Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Thankful For in 2013

"Families" come to mind this year and I am blessed with many.

I have my biological family, both immediate and extended. Both my parents are alive and thriving at 83 years of life on this planet. They remind me of a Dr. Seuss book. They're in good shape for the shape they're in. My brother just turned 52...an age none of us probably thought he'd ever live to see, but see it he has! Despite what crack and alcohol tried to do, he is clean and sober, has been holding down a full-time job at a major furniture-making company for a few years now, and, he, too, is thriving! My husband and I just celebrated 34 years of marriage and are now working on the next 34. We've successfully raised two children to adulthood. The older one is happily married, a full-time pharmacist with two young children who are our delights on this earth. Her younger was just born in July and her older is blossoming, so we are truly thankful. Our younger child has started work on his Masters in math and has truly got in touch with his inner Geek. Who knew, in high school, that he even had an inner Geek waiting to get out? We have a son-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. A great-niece. While it's true that we're scattered and all leading busy lives, and it's true that we may not see each other as much as we'd like, we know each other is there. And we are truly blessed.

I have my church family. I've been blessed to have been raised in a wonderful Methodist church, serve a two-point charge as an Interim co-pastor when I was just beginning, serve two independent churches as a part-time appointment, and now I'm at Warren Plains UMC.Not only are we bound by faith, which is huge, but we're also bound by blood. Both of my parents are "transplants" to Conway, NC, and growing up, we just weren't kin to everybody like everybody else is. It was the four of us. My husband is kin to everybody. He'd meet new kin when I'd get a new appointment. Not me. But when I was appointed to Warren Plains, a cousin in Franklin County told me that I'm kin to "every Stegall, Harris, and Davis in Warren County." Guess who's in my congregation?! I haven't sat down and discussed family trees with anyone. But I don't need to. The connection is there. I'm at home at Warren Plains. I get to go at least once a week, take the most beautiful hour and ten minute drive in God's country, be with the most beautiful people, preach the most beautiful Word, sing the most beautiful hymns, and be part of making a difference where we are planted. And I am beautifully blessed.

I have my melanoma family. We are bound by a common disease, many of us share a common faith, but we're all in this together. We get it because we've got it. We come together online and we come together at events. I've had the pleasure of hugging many and meeting more. It is actually because of this disease that I've learned the importance of people over things, and God over all. It took learning that I really will die one day to teach me lessons about life that I otherwise would not have learned. My mortality was only theoretical until I was diagnosed with stage 3b melanoma in July 2008. I "knew" I would die one day but lived as if that just wasn't so. It was a theory that really hadn't reached into my soul. My priorities were skewed. I liked things...a nice house, my car, lots of books. I'm not who I was in July 2008 and I have melanoma to thank for that. I'm a better, improved Carol and I have God to thank for that. He has taken this disease and used it in ways I never could have imagined in 2008. Good ways. And they are ways that spill over into every part of my life. Life is good and every day is a gift. No matter what happens, I've learned that God can deal with anything. And I am wonderfully blessed.

I am thankful. I am truly, beautifully, and wonderfully blessed. My cup runneth over. Even on the not-so-great days, I have much to be grateful for.

charis