Southern Thanks

So I teach 7th and 8th grade English in Hendersonville, and I have what they call an Exploratory class during 3rd period. It’s where I can do extra English-related things like debates and creative writing.

Today, since tomorrow my students will be doing a project all morning and we are out the rest of the week, I had my Exploratory class make a list of the five things they are most thankful for and write a paragraph (at least five sentences) for each explaining why they are so thankful for that thing/person.

I decided I would also take the opportunity, so here is my list:

I am very thankful for my job as a teacher at Knox Doss. It is sometimes frustrating, always challenging, and never boring. The faculty here are so close that we are almost like family. Mr. Hayes and Mrs. Rogers are very understanding of the work we have to do as teachers because they have done the job, which makes them excellent advocates as principals. The community and parents are very involved, allowing for more activities for the students to be involved. It is a bit of a long drive, but it is worth every mile.

Music is my favorite non-human thing in this world. I am so thankful for the ability to hear, sing, write, and play music. Music has always been an outlet for my emotions as I am a person of strong feelings. The musical gifts God has given me have enriched my life immensely. I hope that I can use my gifts to enrich others as well.

My friends are very important to me. I have several good friends, but a small core group who loves and cares for my family and me as I do them. Life is rough, but my friends encourage me to push through the dark times until the sun comes back out. This type of support system outside of a family is paramount to living a successful life. “No man is an island,” the poet John Donne wrote, and I am connected to many great friends.

My family has supported me throughout my entire life in everything I have done. Whether it was drama, music, sports, or my career, my family has always been there for me. Whenever I need someone to talk to, I have so many ears to listen, hugs ready to give, and shoulders on which to cry. I am proud of my name because of the people who share it with me. Now that I’m married, my wife’s family is just as much of a support to me, and I love them for that.

Madelyn Brooke Dudley was born on May 6, 2015, and my life changed forever for the better. My daughter brings so much joy to every day that I cannot remember my life before her. I love watching her grow and learn, and I cannot wait to see the young woman she becomes. She is always happy and curious, and she wants to figure things out all the time. I hope to raise her well. Being a parent is an extremely difficult job, but it is enormously rewarding.

On May 4, 2009, I had my first date with the woman who I never knew I always wanted. Channing came into my life and made me want to be a better man to deserve her. We married on December 3, 2011, and our life has not always been easy, but it has been full of love. Without Channing, I am not sure what kind of person I would be today, but I am sure it would not be as happy. She makes me smile just knowing that she loves me, even though I do not know why. I am so glad that she made me a father, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of our life has in store.

On February 21, 1999, I was baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and my salvation is the thing for which I am most thankful. God has blessed me with all the things listed above and so much more. Without Christ in my life, all of these things would be meaningless. I can spend eternity with my God as well as my family, who raised me to be a Christian in a fallen world. I hope that I can make my Heavenly Father proud of the ambassador that I am for Him.

I have so many more things for which I am thankful, like living in a free country as well as the men and women who fight to keep it free, but this was my list. Yes, I know I did more than five, but I’m the teacher, so I make the rules! Think about the things for which you are most thankful. Remember them this week as well as every other week.

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.