I am thankful for family.  The loss of our loved ones are still so keenly felt despite the time that has passed.  We have learned through the years to live with our grief…we are never without it. 

I am thankful for food in my pantry to feed my family and others.  I will never forget being a hungry child, one who grew adept at begging, swiping, and hiding food to take home to my mother and sister.  I will never forget the goodness of the man who allowed my sister and I to sneakily rummage his own pantry and refrigerator, and never mention the food that was missing.  The food moved from the highest cupboards over the counters to the lowest ones within our reach.  The things we loved magically appeared again and again without a word being spoken.  Bob became our hero and our ministering angel.  Later, he became our dad.

I am thankful that my memory of Bob remains untarnished and pure.  He loved us as if we were his own daughters, and in my heart, and I think his, too, we were. 

I am thankful to have a job that allows me to make a house payment, pay for electricity, water, gasoline, groceries, and necessary items.  Though my husband was laid off in March 2009, God has been faithful in His provision.  I am thankful we still have our home amidst so many foreclosures.  There but for the grace of God…. 

I am thankful that Mike has the gifts and talents to work with his hands and do such a wonderful job for his clients from rebuilding block walls to creating entirely new bathrooms or kitchens.  His clients love him and I know why.  You should see my kitchen backsplash!

I am thankful for those I work with, their dedication to the success of our students, their committment to helping others and each other succeed.  I am thankful that, through work, I have the privilege of meeting people who become dear.

I am thankful that my job allows us to have health insurance coverage for my family. 

I am thankful for the privilege of being a mother.  There was a time when I knew the sorrow and heartache of not being able to conceive.   The Lord gave us Aaron, an eighteen month old child who became our Sunshine.  Five years later, He allowed me the joy of giving birth to Sam, my heartbeat.  Four years after that as we contemplated another adoption, He gave me Hannah, my heart’s desire.  I am richly blessed to know the joy of motherhood.

I am thankful that Aaron knows he is loved.  This twenty-three year old will bend down low and let me kiss the side of his neck or lean against me as I tell him he is loved.  For all the heartaches of having am adult son with mental illness, there are quick moments of contentment, like knowing that a package of American cheese slices brings a smile to his otherwise immobile, set face.   Or that this year, after decorating the Christmas tree, he asked us to take his picture beside it, and then proceeded to ask us to take six more photos of himself beside the tree in six different changes of clothing.  And he trusts that we will not laugh, we will not make fun of him, and we will not say no.  He knows he is loved just as he is.  There is safety for him in our love.  Despite the extra effort, and the annoyances and the worry, we are blessed to call him ours.

I am thankful that Sam is returning to Greenway High School because he wants to be a Marine, though my heart weeps at the dangers ahead.  He wants to serve his country, following the footsteps of all three of his grandfathers.   Where is the little boy who wanted me to teach him how to make cookies so that one day, when he married, he could teach is wife?  Where is the little boy who collected socks for the men’s shelter because he worried that their feet may be cold?  Where is the little boy who prayed earnestly for the policemen and military and firefighters to come home safe to their children at night?  Where is the little boy who begged for catfood to feed a stray in the woods behind the hotel where we stayed?   My little boy is a young man now, soon to be a warrior.  I pray for my warrior to have the same strong faith in God as David when he meets his own “Goliath” .  I pray for his protection, and more importantly, his heart.  He is on the road to becoming a “good man”.  I pray for him to also become a “godly man”.

I am thankful for my thirteen year old daughter, Hannah.  I recall the angst of those years, trapped in a changing body with multiple personalities, an opinion about everything, and turbulent emotions that overflow without warning.  We have no idea who will greet us in the morning – our adorable princess or the witch of the west?  Desipte all this, she is smart, witty, and creative.  Her growing beauty is much more than skin deep and her heart, when she allows us a peek, is tender.  She champions the underdog, literally, in adopting a misbegotten mutt who howls by night and shreds trash by day.  Stubborn, strong-willed (Hannah AND the dog), she is blossoming into a young woman with solid values and high expectations for herself and her future.  And every day I look at her and see the sister I miss with all my heart.  I see the same set of her jaw that says I WILL SUCCEED.  I see the same rolling eyes that say OH BROTHER!  I see the thought that goes into everything she does and her absolute desire to do well, to exceed standards set by others.  Rosie would be as proud of our Hannah as we are, seeing herself in the academic achievements, the gestures, the quick wit, the compassion, the observation of etiquette, and the quest for that classic look in fashion. 

I am thankful that my husband is here, as my husband, as the father of our children.  Thirty plus years has created a comfortable familiarity and predictability.  I’m not always easy to be with; neither is he!  We are at opposite ends of the “maintenance” spectrum – he is low, I’m high.   Somehow, though, we meet in the middle, reaching and juggling and balancing, giving, taking, offering, compromising, forgiving.  By God’s grace, it works.  By God’s grace, it will continue to work. 

I am thankful that I have a mother who, though we both feel a third of us is missing since the death of Rosie, she is my “other” third.  Since July 8th, 2001, when Rosie passed from this world to God’s arms, we have talked every day either in person or by phone.  That is a gift.  I’m sure I drive her as nutsy as she sometimes drives me, but despite that, she completes who I am.  My mother is my confidante, my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, and my co-conspirator.  She will be in Arizona soon.  Garage sales, beware! 

I am thankful for my email relationship with my father.  For the past fifteen years we have used the email to create and build the relationship lost when my parents divorced almost forty years ago.  Through email, we have said things we cannot say in person.  Through email, we have shared laughs, sorrows, jokes, wisdom, and the day to day activities that each of us has missed.  Through email, we have become father and daughter.  This is another gift.

I am thankful that my husband’s family accepts me as one of their own.  I am thankful for my mother in law, Pat, who taught me to make pie dough, taught me to listen, taught me to craft, and taught me that I actually could bear impossible things in my life.  She is missed greatly by all. 

I am thankful for the furry creatures in my life (and if you are not a cat or pet lover, just don’t read this paragraph – it won’t make a bit of sense to you!)  I said goodbye to my dearest friend in the world this year, my Peach, an eighteen year old Maine Coon cat that came into my life after the relinquishment of an adoptive child and during my pregnancy with Sam.  She/He (the first vet said Female, the one who neutered said Male, but the “she” stuck) captured my heart to the point that I broke the law and smuggled her, as a kitten, under my shirt onto an airplane.  She was my focal point for giving birth.  She awakened me with urgent meows and led me to Sam’s baby crib where he was struggling to breathe and, if it were not for her, may have died at six weeks old with RSV since he spent two weeks in the hospital with the hospital chaplain visiting me daily to make burial plans.  She awakened me again when an electrical socket had caused a fire and the kitchen had filled with smoke.  She stayed with Rosie when, at my home after being released from the hospital months after an open heart surgery, Rosie’s lungs were filling with fluid and causing her labored breathing.  Rosie told me Peach helped her breathe through the fear.  She curled in my arms whenever I cried, placed her large paws on my head when I suffered migraines, and listened without condemnation to every rant and rave and sorrow I ever had.  In my mind, Peach was a precious gift from God, an angel-kitty, and I miss her with all my heart.  (And no, one cat is not the same as another!)

I am thankful that I have friends who, despite the desert times, the times when we do no more than think about one another, love me and accept me and are there for me.  They minister to my heart and soul with their gift of friendship.  I need them more than they need me and I am eternally grateful for their friendship. 

I am thankful to have known the loveliest of women, Kim Schmidt, before she went home suddenly to be with the Lord.  Words can never describe Kim – Kim had to be experienced.  Tornado, spitfire, heart of gold, champion of babies, dancing queen, precious wife and mother, and Queen of Giggles.  It is my joy that I spent time on earth with this beautiful woman of God.  I pray for her family often.

I am thankful that at this time, we live a country where we can freely share our faith and gather to worship.  I pray we will always have this privilege. 

I am thankful for the men and women who offer their lives for us, for our freedoms; for their families who support them; for the vision of something bigger than I can’t always see; for the courage to face what we most fear.

I am thankful for those of you who really know me, those who think you know me, or just share a little part of your world with mine.  This life is not easy, as we all know, but there is joy to be found if we just look for it. 

May 2010 be a blessed year…one that fulfills God’s plan for each of us, one that opens doors and windows and escape hatches, one that provides for our needs and allows laughter to be freely shared, hearts to be warmed, and everyone to enjoy an Aaron-style American cheese slice smile. 

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings,

Patti Zint

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