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Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

“Thanksgiving” by Norman Rockwell

I wrapped up my Thankful Thursdays series last week.  I’ll let you decide if it was intentional or a miscalculation.  (Before you decide, remember I do hold degrees in accounting and finance.  On the other hand, I’d rather balance a buzzing chainsaw than our checkbook.)

Anyhoo.


The six-week countdown was a good reminder of just how much of my life falls under the blanket heading of “blessings.”  But they are/were pretty general in nature, and occasionally I suspect God likes to hear some specific thank-you’s from me.  So here’s just the tip of the iceberg of detailed things I’m grateful for, from A to Z. Some of these are more profound than others, but really – shouldn’t we be grateful for everything we have been given, whether it’s inconsequential or completely essential to our life?

A is for Anthony Shea.  Oldest son, owner of Sadie, my beloved grandpuppy.  He was our parenting guinea pig, and seems to have survived his childhood with a fairly well-adjusted outlook on life, and has become a confident, fun and capable young man.

B is for books.  Starting with the Bible and winding my way through cookbooks, Dr. Seuss, my beloved literary giants, even frothy fiction on the beach.  Books are one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures.  The smell of bookstores and books, new or old, the way the spine creaks when you open a book for the first time.  And the way a well-crafted story draws you into it, and makes you feel and think differently when you’ve finished reading it.

C is for chocolate.  It is and will always be my favorite flavor in the whole wide world.  Creamy milk or smooth and dark – it’s all good.

D is for David Brice.  Younger son, and the child everyone would vote as most like his mama in so many ways.  He too somehow survived his “wonder years” under our parentage and has a way of looking at things that is uniquely his own.  Life with Brice will never, ever be dull.

E is for Eden:  my birth family.  My grandparents, aunts, uncles and my parents and brother all bear this name and they surround me with love, and I love ’em back.  Without them, I wouldn’t be!

F is for football.  It took me a long time to be able to say I love the game, but recently on a trip home (after another frustrating defeat), the car was filled with football talk about the game and upcoming high school matchups that would lead up to the state final championship. And I realized I was in my element.

G is for gardening.  There is something about watching seeds become seedlings and the smell of fresh-turned dirt in the spring that brings me in tune with the One who created me and everything I see when I’m down on hands and knees, tending to things of this earth.

H is for Highland Heights Church of Christ. My spiritual family.  May God bless every one of my brothers and sisters.  It’s not about the place, it’s about the people and the faith and hope we share.

I is for ice cream.  Homemade is best.  A hot fudge sundae can cure almost anything, and an offer to slip out for some ice cream can make an ordinary evening rather extraordinary.

J is for Jesus.  He is my savior, my king, my teacher, my brother.  Everything I need to know about living in this world, I can learn from His example and teachings.  Without Him, I would have no hope for anything beyond this life.

K is for kisses from the dogs.  Puppy kisses are wet and sloppy and their doggy breath is stinky.  But they love me and  never tire of letting me know they do.  The trust and unconditional love of a dog is a treasured gift.

L is for Lea.  Many years ago, my husband’s family opened their hearts and shared their name with me. My mother-in-law is an amazing and precious woman, my brothers- and sister-in-law are as close as blood.  You don’t marry your spouse’s family, but I think I got a pretty good deal when I married into this one.

M is for marshmallows. Roasted and toasted, or all soft and gooey floating on hot, hot chocolate.  Everyone’s life should include some puffy goodness every now and again.

N is for needlework.  From the time I was a child, the women in my life taught me to use my hands to sew, embroider, crochet and knit.  Admittedly, I am not an artistic person by nature, but with a needle in hand, I can create something useful, soft to touch, and pretty to look at.  I’m grateful to those who taught me, and I’ve enjoyed teaching others.  It’s a pass-along gift from one generation to the next.

O is for the Olympics. For thousands of years, humans have pushed their bodies in order to compete against each other.  Watching Olympic athletes is both inspiring and deluding – they make it look so effortless we sometimes forget how much blood, sweat, pain and tears it took them to reach the place where they are.  But it’s a marvelous tradition that has stood the test of time, and continues to challenge us to be better tomorrow than we are today.

P is for polish.  I have a plethora of polishing and cleaning concoctions.  The smell of furniture polish says the house is clean.  Squeaky shiny mirrors and doors let light sparkle and glow.  The simple act of buffing and polishing something from dull and dirty to a soft sheen or high polish reminds me of how God works to remove my rough edges and and dirty spots.  Not to mention, a fresh coat of polish on my toes can make me happy from head to toe.

Q is for Q-tips.  Pure genius.  So small, so soft, and yet so totally useful. And cheap.  Really.  Just try to imagine life without them and then you’ll be thankful for them, too.

R is for rainy days.  There is something healing and soothing in hearing rain drop to earth.  It’s a cool respite in the middle of summer, a gentle noise that can lull us to sleep.  Naps on a rainy day?  Pure, simple pleasure.

S is for Shelby. Our youngest child and only daughter.  Swimmer girl is a beautiful creature inside and out.  I am humbled by her faith, and awed by her capacity to love and understand others, and her love of God and life. Sooner than I care to think about, she will be ready to strike out on her own, and I can’t wait to see how her life turns out.

T is for Tony.  Aka Mr. Official.  And truly, my better half.  God must have thought a lot of me to put this man in my life.  There’s so much more I could say, but if you know him, you know why I love him with my whole heart.

U is for uniforms, especially those worn by men and women who defend and protect us.  Since ancient times, soldiers have worn clothing that sets them apart from civilians, and I am always proud and humbled when I find myself standing next to a member of our military, whether they are in their dress blues or whites, or fatigues.  They have stepped up to the line and set themselves apart by their actions and their attire, and they have my undying admiration and respect.

V is for vacations. In my life, I’ve been privileged to visit from sea to shining sea and quite a few of the places in between.  The thrill of packing in anticipation of a trip, experiencing new vistas and foods, finding just the right keepsake to bring home, and finally returning to our own beds after some time away gives us memories that last a lifetime, and sometimes a new-found perspective.

W is for water.  It’s not only what we’re largely made of, but it replenishes us when we drink it, invigorates us when we jump in, cleanses and calms children (and adults) before bedtime, and reminds us of God’s power and presence when we see his handiwork in thundering waterfalls, mirror-like lakes and pounding ocean waves.

X is for Xerox and X-rays, and all the other marvels of the technological age we live in, where we can replicate anything at the touch of a button, and peer inside our bodies and see babies growing, pinpoint cancerous tumors to remove, and see broken bones that can be made good as new.  We live in a truly amazing era.  And what we know now simply points out how much more we don’t know.

Y is for yoga.  It is part physical, creating flexibility, strength and balance.  It’s also part mental, soothing and calming with steady breathing and focused attention.  An hour of yoga is an hour well spent.

Z is for the zillions of blessings I haven’t begun to list here.  Try to count your blessings, I dare you. They are infinite and they just keep coming, so keep enjoying the life you have and thank God for the the good things He sends your way.  As Harriet Beecher Stowe so eloquently put it,

“Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude.”

Today is the big day.  It starts with the Macy’s Day Parade (shout out to Evan O’Neal, who will be marching in it!) and turkey and all the trimmings. I pray for safe travels for all of us going “over the river and through the woods,” and an edifying and peaceful day of giving thanks for all we have.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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A few weeks ago, I started a weekly countdown of six things I am most thankful for, each of which begin with the letters of the word “THANKS”.   In the last three weeks, I’ve counted off three major blessings I enjoy:

Today
Health
Abode

This week, I am thankful for two things (because it’s hard to limit myself to just one blessing per week):

necessities (and niceties)
We are so blessed in this country and in this era, we don’t even begin to comprehend how much we have and that we take for granted.  Most of us have never gone without a meal or been forced to sleep without a roof over our heads or lack clothing to keep us covered and warm.

We have all that we need, and most of what we want, to boot. Unfortunately, the more we have, the more we want.  My desire is to learn to give as freely as I’ve been prospered, knowing I cannot out-give our creator.  He tells us this in the 3rd chapter of Malachi:


“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it..”
Even the poorest among our nation are rich compared to almost anywhere else in the world.  I hope we all take time to take stock of what we have been blessed with, and generously share with others who are not as fortunate.  

Between now and the end of the year, it’s so easy to find ways to give back:  angel trees are full of children’s wishlists; animal shelters need old towels and blankets along with food; free coat giveaways abound: fruit baskets are prepared and delivered to shut-ins; soup kitchens and food pantries need helpers and donations of fresh foods and canned goods.  And most importantly, share your faith.  That can be the best gift of all.  I hope we all find a way to make a difference in another person’s life, anonymously or personally, both now and throughout the year because those who need help need it year-round, not just at this season.

So what are YOU most thankful for today?  Extra credit if it starts with the letter “N!”

Happy thanks-giving,

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Two weeks ago, I started a countdown of six things I’m most thankful for and each begins with one of the letters of the word “THANKS”.   First was Today, because it is all we can really say we have for certain.  Last week was Health, something I all too often take for granted. This week, I am thankful for…

abode.
Webster’s defines “abode” as a temporary place to abide or dwell; a habitation.  Our homes may be old or new, humble or grand – it’s all relative.  As long as we are mindful that our earthly dwelling is temporary and we use it wisely, our home is truly a blessing to all who gather under its roof.
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;by knowledge the rooms are filled  with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24: 3-4)
“Home for Thanksgiving” by Grandma Moses

I love our home and the good times and wonderful memories we create as a family living inside these walls.  Someday, it will be just a place we passed through.  Until then, I pray that God continues to bless our home and all who dwell within with wisdom and faith.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  Friends who know me well also know I skip past Halloween, so that gives me lots of time to decorate our home with fall stuff.  This Grandma Moses print is especially poignant, as I remember a Moses print hanging above on the wall behind the dining room table in my grandparent’s home.  I think it captures the true essence of welcoming family home for the holidays.  It’s not about having a grand home or setting a magazine-perfect table, but the joy of seeing family and friends gather together.  I snagged a copy of this from eBay for $3.50 the other day – can’t wait for it to arrive so I can frame it up and move the mantel forward another step toward the holidays.

Of course, these days there’s almost always something cooking or baking as I plow my way through old and new recipes for rib-sticking, heart-warming foods.  (Yes, last week’s focus was on health, which means avoiding the fattening and rich foods of the holidays.  It’s not a paradox  I cook up a storm, but then send plates of goodies with Mr. Official to share with his staff and co-workers – a few nibbles and bites for everyone means no lasting harm to anyone’s waistline or blood sugar levels.  This week’s bake-a-thon is turning out cinnamon pumpkin pull-apart bread, pumpkin-spice baked donut holes and sour cream chocolate chip bread.  Mmmm, mmmm, good.)

Happy thanks-giving,

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A Day of Thankfulness

Each Thursday this month, I’ve added to a growing list of things I am thankful for. On this Thanksgiving Thursday, my list of blessings is topped off with these seven:

  1. A safe trip.  We had an uneventful trip across four states to reach our destination.  We encountered cold and windy weather, but my trusty car got us safe and sound to where we were going.  I pray for everyone to have safe travels to and fro this week.
  2. Creature comforts.  We enjoy plenty of clean, dry, warm clothing, cozy beds and comfortable surroundings, 24/7/365.  Driving to our hotel in downtown St. Louis last night, I saw men and women who were obviously homeless and it is humbling to realize how much we take for granted.
  3. Jobs and health.  God has blessed us with an ability to support ourselves, provide for our children and enjoy life without major health issues.   It’s a huge understatement to acknowledge that not everyone is as fortunate.  May we always appreciate our health and ability to earn a living.
  4. Friends.  If I tried to name all the friends who have been part of my life from childhood to now, I would be counting a very long time.  I have friends who have stuck with me through thick and thin, have challenged me to look at life through different eyes, and shared laughter and tears with me.  I am honored by your friendships, and for your willingness to share part of your life with me.
  5. Family.  You can’t pick your family but even if I could choose, I couldn’t have picked a better family to be part of.  Whether near or far, they are near and dear to my heart.  My life is richer for the experiences I’ve shared with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, my parents and brother, my husband, his family and our children.  Each person has shaped my life and influenced me in countless ways.
  6. The opportunity to count my blessings.  What a privilege it is to have time to meditate on all these blessings; to stop and take stock of what really matters, and to appreciate all that I have been given.
  7. My savior.  None of what I have or do would matter if I didn’t have the hope of heaven.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I have grace and mercy instead of punishment for my sins. Salvation is a gift that is beyond amazing or my ability to comprehend.  All I can do in return is to love God, show his love and share the gospel with others.

Happy day of giving thanks!

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Thankful Thursdays: More Blessings to Count

The Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us and my list of things I am most grateful for continues to grow day by day.  Here’s this week’s top seven things I am blessed to have:

  1. Our house.  This is not a house I love, but it is a safe, dry, comfortable and secure place to live. Compared to 90% of the homes in the world, I live in a veritable palace.  In fact, the typical house in Rutherford county is larger than the castles that housed royalty in Medieval times.  May I always be grateful for the blessing of having a permanent shelter to dwell in.  It’s far more than my Lord had here on this earth.
  2. Our home.  (No, that’s not a repeat of #1.)  Our home – where we gather as a family – has been relocated many times.  But having a place for family and friends to share food, fellowship, laughter and tears, means I have a home.  May it be ever so humble, there truly is no place like it.
  3. My talents.  God has blessed me to be able to do many things.  It is tempting (and easy) to dwell on the things I can’t do – or can’t do well – but more important is what I can do, and what I do with the gifts that have been given to me.
  4. The talents of others.  I am not an island unto myself; I may be talented, but there are definitely many talents I lack.  Thankfully, those talents rest with others around me.  May I always look for the talents in each person in my path – be thankful for them, most especially for the things they can do that I cannot.
  5. The trials of life.  It’s never fun to be tested and tried. It is less fun to fail at something, or to be disciplined.  But just as fire refines silver by removing impurities, the trials of life allow me to become stronger and more focused on what is important to my walk here on earth.
  6. My physical senses. I can feel the downy softness of a puppy’s head, hear the infectious laughter of a child, see the glorious splendor of man and nature, and smell and taste the delicious flavors and aromas of food.  What would life be like without our senses?  I’m glad I don’t have to know!
  7. Time.  You know the expression, “time is money.”  We refer to time like it is just that – we spend it, we waste it, we invest it, we manage it, we even find and lose it.  In cold, hard financial terms, there is a time value to money – it’s why bankers charge interest on loans.  But time is far more precious than money because we can’t make more of it.  Let me not squander the time that I have, but make the most of each day I have ahead of me – it’s truly a gift.

Happy counting,

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Thankful Thursdays: The Second Seven

During the countdown to the holidays, I’m taking time each week to take stock of some of the blessings in my life. Last week kicked off with the first five.  There are too many to count them all, so I’ll just offer a weekly summary of one per day as we head into Thanksgiving.  Here’s the second seven, but above all, today is Veterans Day – a day to honor all our vets.  I pray for God’s blessing on all our combat veterans and their families – past and present, along with those actively serving today; may they become the veterans of a peaceful future time.

So what else am I thinkful for this week?

  1. My faithful pooch.  That may sound like a trivial thing to include on this list, but there are days when the dog may well be my best friend – she’s certainly among the most loyal and patient of those who know me.  We’ve had several wonderful canine companions over the years; Spice (aka Big Dog) is my nearly always at my feet – all 80 pounds of her.  Statistically, her remaining years are numbered, and so I treasure the time I have with her while she’s still in good health.  If you’ve never seen the “GoD and DoG video by Wendy J. Francisco, it’s well worth the 1.59 minutes to watch it.
  2. Farmers and ranchers.  What would we eat if it weren’t for the men and women who keep us in food?  I love having a summer garden, but heaven help us if we had to depend on my gardening skills to feed us all year ’round.  I am grateful to those who raise and grow the food we take for granted.
  3. The innovators.  We’d be a sorry lot if no one had ever conjured up innovations like corrective eyeglasses, utensils to eat with, clocks to keep track of our time, a microscope to see germs (and antibiotics to kill them), and countless other products and devices that we use every day, and barely notice.  But we would surely notice if we had to do without them!
  4. The poets, artists and philosophers.  Their contributions have added richness and depth to the human experience, giving us phrases to express our rough thoughts, beautiful objects to behold, and challenging us to think deeply about our existence and relationship to one another, and to our creator.
  5. The United States Postal Service.  Seriously – is there anything better than opening your mailbox and finding a handwritten card or a package, delivered promptly and cheaply by the good ol’ USPS? They do an amazing job, day in and day out, of getting everything to its destination, interpreting terrible handwriting and correcting transposed addresses and ZIP codes.
  6. Friendliness.  A stranger holds the door open for you, a fellow driver lets you ease into their lane of traffic, or someone simply smiles a friendly hello.  Those small acts of kindness are game-changers for our moods, sometimes making turning a miserable day into a tolerably good one.  Paying it forward not only feels good, it is good.
  7. Changing seasons.  I’m not a big fan of winter, in fact I grumble most years when the days get shorter and colder.  But having four seasons is truly a blessing.  There is beauty in each season, and as they change, it’s a perfect reminder that we don’t have to orchestrate everything in this life for ourselves.  There is a creator who is in control.  The beautiful blaze of fall leaves can leave us speechless, if we stop long enough to take it in.

Happy counting,

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Thankful Thursdays: The First Five

As we start the holiday countdown, I want to take a moment each week to take stock of some of the blessings in my life. There are too many to count them all, so I’ll just offer a weekly summary of one per day as we head into Thanksgiving.

  1. Being a U.S. citizen. This week saw strong voter turnout at the mid-term elections. May we never forget the precious freedoms that we enjoy, and take responsibility as citizens of this great land and do our part: inform ourselves of the issues and vote responsibly at every opportunity.
  2. Living in the 21st century. We enjoy the benefit of technology and medical advancements that our ancestors did not have access to. From the trivial things (like access to Facebook and a blog) to life-saving equipment, tests, and procedures for medical emergencies.
  3. The foresight of our forefathers. The documents they so thoughtfully framed secure our freedoms, lay out our rights and responsibilities, and form the basis of our government and laws.  I’m thankful for their wisdom and timeless ideals that continue to stand us in good stead today.
  4. The joy of friendship. I have enjoyed the comfort and support of so many good friends over the span of my life – I thank God for each friend He put in my path. I hope I can provide the same love and friendship that I have been privileged to receive.
  5.  God’s patience.  He has given me time to grow and mature, providing me with lessons to teach me to wait on Him.  I pray I do not squander the time He gives me, or test His patience more than I already have.

So what are you most grateful for this week?

Happy counting!

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