Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. As I began reflecting on my many blessings and making a list of things to be grateful for, I realized we often mention the “big” ones (which we should) like knowing Jesus Christ or our family. Then I thought how often we just take much for granted without stopping to be grateful. Things that are “small” in and of themselves, but that add so much to our life.
So, here’s my 10 things I am thankful for this year.
The freshly fallen snow outside my patio window.
The birds gathered around the birth bath.
The sound of the children’s laughter playing next door.
The leftover chocolate bar I found in my daughter’s collection of Halloween candy. (Don’t tell her I took it.)
The smell of clean sheets taken from the dryer.
Holding my husband’s hand under the covers as I drift off to sleep.
Finding reruns of the Flip Wilson show on YouTube.
The smell of the apple pie as it comes from the oven.
Texts I get with pictures of great grandchildren who live in other states.
My Amazon package bringing me more coffee from around the world.
As I look at this list I realize it reflects the many “big” blessings for which I am thankful. Eyes that can see, ears that can hear, the ability to taste and smell. Family. Finances enough to be able to have food, entertainment, a home.
How often do I just take those things for granted.
This week my prayer is:
Lord, thank you for my eyesight and the beauty I can see each day; for my hearing and the joy of my family’s voices, the music and the bird’s songs; all my senses that help me experience and enjoy the world you have made. Thank you for being able to get out of bed each morning, dress myself and take care of my needs. Thank you for my every breath that keeps me alive. For the love of family and friends which make life worth living. Thank you for another day of life. One more day to love and be loved. One more day to laugh and maybe even cry. One more day to know You better.
And may my gratitude not be a momentary thing as we approach Thanksgiving, but may I be more aware of all my blessings each and every day. Amen.
Laughing at how much I ook like my Dad with my bald head!
This month I celebrate 20 years cancer free! I am so thankful to God that I am still here – a cancer survivor!
I think of all the things I would have missed:
Wedding and graduations of many of my grandchildren
Seeing my oldest daughter earned her Master’s in Education
Seeing my youngest daughter become an ordained minister in the Wesleyan tradition
The birth of my youngest granddaughter and several great grandchildren
All the many trips my husband and I have made exploring our great country
Perhaps most of all just the 20 years I have enjoyed life with my husband who is also my bff.
I kept a journal during the fight with cancer. Every year I get it out and read it again. Here are my thoughts from that journal during the first few days facing the battle ahead of me.
Day 1 – Cancer! A simple word describing a disease that other people get. Just a word. Until suddenly I hear the word as I get the results of my biopsy. Abruptly my whole world changes forever. Nothing will ever be the same again.
It all started when I found a lump in my left breast. Although I called and set up an appointment with my doctor, I told myself there was nothing to be concerned about. This would just be a benign tumor. Cancer would never happen to me! After examining me, my doctor assured me it was probably nothing. Cancer in the beginning stages, she told me, seldom hurts and boy did I hurt! It was probably a cyst. If so, they would insert a needle to remove the fluid, and all would be fine. Nothing to worry about.
Then why did she tell me not to leave until she had an ultrasound scheduled? Still, there is nothing to fear! Cancer happens to other people, not to me. I’ll grow old and die some day of a heart attack.
Day 2 – After the ultrasound the radiologist wants to speak to my husband and me. He tells us he is trying to get in touch with my doctor to recommend I have a biopsy as soon as possible. He tries to comfort us by saying that cancer is seldom painful in the beginning stages. I’m in so much pain, it’s probably just a benign tumor. If pain means no cancer, bring on the pain!
Day 9 – The needle biopsy is completed. It was supposed to be painless, but I have to have three shots before they can complete the biopsy. Lord, let it be good news.
Day 12 – It’s not good news. I have cancer. How can that be? Not me! I call my husband on his cell phone. He is coming to take me to lunch and when he answers the telephone, he starts chattering away, making nonsensical comments. I cut him off, “Honey, listen to me.” Now what do I say? How do I say that dreadful word? There’s no way to avoid it, no way to make it sound all okay. So, I just say it. “I have cancer.” His response is engraved in my memory. “I’ll be right there.”
Now I have to tell the kids. How do I tell my children their mother has – there’s that word again – cancer? The kids come hurrying over with their families. I can tell they struggle with the news. My two daughters who have never been at a loss for words when talking with me are now strangely silent. They seem to avoid even looking at me. How I long to take away their pain, but I am totally helpless. This is not like when they fell as little girls and scratched a knee. I can’t wash away the pain, can’t put a bandage and a kiss on it and make everything fine again. Cancer was never something we thought we would have to deal with. That happened in other families, not ours.
Day 13 – Finally, almost 24 hours after I get the news I have cancer, the kids go home and my husband runs an errand. I am alone at last to absorb the news. I take a bubble bath and as I relax in the warm water, the tears finally come. I cry and beg God over and over, “Please let me live! Please let me live!” Over and over comes this desperate plea.
I posted this in 2018 but today I celebrate 68 years of walking with my Savior, my best friend.
Life has had its ups and downs, but one thing has remained true. Jesus has been faithful to me through it all.
He was there when my father left my mother and I when I was fourteen. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
He was there when my husband was killed in an accident leaving me with two little girls to raise. “I will be with you always.” Matthew 28:20
He was there when the doctor told me “The odds are not in your favor” and gave me little hope of surviving more than a few more years. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23
He is here as I began to age and face pain of arthritis and all the other issues of the aging. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
In 74 years of life, I have made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad. But that decision as a six-year-old was the best one I ever made and one I have never regretted.
These thoughts are not my own – I am sharing the message my pastor gave us this week.
She told us that if we make $37,000 a year we are in the ranks of the rich when compared to the rest of the world’s population.
Then she listed the “rich” people problems we face all the time. Things that we complain about – and do not really stop to think how many in the rest of the world would be grateful for those problems.
Our cell phone service is bad.
Our air line flight has been delayed.
Amazon is out of the size we needed.
Amazon promised shipment in three days and we now have to wait a week.
We have to get new tires for our car.
Our laptop stopped working and we have to buy a new one.
The lines at McDonald’s are too long.
And we could go on and go about the “problems” we complain about every day without realizing these are “rich” people problems.
We take so much for granted in the USA.
Yet, at the same time we know there are many in our country who are struggling financially right now.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 9Americans struggled with hunger. In 2019, 35,207,000 people were food insecure. Food insecurity exists in every county in America. Millions of people are still struggling to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and the rising cost of living. To these Americans, food has become an unaffordable luxury.
In 2019 more than 5.3 million children live in households struggling with hunger. Approximately25% of children in households at risk of hunger may be forced to rely exclusively on hunger relief organizations to make ends meet.
According to the USDA, in 2020, 35.3 percent of households with incomes below the Federal poverty line were food insecure. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security. Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for single-parent households, and for Black and Hispanic households. Food insecurity was more common in both large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas.
As I look at these statistics I realize how blessed I am. My husband and I have a freezer full of food and a pantry with shelves fully stocked. Yet, my studies have shown me that many elderly have to decide between buying food or purchasing needed medicine.
So what do I do? Just feel bad and move on with my life? Or, try to help in some way.
If you fall in that category of having plenty of food, I challenge you to reach out and help
Find a food pantry in your area and contribute food and/or money. Money is probably better than food because most food pantries can purchase food in bulk at much cheaper prices than an individual can. If you give food, think dried and canned goods. And please, check for expiration dates and do not give something you would not eat.
Many schools have food programs – check with your local school.
Do a volunteer food drive.
Volunteer with your local food pantry or with the Meals on Wheels program.
I am grateful that my church works with Compassion in Action, a local group that helps with school children who are food insecure, and with a local food bank to distribute food to those in need every month.
My pastor shared the story of the farmer in the Bible who had a huge harvest. His response to that was to build more barns and then sit and enjoy his success. While Jesus was clearly not condemning being successful or even rich (many of godly men in the Bible were wealthy) or being a good steward of what you have, He clearly tells us we are not to trust in our own riches. Our trust is to be in God.
Also, we are not to grasp on tightly to what we have, but be willing to let go and share with others.
Finally, when we talk about riches we usually think of money or possessions. But I am rich in so many other important ways – ways that money cannot buy. Family, health, peace with God.
I think of a song my mother used to sing when I was a child.
If you are one of those who are food insecure, do not be afraid to ask for help. Check with your local church, your local school. There is help out there – and you should not feel bad about receiving.
If you are one who is truly “rich,” be grateful but also reach out and share with others.
As my husband often said when he preached about giving generously to others, “I never saw an U-Haul truck following a funeral car to the grave.”
In the words of Jesus:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When I was 54 years old I was diagnosed with a very aggressive and advanced stage of breast cancer. My doctor said I had only a small chance of still being alive in ten years.
Ten years – that would put me into retirement age. At that time I planned to retire at age 62. So I figured if I could last ten years and retire at 62 that would give me two years to enjoy retirement with my husband.
For years I had worked a secular job which kept me busy with work Monday through Friday. My job was a very demanding job and often required overtime. When the weekend came I was really not free to enjoy time with my husband because he was a pastor. That meant that much of his weekend was involved with the church.
So I thought if I could just make it to those ten years, that would give me two years of retirement to enjoy more time with my husband.
That is what I asked for – “Lord, let me live to retire and give me two years to enjoy some quality and quantity time with my husband.”
As the time grew near for my 62nd birthday, I was thankful that I had made it eight years – but finances dictated that I needed to work until I was 65.
“Lord, let me live until I am 65 and give me two years of retirement with my husband.”
Well, obviously I made to 65. What is so wonderful is today I celebrate nine years of retirement. Nine years ago today I walked out of MidAmerican Energy Company for the last time. Still praying for those two years of retirement with my husband.
God has given me now nine years of retirement – and I am still going strong looking forward to many more years.
What I have been able to enjoy in those nine years.
And all the trips we have been able to make:
All across the south loving the old oak trees and the Spanish moss.
Enjoying the beach and the carriage rides.
And out west to Wyoming and Montana following the Pony Express/Mormon Trail.
Being a history nut I have been able to visit many former presidents’ homes and I loved walking the grounds of Fort Laramie.
Seeing the names carved into the rock at Register Cliff.
But most of all, I am so grateful for all the quality and quantity time I have had with my husband, my bff, these past nine years.
Fifty-one years ago today I became a mother for the first time. That day will always be one of my favorite memories. As I held my little girl in my arms I whispered to her that we would be best friends. All the fun we would have – shopping, reading books, playing games, singing songs.
I thought then that I had all the time in the world with this little one. I was wrong. Too quickly she became a toddler getting into everything. Then a little girl off to school. Her first day of school she gave me a scare as she did not get off the bus at our street. We still laugh about that day, but at the moment I was one frightened mother.
Then a teenager. Although we often hear parents complaining about teenagers I found the years when my daughters were teenagers some of the happiest of my life.
Finally she was a young woman in love. Then came marriage – and later three beautiful children making me a grandmother. Time has passed too quickly and she is now a grandmother (which means I am a great-grandmother). How did that happen?
Fifty one years – looking back at 1970 – what a difference.
In 1970 prices were:
Hershey’s candy bar – $.15
gallon of milk – $1.15
dozen eggs – $.62
pound of coffee – $.91
loaf of bread – $.25
can of Coke – $.10
average movie ticket – $1.55
postage stamp – $.06
median cost of house – $26,600
average cost of car – $3,500
Of course, income was much less then also. Median wages was $8,734
The top 10 TV shows were:
Marcus Welby M.D.
The Flip Wilson Show
ABC Movie of the Week
How times have changed. We did not have cell phones. The first commercially available cellphone was developed by Motorola and went on sale in the U.S. in 1984. The phone was huge, cost $3,995.00 and was only good for about thirty minutes of use before you had to charge the battery again.
Other technolgies we did not have in 1970:
MRI – 1977
e-mail – 1971
post-it note – 1974
Rubik’s Cube – 1974
first commercial barcode scan – 1974
Apple computer – 1976
Sony Walkman – 1979
Looking back over these fifty-one years, while life has changed in so many ways – not only in my family but in my country, one thing remains true.
I have not lost that magical feeling of being a mother. Although my daughter now lives hundreds of miles from me and I do not get to see her as much as I would like, when I hear her voice on the phone or get a text, my heart still smiles.
Shortly after posting that blog my youngest daughter called to tell me she had some bad news. Our granddaughter had been sent home from school that morning, along with all her class, because they had been exposed to Covid-19 the day before. They would have to quarantine for Thanksgiving and would not be able to join us for the day as we had planned.
Of course, my first concern was that she and her parents would not get Covid-19 in spite of the exposure. But immediately I also realized what this meant for us. They would have to spend the day with just the three of them and my husband and I would be just two for Thanksgiving.
We have a large blended family but they are scattered all over the USA. We have children and grandchildren in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri and Illinois. As the grandchildren have grown up and married with families of their own, our Thanksgiving gathering has slowly gotten smaller.
Moving three years ago to Michigan we only have one daughter nearby. And yes, she is the one who had to quarantine.
As I started to feel discouraged about that, I remembered my own blog I just posted.
So I began looking at what I have to be thankful – even as my Thanksgiving feast will only have two seats at the table.
Here are just a few of the things I found I have to be thankful for:
Thankful for cell phones and FB so I can still wish loved ones Happy Thanksgiving and see pictures of them.
Thankful that none of my family have died from the Covid-19 though a few of them have had the virus.
Thankful that I have my husband – my bbf – and I will not be all alone at the table as some may be.
Thankful for my beautiful home and that my table will still be full of good food.
Thankful for health so that I can prepare the meal not only for us two but also take a meal to my daughter’s home and leave it on the porch for them to enjoy.
Thankful for being granted the privilege of being born in this country.
The more I thought about it, the more my list of things to be thankful for grew.
The best thing to thank God for is that we will soon be celebrating his coming to earth to live, to die, to rise again. That in the midst of chaos, He is there.
How did my Thanksgiving day go?
My husband worked with me fixing the turkey and all the trimmings, then quickly took some of it to our daughter’s home. We enjoyed the meal, shared a time of prayer and Bible reading, played Scrabble (we are Scrabble’s addicts), and ended the evening with a movie.
As we went to bed last night my husband said, “This has been a different Thanksgiving and I missed family, but in a way it was one of my favorites. I spent the day with my best friend doing things we loved to do. It caused me to really take a look at all the blessings God has given us and I am very grateful.”
The day ended well for me – I won the Scrabble game!!!!
My daughter sent me a picture of my granddaughter enjoying my pumpkin pie – with loads of Cool Whip.
And after almost a week – it appears my family are free of symptoms – no Covid-19.
It’s that time of year – I am making out my menu for Thanksgiving and getting a grocery list made for that special day. As my list grows longer and longer I once again remember the Thanksgiving day I spent as a missionary in the Philippines and the special turkey we were given. Hope this story will help you realize how much we in America have to be thankful for. Even in the midst of the last two years, we are blessed.
It was 1991 and my husband and youngest daughter were spending our first Thanksgiving on the mission field. Homesickness was filling my heart as I remembered all the Thanksgivings of the past spent with family and friends. A table loaded with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, biscuits and all the other goodies we enjoyed that time of year. Visions of pumpkin pie, pecan pie and my mother’s delicious chocolate pie danced through my head.
But the thing I was missing most was the loved ones that gathered around that table. This year would be the first Thanksgiving for my youngest granddaughter. How I longed to see her taste that pumpkin pie for the first time, to hold her on my lap and rock her to sleep.
At first we thought we would try to duplicate the American thanksgiving dinner. However, it soon became clear that it would be difficult…
Those who follow my blog know that I lost my hair 19 years ago after 16 treatments with three powerful chemo drugs following surgery for breast cancer. Although the doctor assured my hair would come back for years I did not. It was only a few years ago that we found out that one of the drugs I was given could cause permanent hair loss.
I was okay with that – I just wore a wig. No one ever knew it was a wig and were surprised when they found out.
Lately, however, I became tired of the wig. Old age I guess. I also was showing some hair growth – not much – very thin – but hair.
My two daughters encouraged me to take the wig off and see if my hair might grow back. They wondered if the wig might be preventing hair growth
I was scared – but I decided to take the plunge and do it.
My approach to difficulties of life has always been:
with a strong faith in God and a good sense of humor I can handle this.
So – I wrote a couple of blogs trying to make fun of my baldness.
Now – after about three months without the wig – I HAVE HAIR!!!!
It’s pretty thin – but it’s my hair!!!!
As it grew back it was a sloppy unkempt mess. I had to let it get some length before I could get it styled so for a few weeks I was so embarrased to go out in public – but I just remembered my prayer “Give me hair!” and was thankful that God was answering that prayer.
Finally a couple of weeks ago I was able to go to a beauty salon and get it styled. The stylist kept asking me if I wanted to use a curling iron or a blow dryer and how I wanted it styled. . Since it had been 19 years since I had any hair to comb or style, 19 years since I had been to a beauty salon, I put myself in her hands and trusted her to guide me through this.
So once again I have hair. It is not thick – it is not red – but it is my hair! I am getting used to the white/grey and actually beginning to like it.