Our first Thanksgiving

Our first Thanksgiving

So it wasn’t exactly our first Thanksgiving, but it was the first one that WE were hosting.

Do you remember these photos of our house mere days before turkey day? Yeah… That all had to be taken care of Wednesday evening, and it was.

We didn’t get a fridge installed (still don’t!), but everything else was finished, cleaned and put back into place. It made for a beautiful Thanksgiving full of family, friends and good food! The house was filled with sights, sounds and smells that only come around on holidays–hot cider simmering on the stove, browned turkey just out of the oven, roasted carrots picked just that morning, the laughter of little ones, and many, many puppy cuddles. It was beautiful.

Vegetables at Thanksgiving

Making biscuits

Thanksgiving table

Radishes pulled on Thanksgiving

Peanut butter pie




Today I am thankful. I choose to be thankful.

Even amid such great loss as we have experienced, even as we continue to grieve, we will be thankful.

Because God is good.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name
1 Chronicles 29:11-13


Thank you, Lord, for the blessings in our life–blessings among the heartache. We will never fully comprehend your ways, Lord, but we thank you for your love and care for us. We thank you for the saving grace of your Son. We thank you for those you have surrounded us with. We thank you for the richness you have bestowed upon our lives. For we are rich in blessings indeed.



It probably shouldn’t, but it amazes me how much the emotional anguish of the past few weeks has caused utter physical weariness.

Husband and I are both simply worn out. We rise each morning, head to work, return home, complete our necessary chores (cleaning stalls/feeding animals/making dinner), and then we crash–onto the couch for a movie (or half a movie, or a few minutes of a movie), or even straight into bed for much-needed sleep. We are always tired. Always.

I thought I was tired before–just because of the pace of life that we keep. But it was nothing compared to this.

At first I thought perhaps it was the fact that for about a week I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a night–I would literally fall into bed after I had seen everyone else off to bed with their physical needs met and spent an hour preparing the house for another day of chaos (and sometimes even snuck in a shower after everyone else was asleep).

But I’m convinced that it is more than loss of sleep.

It is the grieving–the loss of my beloved brother-in-law has taken a physical toll on all of us. I cannot see an end to the emotional impact anytime soon, and so I doubt there will be an end to the physical weariness around the corner.

On top of everything else, there are the holidays, out-of-town visitors, and renovations being done on our house. All good things, and yet I just want to escape them. In the morning I want to pull the covers over my head and refuse to acknowledge the day has arrived. It’s not that I don’t have the courage to face the day, I just don’t have the energy.

And I miss Husband. Oh sure, we see each other every morning and every evening, but we’re either dragging ourselves out of bed or dragging ourselves into bed. There isn’t much quality time or conversation happening. And I can tell that it bothers him too.

Husband called me at work the other day. He had gone to the mall to get his hair cut and had walked past a dress in a department store. He called to tell me that it made him think of me, that I would never wear it because it was so short, but he thought I’d look great in it. A nonsense conversation–but one that shows me a bit of what’s on his heart.

Unfortunately, as I look ahead, I don’t see much quality time becoming available. We have a busy week full of preparations for new flooring and appliances (not the best timing). Then a a scramble to put our house back together just hours before company arrives Thursday for Thanksgiving. Of course, I wouldn’t trade hosting Thanksgiving for anything–Husband is so looking forward to having family gathered here!

So meanwhile we are trying to give ourselves permission to be tired–validation that it’s okay. We’re giving ourselves the grace to rest, to go to bed early, to need the quiet moments of reflection, the cup of tea, the glass of wine. Because it’s all part of the healing process.

To give you a peek into our life at the moment… Is this what your kitchen and dining room look like days before hosting Thanksgiving?? (Notice we are sans refrigerator…and lacking other basic items, like a table.)

Our kitchen before renovations

Our dining room before renovations

Or perhaps your living room and study contain everything you own…

Our living room during renovations

Our study during renovations

Only two more days of this and we will be scrambling to put everything back to order…the floors should be finished tonight, actually, and the appliances delivered tomorrow.

By the time Thanksgiving comes, I have a feeling I’ll be even more exhausted than I already am, but the house will be spic-and-span. Seriously, I’m cleaning things I never have before. The inside of the closet that stores our pet supplies? Yeah, it’ll be clean.

48 hours of celebration!

48 hours of celebration!

Changing traditions come with growing, changing families. This year our Thanksgiving was anything but usual. We all gathered in Ohio from our respective homes (Georgia, Ohio, Washington DC, and Virginia). And the 48 hours that we spent in each other’s company was hectic, chaotic, and priceless. Our family now includes three “in-law” siblings, six little kids (soon to be seven) and numerous dogs.

The amount of noise and activity would have given anyone a headache, but it was also something to treasure. I love my brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces and nephews more than I can say and I truly cherished getting to celebrate Thanksgiving and six (yes six!) family birthdays in the span of 48 hours. It will be more than a year before we will all be together again as the Georgia Drakes are moving to England in January. So these memories are going to have to last me a little while.

Here are a few photo mementos from our trip…

Thanksgiving dinner with the Drake clan.

Birthday party!

The nieces and nephews

Spending time with my best friend.
I was blessed to be able to also spend some time with my best friend who is soon moving to Florida. Thanks for being an honorary member of our family, Amber!

Horseback riding for the kids' birthday

Giving my niece a ride

Husband and I were also able to sneak away for a little bit to go antiquing (the antique stores in mid-Ohio are great!). I’ll share more about what we found soon…

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…
  • “Home” for Thanksgiving

    “Home” for Thanksgiving

    I remember so fondly the moment I arrived in Montana for college, it was a whole new world, and a wonderful adventure awaited me there–I was sure of it!

    At the age of 18, I was on my own, and I was 41 hours from home.

    Montana was the right choice for me, the best place for college. Sometime I’ll have to tell you more about it. For now, suffice to say that it was a dream come true and I now have “Live in Montana” checked off my bucket list.

    That year was the first time I spent Thanksgiving away from my family. Before long, my best friends and I had established our own little Thanksgiving traditions and the day was a greatly anticipated one. After undergrad, I was only home for the holiday once before heading off to graduate school.

    My first “married” Thanksgiving was spent at my mother-in-law’s house. It was a whole new experience for me–somewhat unlike my own family Thanksgivings, and wholly unlike the holidays my roommates and I created for ourselves in Montana. But I loved the chance to peek into Husband’s world and see things the way he sees them.

    This year will be the opposite, circumstances are taking us to my family for Thanksgiving this year and Husband will have the chance to take a look into my family’s traditions. Of course, my family has changed a lot in the last few years, what with the addition of six children and another on the way.

    I am excited to be visiting my family–we’re all going to be there, something that doesn’t happen very often. But at the same time, Virginia has become my home and I will miss home.

    Is it terrible to admit that I am glad we will be staying here for Christmas?

    So often people ask where we’re going for the holidays. When have the holidays become such a popular time to travel? The holidays I remember were spent at home, with family, all hunkered down together enjoying the warmth of a happy house and ignoring the often cold and snowy outdoors.

    As much as I am excited about heading to Ohio tomorrow, I want to have those homey kinds of holidays in my life. It’s not that I don’t want to see extended family, but there is something special, something magical, about home, especially at the holidays.

    So here’s to finding the right balance this year–traveling for Thanksgiving and staying home for Christmas!

    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!