For those of you who received our Christmas letters in the past, you know we shared the “top 10 blessings” of the prior year. To set the record straight, in case anyone was wondering, the “our and we” used here is really “Kelsey” with a bit of token help from me. I was involved in thinking through the blessings, a bit of proof reading and help with when she needed to trim things down to fit nicely on the layout of our Christmas card. As today marks 6 months since the day Kelsey stepped into eternity with Christ, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share our top 10 list from 2014. Although I haven’t discussed them with Kelsey, I am sure she would share many similar sentiments (but would probably say them better than I will). I tried to do somewhat of a countdown, but many of these are ties, so the order doesn’t mean too much (with the exception of the number 1 blessing).
Top 10 Blessings of 2014
10. Care and caregivers - We were blessed to have caring doctors and nurses throughout the journey (during and after biopsies and surgeries and as Kelsey neared the end of her life). Knowing that Kelsey was not in pain in the final hours of her life was a comfort.
9. Work family - The support I have received throughout this “unexpected journey” has been incredible. What a blessing to have coworkers and bosses who are genuinely concerned with how I am doing and have been (and continue to be) incredibly flexible.
8. Grief stories - It has been a blessing to interact with others who are walking through the road of grief. Hope is offered when there is testimony upon testimony of God’s faithfulness. Books, the grief group through Calm Waters, and the new friendships I have with men who are at a similar place or a bit further down the road have been invaluable resources.
7. Church family - My local church has been (and continues to be) so supportive. We have also seen the church universal lift us up in constant prayer. Thank you for being God’s hands and feet. You gave me a reason to be grateful for Facebook.
6. Friends - They have been so willing to dive in and help: watching Alexa, running errands, mowing the lawn, listening to me verbally process (sometimes a messy affair) and other duties as assigned.
5. Family - I am blessed with two wonderful families. I cannot imagine the journey without them. Caring for Alexa, caring for Kelsey, miles traveled on the roads and in airplanes, encouraging phone calls, texts and emails, and constant words of affirmation are just a few of the blessings that you have brought into my life in this past year. I thank God daily for each of you!
4. Tangible memories - Kelsey left our family with a richness of memories. Many we have in tangible form: photos, videos, and written words (cards, the blog, her diary, and her notes from Bible Study Fellowship). A beautiful legacy to pass along to Alexa.
3. Alexa Hope - How true her middle name has proved to be. Caring for her gives me hope. Seeing her grow and blossom in her interactions with others and her delight in life gives me great joy. I am SO thankful she is eating.
2. 3013 days - The number of days I was married to Kelsey. Although technically only 186 days of our marriage were in 2014, I am thankful for each day. There were hard days, sad days, joyful days, challenging days, exciting days and fun days, but sharing 3013 days with such a special gift from God was a privilege.
1. Christ - He is the one I cling to. His birth, life, death and resurrection provide me with a confidence and hope. One day there will be a joyous reunion. Death, tears and sadness will be all made right.
Another blessing (which, if included, would result in a top 11 list, so was not included) is music. Thanks to each you who have shared music – it continues to be an encouragement. If you are curious what is in my playlist now, here is a YouTube playlist (this is the order I heard them on shuffle this evening). I will not be offended if you don’t listen to all of the songs (it is an hour and 55 minutes).
And, a couple recent photos of Alexa that capture some of her delight in life: