at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Birthday Post: 32 Things I'm Thankful for this Year

For the past couple of years, I've started a tradition where I write a post near and around my birthday. It started when I turned 30, with my 30 Life Lessons, then last year I focused on 31 Proverbs, or nuggets of wisdom. This year, I wanted to take some time and focus on 32 things that I'm thankful for now that I've completed 32 years of life.

"Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God makes it clear in the Bible that was are to give thanks always, in all circumstances. When anxious, when in trouble, when in despair, when things are going well, when you feel blessed, and even in the mundane. I always wonder about that last verse. I used to think it meant that whatever circumstance you're in -- that's God's will for you (his good, pleasing and perfect will" [Romans 12:2]). Perhaps that is what it means -- as we cannot know the mind of God and what good may come out of even the most tragic of circumstances (look to Jesus on the cross for a case in point). But, I wonder now if it means that it is God's will that we give thanks always -- because of, or in spite of, our circumstances. Perhaps it means both.  What is clear to me is that rejoicing in the blessings you have instead of focusing on what you have not is the better way to live.

So, as a part of an attempt to do that, here are 32 things that I am thankful for in this past year -- in no particular order:

1. A supportive and loving family who always accepts me, no matter what (and yes, that includes my in-laws!)

2. My dog, Happy Gilmore. 

He adds such joy to our household and is the best snuggler. The house now feels empty and alone if he's not here!

3. New friends who are close and close by. 

We went through a long stretch where we felt like we had very few close friends, especially that lived near us. We have been blessed immensely through new friendships this past year.

4. Old friends. 

Old as in we've been friends for a long time. Although, we are aging. We had some great time spent with long-standing friends this year, including a couple of out-of-state visits. There's nothing like the familiarity of an old friendship.

5. Good food.

I love good food. Cooking it, and eating it. I recognize the ability to cook and eat pretty much whatever I want, any time of the year, as a great blessing. Also, Supper Club may be the best thing ever.

6. Neighbors. I feel like we've gotten to know some neighbors better this year, and having a better connection with them has been great. Our neighbors are pretty awesome. We even met a few new "neighbors" from the other side of the neighborhood!

7. Nine Years of Marriage. 

What a privilege to be married to Tom for 9 years. We have learned so much and grown so much. I'm grateful for each day that we've had together.

8. Mountaintop experiences. 

We did our first "real" mountain hike this year, going up to nearly 13,000 feet above sea level (gaining ~3,500 feet) to not one, but two, alpine lakes. The experience for me was surreal and ineffable.

9. Vacation and travel. 

We have had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling, both near and far. I love experiencing new places and am so glad we've been able to explore our state and country a little more this year.

10. My job.

I celebrated 10 years at my place of employment this year. That's a decade of my life, people! And it's been wonderful. I'm grateful for not only full-time employment, but a fantastic employer, boss and co-workers. Oh, and I actually love my job itself, too.

11. The little things Tom does to take care of me and our home and our cars is also something I am so grateful for. He does so many things that I either don't even realize or don't know need to be done! It's nice to know that maintenance is taken care of without me even having to think about it.

12. Good health. With only minor health issues this year that are more of a nuisance than anything else, I'm really grateful that my rheumatoid disease has held steady and not significantly flared up for the past several years. Also, this means I can wear (not-so) high heels again! At least, in small doses.

13. The Night Sky. 

I've always enjoyed admiring the stars, galaxies, moon and planets. This year, I got my telescope back out and the night sky did not fail to amaze. Even Happy enjoyed looking through the telescope! I also introduced a friend to star gazing.

14. The boat.

2016 was the year of the (yet nameless) boat, which we purchased with some friends of ours. It brought lots of summertime fun and allowed us to really utilize the beautiful lake that is in our neighborhood.

15. Random fields of wildflowers -- and right behind my house, nonetheless! 

Each time I walked through the field behind our house this spring I encountered a new field of wildflowers -- daffodils, irises, poppies, and sweet pea! It was so beautiful and all the more so because it was so unexpected.

16. Summertime.

I'm pretty sure there's not much on earth that beats a Michigan summer. The weather is perfect, and it really was wonderful weather this year. I'm so glad we got the chance to enjoy summer both locally, in other parts of the state and other parts of the country (Colorado summers are pretty awesome, too).

17. Heating steering wheels. For anybody with Raynaud's, this is pretty much the best invention ever. Really. Amazing. I never thought we'd own a car with this feature, but the Jeep has it! My hands have never been so happy.

18. Our country. 

We all know it was a crazy and unprecedented year on the political front in the U.S. -- but, despite the insanity and all of the things that are wrong with our country, it remains a great place to live, full of opportunities and freedoms that most other countries simply don't have.

19. Modern appliances. I like cooking, but I'm not a fan of most other housework (including dishes, of which I dirty plenty). I'm so grateful for the convenience afforded me by a dishwasher, clothes washer & dryer and the like. I'll even throw the Crock Pot in there as sometimes I want an easy dinner!

20. Babies!

I'm not sure what was in the water, but so many people I know had babies this past year, particularly in February. Included in that baby boom was my new nephew! I'm so grateful for the chance to get to hold and get to know all these little bundles of joy (who are not quite so little anymore!).

21. New carpet. 

We finally replaced the rest of the carpet in the main part of our house this year. Yes, replaced the original 1988 carpet. It was glorious. My feet are grateful for the extra cushion and I am thankful that I no longer have to stare down at mysterious spots and wonder what could have possibly made that stain...

22. Detroit.

Despite having grown up in the suburbs, I haven't done much exploration of Detroit in my life. But, we took two trips there this year, staying overnight both times -- once for a hockey game and once for a wedding. It gets a bad rap (and yes, has it's problems and scary parts), but I really enjoyed the city and am glad I got the opportunity to experience a little bit more of it.

23. Cold Brew Coffee. Have it hot. Have it cold. It's ready to go with a smoother taste and less acidity. What's not to love? It's been a worthy addition to our routine over the past year or so.

24. My garden fence. 

This was the first year since I've had a garden that I haven't had to worry about bunnies and deer eating everything before I get to it -- thanks to the nice fence Tom built me, using the heavy duty fencing the neighbor gave us. It was so freeing to be able to just let my veggies grow without crazy fortification tactics.

25. The dog park. 

We have a wonderful dog park right in our town. It's a great place for Happy to burn some energy and play with other dogs. It's a beautiful setting near the river. And, it doesn't hurt that there are wild raspberries growing nearby.

26. Foraging for fun.

Speaking of raspberries, it was a great year for foraging them! Both at the dog park and in the field behind our house. We also helped some friends forage for wintergreen. It's a lot of fun when you're not dependent upon foraging as a food source. So, I guess I'm grateful that I get to do it because I want to, not because I have to!

27. An amazing autumn. 

I love all of the seasons, and oftentimes fall in particular. This year's long-lasting warm weather allowed me to really enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the season with some fall hikes. There was also lots of apple picking from our friends' own orchard, amongst other fall festivities.

28. Growth.

And I mean that in every sense (except maybe our waistlines!). I love watching things grow from the earth, which is not unlike the way our own character can develop over time. I'm grateful for growth in personal relationships this year, too.

29. Lazy Saturday Mornings

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God knew what he was doing when he told us to take one day each week to rest. Rest is good for the soul and I've thoroughly enjoyed lazy weekend mornings with Tom and Happy, complete with coffee and snuggles.

30. The Mundane. I'm grateful for the everyday things and tasks because they are often connected to greater blessings. It's also the mundane, everyday moments that make the special moments stand out.

31. Grace from God and the grace we allow one another. Grace is something that I am most grateful for throughout my life, and this past year is no exception.  Grace allows relationships to thrive.

32. Another year of life. 

Life is a gift and I'm grateful for the 32 years I have been given. I hope that this next year of life will be full of more love and learning and growth and gratefulness.

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!