Once upon a time, there was a little girl who knew nothing of hurt and pain. She believed she had experienced difficult times but was strong enough to rise above the pain. The little girl was so very naive. The girl eventually grew into a woman who knew much of heartache and loneliness. A woman with a greater understanding of how easy it is to walk through life completely isolated and alone. A woman who now can recognize when thorns and thistles of deep pain encase another. A woman with an appreciation for those who walk through fire with her, shielding the flames and flickers from the deepest part of the burning valley.
Let me fill you in on a backstory. A story I will not share completely, because it is still unfolding before me. I lost someone dear to me. It was expectantly sudden. What does that mean? Well, my father had battled cardiovascular disease his entire life. From the time I was five years old I watched my massive father be brought to his knees over and over again. Once I moved out of the home, every call or voicemail from home brought sheer terror, fear of the inevitable words, “your dad had another heart attack”. Somehow, despite all odds, this man, stronger than any other, always returned to us. Another chip taken from his poker game, but still present. Until, all the chips were gone and the cards fell to the table. It was expectantly sudden for him to leave us. We knew the day would come, but we did not.
You would think this was the worst part of the journey, but it proved otherwise. The joyful pain which followed was the birth of my first child five weeks later. The season of joyful pain proved even more difficult as the screams ran through the day and night of a child unable to speak of his reflux and colic. Much more came into the winter season of this life. Through it all, holding my hand, guiding me back to my spring season of new beginnings and beauty; were my grateful hearts.
Even though there are many more hearts to include, I hosted a few of them in my home for my first ever Friendsgiving. Y’all I am a planner, a delegator, an organizer and hospitality jazzed woman. I could not wait to have us together, with all our delicious dishes to contribute. I had it all planned and ready to execute. I had grandeur plans of lights on the deck and beautifully creative decor. None of which actually came to fruition. The day before our event, the wind blew too hard to set up and of course, the weather pulled a typical Arkansas mood swing; dropping 15+ degrees in a few hours. It was way too cold to have tiny people outside! But as my big plans of decor and perfect pictures fell to the wayside, the greater purpose was brought to my memory. The gathering of grateful hearts. Those who have walked with me, the ones who grabbed my hand, and lifted my head when I could not find the strength to do it on my own. All together, laughing, and catching up on lost time. Enjoying each other’s company while our children play together, wild and free. If you were to look in on the gathering you would assume we have it all together and live easy lives. But through the years each family has faced trials and felt the swarm of love and overflowing prayers.
We are a group of people who have seen each other at the lowest and worst, but the love never ceased. Unconditional love, real love, a true family.
We are a group of people who appreciate family, love, comfort. Even when we do not have time to be together as often as we would like, it is never awkward or odd. Comfortable without rival or judgement.
We are a group of people who embrace each other’s children, caring deeply for them as if they were our own.
We are a group of people who earnestly pray for the marriages, the children, the health, the finances, and the well-being of each other.
Somehow, we are family. All so very different. We are not perfect. Nor do we expect each other to be. We have all had trials and been unable to see above our circumstances. We have all needed someone to pray on our behalf when we could not bring ourselves to do so.
But we know, this is life.
To walk alone is dangerous.
To believe you need no one is a lie.
To never ask for help is foolish.
And as for me, my heart is forever thankful for those grateful hearts which gathered in my home.
Your Local Dietitian