I love this time of year.

Good food. Great fellowship. Time with family and friends.

A heightened sense of gratitude.

The feelings and emotions that accompany this season are unmatched throughout the year. (I am definitely not cooking, cleaning and preparing this much for Arbor Day.)

In the midst of all the general feelings of peace and blessing, life still abounds.

Work deadlines loom. Shopping has to be completed. Crowds will be fought. Stress will increase. Arguments will take place.

It’s this amazing time of celebration mixed with frustration, and the lesson I am attempting to remember this year is to be truly thankful for the hard times as well.

Not the kind of thankfulness where you are glad you made it through the rough patches of the holidays, but the one that comes with joy and peace in the middle of it all.

This year, I will be thankful for the arguments with my wife. Those little insignificant times which could so easily become something bigger if we were to lose sight of the love pulling us closer. I will also try to remember that disagreements stem from passion and the more we channel those passions together the more unstoppable we can be as a couple, a family, friends to those around us and followers of Christ.

I will also be thankful for the toddler tantrums, which seem to be triggered by the most innocuous of events (seriously, I moved her cup a half-inch to the left). This just means I still have a two-year-old – for two more weeks – and I don’t really want time to speed up. The difficulties produced in parenting pale in comparison to the joys I receive as a father.

When I get frustrated with having to share a car, I will be thankful we have a car that runs and gets Becky and I to where we need to be and home safely everyday.

When times are tight and the bank account gets low, I will be thankful for yet another display of God’s faithful provision in our lives and embrace yet another moment to give Him praise.

Stuck in a long checkout line – I am able to purchase what I need.

Having to fix something else in this old house – my family has a warm, safe place to sleep each night.

Cleaning up after our dogs – we’ve been able to enjoy almost a decade with those furry “children” of ours.

Frustrated with writer’s block – well…I have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyway, my prayer is that God helps me to carry on these feelings all year. Our time on earth is really not long and the amount of it I spend annoyed or frustrated at something, I hope, will be almost nothing when I look back at my life in the end.

And by “almost nothing”, I mean like the amount of vegetables that will take up room on my plate this afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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