A Farmhouse Taught Me What I Know About Gratitude

A Farmhouse Taught Me What I Know About Gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.
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I’m not sure when exactly it’s supposed to hit you that you’re a grown-up, or really if it is one specific time, but I know that something that comes along with becoming a real grown-up is the idea of gratitude. I learned this from being away from my family and the farmhouse that I grew up in.

I don’t mean that in moving away to college I have learned in one of my lectures what the definition of gratitude is, but rather moving away from what I have always had has allowed me to recognize just what I did have.

My Nana and Papaw have lived in a white-walled, black-roofed farmhouse since my mom was a little girl. My nana always used to tell us it was built by Native Americans, and I believed her until I was probably 12 years old. (It is old, but not that old.) It has ivy leaves covering the whole north side of the house and a decent sized hand-built wooden porch in the backyard. There is a rope hanging from what I used to think was the biggest tree in the world over the porch. I have memories of my cousins and I swinging off the side of the deck pretending to be Tarzan, stopping my mom’s heart every time our feet left the safety of the wood until the second they landed.

On the side of the house, there is another deck. This one has a porch swing, and now, half of it is filled with the wood stacks to use for the fireplace in the winter. Two old garages, filled with one man’s garbage and another man’s treasure peek out from the woods in the backyard. The home looks out onto a cornfield and faces west, perfect for sitting on the back of the pickup truck to watch the sunsets. The driveway is inviting, long and gravel-paved. I remember my dad dropping us off at the end of it and my sisters and I racing his car, as he barely touched the gas, letting us think we were the coolest of kids for beating him to the front door.

Growing up, each of these things meant so much to me. The gravel driveway was a runway and a creek for my cousins and me to build dams with the hose on in the summer while my mom and aunts would make lunch. The garages were grounds for adventure, treasure hunting, and finding trinkets. The ventilation hole above the fireplace was the location of a newly-invented pulley system for dad to put snacks in our makeshift caddy as we reeled it back upstairs so that we didn’t have to go downstairs to get candy.

The basement was a mystery and a place for spooky stories that we would never know the answers to. The dolphin wallpaper in the bedroom upstairs was perfect for our mermaid adventures, and the curved staircase was a perfect Barbie Dreamhouse. The living room was the stage for Christmas Eve plays that my cousins and I would put on for our parents. This house was our world.

Looking back, after spending time in my little four-walled dorm room, three hours from my family, and three hours from my cousins, who are growing up before my eyes and making memories without me, I have learned what gratitude feels like. I have learned how much of a blessing it is to have a family that can come together in a farmhouse in Ohio every month, to have support from my aunts and uncles in order to do whatever I want, to have cousins who are more like best friends, and to have a place that I can call home.

I have learned that I may not have come from the wealthiest family, but I came from a family full of love and joy and that is what matters. Being raised a Martin has given me the confidence to be proud of where I have come from and the trust to know that He is taking me far and onto better things. I feel confident that this newfound feeling of true gratitude will keep me grounded in my endeavors in the future, that no matter how far I go, I will always have the long gravel road up to that farmhouse.

Cover Image Credit: Erika Glover

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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.
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Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.


Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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Poetry on Odyssey: Broken Girl

He held her up

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and then one day, she stopped pursuing the things of this world

she picked up God's armor

prepared herself with the spirit's sword

and from then on, God never let go of her

she stumbled often

He held her up

sometimes she doubted

He taught her to trust

she would stress over how to win the battles

He would reassure her that peace would soon be restored

while she was fretting over those small battles,

He'd already won the war

through every hardship he was with her

whenever she felt alone, he reminded her that she was not

whenever she began trusting in herself, He reminded her to surrender

a love as great as the Lord's could never be bought

she deserved no grace at all

but he blessed her beyond compare

He always listened when she called

lifted her burdens when she cast her cares

she does the best she can to devote her life to Him

and though she falls short of his glory

he loves her and sees beauty when all she sees is a girl who's broken

He keeps her going because His mercies are new every morning


Originally posted on my blog, Rithimus Poeta. (rithimuspoeta.blogspot.com)

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