crowd about compassion and love and how desperately our world needs those things. It’s hard to describe what all that night meant to me – the thoughtful generosity of Ben, the time spent with one of my dearest friends, and a lifelong dream being realized. When Stevie came out on stage and started singing, I couldn’t help but be overcome with such incredible thankfulness for that unforgettable night. (Or as Stevie would say, there was some joy inside my tears. Yep. Totally cried when he started singing. Pure joy.)

The people who fill my life with love and laughter. I’m so fortunate to have supportive friends and family – near and far. I just wish I could hug you all.

I never thought I’d say it, but Oklahoma feels like home. It has introduced me to some of my dearest friends and I can’t imagine my days without them. It doesn’t matter that I’ve only been here for three years – and that two of them just entered my life during the past year – I’m truly grateful for their presence in my life. You’re my family not by blood, but by choice. All the love for you.

My home and my safety. I have a warm bed to sleep in, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to call my own. These provisions are a precious privilege.

The opportunities and encouragement this deployment has given to Ben. I’m so proud of the leader he is and all he has done in service of others. He has excelled in his role, and I’m thankful to see him recognize the value he offers to others and all that he is capable of accomplishing. And even from thousands of miles away, he can make a girl feel loved and cared for.

Time to shorten things up or else this is going to become a novel…

The companionship and comfort of my sweet boys, Charlie & Nimitz. Flannel shirts & down vests. A walk in the woods. A good book + red wine + candlelight. Kindred spirits.

Hand-written notes. Roadtrips. Dark chocolate-covered almonds. Courage. When hard work pays off.

Oklahoma sunsets. Phone calls from B. Shiny red rain boots. Grace. S’well water bottles. (They should give me some free bottles for all the pro bono marketing I’ve done for them…please?!)

Love and acceptance – of ourselves and of others. The crisp, clean lines of Sharpie pens. Vulnerability. Practicing hospitality. Joey Tribbiani.

Puppy kisses. Happy hour with my girls. Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow. Sherpa-lined blankets. Laughter.

Reunions with family and friends. Monogrammed everything. Kind and generous people. Affirmation. Mountains and big water…places that inspire awe and reflection.

The ability to learn. Dinner parties. Accomplishing goals. Cultivating community. Ben’s safety…and the thought of him being home again.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

 

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