The 10 People I’m Thankful For

We all play different roles in life, many on a daily basis. The people we encounter, interact with and spend most of our time with, help shape us into the people we are. It’s one of the lessons we try hard to teach our girls; the people you spend the most time with are who you will act like- are you making good decisions? I hope & pray everyday that they are. But it also makes me look harder at the people in my life. These people are often in contact with my children as well as myself, so I need to make sure they are being positively influenced. I need to be positively influenced as well. So as I was reflecting & writing down what I’m Thankful for, I wanted to acknowledge the who I’m Thankful for. All of these people play a different role in my life & benefit me in different ways… they help make me- me!

#1. My Husband. I’m sure you read that & rolled your eyes. Of course I’m Thankful for my husband. He plays a different role in my life than any other person- ever. Scott is my voice of reason. I get stressed about an issue & he brings me back to reality. He makes me laugh. I am often the cause of the joke (my height is his favorite topic), but the smirk on his face & the twinkle in his eye makes it that much sweeter. I hear the garage door open as he’s coming home at night & I my heart still beats a little faster. We are in a season of kids & chaos & tiredness & I love my husband more than ever. He’s loving & caring & quiet (especially compared to me), but he’s profound when I need it most. I’m Thankful for his strength & consistency & hard work.

#2. My Daughters. These tiny humans have the ability to drive me crazy & make my heart explode with love all within a matter of seconds. I am learning & growing with my children. I am good at telling new parents or expecting parents that each child is an experiment- & I’m not really joking. What works for one, doesn’t work for the other. They mature differently, they learn differently, they express themselves differently & they love differently. The role they play in my life is complicated yet at this point. They are both teacher & student at different times. They are vulnerable & naive & yet their perception & perspective scares the crap out of me sometimes. They are tiny humans & I have to remind myself of that sometimes, but I am SO Thankful I have them to help make me a better person.

#3. My In-Laws. These people are utterly amazing. Scott & I have been together for 20 years. They’ve watched me grow & learn along with their son. They gave support when my family fell apart & I became the black sheep. We bonded more when my to-be brother-in-law was shot & almost died. They do SO much for our girls & for us. We spend time together when possible. Whether it’s just hanging out at each other’s house watching TV, baking, tinkering, talking… we just enjoy each other’s company. My mother-in-law gives advice & sympathizes with our latest parenting challenge (& she laughs too because she remembers). We’ve gone on a week-long vacation together the last 2 summers. They teach me & our girls about compassion & family & safety & are a voice of reason when we need it. Their marriage helped (still does) me realize that two people who love each other can have disagreements & still be married. I didn’t have that example growing up & watching them together was inspiring.

#4. Friends. To say I didn’t REALLY have friends until I got older might make you go “yeah right!”, but it’s true. I had friends in high school & college, but I didn’t have the ability to grow those relationships into lasting ones. I didn’t know how to BE a friend, therefore I had a lot of acquaintances, but no one I could really confide in or share inside jokes with, etc. When Scott & I bought the store, I pretty much lost the last of those friends because of it. We were 22 years old & most of our friends were still in college or just starting jobs with normal hours. They didn’t understand my need to work 80 hours a week- they wanted to go the bar. They eventually stopped asking… and for a while I honestly didn’t notice. I met various people because of my business, but still didn’t find myself in a “serious” friendship until I was pregnant with my first child. I became friends with 2 amazing women who were also pregnant at the same time I was. They had their babies a couple months earlier than me, but it gave us common ground to build on. There have been a couple others that came into our relationship also, but I’ve remained closest to these two. We can send each other texts of random “fails”, triumphs, jokes, etc. We don’t get together as often we’d like to, but we are friends & we support each other regardless of decisions going on in life. These women are amazing & inspirational & they’ve helped me grow SO much into who I really want to be just by being supportive.

#5. Family. You may wonder why I listed Friends before Family. My parents divorced when I was 11 & my family became something I created over time. I have two brothers, Matt is 31, married to a wonderful woman & they have 2 little girls. My relationship with Matt is one of my most cherished. He is stronger than me, a better person than me… & yet he’s more vulnerable than me. Matt is all I have left of my childhood (other than my scattered memories) & I fear losing him. Now you’re wondering “how is that possible if you have two brothers?” Mike is my youngest brother & is 29. He’s a high school math teacher & is engaged to be married this coming summer. The last time I spoke to him was in March of 2013 when Matt & Vic got married. He refuses to accept my Facebook friend request, he reads the messenger message I send on his birthday every year, but won’t respond & I’ve never met his fiance. I will not be invited to his wedding. My mother & I have not spoken in nearly 16 years. So you’re wondering “how can she be Thankful for Family?!” I’m Thankful for the family I have left. I’m Thankful for the friends that have become family (choosing your family is more fun sometimes anyway) & I’m Thankful for the sense of Family that I’ve created along the way. I’m Thankful for the lessons that losing family has taught me & I know it’s why I work so hard to teach my daughters the importance of family.

#6. Customers. Without customers, I’d have no business. With no business, I’m not sure what my career path would be. Customers are why I get out of bed every morning (well not the only reason- I have kids) & do what I do. On any given day, I can have customers who share a joke, a smile, a tear, words of wisdom & words of sarcasm. We can make people happy… but not everyone & not everyday 😉 We have had customers who have stolen from us. We’ve had customers who are crabby & complain about everything from the weather, how many hours they worked that day or the fact that I’m out of a candy bar they wanted. We’ve had customers who compliment how clean our store is & how friendly my staff is. It takes all kids to make the world go-round & I’m so Thankful they choose to do business with me.

#7. Employees. I couldn’t have this one without #6, & yet I have a love-hate relationship with employees. They are a necessary part of operating my business & keeping my family life, personal life & sanity in check. Unfortunately, lack of employees is cause for derailment of all those things. Truth is, I cannot operate my business without help. I am Thankful for the people who trust me enough to work for me. I am Thankful that they find me & my business worthy of their time & energy. I do the best I can to provide & promote a positive working environment & I think that shows through my employees.

#8. Church Family. A couple years ago, I would have never have had that on my list- not even close! We joined a church here in town after our first daughter was baptized. Scott did not grow up “in the church” so to speak. We were married in a church, but he never went to church & really didn’t understand the “whole religion thing.” He would go with to church here & there because I told him he had to, but he hated it. We made a decision as parents to open-enroll our daughters in a different school district when our oldest started 1st grade. As a small business owner in a town of 900 people- we were shunned by many, including people at church. Church became a place I dreaded going. It wasn’t a comforting sanctuary where I felt safe & connected to God. It became a place where I felt continuously judged & condemned for the decision we had made. Our daughters started asking to please NOT go to Sunday school & church. One of my best friends as mentioned above had also moved from this church a few months prior. When I expressed my frustration, she simply invited us to their “new” church. It’s a little country church that was built in the 1800’s. The altar & stained glass windows face the east & the sunshine through those windows in itself is mesmerizing. The first Sunday we went, I was SO nervous! What if these people are “judgy” like the other ones & I simply don’t fit here either? I sat in that pew next to my husband & children & I was hardly able to sing the closing song. As I sat there, I became so overwhelmed with a sense of belonging. Like this little country church was my calling & where God wanted my family to be. We don’t make every Sunday, but we make most- including my husband! He’s learning & he’s so much more open-minded about being involved. It makes my heart happy that these people are so welcoming & thoughtful & I am Thankful for them 🙂

#9. My Children’s School. Teachers are saints. Period. There has to be special celebrations in heaven for them, I’m sure of it. However, there are many other people that take part in running a school. The administration, the social services, the janitors, the cooks…. SO MANY PEOPLE! So while I’m Thankful for the teachers my girls had/have, it takes a village to teach them how be responsible, educated human beings. Our oldest daughter started out the school year with excitement & eagerness…but by week 2, she was crying & shaking & complaining of stomach aches & missing me. I contacted the school social worker & her teacher immediately asking for help. Within a few days, we had things set up for her to start in-school counseling. The way they come together for the benefit of our children is heart-warming. I know not all people have this experience & that makes me sad for them. I am Thankful for our school & everything they have to offer our kids.

#10. Social Media Family. This is another Love-Hate relationship. I love that social media allows us to connect with people from all over the world based on things we have in common. We can find comfort & camaraderie with people who are in the same parts of life that we are in. Take this blog for example- I hope it reaches at least 1 person who finds a similarity & knows they’re not alone. The hate part of this is also the connection from all over the world. It’s the sense of safety that can so easily be violated by predators. It’s the ability to hide behind this screen & be anyone you want to be & it may not be genuine. It’s the ability to bully other people & not have consequences. It’s the messages media in general portray to our kids about how they should dress, talk, eat, sleep, etc. I want to use Social Media for good. I want to inspire & empower & I pray others do too. I’m Thankful for the Social Media Family I have found & the lessons I’m continuously learning.

That rounds out my Top 10. There are SO many more people that I am Thankful for, but these are the big ones. I encourage you to find your Top 10- & the WHY. There’s a reason these people are important to us, but if you can’t name the why, maybe you should reconsider their presence in your life.

All my love,

Jenni