As I write this, the majority of Americans are tucked safely into bed in anticipation of the next day’s food and festivities. Here in Afghanistan, Soldiers are beginning to wake up. Breakfast is just being served and others are out exercising. I want to take a moment and just tell you what I’m thankful for this year.
First and foremost, I’m thankful for a forgiving God. I’m thankful for the atonement of his Son, Jesus Christ, that made it possible for me to live again in spite of my sins and shortcomings. Though many, I have been provided with opportunity and grace through humility and repentance.
I’m thankful for my life. As some of you know, I had a close call last year and the past 18 months have been rebuilding and strengthening my mental and emotional well-being. It’s been a rough journey for me and especially my family. Which leads me to my next thanksgiving.
I would not be here without family. Dealing with me has not been easy the past few years. Nothing hurts me more down to the core than to know that something I have done causes my family to wonder if it is worth it or if they are capable of dealing with it. My wife, Emily, has been my stalwart ally in this fight against mental demons she couldn’t see. She’s had to endure her husband disappearing and sleeping in his car. She’s had to endure sleepless nights and angry days. Yet, though it all, she was my backbone; my cheerleader. She was there to tell what I needed to hear. She was there to hold me accountable. She was there to give me reason to live. She is my rock, my love, my everything. I am so thankful that a beautiful, young woman gave this long-haired punk kid a chance. I love her more today than I have ever loved her or anything. She completes me; makes me feel like in all the chaos of life there is something sweet, innocent, kind, generous, and loving on this earth.
I’m thankful for my awesome kids. As I watch them grow without me, I’m in awe at the wonderful things Emily and I have created. They are smart, outgoing, kind, and just the greatest kids. While I could do without some of the attitudes, I’m so thankful that they are in my life and a part of my family. They make me proud to be a father every day just seeing them smile and make us laugh.
I’m thankful for the troops I have the honor of serving beside. While you’re reading this in the comfort and safety of your home (unless you live in Chicago), there are troops outside the wire right now sleeping on stiff cots, in the dirt, on the roof of a house, or hunkered down in some rocks on a mountainside freezing their tuckus off. While I sit in the comfort of my air conditioned “chu,” there are troops patrolling the streets, blowing up IEDs, and clearing villages of murderers. There is no personal space, no personal time, and no personal clothes. Every hour of their day is accounted for, but they do it for something they’re deeply thankful for. And I’m thankful they’re out there ensuring my safety in here as well.
Our great country. I am thankful for the United States of America. I’m so appreciative that I am privileged to serve the greatest country on earth. In spite of our shortcomings, America is a nation deeply embedded in the ideals of liberty, charity, and community. While some – myself included – may think that those ideals are slipping from our grasp, rest assured that there are those willing to give their lives for its assurance. I’m grateful that I serve a country that does so much good at home and abroad.
Finally, I’m thankful for my friends – all of YOU. One of these days someone will convince what I’ve done to deserve such support, love, and devotion. I am constantly in awe of the people I’ve been privileged to meet and become friends with over the years through my writing. I’m thankful for the opportunities it has presented to me. I’ve seen some awesome things and met some awesome people. Some of you I’ve never even “met” but would drop everything in an instant to be there for you. Thank you for just being there.
I promise I’ll post pictures later of the Thanksgiving meal.
P.S. Heh. I just noticed I’ve been posting a lot of silhouette photos lately. Sorry about that.