So... yes. I am very very thankful. I think what helps in being thankful is to remember... remember the past... remember people... just remember in general. A friend of mine has been sharing with me about what she's learned from reading through Leviticus lately. During one set of chapters, she was telling me about how God loves to party. OK, I went back and checked and it was the Law of Religious Festivals from Lev. 23. The Israelites had all kinds of festivals (not sure if they still celebrate today... but I think it's pretty neat) to commemorate or celebrate important events in history... like the passover, the feast of unleavened bread, and the feast of booths. And even when we have communion... it's to do this in remembrance of Jesus. So... let me remember...
I was talking to a few friends yesterday about last year's Thanksgiving... and I realized... last year... I had a boyfriend. We were engaged... but not planning yet. I was probably stressed out about school. It hit me how pivotal 2009 has been for me. I got married, I got licensed, I moved to Texas, moved back... started school again. So much has happened in 2009. This year's Thanksgiving... I'm 27 years old... my last name's Chen... and I'm widowed. But I'm thankful. VERY VERY thankful for my life... and super duper thankful for all of you.
Some of you have been following me since back in March... some of you have only recently started reading my musings. Some of you know me well, some have only seen my face on facebook, some I may not have even met yet. Regardless of whether or not what I write is read by others... I'm very thankful for being able to write and share my thoughts and feelings in this way. It's been a blessing for me to go back and see how far I've come and it's also been an exercise in purging my heart... which, I think, has been an essential part of my healing process.
I love to hear from you as well. Once in a while people really surprise me by replying. It's amazing to me that some people still read my super long posts. Your thoughts about the things I've written... I'm really glad that you guys can see a part of me and sometimes see a little bit of what we have in common... and also see our differences as well. I always benefit from your perspectives, from your thoughts and your experiences. I've been blessed to have NOT received anything negative or disparaging, which I think has been a super amazing thing since sometimes what I write can be a little controversial... and it's almost always very heavily motivated by my love for God and His love for me. I've been encouraged by all of you and I really feel loved and supported.
Our wedding. OMG. Last Monday I was telling a couple friends about our wedding story... I know they've probably heard about it or read about it in the past, but it somehow came up again and I told the story again. It was... a miracle. It was the most amazing display of collaboration and unity I've ever seen at FCBC Walnut. The sacrifices that everyone made to gift us with our wedding over the span of just 2 short days... nothing short of a miracle. I have never felt more loved by my church family and my friends as I did that weekend of January 10th, 2009. SO utterly thankful for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE who contributed to making the Tifferson Wedding the most spectacular event of my life. I still shed tears thinking about it... and I still remember making that left turn to walk down the aisle and being overcome with emotion as I looked into the smiling faces of all my family and friends who made an extra special effort to be there for us... at the decorations... the music... and most importantly... at my beloved groom waiting for me at the end of the aisle. He was such a handsome man. Dang, I seriously am so blessed to have married the best man I ever knew. Unbelievable how wonderful my life has been...
And then finding out about the tumor in the middle of my NCLEX review course. It was such a blessing that we found out when we did. It was the perfect rest point in my nursing program... right after I'd finished my pre-licensure coursework and during our winter break. I'd already set aside that entire month to study for the NCLEX so nothing much was going on. We found out, got married, and I decided to take time off from school to be with my husband. I'm also VERY thankful that I got licensed too. VERY VERY thankful... considering all the stuff that was going on in my personal life... it was seriously God's grace to me that I passed and then I didn't have to think too much about nursing after that. What a relief. Huge thanksgiving.
Also, I remember back when we were in Houston... I was away from the life I knew, from everything familiar to me... I had no friends other than my best friend, Anderson. I didn't have any of my "stuff" to comfort me... just a computer and craft kits from the hospital. Well, I did have a very large Target down the street from our apartment. Anyway... it could have been a very, very lonely time for me, but it wasn't. I was connected to my loved ones back at home through my email updates and through your replies back to me. I kept disciplined in reading the Bible with my friend via google docs. I love google, btw. Thankful for google and for accountability partners. God sustained me through His Word and through all of you who were loving us and praying for us from afar. I cannot ever thank you all enough for your outpouring of love on us... I don't ever feel like I've loved all of you (or have even been able to return love to you) even the tiniest bit compared to how much love you showered on us while we were in Houston.
I'm thankful for facebook and for helping us reconnect with people and friends who, through a fairly complex string of God-ordained events, got us to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Even in Anderson's medical insurance... it was totally God in that he got insured when he did... before we found out about the tumor... and that it totally helped us financially over the past 3 years. I'm so SO thankful for our circumstances and how things happened the way they did. Even the people we met in Houston... the doctors, the therapists, the nurses... volunteers... and the friends we made while we were there... they all touched our hearts and helped carry us through the difficult times. There were even people we met in the waiting rooms... you'd think that EVERYONE has their sad story for being there, but for some reason... one lady in particular who came up to talk to me... was really touched by us and she prayed for me right then and there. And every time she saw us again, she would say hi and tell us that she was praying for us. To this day, I don't know her name, but even encountering her for a brief time... I saw God through her and was encouraged... that even strangers have a common bond in Christ.
I'm also so thankful for the warm welcome we got when we came back from Houston. I was able to enroll in classes at the VERY last minute... probably a week or two before school started... everything fell into place. I've reconnected with so many people that I've lost contact with over the years... and seeing your smiling faces and learning about your lives over the past few years... such happiness to get to share life with you all again.
And I'm so thankful for the deepening of my friendships and relationships that I've experienced lately. I don't know if my heart's gotten so much bigger AND you guys have become more lovable, but I feel like I have so much more love in my life now than before. I might not have the same love I shared with my husband, but the love of my family and friends, although not quite the same, has been amazingly and remarkably... enough to keep me in a state of joyful euphoria a whole lot of the time. Something that used to keep me up at nights (in an insomniac kind of way)... was repeating the events of the day over and over again in my head. I don't know why it happens, but I think about things a lot afterwards... I hear bits and pieces of conversations again and instead of keeping me up at nights or disturbing me... nowadays they make me smile more often than not. Sometimes it makes me giggle. Out loud. And not that I'm inviting everyone to stare at me, but if you ever somehow catch me when I'm zoning out and I start to smile or laugh or I chuckle really slightly to myself... I'm not going crazy... (or maybe I am...) I'm probably thinking about some funny thing that someone said or reliving a very fond memory really quickly in my mind. I very often go to bed smiling now. Some days are hard, but most days... end with a smile. There's just so much happiness and joy all around me... such hope... such love... I thank God everyday for loving me through blessing me with all of you.
I could go on and on and on about all the things I'm thankful for, but the biggest and most important thing to be thankful for is God's love. I really really mean it! I used to say "God is love"... "God loves me and you" but I really don't think I fully understood what it meant and it had never really sunk in and grabbed hold of me like it does now. Last Sunday, someone shared this with me...
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;I'd been thinking about that ever since last Sunday. That experiencing God and God's love for me has been the biggest, most powerful... most breathtaking, knock-me-off-my-feet experience EVER. HANDS DOWN. All of these things that I'm thankful for... they were all orchestrated meticulously by my loving God... to show me how much and how powerfully and how lavishly He loves me and how much He yearns to win my heart. I can't even describe it. Words... fail me. How funny, huh? I write thousands of words in my posts and when it comes to God's love... I just can't seem to find any good enough. It's like Godiva hot chocolate on a freezing cold day... it warms your hands... and then your heart as the rich, silky smoothness travels slowly into the core of your being... and then permeates outward, bringing your entire body into a state of comfort and peace... and then you just close your eyes, inhale deeply and exhale that "ahhhhh..." that only comes when something truly "hits the spot" and fulfills you in all the ways you've been lacking amidst the frigidity that had threatened to consume you just moments earlier. K, it's sort of like that, but like a billion times better and longer than hot chocolate on a cold day. Turning elsewhere for that kind of comfort is more like... spilling hot chocolate on the chair you're sitting on. At first you're like... ooh, my butt's warm... and then it suddenly gets cold, sticky and yucky as you realize that you're soaking wet, embarrassingly stained, AND you've just wasted your liquid Gold-iva. Hot chocolate was meant to be drunk and not... sat on. Alritey... enough with this one... I think I've talked about it enough. But anyway... I really really want everyone to experience drinking hot chocolate on a cold day... everyday for the rest of your lives... it's the best thing that's ever happened to me and I'd love to pour you a cup and talk about it with you if you'd like.
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! (Job 42:5)
Happy thanksgiving, friends... I'm both happy and thankful and I hope you are too.
All my <3,