Grateful and Blessed to Be Alive

storm damage 2

“Why is it that gratitude is often silent while ungratefulness demands to be heard?” – Dawn Onley

By Dawn Onley

I love the holiday season. The beauty of the season always enraptures me, the smell of food, the embrace of family, the festive decorations and crackle of the fireplace, the timeless holiday classics on TV, that good, good sleep with the crisp air outside as the breeze howls against the windowpane.

The holidays are so special there is even a soundtrack that accompanies the season. The music is a particular highlight, although I love it all.

I love when November is ushered in because my thoughts immediately turn to gratitude. It’s not that I’m not grateful all year long – because I am – but the holidays cause me to be acutely more aware of my blessings. Amid the busyness of food preparation, the hustle and bustle of gift-giving and toasts for a healthy and prosperous new year, I always become introspective about the year. I become more mindful.

Especially this year.

During a particularly bad storm last winter that brought pelting rain, thunder and lightning, and subsequent floods, a huge, 100-year-old oak tree fell on our home. While we slept, the thunderous tree came crashing down – landing in our sitting room, which is a mere 15 feet from our bed.

Instantly, everything went black.

We were awakened out of a sound sleep by the noise and the cold, wet air. It was 4 a.m. but if you’ve ever been in a deep sleep where outside noise could be a figment of your dreams, you’ll understand that’s where I was that early March morning.

My husband, on the other hand, was up right away.

Our son was in his room sleeping peacefully through the storm. He was jostled out of sleep only when his nightlight went out. “Mommy,” he called out, as my husband and I – with flashlights in hand – stood in disbelief in our master bedroom as we looked up and saw the nighttime sky from the huge hole in our roof where the tree landed, and in fact, where the tree still rested.

“Mommy,” he said more urgently. I came to his room and helped him get back to sleep.

“Why is it so dark?” he asked. “The storm caused the electricity to go out,” I explained.

Before long, he was back to sleep.

We were up, with tons of work to do. When the electricity came back on, I fixed a pot of coffee and sighed. I knew it would be a long, long day.

Turns out, it has been a long eight months.

One. Tough. Year.

With unforeseen life occurrences, it can be hard to focus on the good. I’m naturally optimistic and upbeat, yet at times this year I have struggled to remain so. I have felt discouraged. I have lacked motivation. I have felt annoyed and easily agitated. The upheaval has caused me angst. Naturally a sensitive soul, I have felt things in an even deeper way – both joy and pain, and everything in between.

It’s been hard to focus on building my business when I’ve had so many other things competing with my time – like picking out shingles and flooring and paint colors. I will tell you that doing a home renovation at your leisure and doing one under duress are two completely different things.

I have tried to refrain from complaining because it doesn’t accomplish anything – outside of causing the complainer more stress. I’ve tried to remain positive and to keep pushing forward.

I’ll admit this hasn’t always been easy to do.

Stress tends to pile on.

Our son struggled to adjust to kindergarten and his new school, his new teacher, his new schedule and an increased level of responsibility and expectation.

I struggled with sleep. My mind has always been a busy place, but became exponentially busier with the increase of all I had to juggle.

Slowly, we are working our way back to normal.

Even though we’re not yet back in our home, this holiday season I’m sleeping better and feeling calmer and more peaceful.

I’m overcome with gratefulness that our lives were spared in our ordeal. We know it could have been tragic and we count it a miracle that none of us were harmed.

I’m thankful for the time we have spent living with my parents.

I’m grateful for our movie nights and the laughs.

I’m happy about the new client I recently brought on and the work that feeds my spirit.

I’m stoked that baby boy appears to have found his rhythm and is now flourishing in school.

I’m grateful for the lessons taught through trial and that each new day, I’m getting better at letting go of what I can’t control.

I’m grateful that this too shall pass.

I appreciate the love that envelops my family – not just in the good times, but in the difficult times, too.

I’m happy to see the vibrancy of autumnal leaves.

I’m giddy about the holiday decorations that are starting to come up.

I love the holidays, especially this year.

In spite of it all, I realize that we are abundantly blessed — for what was, what is and what is yet to come.

master bathroom reno

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Hall says:

    I’m totally impressed that you had the strength of character to soothe your son back to sleep in order to tackle the business of surveying and cleaning up some of the damage of the storm. Many, including I, might have panicked, grabbed the child, and fled. I’m thankful that your lives were spared, that family has been there to comfort and support you, and that financial resources were there to help to restore your beautiful house. Charles Spurgeon, my go to for morning and evening devotions, said “Faith never prospers better than when everything comes against it, for storms are its trainers and lightening its illuminator”. Therefore, “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. (James 1:2-4) You are well on your way to maturity!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a great quote! I also love the Bible verses on trials honing your faith. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  3. ESSIE says:

    God protected you all and have more instored and the best is yet to come enjoy each moment and live and enjoy life on purpose, while working in your purpose and reaching your dreams.

    Love you all!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love you too, sis.❤️


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