Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's always been my favorite because it seems to open a season of excitement, joy, family time, bountiful food, beautiful decorations, and endless celebrating. There was a part of this Thanksgiving that held very true to that ideal - warm time spent reuniting with family, eating incredible food, playing games and sports, and watching wild turkeys strutting around the lawn in defiance of the holiday. 

However, there was a difficult part to this year's Thanksgiving that deeply touched and changed our family - the horrible news that Matt's mom, Ann Baur, has cancer. We received the painful call as we drove North on 35 and spent the next few days trying to wrap our minds around this and pray for complete healing. The news is something that brings such an ocean of worry and confusion. It's really the kind of thing that can make you feel completely ungrateful and unthankful, yet somehow on this Thanksgiving, Matt and I found that we are more thankful than ever. 

We are amazed at how blessed we are to be born into a Christ-focused family who has a faith that anchors the soul when the storms of life approach- that we have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors who come rushing in to pray and comfort and be close and supportive. We are encouraged by the peace of witnessing grandparents and parents who live in such good, hospitable and Christ-focused ways that though we fear for their health, we never fear for their souls. What a gift that is in times of trouble. 

I started to realize that really the past few Thanksgiving holidays have been painful with our special Great Aunt Frances passing away last Thanksgiving, and Grandpa Heyen passing away the year before that. It seems a very poignant reminder to me that in the midst of trouble and loss, God continues to bless us and bring us together with family, giving us new memories and renewed hope and thanksgiving. 

Below are a few snapshots of this year's Thanksgiving and just a few of the blessings in our life: 

Grammy and Papa have a flock of wild turkeys that roams through their yard. They did not disappoint and made several parades around the house on Thanksgiving Day. It was a neat reminder how beautiful the nature is around their Enid, OK home. It was our last family holiday in the house as they will be moving soon.

Grammy and Papa and Gary and Jess talk and look forward to a December Great-Grandbaby! Almost all of the family was together - only two cousins were missing for Grammy's famous Chicken and Noodles Meal and a long day of catching up over snacks, the guys running to snag holiday deals, and turkey-watching.

Games with the grandkids. 

More turkey-business. 

On Friday morning we drove on to Kansas to visit Grandma Heyen in the Stafford Hospital. We sang her favorite hymns and carols before driving out to the farm. We were given a tour of their newly renovated home - which was very bittersweet. It is incredible to see a house built at the height of 70's styles revamped into a gorgeous modern home ready for a new era of the parties and hosting and fun that it used to hold, but it was a painful reminder that my Grandparents and all of our family traditions are no longer there. I was able to take Matt into Great Grandma and Grandpa's home for the first time and we relived all the family sighs about wishing the place could be moved and renovated. 

After time in Stafford, we drove on to Hillsboro to Uncle Bruce and Aunt Janell's home. An incredible Thanksgiving spread was ready and after the meal we went outside for games, including the annual, and ever-heated family flag-football game.

Saturday morning brunch ended a whirlwind trip for us and we headed home to Austin to check in with Tim and Ann and rest after all the driving.

We know there will be hardships in the coming months, but we were grateful for Thanksgiving this year.

And for a hilarious stop at Taco Bell, where Matt was convinced to buy the house specialty from a very eager salesman.

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