This time 2 years ago was by far one of the most difficult times of my life. My family had been crumbling to pieces after my dad received the news of having an inoperable tumor, and I was out of state at school without my family and without any idea of what I should do. I came home 3 days before Thanksgiving, and my dad was in his room gripping his neck at the golf ball sized tumor that was causing him so much pain. I remember praying that night and asking God to allow his doctor to remove this tumor, or if he couldn’t, to please put my father out of pain. Three days before Thanksgiving I couldn’t believe I was asking God to save my 40 year old father’s life.

His doctor called and told us he could do the surgery the day before Thanksgiving. We all cried and celebrated, and my dad was operated on the next day. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the waiting room at the hospital and were all close to each other and to him. Nothing else mattered.

I came home that Christmas for good, took my dad to his chemo/radiation treatments for the next couple of months, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. Despite having to leave school and close friends, I had my family and I still had my dad.

Two years later, we are celebrating Thanksgiving at home together. This will be the first Thanksgiving he will be eating in 3 years!

As mentioned in my last blog posts, the last few months have been extremely trying for me. I have gone through the most irrational heartbreak, money troubles, constantly trying to prove myself to people who will never care to know me. I have looked at my dad and seen him still struggle with his illness and my family still struggling right along with him. I asked God, “why would you give me this life? Why would you do this to us for so many years? Why give me love and take it away? Why give me such ADULT problems at such a young age?”

This was me feeling sorry for myself, and instead of blaming myself for the choices I have made, instead of blaming cancer, instead of blaming the people who hurt me, I was blaming God. And instead of looking around at the beautiful love in my life, I was looking at the love that I lost.

This time of year is my favorite because it draws attention to the things that really matter. Of course I could spend endless amounts of time focusing in on the things that I don’t have, and on the things that have hurt me. But why not focus on the things that are beautiful? On the health, on the love, and on all of the happiness in the world?

This year people have lost their children, people have lost their parents, people have lost their homes. I look around and see my parents, my dad, healthy and cancer free. I see my brother. I see my best friends. I see beautiful babies being born into families. I see my golden retriever running through leaves in my backyard. I see kids running in the mall to take a picture with Santa. I see the steam rising off of my morning coffee after waking for a new day. I hear footprints of kids’ bare feet running through the halls of my best friend’s house. I see God everywhere, even in the moments that feel like he’s not there.

I saw God in Las Vegas in the flowers lining up the streets. I saw God in Sutherland Springs, TX when believers prayed together. I saw God in Houston and Puerto Rico, in the hands of the people building and cleaning up the aftermath of storms.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge all of you to find beauty in things that you wouldn’t expect. To find things to be thankful for. It’s easy to look for things to not, but the truth is, there are millions of beautiful things in this world. You just need to open your eyes and look in the right direction.

…..Even if that direction is down to your plate full of food tomorrow.

Have a good Thanksgiving everyone, blessings to you and your families!

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