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.
About this time two years ago my husband fell in his art studio in the basement of our condo. It was a Thursday and because Covid had just started, we were not sure about going to the doctor. He felt fine so we went on with our daily routine as normal.
Until Sunday. After church on Sunday he complained of a severe headache and being nauseated. I drove him to the emergency room where I was told to go home and wait. They would call me after examining him.
When he went in to the ER he looked and acted fine to me. The only thing I was going on was his comment of the terrible headache he had.
About an hour later the ER called and told me a CAT scan revealed bleeding in his brain. They had called the main hospital in Lansing, the capital of our state, and an ambulance was getting ready to take him there for further evaluation.
I jumped in the car and raced to our local ER. Although at first they said I could not go in, I turned on the tears and pleaded to let me say goodbye to him. Realizing the seriousness of a brain bleed, I was afraid I might not see him alive again. My tears I guess were good enough because they let me go back to the room and say goodbye before the ambulance took him away.
I could not believe the change in him in just a little over an hour. He was very confused and very incoherent.
After they took him to Lansing, I returned home anxious to know what would happen next. About an hour later I got a call from the surgeon’s assistant who told him they were taking him in for emergency surgery. He asked me if he had been having trouble talking. He said that he was talking to them, but they could not understand what he said and it made no sense. Without the surgery I was told, he would not survive.
The assistant promised to call me after the surgery to let me know how it went. I got no call. They took him into surgery about 4:30 that afternoon and at 10:00 that evening I still had not heard a word. A call to the hospital revealed that the surgeon had completed the surgery and had gone home. All they could tell me was that my husband was out of surgery and in ICU. They promised to have the doctor on duty that night give me a call. Finally, around midnight the doctor on duty called. He said he was not involved in the surgery and all he could tell me was that my husband’s chart said the surgery went well and he was in ICU on a ventilator.
To make a long story short the next week and a half was very stressful as they worked for a few days to get him off the ventilator. Until he was off the equipment they would not be able to tell how much damage had been done to his brain. They warned me he might have difficulty speaking or understanding others, might have trouble swallowing, might have trouble walking. The day he got off the ventilator, they were looking for a rehab place to take him and indicated it might be weeks before he could come home.
But God had other plans.
Within days he was taking rehab there in the hospital – and he came home to me in just ten days. The first weeks at home he had to use a walker to get around and while he could clearly understand and communicate he did have moments when he would struggle for a particular word.
But he quickly recovered. Two things that helped I believe was our love of scrabble and his love of painting. We are very competitive and love the game. I worried that he would not be able to really compete with me again. He was a little slow the first couple of games we played but in no time he was beating my butt again.
The second week he was home he asked our son-in-love to bring his easel and paints from his art studio in the basement as he was still too weak to go up and down the stairs. He sat at our dining room table and painted this beautiful scene of the seashore.
In no time at all he was free of the walker, beating me in scrabble and back down stairs in his art studio painting away.
Recently a local business in our community held a Arts Explosion. From November through the month of February local artists were invited to display their work. The business is involved with educating the public about agriculture and has a lot of public events at its facility. During this time people were asked to look at the paintings and vote for their favorite artist.
Last night they held a “Meet and Greet’ for the community to come out, take a final look at the art and vote for their favorite.
It was a fun day – food and entertinment by the local high school’s dance team.
At the end of the festivities, they announced the winners of the People’s Choice. Out of 44 artists they had a winner and a runner up. To my great happiness my husband with his sea shore painting came in second as the People’s Choice.
The painting is back home now – and we are both rejoicing – not only for his award, but for the miracle this painting truly is.
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.
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.
October is a month that brings back so many memories to me. It was in this month nineteen years ago that I was diagnosed with a very advanced and aggressive cancer. So it’s natural that I have memories of that time every October – and especially since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Some of those memories are not pleasant. The surgery – the chemo – the radiation – the very hard effort to stare death in the face.
But I also have so many good memories and today brought back one of those memories.
It is raining and chilly here in Michigan today – a perfect fall day. It is also a good day to just stay inside and watch the rain from my easy chair. My husband declared that this was a day for homemade potato soup.
I love homemade potato soup. My mother often made that when I had a cold or was not feeling good. It is my comfort food. My husband makes great potato soup so I was glad to hear his offer to make some for us today.
Watching him prepare the soup and enjoying the good smells coming from the kitchen brought back a very special memory of that time battling cancer.
I continued to work through my chemotherapy and was active but with the first two drugs I was given, I would basically lose a week of life as I felt energy and life drain from my body. I would spend several days in bed too weak to do anything but get up and walk to the restroom. My husband would fix my meals and bring them to me on a tray. If there was any meat, he would even have to cut it up for me because I had energy only enough to lift my fork.
He was so good – so kind – so patient and did all he could to help me through those weeks. One day as I lay in bed I thought how much I would love to have some potato soup. Because he was doing all the shopping, house work as well as cooking and taking care of me I did not want to make any special requests. Not knowing what he had planned to fix, I did not want to impose on him so I said nothing.
I drifted back off to sleep and some time later he woke me up to tell me he was bringing me my lunch. When he brought the tray to my bed, I was so happy. He had fixed potato soup. You may think that was just a coincidence, but I believe God knew my heart’s desire and led my husband to fix that soup.
As we ate the soup today we remembered that special time and we thanked God for how much He cares about us.
And, the soup was delicious – as my husband’s soup always is.
This week our pastor encouraged us to realize committing our live to God was not a one time event. Neither was it a “get out of hell” card. Rather that commitment to God was only the beginning of what God wanted for us. She shared with us this verse:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7
One of her suggestions was to “turn off the noise and be silent.” How can we hear from God when we have such noise all around us?
I thought a lot about that yesterday. We get in the car and turn on the radio; we spend too much time on social media, the news. None of that is bad – but sometimes it can become overload. So today while cleaning my kitchen I turned off all the “noise” and just let my heart and mind pray as I polished the dining table, underloaded the dishwasher and swept the kitchen floor. How peaceful I felt.
Then I put on an old CD to hear a song I have not listened to in years. It is a song that used to be sung in church and played on Christian radios every Easter. But we seem to only want to hear songs that have been written in the last two years 🙂 and some powerful songs are forgotten.
Today, I am reminded of the wonderful story that Jesus died not only so I could look forward to eternal life after this life, but could have joy and peace today – joy and peace that come to me when I take time to worship Him.
If you have not heard this song before, I hope it speaks to your heart. And if you have, I hope it reminds you that we serve a God who is able to help us no matter what our circumstances. And I think we need to celebrate this more than just one Sunday in spring.
This time of the year I find myself remembering events from years ago that generate both sweet and bitter memories with all the accompanying emotions.
March has been a month that has brought both good and bad events into my life – events that changed me forever.
The first one that brings sweet memories occurred 52 years ago on March 29. That day I walked down the aisle at church and promised to “love and cherish until death do us part.”
For almost 13 years I kept that promise. Every year as that date approaches I remember those years with my first husband. We were happy and shared a lot of joy but the best part of those years was the birth of our two beautiful daughters. Memories of those times make me smile and I am grateful for every moment we shared. Those events changed me – made me a wife, a mother.
The second memory is more painful. It was 39 years ago in March that I got a call at work that I will never forget. My eleven-year-old daughter called me and said, “Momma, I think Daddy is dead.” Those words changed our lives forever. My first husband had been working on our car when an accident occurred that took his life. Ironically it was just four days before we would have celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. So March brings also feelings of great sadness as I remember the shock and horror of that day. The pain my daughters still feel today. The older one grieves as she remembers all the times she had with her daddy, while the younger grieves because she was so young her memories are few. That changed me – made me a young widow with two little girls to raise.
So – every year in March I deal with these memories and these conflicting emotions.
That would be enough to make the last of March an emotional time for me.
But last year added another event that adds to my emotions this time of year.
On March 19 last year my second husband fell and hit his head on the concrete floor of his art studio in the basement of our condo.
By the 22nd he was in pain and we went to the emergency room of our local hospital. From there he was rushed by ambulance to the main hospital in Lansing – the capital of our state – where they did emergency surgery. He had a major brain bleed and they said without the surgery he would not survive the night.
As I remember the next couple of weeks I still can feel the knot in my stomach as I waited at home (because of the virus I could not be with him) wondering if the next call would be to tell me I was a widow again. I wondered how I could take it if he died on the same day as my first husband had died. As the next few days were “touch and go” while they tried to get him off the ventilator, I kept telling God “please, not again, not this time.”
I am so grateful to God that he not only survived the surgery but after a few weeks he was back to his normal self. The doctor said he might have trouble walking, swallowing, communicating. While he had some of these symptoms for a couple of weeks, he was soon completely okay with no lingering symptoms.
One major concern of mine was would he be able to paint again. Would he even be able to walk down the stairs to his art studio. That prayer was again quickly answered. Our son-in-love brought his painting equipment upstairs and within two weeks he painted a beautiful lighthouse scene. Soon he was able to return to his studio downstairs and continue painting.
So along with the knot in my stomach, I also must rejoice with a great emotion of gratitude that I am not a widow for the second time, that my husband is not only alive, but well and strong again.
One of his first paintings also was of a beautiful rainbow which symbolizes hope and a reminder that God keeps His promises. He called it “Hope in the Storm.” It now hangs in my kitchen as a reminder to me that no matter what troubles come, with God there is always hope.
When my first husband died, when my second husband survived, regardless God has been there – and He brings me hope. Hope for whatever next March or any time may bring. Good times or bad – He is faithful.
What a year 2020 was! Coronavirus – and all the uncertainty and problems that has created. Loss of jobs/income, loss of ability to travel freely to name just a few. Division over wearing a mask or not wearing one.
The election also brought such division and unrest.
The arguments over BLM.
We were looking forward to 2021 – but now that it is here – I am not sure this year is shaping up to be much different than 2020.
So as Christians, how are we supposed to respond?
I turn to the writer of James and see that he started off his letter with the words “Greetings.” The word James used is “chariein” and it means basically “to rejoice exceedingly” or “to be well.” Used as a greeting James was essentially saying “joy to you.” “Joy to you” seems a great way to start a letter to friends. Hey, I’m wishing you joy, happiness, that you do well. We do this for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas.
However just after he says “joy to you” he begins speaking of anything but joyful times or situations. On continuing to read this letter it is clear that James is not just being friendly in wishing his readers joy. After saying “joy to you” he immediately speaks of times of difficulty, trials, tests.
Difficulties. Tough times. Kind of like we have been experiencing. Situations that do not naturally led to joy.
The word he uses for testings is not referring to something like our tests in schools that are designed to reveal what the student knows. Rather, James is referring to something that reveals the genuiness of one’s faith, but he also implies this test is designed to develop something that is not yet fully developed in a person.
trials/testings = perservance/endurance = mature character
James was writing to fellow Jews who were facing difficult times. He is encouraging them to let these times help them grow in the Lord and not be an interruption in their relationship as a servant to the Lord.
Questions he raises and which I submit to you:
Is any trial a reason not to rely on God and allow His joy to fill your heart?
Even in trials, is there ever a reason a Christian should curse another or call them names?
Even in difficult times, is there ever a reason a Christian should engage in grumbling about others?
James says “Don’t let difficult times stop you from obeying and following the Lord. In the middle of trials, that is the time to put into practice what you say you believe.”
In my words I would say “put your money where your mouth is.” Growing up in church we heard all about the Sermon on the Mount and all Jesus said about turning the other cheek, loving your enemies and praying for them, being peacemakers. Sadly it seems many have either forgotten those words – or have tried to make them mean something else.
I ask you: Did Jesus “really” mean it when He said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”