Thankful Thursday: Family and a Tilt-Shift Lens

This is a Thursday series in which I pause and acknowledge something big and important or something small and insignificant that has made me thankful. It is so important and incredibly refreshing to look at the positivity around us, when we are so often surrounded by negativity. 

There has been a lot of heartache in my family lately. Tuesday marked eight years since my grandpa's death, and I miss him all the time. He would have loved the weather we've been having lately. And my great-grandmother Mom Nichols, whom I wrote about here, is in steep decline. We are praying that the last stages of this journey are easy and comfortable for her. It's a hard time. 

But through it all, my family becomes stronger and tighter. We make an even bigger effort to call each other, to share meals together, to squeeze each other a little longer, a little tighter. Funerals are a celebration of life in our family --as they should be-- and I wouldn't have it any other way. It doesn't make the transition, or the loss, any easier, but it's so much better to remember the person as they were, as a joyful, loving being. 

Here's a big old group of us celebrating Mom Nichols's 96th birthday with her three years ago. We just had a massive party for her 99th birthday in August. Our family has a powerful way of bringing people together, and I am so thankful for that. Mom Nichols is such a rockstar matriarch.

And on a lighter note, I would be entirely remiss if I were not to share with you that Donnie gave me my birthday present tonight (only 6 days early-- not too bad!). He made a DIY tilt-shift lens for our camera! A photographer friend of mine totally rocks out the tilt-shift lens, and she made her own, generously sharing the tutorial with me. (They normally cost several thousands of dollars... Yikes!) I causally passed the tutorial on to Donnie, and because he is awesome, he made one for me, and it works, and I'm having so much fun playing with it. It's way too cool. I've mostly been taking pictures of our cats[' butts], but once I get to play with it a little in the daylight, I'll share some pictures! So excited.

So, life is challenging and more emotional right now, but it's also full of so much love and joy and celebration. I'm doing my best to live each moment to its fullest, and begin by being thankful for all the little things.