But to be sure, there are far more things that actually matter that I consider blessings. My mother-in-law has been listing the things she's grateful for on her blog, much like Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Some things on her list are pretty basic, like "sprinkler systems" and "pancakes for dinner". Others are major, like "the constancy of God". Yesterday I listed a few little things, but today I think I'd like to publicly thank God for some of the big things, specifically my husband's family.
I might as well start with my mother-in-law, since I'm talking about her blog. Basically, I'm certain I have the best mother-in-law around. My mom always loved my dad's mom, and said she never understood why there was such a negative connotation regarding mother-in-laws. I always hoped I'd be lucky enough to get someone like my Grandma Wuth, and have the kind of relationship with my husband's mother that my mom had with her husband's mother. If you take one peek at Noreen's blog, you can plainly see that I'm lucky to know her - even luckier to be married to her son. Noreen is so sweet, so smart, and so funny. She's incredibly encouraging and positive, even though the past few years have been very difficult. I'm also grateful for my father-in-law, and the amazing example Woody has been of trusting in God and persevering. He is so joyful, always smiling, and I love watching the kind of husband he is to Noreen. I don't think I could ever think of a negative thing about either one of them - except for the fact that they live too far away. Thanks for being awesome and raising a son for me to love, Woody and Noreen.
Besides his mom, I think two other women influenced Sam greatly, making him the man he is today. One of them is Grandma Oda, Noreen's mom. If I can be thankful for a mother-in-law, I'm also thankful for a grandmother-in-law! But the great thing about her is she has never made me feel like an "in-law". From the beginning, she treated me as if I were her own grandchild, and does the same with Brett and Brady, my brothers-in-law. I can always tell when Sam has talked to his grandma on the phone - he is more calm, definitely wiser, and usually highly motivated. She's one of the most generous people I've met, and possibly the most inspiring. She has mastered the art of living life to the fullest and makes the most of each day.
The other woman that influenced Sam in a huge way was Sara. I couldn't possibly describe in one blog how her strength and character influenced her big brother; I don't even think a book would sufficiently describe it. Though I only knew her for two years, I witnessed an incredible faith and indescribable joy in Sara throughout her journey with cancer. I'm so grateful to have met her and developed a friendship and relationship with her. She's the one who "proposed" to me with a sister's ring after Sam proposed, which was Heidi, Kari, and Sara's way of inviting me into the family.
I was pretty intimidated coming into a family of three girls and a boy, particularly because I come from a family of three girls and a boy, and as sisters we are very protective of our one brother. But they couldn't have been more kind and welcoming to me, even putting up with my dry humor and sarcasm. (It didn't hurt that I loved musicals and Friends, either.) I've been so grateful to have Kari here in Salem, a built-in friend when we moved here, someone I can be real and honest with, knowing she won't judge me. I really wish Heidi lived her as well; she and I could talk about and share books, she could teach me how to run, and she'd probably be making us laugh constantly.
I'm really grateful for these people because they all had a part in making Sam who he is. He's not perfect, but he is a wonderful husband and person. He always tries to take care of me, make me happy, and improve our marriage. He encourages me when I need it, and challenges me when I need it. I'm simply blessed to know him.