TC 1: Blessings

TC 1: Blessings

It is Thanksgiving and as I spend the day driving to Ohio and anticipating the fabulous family meal we’ll have when we arrive, I want to say that I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life.

There are so many things to be grateful for, even amid struggle and strife. Hopefully I will remember this little Thanksgiving lesson all throughout the year. Instead of grumbling and complaining, I should be rejoicing in all the blessings the Lord has given me. Here are a few that I am particularly thankful for today:

  • Family
  • Husband =)
  • Good Friends
  • Adorable, Loving Pets
  • Love
  • Home
  • Travel
  • Laughter
  • Joy
  • Adventure
  • Together Time
  • Christmas!
  • And above all else, Christ.
  • Happy Thanksgiving!

    TC 2: Travel

    TC 2: Travel

    Have I mentioned that I love to travel? I do. I really, really do. It’s funny, seeing how I love home so much.

    My family have been road-trippers since well before I was born. My vacations as a child were largely taken with a trailer in tow; we camped everywhere across the country, literally.

    When I was 13 I took my first plane ride–all the way to Brazil. I went to South America another 4 times as a teen and then took off to Montana for college. I traveled back and forth across country every few months for school, break, internships, etc. I drove down to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina hit. I visited Virginia Beach twice before moving here.

    I’ve traveled back and forth to Ohio (for many, many weddings) since moving here, and I traveled to Haiti after the earthquake.

    That said, I’m super excited about driving to Ohio tomorrow. We’re packing the truck right now, and I’m already exhausted at the idea of getting up by 5am. But I’m excited. So right now, today, I’m thankful for travel and I hope that I will get to travel much more in the days to come.

    A few places I would like to visit:

  • Texas and Alaska (the only 2 states in America I haven’t been to yet!)
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • American Samoa
  • Africa!!
  • Kiribati
  • England, Ireland and Scotland
  • Italy and Greece
  • Switzerland
  • And so many more…
  • TC 3: Umbrellas

    TC 3: Umbrellas

    Am I allowed to be thankful for something as simple as umbrellas?

    For many people, umbrellas merely mean rain, drizzle, bad traffic and things like that. And umbrellas mean that for me too. But umbrellas also bring back memories of the first kindling of love in my life.

    You see, before I moved to Virginia, I really had no use for umbrellas. In undergraduate school I lived in Montana, where its so arid that it rarely rains. And then in Ohio I was working as a reporter, so I was already lugging around my messenger bag full of notebooks, recorders, camera, etc. I certainly wasn’t going to add anything as unnecessary as an umbrella to that.

    Then I moved to Virginia just in time for fall. And Virginia in the fall is, well, wet. Especially that first fall, I think we broke a few records for rainfall those months…

    I had commented to one of my new friends, a chef at the university, that I needed to get an umbrella to deal with all this rain. But, I told him, I didn’t want just any umbrella, I wanted a cute umbrella, a unique umbrella, an umbrella with style.

    I don’t remember if it was days or weeks later, in fact, I’m not even sure if it was before or after we officially began dating, but sometime in the fall of 2009, we had one of the worst nor’easters I’ve ever seen. And it poured.

    To my surprise, just before I had to walk out the door to head to class and work, a knock sounded. Do you know who it was?

    It was the chef, holding brand new, brown striped umbrella.

    And you know what? I smiled all the way I walked through the rain that day.

    And today, as I walked through the rain into work again, carrying my brown striped umbrella…I thanked God for Husband and his thoughtfulness.

    TC 4: Encouragers

    Mondays seem to be particularly full of hectic chaos and stress. I don’t know if its the stark contrast from having two days off or if it’s the two-day pile up of work to be done, but Mondays can be the worst.

    But today, my Monday was turned around by a simple, kind word from a coworker. It never ceases to amaze me how encouragement can truly have an impact on a life.

    Husband is one of those rare people who has insight into people’s lives after knowing them for all of 20 seconds. It’s a gift that allows him to show encouragement to perfect strangers and close friends alike. It baffles me how he knows just what to say, sometimes something small, sometimes something earth shattering, but always just what that person needs to hear.

    Now, I’m not claiming that Husband is perfect at this, but he works so hard to use his insight to lift people up in ways that I could only dream of.

    But the kind word to me today? It wasn’t anything spectacular, it was just…well, it was right. And I think maybe I could get better at sharing those little encouragements, the ones that may not seem like much to me, but just might turn someone’s bad day around.

    Thank you to all the encouragers in my life!

    TC 5: Bike Rides

    TC 5: Bike Rides

    Today I am thankful for evening bike rides with Husband on the rare warm days of November. It was nearly 70*, so as the sun fell gently behind the harvested farm fields, we took our beach cruisers out of the garage for one last ride. We didn’t go far, there were things to do, but for a few moments of bliss, we pedaled down the street and took in the falling leaves, the muted pink of twilight. We laughed and chased each other down the street, reveling in the freedom of a Sunday afternoon.

    I love fall and winter, I truly love Christmas. But today, I am grateful for the last vestiges of summer.

    TC 6: Friends

    TC 6: Friends

    Today reminds me to be thankful for friends. Sometimes, life gets ahead of me. In the tumult and chaos of everyday living, I forget to focus on the things that really matter. I lose time. Time for friends most especially. As we try to coordinate schedules and find time, we let time slip through our fingers.

    Today I was able to spend a few lovely hours with a dear friend–my first real friend in Virginia Beach. She lives a ways away from me and it has become difficult to see each other. To my shame, we can go months between visits. But when we do make time for each other, we spend it talking non-stop about our lives, the things we’re learning, the issues that we are passionate about. And when we must say goodbye, it is always in the middle of what could be a week-long conversation.

    So today I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for the meaning that they bring to my life. And I am determined to put greater effort into my friendships.

    TC 7: Memories

    TC 7: Memories

    Tonight, as I look forward to meeting up with my family next week for a festive and lively Thanksgiving dinner, I am remembering so many dinners past that I cherish.

    I grew up in a household with three older brothers. To say the least, our family dinners were lively, impassioned, often loud, and often full of laughter. My sister-in-law once told me that when she first started coming to our family meals, she was often lost and confused. “It’s like your family has its own language,” she said.

    And she was right.

    Those are memories that I dearly cherish, and it is something I can only hope to implement in my own home.

    Next weekend will be the first time (other than in the midst of our chaotic wedding) that Husband will see my entire family all together. Our family has morphed over the years, adding spouses and children while spreading far and wide, but I hope there is still a bit of that old Drake family spark for Husband to witness. It is truly I sight to behold.

    TC 8: Comfort

    TC 8: Comfort

    Tonight I want to say that I am thankful for all the things that bring me comfort.

    Today we lost our little female seahorse, Kili. So it’s a bit of a sad day in our house. I’m thankful for all the things that make it feel a little better, things like a hot shower, fleecy pajama pants, a wiggly puppy, warm soup, flannel sheets fresh from the dryer, warm blankets, and a loving husband.

    Today, those things have a way of massaging the sadness of losing a pet, so I am truly grateful.

    TC 9: Books

    TC 9: Books

    Today I am thankful for books. I’m not sure what it is that mesmerizes me about the written word, but there is something that I am powerless to contend. I love books. I love old books, new books, used books, children’s books, fiction books, non-fiction books…

    I grew up surrounded by parents and siblings who all love to read and on top of that, with shelves and shelves full of books. I thought our house was normal, but I can’t tell you the number of friends I had over who were amazed at the sheer volume of books we had! (It’s a good thing my dad knows how to make shelves…)

    Husband is slightly dismayed by the number of books I have. He doesn’t like having to move them. I do understand that books are heavy, but I remind Husband that he has a lot of cook books and those are some weighty volumes! And besides, he has at least as much “kitchen stuff” as I have books and it is only fitting since he is a chef and I am a writer.

    Did you know that I was writing stories before I could even write? Yep, I would staple pieces of paper together and create stories using stickers. I finished my first short work of fiction when I was nine. And now I actually make a living at it.

    My books are integral to my ability to write. Every good writer must be a reader as well, it’s simply how it works. And when Husband suggests I sell some of my beloved collection I give him the evil-eye. These books are my friends, they are my memories, my adventures.

    I once heard someone put it this way: I have fallen in love a hundred times, and each time has been in a book.

    I <3 books.

    TC 10: Horses

    TC 10: Horses

    I think it is ingrained in every little girl to love these massive animals. Interestingly, I wasn’t as taken with them as some of my friends (I was really into dolphins as a little girl), but when I was 10 and we moved to a new home with a barn and pasture, things changed. I became enamored with horses, and determined to get my own!

    It took me three years to earn enough money to pay for half a horse (an agreement I had with my parents that they would pay the other half), but it was once of the best things I’ve ever done. At the age of 13, I brought home my very first horse.

    Chappy running.Since then, I’ve had more experiences with horses than I can relate…I showed and gamed, I worked at a breeding farm, I got a bachelor’s degree in Equestrian Studies, I interned with a nationally known horse trainer, and the list goes on.

    Perhaps one of the best things I did, though, was bring home my own filly when she was 8 months old and complete all of her training myself.

    Her official name is Easy Feelin’, but she is better known as Chappy around the barn. She’s “my baby girl” and the light of my life. It’s hard for me to believe that she is already eight years old! She is no end of entertainment and affection. And although I sometimes gripe and complain about cleaning stalls, I love that I get to live right around the corner from my baby and see her anytime I want.

    I have learned more from horses, and from Chappy in particular, than you can imagine. I’ve learned patience, persistence, sacrifice, self-control, determination, courage, love, respect, and so much more!

    Me and my filly.

    If your little girl ever asks for a pony, I would encourage you to seriously consider it. My horses have taught me so many lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Chappy girl. I am so thankful for you!

    Bridal portrait with my horse.
    (The above photo is a bridal portrait with Chappy taken by my sister-in-law.)