Day 30 – Thirty Days of Thanks

It’s hard to believe July is coming to an end, making this the final day of my journey. Last year, my mother’s experience with cancer and treatment had her facing each day listing “five things she was thankful for” in a little journal. Mom’s resilience and encouragement in the midst of icky times led me to ponder myself. Life is full of tough stuff, of difficult junk – loss of health or friendships or abilities. BUT – what I have found during these “thirty days” is that I can always find at least five things to be thankful for. And as I spend my time celebrating the positive, focusing on God’s blessings, life is a happier place. So rather than having five new “things of thanks,” I’ll share here five of my top “thankful things” throughout this month. So here we go:

5 things of July thanks:

1. National ice cream month – About half of my daily thankful things was some type of ice cream – what a wonderful thing to celebrate every July!

2. the garden – fresh veggies from our garden are awesome! There’s no tomato like a fresh tomato.

3. medical things – from a new needle-free MS medication to a talented and caring neurologist to physical therapy helpers, I am so blessed.

4. my family – my husband and daughters are incredibly special in so many ways. I love you, T.R., Emily and Rachel! My parents are also such an important part of life. You’re so special in so many ways!

5. faith – Our God is so wonderful, and to know He cares about me is still overwhelming. God’s love is amazing – and I get to be a part of this adventure!

When writing to the early believers, Paul stated it this way in first Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” So giving thanks for fresh tomatoes but also in the midst of loss… that is where I pray God will help me grow.

Day 29 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things

1. healthcare workers – doctors, nurses, and the support staff that makes a medical office run… so appreciated! Doctors and nurses are valued greatly (!!), but there are so many others who make this work. (The thankless job of the person who helps process and file insurance claims, those who file paperwork, who clean the exam rooms… thank you!)

2. braces – I remember my “braces years” without great fondness, but it’s truly amazing that our teeth can be shifted permanently in this way!

3. other medical workers – particularly those who work with physical therapy. Though exercises are sometimes tougher than it seems they should be, I appreciate how a professional in this area can help me strengthen things that aren’t working as they ought to be.

4. enjoying sci-fi movies as a family – When I first saw Return of the Jedi as a twelve-year-old, I’d never have imagined that about thirty years later, my husband and I would be watching this movie with our two daughters. (I still love the Ewoks best, and I’m convinced they were added to the plot for twelve-year-old girls whose brothers managed to drag them along to the drive-in.)

5. the Bible – As our daughters finish preparing for the summer “quiz-off” this weekend I see how deeply they’re delving into the book of John. God’s word is amazing, and that it is available for us to have is rather overwhelming. I know I take this for granted!

Day 28 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things:

1. quiet mornings – Having time after hubby goes to work, to read a bit, say a prayer, play a word in a scrabble game, then make a few phone calls before really getting things rolling is nice. School will be starting before too long, so I truly appreciate these calm mornings.

2. colored thread – my daughter Rachel uses carefully chosen colors of threads to knot intricate “friendship bracelets.” She shared her knack for this skill with visiting friends today, and her generosity with the time and embroidery thread were very appreciated!

3. adoptive parents – as we spent the day with two lovely young ladies, I thought of friends Kim and Angia, both of whom have wonderful children who were born across the ocean. Our two new friends, teenage girls born in Haiti, gave us a reason to visit Ivanhoe’s, always something else to be thankful for. Sharing bits of life helped me remember so much that we take for granted each day!

4. hobbies and games – I love it that my husband has found a way to be involved with his gaming hobby as a super-volunteer, the “Community Coordinator” for Chronicle City, located in England. This may not involve international travel, but it will give him a role in  a booth where he’ll be helping at a large convention Indianapolis. (It’s just a few weeks away!)

5. things to do – I wasn’t certain what to call this “thing of thanks,” but the best way to explain it is to share from a piece I was reading this morning (during that start-of-the-day space). The piece was written by blogger Trevis Gleason, a writer/speaker I started following about six years ago. He usually has a realistic but upbeat take on dealing with this disease. As a former professional chef, he now finds himself with numbers of new challenges each day. He’s not Mr. Optimist, but he isn’t pessimistic either (usually). Today’s message helped me think and pray and contemplate, and it still helped me realize that there are indeed things I’m thankful for. He said it best in his final statement: “We do what we do until we can no longer do it… then we find something else to do.” I’m thankful that God is finding ways to give me “something else to do.”

Day 27- Thirty Day of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things:

1. The love of God – it is still hard to conceive the fact that the God of the Universe loves me… and I can’t “earn” (and certainly don’t deserve) such love, but I can offer my own adoration. He’s used to my clumsy attempts, but I think He’s okay with that. …I like the phrases Rich Mullins used when he described “the wreckless, raging fury that they call the love of God.” There is indeed a wideness in God’s mercy!

2. sweet music – a beautiful mother/daughter/daughter violin trio (made a quartet by the father’s guitar accompaniment) offered a sweet, pastoral interlude to this morning’s service. Truly beautiful!

3. beauty of alto voices – Often solo voices we celebrate are powerful sopranos, but as we were chatting tonight, we mentioned Cher (very strong alto!), who has had a number one song on the charts each of the past six(!) decades. I then thought of my own favorite artist when I was our daughters’ age, Amy Grant. But T.R. then mentioned Annie Lennox, whose recent solo from the end of The Return of the King won a well-deserved Oscar (for original song that was part of the movie).

4. orange juice – how lovely that we can mix the juice from concentrate. …yes, it’s a very special treat when it’s fresh, but the amazing thing is that this is a part of my breakfast each day. And I live nowhere near an orange grove.

5. grocery stores – the variety of good available in such stores is truly amazing. Walking through the aisles, we can see bits of the goodness that God has created for us to enjoy. So many things I take for granted!

Day 26 – 30 Days of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things:

1. the natural world – My family got to take a nature hike this morning, learning about edible (and non-edible) plants around us. God’s creation is amazing!

2. used books – Other family members spent time visiting a large used bookstore while I started a used copy of Ender’s Game – used bookstores are awesome!

3. refrigerator – I’m thankful that our electric refrigerator can keep gallons of milk, freshly picked berries, cheese, meat and more fresh and cool for our consumption – It’s hard to imagine life without this convenience we take so for granted.

4. freezer – It would be hard to celebrate “National Ice Cream Month” if it weren’t for this truly amazing taken-for-granted technology! The freezer is wonderful for more than ice cream, isn’t it?

5. walker – I mentioned my fold-up cane earlier this month, but recently, a walker has been very helpful in getting around independently without kissing the floor. (Carpet isn’t very tasty, nor is concrete. Or pavement.) So though it’s not “cool” and makes me appear a few decades older, I am indeed thankful for this mobility aide that helps make life safer.

Day 25 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things (brought to you by the letter “P”):

1. paint – I’m glad that new paint can freshen up a place, breathing new life into a bit of wall. (or a door!)

2. painter – a kind, talented gentleman painted spots in our home, and he did such a professional job in so many ways. I’m thankful for him, but also for the many who do this time-intensive type of work… it does add new life to a space or structure!

3. pleasant weather – so glad it wasn’t too hot, cold or rainy for a day of painting, some of which was outside. And windows could be opened for the necessary breeze… ah, lovely.

4. patience – My loving husband has had a day when he had to be very patient with yours truly (and many other bits of stuff!). I’m quite thankful for patience and love he’s shown.

5. pizza! – since we’re waiting for paint to completely dry, pizza is the plan. I usually make homemade pizza on Friday nights, but tonight we’ll splurge. :)

Day 24 – 30 Days of Thanks

Today’s five thankful things

1. family – I was reminded how special family is when my sister-in-law Alicia mentioned what happened one year ago today. That was the day we received a call about T.R.’s father falling asleep for the last time… and our own families and friends were so important during this special time of love, comfort and support.

2. Mom – A very, very special family member, Mom gave the gifts of time, love and organization today in several ways. My daughters received special blessing from Grandma, too! Not very many Grandmas could enter teens’ closets, help clean, and come out alive. And smiling. :) Love you, Mom!

3. unintentional duets – At first, when our daughters started practicing their instruments (clarinet and sax) at the same time this evening, I feared cacophony. But even though they weren’t playing the same songs, they were playing in the same key, and there were moments they almost had a duet going. And they were both in tune. (in separate rooms, but our walls are far from soundproof.)

4. Oreo shake – If Arby’s was to get credit for yesterday’s triple berry wonder, Burger King’s Oreo shake can’t be forgotten. What a lovely part of today’s lunch – thanks, Mom!

5. uncharacteristically cool July day – It is so lovely to have windows open as we enjoy a nice July day… in the 70’s! I am indeed thankful for days like today.

Day 23 – 30 Days of Thanks

Today’s Five Thankful Things

1. ­MRI machines – Before Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines, it was quite difficult for doctors to arrive at diagnoses involving the brain in particular. But loud, spinning magnets around a large tube can use magnetic power to create images, like an x-ray of soft tissue. It’s really quite amazing!

2. happy news – Unlike my first MRI (May 1997), when I had to wait about three weeks to hear results, I heard from the neurologist just a few hours after morning time in the noisy tube. And there are no new, active scars in the brain today… which means it appears my new medication is working. Take that, MS!

3. boundless prayer – While lying completely still in a large, noisy tube for close to an hour, there have been times that I’ve had different mental games I would play with stories, music lyrics and such. (This was my seventeenth or eighteenth such scan since May 1997.) But I realized during a February scan that this time was perfect for prayer. Today, I entered the tube with an agenda. I may have been quite confined, but God knows no bounds, and He could hear my prayers. And I know He still is!

4. triple berry shakes – On the way home from the oh-so-thrilling MRI time, my wise and loving husband stopped by Arby’s for shakes. The “triple berry” is quite superb – I highly recommend it! :)

5. anticipation – I have loved feeling my daughters’ anticipation, as they are excited to not just visit one  of their favorite stores tomorrow, but to purchase yarn for a first-ever knitting project. Then to receive the first knitting lesson from Grandma. (It’s one thing to learn from a book, but another to learn from a person, my daughter shared this afternoon. A book can’t tell you what you’re doing wrong, you know. So true! (The non-needlework daughter is thrilled to purchase new beads for her new loom. And it’s all on sale!)

Day 22 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s Five Thankful Things

1. U. S. Postal Service – I asked the question, “What are you thankful for?” on Facebook yesterday, and my cousin Jan responded with something I take for granted too often. The postal service delivers letters, magazines and packages to a box beside our driveway. I have to remember that email isn’t everything, and non-electronic communication is prescious.

2. Vanilla ice cream – during this National Ice Cream month, there have been all sorts of ice cream theme days. Today was “Vanilla Ice Cream Day,” and even though I enjoy the many flavors boasted by Ivanhoe’s or Oink’s, the elegant simplicity of vanilla has its own special place.

3. Fresh okra – we just harvested our first okra pod this evening, and I look forward to enjoying it tomorrow with lunch.  I hadn’t thought of munching uncooked okra before a friend mentioned this last year, and I have found them to be a great, unexpected summer treat for munching.

4. www.allrecipes.com – With this season of fresh vegetables of so many kinds, I this is one of my favorite spots to find new recipes. Tonight’s “zucchini alfredo” has become a seasonal favorite.

5.  prayer! – I have a close friend with levels of struggles right now. Knowing that we have a Lord who loves us, cares for us, and hears us when we call is beyond comprehension, and it certainly requires more than thirty days of thanks.

Day 21 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s 5 thankful things

1. Finishing another book! – I enjoy reading, but finishing two leisurely books in one week is a rare treat for me these days! (Earlier in the month, there are two more I read, but they were YA literature, so they were speedier reads.)

2. flower gardens – the “flower patch” that Em planted in our garden attracts more hummingbirds than our little feeder, and it is such a joy to watch the dance that ensues as they flit from flower to flower! Frequently, we’ve seen two hummers fighting for use of our little glass feeder, but Emily’s flowers now allow  them to sip simultaneously without altercation.

3. girl bonding time – the few hours my daughters and I spend together at home, these few weeks before school starts, offer fun time for us to watch fun shows, chat, finish crafts, or… well, you’ll never know. Some things don’t have to be explained. ;)

4. an organized husband - …who can attack a cluttered linen closet and help it make sense again. Thank you, Sweetie!

5. bookshelves – How blessed we are to not only have lovely shelves in our home, but scads of books to place on them. And knowing that most every book there is special in its own way makes this even more meaningful!

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