I sat on the couch wrapped in a cozy blanket being warmed by the fire. The sounds of the wood  were softly crackling and the light of the reflecting flames were dancing off the walls. It all seemed like a set up for such a novel worthy moment, but this was the backdrop to me watching a really ridiculous show which I found myself strangely glued to.

I watched the absurd reality television personalities acting out a life they either chose or one they can’t find their way out of or somehow a combination of both. In the utter dysfunction I watched a group of long time friends interact and casually deal with deep-rooted issues. They knew each other well enough to know the subtle changes to the more astounding growth each had made and yet, somehow they still remained in a level of immaturity inexcusable for their age.

After watching such a shallow imitation of life, I wondered why I was contemplative. My own emotions began to stir and unbeknownst to me, I found myself grateful.

Grateful.

It seemed an odd reaction to the show, but I’ve decided to roll with my unfolding emotions lately. If something is ready to pour out and be dealt with, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and put in some work.

Even in the dysfunction of what played out before me, there was genuine connection; there were people who cared for each other. These friendships had spanned over a decade – something had kept them loyal to each other; something made them put in the work to stay connected. There were men who, as childish and crass as they were, truly cared for these women they had known since they were young enough to match the adolescent state of mind they still lived in.

So I found myself grateful and near tears.

I am grateful for the good men in my life. I am grateful for the men who walk in honor, integrity, faithfulness, loyalty, wisdom, respect, care, genuine concern for others, and well, a love for me.

I am grateful for Michael Pedroza who has been genuinely interested and concerned with what I am going through since the day I met him. He is a man who loves his wife, adores his children, and is passionate about loving those around him with all that he has.

I am grateful for Stefan Gartrell who has walked in a humility that doesn’t make sense for a man of his abilities. He is a man who honors his wife, passionately invests in his children, and is committed to providing resources and access for people to live the dreams within them.

I am grateful for Ruben Alvarado who is consistent, steady, creative, and authentic. He is a man who pursues his passion, he uses his talents, abilities, and favor to bless those around him, and he looks at the world with such wonder.

I am grateful for my Nino (Ben Lucero) who has been used to heal parts of my heart that had been burned down by disappointment and pain. He is a man who sacrifices for his family, faithfully loves his wife, fights for his children, and adopts the ones cut off and forgotten. He nurtures God-given gifts, protects you from yourself, and guides you into the arms of the One he has allowed himself to be held by. He walks in integrity, honesty, wisdom, unrelenting conviction, humility, and faith.

I am grateful for Jack Antonsen who is genuine, selfless, long-suffering, honest, determined, and loving. He is a man who walks in conviction, integrity and honor. He is a man who has helped me move more times than either of us can count, he has brought me food when I was being a pouty brat, he has driven across town just to get the medicine out of the cabinet because I was in too much pain to get out of bed, and he has never spoken poorly of me even though he has the most dirt on me. Most of all, he is a man who has allowed me to be myself without expectation of anything more or less.

I thought of these men tonight and was grateful for the pure love each has shown me. I am moved to tears as I think of how they love their families and how they uniquely and genuinely care for those that are placed around them. They are men who walk with open arms, men who invite you to the table, men who value women, and men who know to be a man is to be vulnerable and authentic with the real ones.

Who are you grateful for? Today, right now – this is the best time to let them know.

 

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