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Posts Tagged ‘Thankful Thursdays’

“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”.   So far, I’ve covered:

Today
Health
Abode
Necessities and niceties
Kith and kin

This week, I am thankful for one final thing I’m thankful for, and that is the…

season
I’m thankful for each of the four seasons that distinctively divide our lives each year, each one segueing gracefully to the next just like clockwork.  But I’m especially grateful for this season, when we can take time to reflect on the blessings we enjoy, and to be grateful for them.

The word itself is ancient, rooted in the idea of having a time of year for sowing, followed by the natural ripening and aging process, which creates sweetness and delicious and complex flavors in foods.  Which is probably why it is also intertwined with a second meaning in modern usage; to flavor food with seasonings.  The onset of the cool months are when we welcome the flavors and aromas of many delicious spices and herbs:  cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom play important roles in desserts and other sweet foods, while thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and  peppers are indelibly linked to many savory foods we associate with this time of year.

Solomon was a truly wise man, and in Ecclesiastes he gave us timeless words of advice for putting everything in our lives into proper perspective:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”

This is the season of harvests and thankfulness and graciousness. I wish it lasted all year ’round, but maybe because it only comes once a year, it makes us appreciate it more.

nearby cotton field in late October

‘Tis the season.  Not for giving gifts and decorating trees and cookies – not yet.  But it is the season for welcoming friends and family, and sharing with them the customs, traditions and foods that have been passed down from past generations to us, and from us to our children.

In this and every season, may we all enjoy the day while it is called today, our own measure of health, our abodes, our many material blessings, and the rich blessings of friends and families.

Happy and blessed thanks-giving,
 
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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”.   So far, I’ve covered:

Today
Health
Abode
Necessities and niceties

This week, I am once again thankful for two more things.  For one thing, it’s hard to limit myself to just one idea per week, and second, these words always sound good together, (especially when Chevy Chase lisps them, “The most enduring traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the the thspirit of the Grithwold family Chrithmath.“) Yes, today I’m thankful for …

kith and kin
Or better known in modern English as friends and family.  We choose our friends, but fate has a hand in things, determining our pool of potential acquaintances based on where we live, go to school, work, work out, worship, etc.

We have even less say about who’s in our family:  we’re all born into one, and many of us marry into another.  We get what we get (and they get us, too.)

No matter how we wind up with them, friends and family provide the stuffing that makes our lives full and rich:  love, laughter, tears, even heartache, pain…and the hope of reconciliation.  The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 shows us the enduring and fierce love of family, which is only a mere reflection of God’s love for us, and I especially love imagining the scene where a humbled, broken son returns to find his father was always waiting and watching for him:

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...”
Norman Rockwell never met the Griswolds.

Friends and family can and will disappoint and aggravate us to the breaking point.  But our family members also put up with our quirks  and eccentricities, and they (usually) forgive us of our transgressions.

Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of this particular Christmas movie: it shows the best and worst of holiday togetherness, and in the end, love for family trumps  everything else.

Because no matter what, the bonds of family and friends are the ties that bind us until we are loosed from this earth.

Have you hugged or called a friend or family member today?  Whatcha waiting for?  Only two weeks left before the tryptophan hits and you’ll be too tired to do more than slouch on the couch and dream of pie!

Happy thanks-giving,
 
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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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Last week I started a quick countdown of six things I am most thankful for, that begin with the letters of the word “THANKS”.   Last week, I expressed thankfulness for Today, because it is all we can really say we have for certain.  This week, I am thankful for…

health. 
I could complain about my creaking knees, tetchy calf muscle or my periodic bouts with asthma and allergies. But truth be told, I have been blessed with an abundance of good health throughout my life.  One of my favorite passages in Isaiah is 40:31 because it offers an encouraging promise to every one of us:
“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
   they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
   they shall walk and not faint.”
There will come a day when all our physical problems and limitations are removed, and we will soar like eagles and run and not grow weary.  If you’ve watched a loved one, whether young or old, suffer with severe health problems, this passage holds hope and promise for them.   Some day, we will all be freed from the pains and aches of this life.

But in the here and now, I hope you’ll exercise your body every chance you get, to the extent you can.  I eat better, I sleep better, I feel better physically and emotionally when I exert myself on a regular basis.

Whatever you can do, do it.
Do it today.  
If you’re sore tomorrow, do it again anyway.
If you’re not sore, good.
Push yourself a little harder, a little faster, a little longer.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a fan of getting (and staying) fit and healthy.  If you’re blessed with a similar outlook, I hope you’ll encourage someone you care about who isn’t at their healthiest.  (Don’t nag, encourage.)  Take a walk with a friend – a mile is a mile whether you click it off in 10 minutes or 30 minutes.  Don’t wait for the new year to begin a new resolution; give someone the gift of your time, encouragement and support to become healthier now.

Happy, healthy thanks-giving,

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Thankful Thursdays: Gimme a T!

The U.S. Thanksgiving holiday is exactly 7 weeks away from today.  I thought it would be fun to spend the next six Thursdays focusing on the letters in the word “THANKS” and identifying something I’m especially thankful for that begins with the week’s letter.  Does that make sense? Hold on…here’s what I mean.

This week I am thankful for… 
today. 
It’s all we’ve got; yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. 
As the saying goes, it’s why we call today the “present” – it is the most precious gift we hold in our hands.  May we use our time today wisely, and as Hebrews 3:13 instructs,
“…encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” 

We can’t change what happened yesterday, no matter how much we turn it over in our minds and think of what we coulda, shoulda, woulda said or done (or not said or done) differently.  
We can’t count on tomorrow, even though procrastinators know it is always the busiest day of the year, because that’s when we’re going to get around to everything.  Uh huh.  Sure.

Squeeze everything you can into today.  And squeeze everything you can out of it, too.


Hug your kids.
Smile at strangers.
Pray for a friend.
Pray for an enemy.
Just do it.
Today.

What are you thankful for?  Post a comment with one thing that you’re most thankful for today.

Happy thanks-giving,

 
 
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