I’ve decided to focus each Thursday on something specific that I am grateful for. 

Any time I am asked or stop to think about what/who I am thankful for, my very first thought is my son and daughter, so it would be natural for me to write my first “Thankfulness Thursday” post about them. Instead, I’m going to focus on something that is a bit (to put it mildly) more difficult to be thankful for — the past 12 months.

It was, in a nutshell, a tumultuous year. On the home front, I returned from England just over a year ago and was dealing with a slight sense of “let-down” after such a wonderful experience. I launched right away into the sale of my home and moving to a much smaller place; even though I really wanted to downsize, donating almost an entire room full of stuff was difficult. I settled into the new place fairly easily and spent the summer working and spending time with my daughter. In August, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That same month, the community I work in — Ferguson, Missouri — was rocked by events that no doubt you’re familiar with; without a doubt, the next several months were very tense, and my heart hurt for all who were negatively impacted during that time. During that exact same time, I was dealing with a work-related situation that caused more than a little pain and stress. My mother-in-law passed away, and we dealt with her loss and all the surrounding issues. In January and February, I prepared to move again, and on February 26, I moved into an adorable house my son bought (I’ll be here until July 2016). March and April were more settled, but by then I was so very tired.

So . . . what am I thankful for?

1. That, despite a depressed real estate market at the time, my house sold, laying the foundation for my being able to take possession of this house so my son could purchase it. I just knew I was feeling led to sell it and be free of the obligation; only God knew what doing so would allow me to do.

2. That despite all the turmoil in the community, it never spilled over to my worksite or to myself or my loved ones personally.

3. That my mother-in-law was a woman of strong faith, that we know where and with Whom/whom she is spending eternity, and that during her 7-week fight with cancer, her pain was under control. Even more so, I’m so thankful that even though all of us who loved her weren’t ready for her to leave us, she felt a sense of peace. She assured me that she was never afraid, never angry.

4. That I learned some very important lessons from the situation at work; those lessons will make the remainder of my tenure there more productive and more positive.

5. That I was able to help my son out by moving into the house he purchased.

6. That this house is such a perfect fit for me at this point in my life. I’ve been saying for almost 2 years that I want to live in a place where I could, for the most part, park my car and walk; except for a few rare errands and the Sunday drive to church, I am able to walk everywhere I want to go — the library, the city park to watch community concerts and ballgames, a neighborhood market and a larger grocery store, a fantastic fitness center, an adorable coffee shop and downtown shopping area with a variety of interesting shops, etc. The house is peaceful and cozy, and the backyard is filled with beautiful plants & landscaping, rabbits and squirrels, and beautiful songbirds that flock to my feeders. I’m nourished by the tranquility.

6. That this tumultuous year has brought me a greater realization of something I knew but didn’t really practice — that it’s not just enough to say or list what my priorities are. Instead, I must deliberately and proactively live those priorities. Words, as much as I love them, aren’t enough.

This reflection is timely for a reason other than that it marks the end of a whirlwind 12-month period. Tomorrow, I begin another year of life. I’m filled with a sense of purpose and of anticipation about what it will bring and what God will do in me and through me.