I'm posting today from beautiful Perdido Key in Orange Beach, Alabama. We arrived last night and have had a glorious morning playing on the beach. The weather is great, and the beach is perfect--with just enough other beachgoers for our children to make friends and have playmates, but by no means crowded. I've already had the chance to eat some gumbo and shrimp, so life is good.
It's an emotional trip for me. It's my first visit here in three years, since we evacuated this very place on the day Hurricane Ivan hit. Our two bedroom Gulf-front condo (which we co-own with another couple and the bank) took a pounding, and the restoration has been slow, difficult, expensive, maddening, and depressing. When I was here last, my children were babies, I was a partner and board member of one of the largest multi-specialty physician practices in the Southeast, I was busy in church teaching Sunday school every week and serving on the pastor search committee,and I was not yet forty years old. Today, I'm an exhaused almost-43 year old who has weathered a tumultuous year building my own solo internal medicine practice, a venture which has been both consuming and liberating, both frightening and comforting, and stressful yet strengthening.
This brings me to the title of this post--thankfulness. I am most thankful to my wonderful wife, who has stood by me while I have upended her life, and who has been instrumental in building what is now clearly a successful solo medical practice. Thanks to her unconditional love and her willingness to allow me to take risks, we have built what I believe is a unique medical practice, one that is making a difference in people's lives, and one that is positioned to withstand the turbulent times ahead for primary care medicine. Not only has Mary Kaye stood by me, steadfast, but she has home-schooled our children with measurable success, and along the way she's managed to complete re-licensure as a physical therapist to boot, providing much-needed financial support for our family during my practice start-up. Not one woman in a million could have accomplished what she's done, and I'm so proud of her I could burst. Oh yes, that's not to mention that I've also relied on her to take the lead in all the dealings required for restoration of our condo. In all things, in every aspect of my life, she has made better anything I've been part of. I love you, Mary Kaye.
I'm also thankful to God, who has blessed me with Mary Kaye and three wonderful, intelligent, rambunctious, and unique children. They are a joy. Granted, they are expensive, tiring, and exasperating, but they are mainly a joy. I revel in them even as I take seriously my responsibility to raise them. God has also blessed my practice, and I see His hand evident whenever I take the time to look. A close friend who has been a pastor has remarked to me how energizing it is to minister to people, even in the face of an exhausting schedule, and I see that also in my work--I feel a God-given sense of satisfaction and fulfillment when I help people through my medical practice. I almost feel that to talk about that God-given motivation may somehow cheapen it or open it to ridicule, so I won't dwell on it, but it's there, and it's real, and I'm thankful to God for His blessing in bestowing it.
The kids are studying the founding of America in their history lessons, and their study has opened my eyes anew to God's blessings on our nation. We all ought to be thankful to be Americans. I will often rant and criticize about political issues, but I must remember to be more thankful for our system of government. I do believe God had a special and unique plan in the founding of our nation, though I shudder in fear at how far we've strayed from His principles.
I'll close for now, with plans to post again during our vacation. Beach and nap and seafood are calling, and I'm thankful for them, as well...