Thankful Thursday: Freedom Isn’t Free

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Stephanie Kanak

Hi! I'm Stephanie, owner of QuotesGratitude.com. I hope this blog and my collection of gratitude quotes is a place to find hope, inspiration and encouragement to incorporate a sense of gratitude into your life. Connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
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“Freedom is never free.”

~ Unknown

When my son was in preschool we stopped at an area McDonald’s for lunch one day. A group of Army soldiers in uniform were there in transit to a base nearby.

“Who are those guys, Mommy?” my son asked, wide-eyed.

“They are heroes, ” I told him, “They are in the Army and they work hard as soldiers to protect our country.” After we finished eating, my son wanted to go say “Hi” to them. I agreed although I wasn’t sure whether we would be bothering the men or not.

I am not one of those people that finds it easy to talk to random strangers. I envy people like that. But when you have kids, you have to be who they need you to be, whether you have it in you or not. So I approached the men.

“Hi,” I said introducing myself, “My son just wanted to say hello to you. He noticed your uniforms.”

“Oh hey there buddy!” said one of the men, “What’s your name?”

“I um, I just wanted to say hi!” my son answered excitedly,”and thank you for protecting me… and being heroes… and I think you’re brave.”

“Well, thanks buddy,” he replied and went on to share a little bit about what his unit did and where and answered all my son’s questions. My son was beyond impressed. So was I. When the conversation was over, one of the men thanked me, “You know, I have a son his age. I miss him terribly. Thanks for spending some time with us.”

It was at that moment the phrase “Freedom isn’t free” became real to me. It’s not just some nameless, faceless soldier out there giving his life to the cause of freedom. It’s a father that sacrifices his time with his young son. It’s a mom that has to raise her children alone while her husband is deployed. It’s a son that misses his dad. It’s millions of daily sacrifices that people all across this country, of all ages, make to maintain America’s freedom. We should remember that and be grateful.

Thank You Moment
Thank you to those who’ve served our country, protected our freedom and made sacrifices I can only imagine. Our nation continues to be built upon your backs. And thank you to their families and friends who’ve walked the long road behind them in support.

Thankful Thursday: Small Acts of Kindness and Love

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Stephanie Kanak

Hi! I'm Stephanie, owner of QuotesGratitude.com. I hope this blog and my collection of gratitude quotes is a place to find hope, inspiration and encouragement to incorporate a sense of gratitude into your life. Connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
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Anniversary sign from my husband - I serve 3 meals, frozen, microwave and takeout.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”

~ Victor Hugo

When we were first married, my husband and I would each take a turn, on opposite years, planning our annual wedding anniversary getaway trip where we would spend some time relaxing at a romantic Bed and Breakfast within a few hours’ drive from our home.

One particular year, my husband planned a trip to Lancaster, PA. If you’re unfamiliar with this area, it’s filled with rural farmland where the Amish live. It is known for handmade craft items, great food and beautiful scenic views. While we were shopping at one of the Amish country stores, my husband bought me a surprise present. It was a hand painted sign for our kitchen. Don’t get too excited.  My romantic, thoughtful kitchen sign said, “I serve 3 meals: Frozen, Microwave and Takeout”.

It takes a brave man, confident in his relationship with his wife, to give a sign like that to any woman on their anniversary.

Instead of being offended, though, I was touched remembering all the cooking “experiments” he suffered through during the first years of our marriage without complaining. We both laughed about it and that Amish sign is still in my kitchen today.  It helped me realize that my husband didn’t love me because I was perfect. He loved me in spite of my faults. And he encouraged me as I grew out of them. He still does.

Thank You Moment
Marriage is a moving target because both people are and should always be changing. They are continually growing into their relationship together, with the other person’s help. I am a much better person today, because of my husband, then I could ever have become without him. I am so grateful for his sense of humor, willingness to eat my cooking, and so many other loving acts of kindness too numerous to mention.

How has the love of another person changed you?  Consider the simple acts of kindness that are so easy to overlook in the busyness of everyday life and be grateful that someone loves you enough to do them. 

Thankful Thursday: The Heart of a Father

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Stephanie Kanak

Hi! I'm Stephanie, owner of QuotesGratitude.com. I hope this blog and my collection of gratitude quotes is a place to find hope, inspiration and encouragement to incorporate a sense of gratitude into your life. Connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21 NKJV

In the early years of our marriage, we received the devastating news from our Infertility Specialist that I would never be able to have children. It was one of those seasons in life that either makes or breaks your faith. Why had God put such a desire for children on both my husband and I without any way to make it happen?

When we got married I loved my husband, but during our infertility struggles, I finally understood his heart. It was the heart of a man who loved his children and was willing to go through anything, no matter what, even before they ever existed. This is what makes a Father out of a man.

If I could see that, why didn’t God?

Eventually, we came to a place of surrender and trust. In surrendering, we acknowledged our helplessness to make the facts of my physical condition any different. In trusting, we left it (walked away from it, didn’t turn back, and gave it all) completely in God’s hands. If it was truly from Him, He would make a way. Somehow.

Today, we have 2 beautiful healthy children that were conceived without any infertility treatments. God is indeed good.

Thank You Moment:

The difficult and heartbreaking journey to have children, filled with its delays and detours, did more to prepare our hearts to become parents then anything we could have done ourselves. As difficult as it was to go through, I’m filled with gratitude for who it made me and for the God who brought me through it.

As we approach Father’s Day, reflect on some of the challenges your own father overcame to become your dad. Can you find a way to be grateful for who it made you?

Thankful Thursday: Three Things Great Teachers Do

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Stephanie Kanak

Hi! I'm Stephanie, owner of QuotesGratitude.com. I hope this blog and my collection of gratitude quotes is a place to find hope, inspiration and encouragement to incorporate a sense of gratitude into your life. Connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!
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“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

–Henry Brooks Adams

My son’s 4th grade teacher has been teaching for 23 years. She has the experience of a seasoned teacher but the joy and excitement of a recent grad. What a blessing she has been to all of these kids! I’m so very thankful for her!

Here are three things that made her a great teacher and why I’m grateful for her, and all the dedicated teachers like her, that do more than just teach the academics well.

1.) I’m grateful when teachers teach citizenship WITH responsibility.

My son’s teacher defined and enforced a consistent classroom structure AND instilled a sense of responsibility on the part of the children in the classroom for maintaining it. Kids need boundaries. They need to know that there are rules of their environment and consequences for breaking them. But they also need to know they have a responsibility for their environment. The classroom is a small model of the community we live in. It’s a safe place where our children get to practice how they will be confident, caring, and responsible members of society. You cannot teach about the history of our government without teaching the character traits that make a good leaders.

2.) I’m grateful when teachers emphasize work-life balance.

For as much as she was structured, my son’s teacher was also flexible. She had a system that rewarded consistent behavior with a free homework pass. If you turned in a certain number of homework assignments, you earned a free homework pass to use on any day you wanted. You could save them up for a certain week, or use them as needed. What was great about this system was that wasn’t based on performance, it was based on consistency. The message was that when you regularly meet all the requirements of your “work”, it’s ok to take a break once in a while. What a great way to teach work-life balance that wasn’t at the expense of a good work ethic.

3.) I’m grateful when teachers have a good sense of humor.

World's Goodest Teecher (end of year teacher gift)

Kids are kids. They like riddles and jokes and to have fun. Good teachers know how to balance this with the need to get school work done. My son’s teacher did this really well.

This is a picture of the end of the year gift (a t-shirt) I made from the class to my son’s teacher. Each student had a chance to sign the back of the shirt during the end of the year class party. Then they presented it to her with mischievous glee at the obvious grammar and spelling errors. She loved it and laughed when she saw it. And the kids loved it too. Being able to laugh with a teacher and still respect them is a great gift.

Thank You Moment

Thank you to all the teachers, like my son’s, that pour so much of themselves into their jobs. You are making a difference, not just with your students, but with their families too. Be encouraged and keep doing what you’re doing!

Do you know a great teacher that has made a difference in your life or the life of your children? I’d love to hear about it. I’d also encourage you to send a note of thanks to them for investing so much of themselves into you or your child.