The gift of family

Today’s post is by one of my students, Derek Chandler, who wrote this essay in response to the question, “What are three gifts you have received in 2013, and why are they significant to you?” I will really miss having Derek on campus!

familyThis year has been a very hard year to just be thankful for something. With my dad losing his job and selling our house, things have just became hard. He has been searching for a job for several months and with no luck; it’s just added stress. Without my family, I’m honestly not sure where I would be. Of course I’ve stayed positive and tried to not let this affect me. For the most part, it’s worked, thanks to God and my family. I don’t expect a pity party, or look for attention. It is a situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Like I said, it has been hard, but there is always something to be thankful for. First I would like to say I’m thankful for my mom. My mom is my go-to person or my rock. Whenever I was younger I remember her always tucking me in at night, making sure I got to sleep just fine. That is always memory I will hold onto and hopefully find a wife that would do the same for my kids one day. Whenever I had a bad day I could always go to my mom and talk to her. Talking to her was easy, and I could tell her anything, good or bad. She was always supportive of anything I did. She is very soft spoken with a very kind heart, always looking for good in people, even if they don’t deserve it. She wears her heart on her sleeve and does what she can for anyone in need. She is a blessing to me and my sister. Without her support and her kind words I would be lost in life with no direction. I am proud to call her my mom, and sometimes that term is loosely used, but without a doubt I have the best mom.

The second thing I am thankful for is my dad. Wow, without my dad I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today, that’s for sure. My mom is my rock, and my dad literally is a rock. He is a very sensitive guy, but won’t show just anyone. Of course that doesn’t seem very manly, but he is a tough guy. Along with my mom, my dad has taught me so much. I will never forget going canoeing with him and all the fun we had. Like my mom I could talk to my dad just as well. Of course he didn’t always tell me what I wanted to hear, but he was honest. He was straight to the point and didn’t sugar coat it. I’ve always respected him for that. I owe both my parents for pushing good moral values on me. That will get me farther in life than anything else I have learned throughout life. My dad has supported me for 19 years, my sister for 20 years, and my mom for 30. He has allowed for my mom to be a stay at home mom, because he doesn’t want her to have to work. He has taken on a huge responsibility, and losing his job has caused stress. He is a good man who wants the best for my family and me. I’m sure everyone feels like they have the best parents, but it’s not possible when I have them.

The third and final thing I am thankful for is my sister. With a five year difference in age, you can say we didn’t get along. That was when we were younger, and as time went on, we got pretty close. Since Dad lost his job, we had to sell the house. My parents packed up all our stuff, and family took them in so they could save money. My family live out of state, but me being in school meant I had to stay around for this semester. My sister and her fiancé without a blink said they would take me in until I finished school. Without my sister, I’m not sure how I would have finished school. This is such a blessing, and I couldn’t thank them enough for allowing me to move in. They have been supporting me since I don’t have a job. I have been trying to focus on school considering so much stress. I cannot repay them for the kindness I have been treated with.

Since my story didn’t start out so positive, it’s only best that it ends that way. The bottom line is that my family has supported me and helped me though this tough time. I am so thankful for them and the nice things they have done. I will be officially moving from Arkansas a few days before Christmas, and it will be hard, but this only marks a point of a fresh start.

The gift of growing up

Today’s post is written by my student, Regan Doyle, who wrote this essay in response to the question, “What are three gifts you’ve received this year, and what are their significance?” I’ll miss having Regan in class, but I know we’ll keep in touch–I need a good fashion consultant in my life :).

The year 2013 is almost over, and Christmas will be here soon. With the holiday approaching fast, I cannot help but think of all the gifts I will receive from friends and family. Although opening presents and getting new things is nice, the most important gifts I have received this year did not come wrapped. This year I have received the gift of a new job, the opportunity to travel, and a new puppy.

In September, my mom told me since I was in college, it was time for me to grow up and get a job. I applied nearly everywhere in Batesville, and after two weeks of trying, I was finally hired at Maurice’s. Working at Maurice’s is not a job to me because I enjoy what I do. I am required to dress fashionably and have fashion sense to help buying costumers. Every day I am required to walk in with a positive attitude and be ready to sell merchandise with a smile. It is always interesting to see who is going to walk through the door and to see who I get to help that day. Sometimes I get to do something fun like help a lady put together a hot outfit for a concert, or maybe help a lady put together a professional outfit for work. Another great plus about working at Maurice’s is my co-workers. While getting 10 girls to all get along without any drama seems impossible, we somehow manage it. My co-workers are more like family, and I know I can count on them for anything. I’m thankful for the gift of a job because it has taught me responsibility and has better prepared me for “growing up.” It has helped me learn to juggle school and work, and allowed me to make new friends in the process.

Another gift I am thankful for is traveling over the summer. My mom’s friends hired me as a nanny to watch their child while on vacation. With them I traveled to Chicago and experienced the big city for the very first time. The atmosphere of Chicago is busy, energetic, and unlike anything else I have ever experienced. The buildings are large, cramped together, and seem to go on forever. Things in Chicago never stand still, and even at night the city is alive and busy. I’m thankful for the gift to travel because it gives me the opportunity to experience new things. While I enjoy living in Cave City, it was nice to venture out and get to experience a whole new place. The way people live in Chicago is completely different from the way people live in Cave City.

The last special gift I have received this year is my new puppy. I had been begging my boyfriend for a puppy for almost four months. One night he came over, sat on my couch, and a tiny head peeked out of his coat. He was a solid black lab and absolutely perfect.  My boyfriend and I decided on the name Benny, and it fits him perfectly. Benny is black as night, and cute as a button. He just turned three months old and is potty trained and also knows out to sit. He’s rambunctious, playful, and even a little protective. He’s my company through out the day and my cuddle buddy by night. I’m thankful for Benny because he is my best friend. I know Benny, unlike like most people, will love me unconditionally. I love watching him grow and having the responsibility of taking care of him.        Black%20Lab%20Puppy

I know no matter what I get this Christmas, no gift will be better than the three I received this year. Nothing wrapped in a box with a bow is going to replace the things I was blessed to receive this year. My job taught me responsibility, getting to travel gave me experience, and getting a new puppy gave me a new friend. Since the year is almost over I’m ready to see what next year will bring, and the gifts I will receive then. I am so thankful for all three of these gifts, but I am also thankful for my amazing family, friends, and employers who made receiving these things possible.

There’s always a rock

*I’m very thankful that Debra Dickey-Liang sent me this post for today sharing her 2013 word of the year with us. What’s your word or theme for 2013? What’s on your mind? What are you learning right now? What will you be grateful for 11 months from now?*

During my everyday life, with its various tasks and responsibilities, I am invariably looking for, and finding, life-analogies – serious analogies, hilarious analogies, and alas, analogies that hit the nail right on the head!

ImageThe other day, I was out for my weekend walk with Maddie, and we came to one of the usual places on the trek where we cross the branch from one side of the field to the other, and I began to pick our way through the vegetation and duck under tree limbs to find the best way to accomplish that without a mishap.  As this happened to be shortly after the last snow had melted and filled the branches and creeks more than usual, the water level was definitely up, there was quite a bit of run off, and the crossing was fairly wide with several deep spots.  But tada! Never to be disappointed, just where I needed to go, I saw a number of rocks, exactly the right size, perfectly spaced, sticking up out of the water, just enough to make it possible to step across to the other side with ease.  Isn’t that the way it goes?  Coincidence?  Hardly.  My preference is to refer to such occurrences as miracles !

Now before you scoff, let me clarify my personal definition of miracle.  I most often choose to think of a miracle as something ordinary moved to a position of extraordinary.  So see, it fits!

Please don’t misunderstand, I am fully aware that God is in the BIG MIRACLE business – note, creation, the parting of the Red Sea, the birth of Jesus, feeding the 5,000, just to mention a few.  But I choose to also acknowledge such everyday, out-of-the ordinary occurrences that regularly show up in my day-to-day life, as miracles too.  Time and time again, I have had the good fortune to be the recipient of many well placed ‘rocks’ in this existence known as my life.  My fear is that I have not recognized them all, but my hope is that I have remembered to praise the Heavenly Father for each and every one that has been bestowed.

ImageSo the word I have chosen, per Bethany’s example, is ‘MIRACLES’, because, honestly, I could use a couple right now.  There are currently two concerns at the top of my prayer list for which I ‘pray without ceasing’ . . . . and I’m sure those probably won’t be the only two!  Yet I trust, and I know in Whom I believe, that, somewhere at each crossing, there will be a ‘rock’ …. or two, perfectly placed, at exactly the right spot, to make it possible to get across to the other side, perhaps with ease, perhaps not, but safely, with God in the midst of that miracle.

So my personal challenge remains, to look for, recognize, acknowledge, praise, and thank God, not just for the many ‘miracles’ in my own life, but for everyone who seeks His blessings.

“If (Because) God is my Strength,

     Though I may be on a precipice of doubt

And fear and intimidation,

     He can make my feet walk over the high places

With safety and confidence.      (Habakkuk 3:19) 

Henry’s word of the year

*Thanks again to Henry Petty for stepping in as guest contributor today. As you read his post about his word/theme of the year for 2013, consider identifying one for yourself. What could you focus on this year that would, in December, result in looking back in gratitude at all you’d learned and how you’d grown?*

My word of the year will be – “perseverance.”

This is a word I rode like a chariot when I was in high school; it got me through a lot.  I even wrote an article for the school newspaper titled Persistence is the Key

Allow me to share a quote from Dewayne “the Rock” Johnson, which sums this up:

“What’s the key to success?’  Is something I’m asked every single day.  I don’t believe there’s only one ‘key to success.’  But what I do believe in is hard work, and daily, focused commitment and sacrifice.  I believe in being gracious with your successes, and humbled by your failures.  I trust my gut and always keep my family close.  I live in optimism and faith.  When I grab opportunity and success by the throat, I don’t let go.”

Now that’s persistence.  If you smell what Henry Petty is cookin’.

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his 2013 bucket list. What’s on your bucket list for 2013?*

Henry’s 2013 bucket list

ImageTake up golf – a buddy of mine said it’s a really good networking tool.  Donald Trump has stated the deals he makes are always on the golf course.  And, I have been approached many times to play golf with them.  And, I was recently eating at a luncheon with our CEO who was talking up how awesome the game of golf was (God’s *wink wink, nod nod* at me, if you will).

Go to Disneyland – I have always wanted to go to either Disney resort.  I love love love love me some Disney; nothing makes me happier.  There is an underlying reason as well.  When I was very young and living in California, my mother took my brother to Disneyland and NOT ME.  To this very day, I will never understand why she did that to me, and my grandma gave my mother a hard time about it for sure.  So it’s almost a “revenge” scenario that’s got a sweet topping with Mickey Mouse shaped cupcakes as a side item.

Be more organized – I think I have some sort of ADD, because I am always searching for my wallet, keys, cell phone.  All.  The.  Time.  I am always checking 5 or 6 times before I leave the house for those essential items, and I always check the door to see if it’s locked.  I’ve even driven half a mile and turned around to make sure I locked the door.  I’ve always been scatter-brained like that, and I hope it’s not genetic so that I can become organized.  If anybody watches the show “Dexter” on Showtime, I want to be as meticulous with my cleanliness and organization as Dexter Morgan. 

Use my gifts for charity – I hope to use my YouTube video skills toward a good cause.  I hope to do something similar to the guy who created #26RandomActsofKindess in honor of the Sandy Hook victims.  Nothing feels better than helping someone else.

*Good luck to Henry and to all readers who hope to reach goals and fulfill dreams this year! What’s on your bucket list in 2013? Leave a comment and let us know.*

What will be on your gratitude list in 2013?

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest contributor, AGAIN! He’s such a huge help to me in keeping this blog going during times when I’m busier. I am so thankful for him and for other friends who have stepped up and written posts for the blog. As you read this post, contemplate what your gratitude list will look like at the end of 2013. Remember, gratitude’s a choice. I hope you choose it today!*

Henry’s 2013 gratitude list

ImageI will focus on being grateful in 2013 for opportunities.  I will come up on my 5 year anniversary where I work, and that will open a lot of doors to positions that I really didn’t get a shot at before.  I think it’s time to move on from what I’ve been doing the past 5 years, and if the Lord allows me to and it’s in His plan, I will pursue that and show off my other talents.

I will focus on being grateful for a new and improved Henry.  I am bringing back the old Henry that I grew to love so much, yet grew so far apart from.  I have learned about “being a man”, but this year I am going to take control of it.  It’s taken me a while to realize what works and doesn’t work in this world.  Let’s just say – I replaced the super Mario bros keychain with a Swiss army knife.  No, I’m not going all “mountain man” on you, but I am maturing into a more resourceful and scrappy dude.

I will focus for being grateful for what I have, and grateful for the things I cannot change that bring harm or good to me – for those things exist for an unexplained reason.

I will focus on being grateful for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  The idea that the almighty God our creator is willing to just put Himself out there right in front of us, humbled, as the Priest hands us the unleavened bread at Communion is…. breathtakingly awesome. 

For more from Henry, check out his blog!