Since last Thanksgiving, a lot of things have changed. And that might be one of the greatest understatements of the year.
A year ago, I was still a student at Appalachian, living in the chilly mountains of North Carolina, working toward finishing my undergraduate degree. I was dating Jon. I was employed part-time in EMS. I wasn’t exactly sure where I would be a year from last year…but I was hoping to be in a somewhat warmer climate.
This year, I have completed my undergraduate degree in psychology and moved back to the Raleigh area where we have much warmer weather (60’s and 70’s this week — I think mother nature forgot that December is a week away!). I am now married to Jon (for almost 6 months now). And I am employed full-time in EMS, the same place where I had been working part-time (that is the least change for me).
Of course, all of these changes came at once. In the course of 4 weeks, I had my graduation, re-entered the workforce full-time and got married. Isn’t that how it always is? No complaints here, though…
It certainly has been a whirlwind of a year…but a wonderful one. There are so many things that I have to be thankful for. In no particular order:
- I managed to finish my final semester of undergraduate work even amid all of the wedding planning that I threw myself into. Somehow, I managed to get all A’s and one B. How? I don’t know…but for that, I am thankful!
- I am thankful for all of the wonderful help I had back home with planning the wedding: from family to my bridesmaids, they made it my job so much easier when I was able to come home. (By the way, planning a wedding in a location that you are not in is not an easy task. Not recommended, especially if you don’t have help there.) I always had someone willing to go with me to help me with what was needed. Absolutely thankful for that!
- My place of employment was willing to hire me back on full-time when I finished my degree. That was a huge answer to prayer! I had been working for this particular EMS agency for about 3.5 years at the point that I came to them to see about coming back full-time. During these years, I had been full-time but had dropped to part-time status in order to return to school. They said all I needed to do was to fill out an application and go through the formality of applying but that the position would be mine. Considering the economic turmoil and deep budget cuts that the agency had been experiencing, this was such a blessing.
- When Jon and I were apartment hunting, we walked into the office of the complex that we ended up renting from knowing the leasing agent. We grew up in the same church, went to the same youth group and Jon even played softball with her brother. It was hilarious! We walked into the model apartment and knew that it was the one for us. It was spacious, airy, well lit. The complex is conveniently located to our church, to shopping, the grocery store (important for a cook like me), the highway and is central to pretty much anywhere I could be stationed for work. We had a few hoops to jump through in order to get all of the paperwork to go through; however, it did. And we now have this beautiful apartment that we love living in!
- I am thankful for the new friends I have made…and the old friends that I have reconnected with this year. We joined a new Sunday School this September (that just started up…and just at the right time!) that is for newly married couples and those in the first few years of marriage. Several friends from my high school days have gotten married over the past few years and I have, unfortunately, lost touch with them for many reasons (them leaving for school, my work schedule, me leaving for Appalachian…etc). However, now that we see each other on a weekly basis, we have reconnected and are getting to know each other again which is so nice. It’s been wonderful to see where life has taken each of us since high school and so neat to see how each of us have ended up where we are. (As a bonus, so many of us have spouses in public safety or in health care — a way I can connect to them in particular.)
- Last, but certainly not least, my husband. Not many people can understand or put up with the type of schedule that I work…let alone put up with me once I come home from working a long shift. (Believe me, I understand I’m not always the most friendly person when I come home. I even warned him of that from the get-go.) The poor thing even listens to all kinds of stories from work…including those with blood, guts and gore (his three favorite things!). He willingly takes on things around the apartment so that there is less for me to worry about, particularly on my in-between days. He helps me in the kitchen frequently and is even expanding his repertoire of recipes as he cooks more than his old stand-by of Taco Rice (which he has yet to cook since we have been married). He helps me on craft projects and other pet projects. You name it, he is willing to help me on it. He even makes sure that my work uniforms get cleaned on my in-between days when I happen to forget and take a nap without having put them in the wash (can’t go to work in the buff…that’d be embarrassing). That’s just listing a small portion of the things I am thankful for about him. All in all, he’s not perfect (neither am I), but he certainly is perfect for me.
- Our troops: many of them were not able to be home with their families this Thanksgiving and had to spend it away from them while on deployment. For many of them, this is not the first deployment that has kept them away from family during a holiday, birthday or other family event. They sacrifice so much to help protect us both state-side and abroad.
- Our public safety folks: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. These people, stand ready by their radios and pagers to respond to help you when you need it. Whether it’s at noon on a Monday afternoon, 4am on a Saturday morning or at any point on a holiday, they are there. They can’t take a day off. They give up time with their families in order to be there for you when you need it. They give up a lot of sleep to be there for you when you need it. Day, night, weekend, holiday. It doesn’t matter. When the pager goes off, they respond.