Today is the 2nd year anniversary of my release from prison. My experience in prison has given me appreciation of things I’ve never really appreciated before. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus… So now, as I reflect on the things I am thankful for, I can truly attest to feelings of appreciation that are new.

As soon as Thanksgiving was over and I was driving home at night from visiting my sons, I drank in deep the beautiful decorations on the homes. Twinkling lights adorning the rooftops and shrubs, Christmas trees shining through the windows, candles in the windows, and the occasional nativity in the yard. My heart was blessed with the beauty. I remember when I just got home from SFF Hazelton, I told my husband I wanted to drive and see the decorations. It was the first time in 2 years, and I drank it all in. I guess now, the feelings I have when I see the decorations is that feeling of freedom that I experienced in 2015.

Because of the attack on me in 2010, I was estranged from my 2 sons and their families. But over the last year, that estrangement has subsided. I am truly blessed. I can now visit with my grandchildren (2 with each son), and enjoy their growing up. From 3 to 9 years old, they are a true blessing, and every time I get to see them, I am thankful.

I am thankful for my husband. If it weren’t for him I would be homeless and basically destitute, living off a minimal social security check. My husband never deserted me in spite of the fact that he is handicapped with cerebral palsy and retinitis pigmentosa, making him physically handicapped and virtually blind. During my 26 months of incarceration, he had to depend on friends to get his groceries and take him to church and doctor’s appointments. As a result of the toxicity from his stress and acidifying diet, he had a heart attack as well. But he never left me, in spite of people telling him he should. I met many a woman in prison who will be homeless and destitute when they leave, and I am so thankful I am not one of them. Naturally, if I was I would still give God thanks even for that, but I’m happy I am blessed with a husband, a home, a car, food on the table, and all of my basic needs met.

I am thankful for being able to go to church and worship. I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me in my adult life, to the point that I got angry with God. But the Walk to Emmaus in 2003 brought me back into a real relationship, and no matter what the devil throws at me now, I have the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for all of my new friends—the attacked victims of government persecution—that I’ve met during my development of I am thankful that they are willing to stand up and fight for our rights to follow the Hippocratic Oath.

I am thankful for the beauty of the world we live in.  I travel down one of the most beautiful stretches of interstate (IMO)—I 81 in Virginia, between the Appalachians and the Blue Ridge. I look at the mountains in their splendor, and think of Psalm 121:

1I lift up my eyes to the mountains
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

The sounds of a trickling stream when I hike, the beauty of songbirds in the trees, the sounds of the surf when we visit the ocean, the beauty of the monuments in Washington, DC. Even the lanes of stopped traffic when we were returning from Thanksgiving. I appreciate every experience more now.

I enjoy working outside. For 40 years I had a farm, and I enjoyed working outside. The government took that away from me, but I still enjoy working in the flowerbeds around the house. I raised enough tomatoes and cucumbers this year to can tomatoes and pickles. I’ve planted flowers to enjoy the blossoms for years to come. Even just sitting outside on the wooden swing, watching Charlie, our neighborhood squirrel, the birds, the chameleons, and the bees brings me joy.

So I have so much to be thankful for. Life is beautiful. No matter what your circumstance, just look at the beauty around you, and, if you are a believer, your future with Christ, and be thankful. I don’t know what plans He has for me still, but I know that he will turn the bad done to me by the government into good.