Joy in the Journey

“Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.” 

Psalms 18:49

In church we were talking about gratitude and how important it is to be grateful when you are going through trials, and then I came home to find that a friend had tagged me so I would read an article about the 4 things that you can do that will make you happy. Being grateful happened to be one of them. The article said that even if you cannot find anything, as long as you are actively searching for something to be grateful for, it changes our brain chemistry.

I remember learning this lesson of gratitude years ago when I had broken my leg. I was working as a live-in Nanny at the time and my boss was less than happy that I was living there, eating her food and unable to care for her child. The growth I experienced and the things I learned at the time made me SO grateful for the experience. I never wanted to go through it again, but I was grateful.

My life has moved on since then, and much bigger problems have arisen. My husband deployed to Iraq twice for extended periods, my son was diagnosed and lives with Autism, I have a spine that didn’t form correctly and can at times cause extreme pain and has resulted in two surgeries. I’ve forgotten the lesson I learned so long ago. Yet how can I be grateful for these experiences?

My husband’s first deployment, he left on our first wedding anniversary and he was gone for 16 months. The second one, I was pregnant with R and she was born during the deployment. I developed anxiety attacks during his first deployment. What have I to be grateful for?

Frequently you hear we need to show gratitude to our service members for their service. And we should! Our country owes them a debt of gratitude. But until I was a wife and a mother with a spouse off fighting in a war, I had never understood or even thought of the incredible sacrifices that the families of the military make. I am in total awe of so many of the ones I have met and known. The resilience and fortitude they have taught me have been so valuable to me.

I also had the opportunity to work with a Non-Profit that worked with families and children of Iraq, (FUTURE). When several of the women found out that my husband had been over there, they gave me a big hug and said, Thank you! Thank you for giving up your time with your husband to set us free!” Now, wether or not we should or should not have been in Iraq is a whole other discussion. But for me, on that day, it brought healing to my soul. It hadn’t been easy for my husband and his experiences there, nor had it been for me.

My son has Autism, and frequently it is not a gift. There have been times of extreme hurt, frustration, and being at the end of my rope. I can only imagine just how hard it has been for him too. What have I to be grateful for?

I’m beyond grateful for the amazing people this has brought and continues to bring into our lives. They enrich our lives SO much. We would never have met them if it hadn’t been for this Autism and other health issues of his in our lives. It has also opened a window into the walks of life of so many others. I can understand and have compassion in ways it would never have been possible before. It has truly broadened my horizons.

My spine has made me slow down, it has made me cry and scream in pain. It has made me truly helpless at times where I could not care for myself, let alone my family. What have I to be grateful for?

I’ve come to be grateful for the great compassion and willingness to serve others when there is a need, by my fellow man. It has made me grateful that I have a body at all, and that despite its challenges, but for the grace of God, things could be far worse.

Above all, these experiences have taught me just how much God and my Savior love me. How they are very aware of the emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial needs I have. And that, above all, I can be grateful.

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