Saturday, November 19, 2011

Counting Blessings

Thanksgiving. . . it's the time of year when we all cook our turkeys, eat copious amounts of stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, and whatever assorted goodies our families make for us all to enjoy.  It is also a time when we all begin to talk about what we are grateful for in our lives.

This year the Koeppel house has more to be grateful for than usual.  At this time last year we had just gone on food stamps to help us make ends meet and had asked for medical assistance for Sarah, Elizabeth, and Rebekah and had begun filing for disability for Elizabeth.  It was a year of humiliation, worry, stress and swallowing our pride.  Even when things had been tight before we'd always managed on our own or with a little help from Mom.  This time we needed lots of help, we needed more help than our parents could give us and we had stopped making our mortgage payments because we couldn't afford the $600 a month we needed to pay AND pay for our other bills too.  We even applied for LEAP that year.  Filling out all of those forms, walking into the Government Assistance Building was humiliating, heart breaking, and pride buckling.  Christmas that year was rather sparse and small and even though our girls never complained, Chris and I felt it.  There were no aces up our sleeves, no magical miracle to get the girls some amazing gift.  We couldn't even afford the normal Christmas pajamas that are a tradition in our house. 

Thankfully, my mom and Bud bought the pajamas and loads of books for the girls, they made sure that Christmas was a good one for the girls and Sarah's mom made sure her Christmas wasn't bleak, but it was tough.  I understand now how my mom must have felt all of those years when she didn't have the money to give us a big Christmas at all and our neighbors across the street realized it and went a little crazy.  That year they bought all three of us some amazing presents, and I got jewelry from them too.  It was wonderful for us, but I'm sure on some level it must have been very hard on Mom to see others doing for us what she couldn't afford to do. 

But this year Chris has a job, we have a roof over our head, we live in Washington and have been able to make friends with a lot of wonderful people in our church and in the area, we were able to send Sarah to visit her mom for her birthday and Christmas., we have our turkey, potatoes, yams, stuffing, and friends coming over to join us.  It's been a good year this year.  God knew we needed the time in the desert to remember the lessons we had both learned growing up in poor homes that it's not about money, it's about family, being grateful for what blessings God gives you and knowing that His grace really is sufficient to carry you through all of the hard times.  This year I am so glad that Chris found a job in a company that recognizes in him all of the wonderful leadership abilities I've known he's had for year and that the Army Reserves has seen and cultivated in him. 

When Chris was unemployed and we were praying that God help him find a job, my biggest prayer was that God would not only provide him a job that would help him provide for our family but that he find a job that would allow him to grow and move up the ladder as well are recognize his talents and that Chris would really enjoy.  He found that.  So as 2010 ended we were feeling a little hopeless, but as 2011 came in we suddenly felt that God has something planned for us.  By early February Chris was hired by Boeing, which meant he didn't have to deploy with a unit who would have been as terrible as the unit he had been deployed with in 2009  (they were terrible and treated their soldiers terribly).  True, we had to leave all of our friends and family behind in Wichita, but God has opened a lot of doors for us here in Everett and introduced us to different people, places and things. 

As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for?  What do you feel has been your biggest blessing this year from God?  I hope you all have a good weekend.

In Christ,

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