In the Spirit of Thanksgiving
It seems this year I have given more thought than normal to the idea of "giving thanks". That phrase is thrown around so much that sometimes it becomes invisible background noise, but THIS year I've decided to stop and think about it a little deeper than normal. Yeah, I participated in the typical Facebook posts - "Day 1: I am thankful for my family… Day 2: I am thankful for my friends…" - but I want to go a little deeper than that. Don't get me wrong…I think the daily thanks posts are a great thing…I guess I am just wanting more this year. About 2 years ago, my husband and I got into a lot of trouble. The kind of trouble that everyone and their mother hears about. The kind of trouble that makes you want to hide away in a dark room and never come out. The kind of trouble that you (and others) will probably never forget. The kind of trouble that usually ends in a life changing sentence from a judge.
Some how, we (my husband and I) ended up in a place we didn't mean to. That's the funny thing about the lack of intention…some how you end up where you didn't intend to go unintentionally, but that's another topic for another time. Little by little we were compromising our moral values until they were far from their original place. First it's "we'll only do it this one time"…then it's "well maybe its ok if we only do this on weekends"…you get the idea. Eventually we ended up in a place of blindness. Blind to right vs wrong. Blind to the dangers and consequences of our actions.
Needless to say, everything comes to an end, but our end was no choice of our own (initially). Like a deer in the headlights, that is what I must have looked like when a group of local police came raiding into our home at 6am on a Tuesday morning. Neither of us had even gotten out of bed yet. The house INSTANTLY turned to chaos. Our dogs, who were also sleeping in our room, went nuts - barking louder then I've ever heard to what seemed like "intruders" to them. We were both arrested on the spot and taken from our home with not even the slightest idea of what the future held. The police found the drugs they were looking for inside our home - we were done for.
All of a sudden, what we had kept secret from our family and friends, was about to go PUBLIC. It was all across social media, it was all across the newspaper, and it was all across the local news channels. I've never been so embarrassed or ashamed. I remember dreading going out of the house…to the point were I would wear a hoodie while grocery shopping hoping no one would recognize me.
We had to hire a top notch lawyer and go through an awful year (although it felt like 100 years) of wondering, and praying, and hoping. Wondering what was going to happen. Wondering if our lives were over. Praying for forgiveness. Hoping for grace and mercy.
This HUGE wake up call opened our eyes to the dirty in our own life and instead of worrying and fretting - we decided to fix our eyes on God and his never-ending faithfulness. We had to trust that God had a plan for our lives regardless of our big mistakes. I grew more in my faith in that one year then I had in my whole life. I remember people asking "how are you not freaking out right now?" and just thinking "because God is in control". WHO THINKS THAT when they are possibly facing prison?! A verse kept coming to mind…Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Let me repeat a part again… "WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING". Even I did not understand the peace that I had in my mind and heart.
Towards the end, our lawyer was hopeful. We still had a few months left of court dates, but he was thinking it would end well for us considering the circumstances. I remember praying every morning and night…asking God to mold me into the person he wanted me to be and to show me his will for my life because I would do it with out question…and he answered. In September of 2014 he gave me a strong desire to become a mom. When I brought it up to my husband and asked him what he thought about trying to have kids (if all went well at our last court date) he said "I'm down." like it was no big deal! Honestly, it made me laugh a little at how nonchalant he was, but it only made me that much more sure that this was the path we were to take.
One month later, October 2014, we had our last court date. Our charges were dropped to something that was probational…meaning ZERO jail/prison time…ZERO. I was floored. This is not a common outcome. There were similar cases going on at the time that were not getting outcomes anywhere near this. How can someone like us, so undeserving, be shown such great amounts of grace and mercy?! If I didn't know before, I knew now that we had a definite purpose in life…and I was pretty sure that purpose was to become parents. So, we started trying and two months later we were pregnant (I know, fast right?).
Now I am sitting here a year later, in my warm house, typing on my nice laptop, with my 3 month old son napping in the other room, thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for. My heart is FULL of joy and gratefulness…VERY FULL. I could be sitting in a jail cell right now, but instead I am FREE. Not only free, but free and BLESSED beyond measure. Oooo! Another verse comes to mind… 1 Peter 2:16 "You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong."
I will continue to do everything I can to obey that verse and fulfill God's purpose for my life day by day. Even if sometimes that simply means cleaning up spit up or rocking my son to sleep. I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and I never want to forget that. Through the good days and the bad days, I try to always fix my eyes on God and remember all the wonderful things he has done for me and my family. I hope that the same amount of joy that's in my heart finds you this holiday as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.