Giving thanks

My dear Little Shope,

There are some things I cannot wait for you to know. Like the fullness of love. Like snow. Like a laugh so hard your tummy hurts. Like good books and warm sweaters and hot chocolate with too much whipped cream. My job will be to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in you and in our home. Each day will bring you reasons to have a thankful heart.

Here are some of mine.

I am thankful for my fellowship with God. For communion. For peace. For my need of him.

I am thankful for my husband. His friendship is precious to me. His love is unmatched. He, with his tenderness, humor, resolve, courage and encouragement, is a balm to me and to all who know him. You, dear one, will be so lucky to have his love.

I am thankful for my family. For their constant support, encouragement. My mom was my very first cheerleader, and she continues to be the best at it. She is fearless and hilarious and kind. I will be lucky to grow into half the woman she is. My stepdad, Patrick, is unfathomably patient and giving. He takes care of my mom and he loves my brother and I as his own. He has practiced his whole life to entertain you with his Donald Duck sneeze. My brother is funny and brave and tender and genuine. He was my first friend. My dad is loving and funny and supportive. He will teach you all the good Christmas songs and how to make biscochitos and taquitos. My stepmom, Theresa, is lively and funny and gracious. She texts me just to say hello and to remind me that she loves me. Too few people get that from their families. My stepsisters, Meahgan and Chelsey, are beautiful, strong, loving women. I am proud of them, and I am thankful for my friendship with them. My mother-in-love, Karen, is the epitome of selfless. She is warm and welcoming. She always has a song in her heart, and it is a privilege to hear her share it. My father-in-love, Frank, is wise and patient. He is also bratty and will teach you all you need to know about how to be a pest. My brother-in-love, Jason, has an amazing heart. He is kind and gentle, and he will never grow tired of helping you understand how things work. My nephews, Jarin and Joshua, are the most adorable boys I’ve ever met. They are sweet and soft and full of wonder. I love watching their personalities take shape.  You will love them.

I am thankful for my church. For knowing the meaning of grace. For living it, extending it, pursuing it. My pastors are friends. The music isn’t directed at me. People are generous and think for themselves. They are the hands and feet.

I am thankful for the family into which I was not born. I am surrounded by love and mercy and laughter. Kindred spirits. They cause me to dig deeper and to laugh deeply. These friends inspire me to put one foot in front of the other, to walk in faith and freedom. We are likeminded yet so different. This loving group of friends is so eager to meet you. They are yours.

I am thankful for the Gilead Girls and, especially, those whose babies are now a part of their testimony. I am grateful for tiny kicks and quick heartbeats and answers to prayer.

I am thankful for my job, and the ability I have to do it. My coworkers are friends. My work is appreciated. My job supports us and helps us inch closer to you.

I am thankful for the road we are on that will bring us to you. It is harder than we expected. It is sweeter than we expected. Scales have been removed from our eyes and hearts so that we could see you and see the world with more clarity. This vision is a gift, and we will not squander it.

I am thankful for all those who Hope for a Little Shope. Their support and friendship and encouragement is precious to us. We could not have imagined the sheer number of people who have gathered to lift us up when our arms grow weary. There are so many hoping for you, longing to meet you.

I am thankful for food, for those who make it and grow it and bring it to the table. I am thankful for the table, for the conversations that happen there, for the lessons I have learned.

I am thankful for freedom, for opportunity, for our country.

I am thankful for home. And I cannot wait to bring you there.

Love.

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