Thinking about my past always seems to start me thinking about the future. About the effects life has on who we are, what we have and will accomplish, and what we believe. My grandmother always talked about "angels unaware". About those celestial beings who pop in and out of our lives, without our knowledge of them being sent by God. This thought ties into my writing today, so be patient as I set up my story.
Today I was fortunate enough to get to spend several hours with my "mom in law". (Mother in law doesn't describe her... she is too much real family for that.) In the course of our day, some of my uglier past came into the conversation. For those of you who don't know anything about my life, lets just say it included abusive relationships, bad decisions, desire for death, adultery, alcohol, and loosing who you are to a hopeless situation. That should sum it up without too many details. When I got back to my work, I started to think about all the changes I have seen in my life. I am pretty happy with where I am right now. But looking back, I feel like I have lived numerous lives considering the diversity of every stage. I went from a pretty good childhood until I was about 9, to pretty much hell. I then turned rebellious and made some decisions that sent my life on another difficult course. I then found God, but lived in such a religious box that I let myself live in hell because I thought that was what God wanted. I then hit my rock bottom and lost everything that meant anything to me. When I finally got to the end of myself and the end of my ability to "fix things", I realized I just needed to do my best and let God worry about the rest. At this point my life got better. I am now married again, have a good job, and care for an awesome family. During all the hard times in my life I kept wondering where was my "angel unaware". When would God send this angel into my life to deliver me from what I had to endure. Looking back now, I see that God did not just send one, but many, and that He is still sending them today. I believe that these "angels" are not celestial beings so often as they are people doing the little (or big) things God whispers in their ears to do. This blog is more of a thank you to the following group of people, than a theological letter. I just really feel grateful tonight and want to thank some of my angels who may have gone unnoticed......
1. Nanny: though you are gone on to the next level, you loved me when I thought no one else could. You were always there encouraging me to be my best and to be good. You don't know how often I still think of all you instilled in my life at such a young age, and I look forward to seeing you again some day on the other side!
2. Mom and Dad: even though things between us have been rocky at times to say the least, you were the ones who raised and nurtured me through the early years of my life. I am grateful the time and energy you spent on me, and am grateful the times I have with you now. I hope in the future our relationships as parent and child will have the opportunity to grow.
3. Stephanie: when I think of true friends you are the first person to come to mind. You have always loved me for who I am , and encouraged me when I didn't deserve it. I don't know what I would have ever done without you, and am SO grateful for your friendship. You are more than family to me.
4. Tim.... you aren't too bad yourself... :)
5. Georgia: you have always been a true friend as well, and someone I don't have to pretend around. You also have loved me through the best and the worst and we have been through some hard stuff together. I am grateful for you.
6. Lee: I know you will probably never read this, but you have been both a male role model and a dear dear friend to me. I appreciate you more than you know.
7. Tom and Mary Mac Micheal: you guys were there for me and my family in one of the hardest stages of my life. You put yourselves on the line to make our lives more financially tolerable. You showed faith in me and really encouraged me probably more than you know. You set an example of how I hope to put myself out there for others in the future and I thank you.
8. Jacob, you were my firstborn and my rock. I put so much on you with you having to be the man of the house, but even now, you never seem to hold that against me. I love you and thank you for the son that you have been, and will always be.
9. Emily: my tough baby girl. You had to deal with a lot growing up, and you and I have been through it! But still you are honest about who you are and how you feel, and I am so grateful for the relationship I have with you. I am proud of who you are and who you will become.
10. Ike: for years I felt that you truly were the middle child. We had a hard time connecting there for a while. Like you oldest brother I see that you are really going to be a rock of others. You have laughter and joy that comes from just being around you. Thanks for making me laugh. And just for being you. I am so proud of you.
11. Susie: you are my baby girl as well. I so appreciate the honesty you have displayed in your life. You are always striving to be your best and I am so proud of you. Thank you for always being around to hang out with me.
12: Mark: you are so creative and have such great potential. Though I know you don't understand what I am saying now, I just want you to know that I love you and appreciate your sweet heart.
13: Mariah: I have learned much from you that has changed my point of view in many ways. I appreciate the conversations we have had, and the times we have been able to talk openly. I appreciate you letting me be part of your family.
14. Matthew, you are my other comedian, and some days after a rough time at work, you make me smile. That is a lot to thank you for ! You are pretty awesome.
15: my children as a whole: You are all such a strength and motivating factor in my life. You kept me going when life was at its worst. You forgave me when I failed you. You give me reason to succeed. You are what I look forward to in the evenings and on my days off. Watching you grow and mature into strong adults makes my life seem so important. I love and thank all of you beyond words.
16: Jake: Where do I begin on what an angel you are to us all. You took me when my life was a train wreck and showed me the type of love I had prayed for since I was young. Your belief in me (and our children) has turned all of our lives around. I can never thank you enough for all you have done for us. It is your love for the kids and I that means the most and I will love you for the rest of my life.
17:God, even when I thought you weren't there, or you hated me, You have been there, watching me grow and change. You have allowed me to find my way to you by every circumstance, both good and bad. Thanks for loving me when I didn't love you back.
18: Lori, you and I have been through a ton together in this life, and I love you and appreciate your ability to hang on. And to hang in there with me. We have loved each other, hated each other, got on one anther's nerves, but we are still there when the other one needs us. I am glad you are my sister. (most of the time...LOL)
19: Jean and Dennis: thank you for accepting us as family and being such wonderful grandparents to our kids. You are the extended family I have always wanted and I am so grateful for you both! (Yes, you both.... Dennis this means you too... Even if my only response comes in 2 syllables!)
20: I could go on here to include lots of others who have crossed my path. Edna, Ellen, Wanda, Don, Lori, Kim, Rebekah, Ray, Aunt Goldie, Barbara, and many other friends and acquaintances who have passed through my life for a period of time. Each person has brought, strength, joy, or life's lessons that have played a part in who I am today. So let me just say thank you to everyone. Isn't it amazing when we think about how many people who have touched our lives, and how many lives we touch? I want to be a good "angel unaware" to those around me. My prayer would be that I would pass on joy and strength and not just lessons that may come out of pain.