Feeling Blessed!

Last Friday as I drove to work (I have an hour commute) I found myself thinking about how grateful I am for what I have. Grateful for my life and the lives of my family. The last year has been anything but easy for us. We have been through professional challenges, loss of jobs and unemployment, financial challenges and health issues which all have enormous amounts of stress associated with them. Through everything though, God has always seen us through. We have persevered.

There were times over the last year where I was deeply frustrated. Times where I felt cheated. Times where I felt unfairly treated. Times where I was depressed. Times where I honestly could not see a way out. I had to depend on my husband, my family and my friends for support, but I also had to deeply depend on my faith to get me through. There honestly was no other option. Many of those issues were out of my control, out of our control. I literally had to learn to let go and let God.

I admit that I can be a bit of a control freak. I am most comfortable when I am able to see the big picture. I am constantly trying to anticipate what is going to happen next so that I can be as prepared as possible for what is to come. Brandon teases me all the time about moving too quickly. I am often concerned about what is going to happen 5 steps ahead of where we are right now. He constantly reminds me that we have to take it one step at a time. I’m grateful that he is able to provide that balance for me.

Many things I considered to be devastating have really turned out to be a simple change in direction. It was one door closing as another creeped open to simply bring a different opportunity. Some of those issues brought with them difficult and harsh lessons that I needed to learn. And boy have I learned. I have learned about myself as a person, as a mother, as a wife and as a friend. I have learned to be appreciate what I have, not what I want.

Being unemployed for 9 months was a very “humbling” experience. On one hand it felt tragic. It was the first time since I was 15 that I did not have a job. I was used to going to work every day.  I was used to handling major issues. I was used to being in charge. I was used to being responsible to lead a team towards a goal. I was used to solving problems, seeing results and being proud of those results. I was used to helping provide for my family. On the other hand I got to spend my days fully focused on Asa…watching him grow and being able to be his “teacher” as he practiced his ABC’s and learned to count to 20 at the age of 2. I got to do what many working moms don’t have the opportunity to do – be a stay at home mother.

Honestly for me being a stay at home mom was (for me) harder than being a working mom. I never intended or had the desire to be a stay at home mom. I love all my children but my personality drives me to want to be a leader to more than a two year old. I missed my staff. I missed my students. I missed adult conversation. Ironically enough, now that I’m working full time again…I miss my Asa. There are days I want nothing more than to be at home with him playing a game, coloring, counting or taking a walk to the park. I think what I’m lacking is balance. I am, however, grateful for what I have.

Friday on my way to work,  I came to a stop light where there was a man walking the street asking for change. He had a cardboard sign that read “Homeless Iraq veteran. God bless”. I pass homeless people on my way to and from work on a daily basis. When I have singles or change I try to pass it on to those who are in need. This morning for whatever reason felt overwhelmingly different. I dug through my purse and found a few single dollars. I motioned to the man to come over to my car. I handed him the money and thanked him for his service. He was grateful. “Thank you mam. God Bless you” was his response. As I began to roll up my window I looked over in the passenger seat. Immediately I felt like I needed to do more for this man. I saw my sandwich that I packed for lunch. I grabbed it, rolled the window back down and called for the man to come back to my car. I asked him if he had eaten yet this morning. His answer “no mam”. I handed him my sandwich and said “well now you will. Have a great day!”. He thanked me again, turned and walked away. I knew in that moment, that was what I was supposed to do. The light turned green and off to work I went.

That entire situation really hit home for me. This veteran didn’t lose any limbs and had no physical injuries that I could see. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was “broken”. I started to think about who that man was before he went to war. I’m sure he was “whole”. He probably had shelter and food in the refrigerator. I’m sure he was able to take hot showers in the morning and put on clean clothes. He probably had at least a small group of family and friends. But now he has nothing. No place to call home. No bed to sleep in. No refrigerator to grab food from. No support system. We sent him to war. He served our country. He fought for our freedom. Then he came home “broken” and we (our nation) have turned our backs on him.

All I could think was how that man could have been my husband. Had he not had the support of his family and friends when he returned home from overseas, he could have easily gone down a different path. How easily that could have been one of the many warriors that I have met in the last 3 years while Brandon was working at WWP.  I have spoken to other military wives and family members who have to deal with PTSD. I have seen first hand the effects that PTSD can have on a person. It’s scary. Just like most injuries you cant see, its hard for most people to understand.  I however understand the effects that PTSD can have on a person. The effects are frightening and they are sad. I dont know this mans full story, but here is what I do know. He is a human being that made a huge sacrifice for his country and he deserves better.

This weekend as I spent time with my family and friends I was reminded of how blessed I am. I have a loving husband who puts me and his children first. He reminds me of how blessed we are. I have beautiful, smart and funny children. I have amazing friends and family. I have a beautiful home that is filled with love and laughter. I have a warm bed to sleep in and a refrigerator full of food. I have a job that is fulfilling. We have medical insurance and can go to the doctor any time we need to. My children have everything they need. They have a good foundation to learn and grow from.

We may not have everything we want, but we certainly have everything we need (and then some).

I now pack two sandwiches to bring with me to work. One for lunch and another to be able to pass on to someone in need.

I am grateful.
I am blessed.

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