As we celebrate this thanksgiving season, I look back on this year and find that I have so much for which to be thankful, I’m not even sure where to begin. The last few years have been difficult, but the blessings have been many. I practice giving thanks every day, all year long. It’s a muscle that needs to be used or it weakens and wastes away. Focusing on the blessings diminishes the urge to hold a pity party and the certainty that others have a little more, a little better, or a little easier. Today, I want to speak—or write—specifically and loudly and with joy—about the blessings of this past year by calling out people by name. We should never let the opportunity go by to tell people how much they mean to us. So here are Kelly’s Top 10 blessings in 2018 (in no particular order!):
- Community Bible Study. This is my second year in this bible study that puts an emphasis on a “caring community.” Spending time each Friday with this group of women dedicated to the study of God’s Word has been a joy and has pushed me to spend more time with “the manual.” I’m thankful for everyone in the group, but especially those in my Core group and the leadership council. They make me want to be a better person and a better student of the Word. The fellowship is sweet and the learning a joy. Thank you, Wanda Bohne, Diane Isler, and Mariel Allardyce, and all the other leadership team members for welcoming me into your midst.
- My medical team at Texas Oncology of San Antonio, especially Dr. Irene Kazhdan and her medical assistant Shaa Nixon. They are kind and respectful and often make me laugh on days when that seems impossible. They have such a difficult, sometimes awful, job, but they keep showing up and doing their best. I can’t imagine walking this hard road without them.
- The UT Health ALS Clinic team led by Dr. Carlayne Jackson. I’ve been going there for three years and I’m always amazed by this team’s buoyant spirit and determination to help their patients maintain quality of life in the face of a monstrous disease. They partner with the San Antonio ALS Association led by Steve Morse to provide much needed support. I appreciate their positive, can-do attitude.
- My church family at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church. I love walking through the doors and seeing their smiling faces. I love knowing I can be myself, be transparent in all my
humanness, and they’ll still accept me. I’m especially thankful for Tricia Baumgartner and Laura Mick, the fearless leaders of our Sunday school class. Their leadership keeps us on track while reminding us to always take time to be there for each other. They set the example for being the hands and feet of Christ through ministering to the needs of our class members. And they make me laugh.
- My publishing team at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. From editorial to sales to marketing and publicity, they work hard to usher my books into the world in the best shape possible. I couldn’t ask for a better team. Editor Becky Monds does stellar work and she’s a kind, sweet friend. My writing journey would not be the same without her and the rest of the team.
- My agent Julie Gwinn. She’s enthusiastic, creative, and runs full throttle at all times. I’m so blessed to have the benefit of her professional expertise and energy as I navigate the world of Christian fiction publishing.
- My readers who enjoy my books and let me know they’ve been blessed by them. Those kind remarks help keep me going when my energy flags. Their support ensures that I can continue to write and be published.
- Being thankful for family sometimes goes without saying, but it shouldn’t. I’m so blessed to have my sister Pam close by so we can treat ourselves to movies and lunch and much needed “consultations.” Having my parents-in-law, Stan and Mary, and sister-in-law Diane just down the road in Bandera makes the days richer.
- I’ll never stop being thankful that God blessed my husband and I with two smart, funny, loving kids. Having Nicholas and his wife Angelica close by makes life sweeter. Erin and her
husband Shawn may be in Virginia, but they are close in my heart. I’m thankful for technology that allows me to be close to our grandkids Brooklyn and Carson even when the miles are many. I can’t wait for little Henry to get here so we can make more memories.
- Last but by no means least, I’m blessed by the friendship and partnership of more than 30 years with my husband Tim. I couldn’t have survived the last three years without him. We’re in the midst of selling the home where our children grew up and moving into a new-to-us-home in the country. What an amazing blessing to share this new season with the guy who has held my hand through it all. It’s been a crazy ride and through it all, he’s made me laugh. I’m so thankful.
Cancer and PLS have taught me many things, not the least of which is to be thankful for all blessings, big and small. From the peanut butter toast I have for breakfast to the purring kitty on my lap in the evening—life is good. When life seems bleak, I start counting my blessings and suddenly, things are looking up. Let’s look forward to 2019 as a year where we’ll be far more focused on what’s good in the world than on what irks us. Let’s laugh more and complain less. I invite you to share with me your top 2018 blessings in the comments below. Let the thankfulness commence!