Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 30 – thankful for life!

When one still isn’t feeling stellar, there is still plenty of time to really ponder the beautiful parts of life. So here is today’s list of five bits of Upland life I’m thankful for:

  1. birthday Ivanhoes

    a “Happy Birthday sundae,” last December.

    Living near Ivanhoe’s This fabulous eatery is the home of 100 type of shakes and 100 kinds of sundaes, not to mention their wonderful drive-in-style dishes. (Their breaded tenderloin sandwiches have won awards, and the hamburger is ground fresh each day.) Hoe’s was loved by college students when I attended Taylor, but it is now just eight blocks from our house. Good reason for friends to visit, too! Need to see the menu in advance? Check it out online!

  1. a hummingbird briefly perched on the feeder at our window.

    a hummingbird briefly perched on the feeder at our window.

    Hummingbirds!Every morning and evening, if I’m sitting in my regular chair, I can watch finches or cardinals to the right, but more breathtaking is the hummingbird. Around the corner, l can watch the bird hover… she sometimes decides to perch on the plastic petals. This shot from lunchtime today found the little lady perching for a short rest. :)

  1. Lunch with my girls – I have been taking for granted fun lunches with my daughters. They usually end up as a “leftover” meal of some sort, but while we have fresh blackberries we sometimes have a “peanut butter and berries” sandwich. (fresher than jelly!)
  1. Sharing movies and memories – Since this is right before the girls’ first day of school, we were looking at “high school” movies they hadn’t seen yet, and T.R. and I thought it would be fun to watch “Pretty in Pink.”  I had fun letting the girls know what clothing was a bit like something I wore in high school… ;) Ah, 80’s. (…though it wasn’t until the early 90’s that I obtained a hat much like the one Molly Ringwald wore in this movie. And I never actually saw the movie until T.R. and I picked up a few years ago. I was in junior high when it was in the theaters.)
  1. Good neighbors – Our friends who live across the street or a few doors down are loved and appreciated so much! Being a part of a “neighborhood” is more than just our small Upland community, but I love how a “neighbor” isn’t just somebody we wave to or share fresh tomatoes with. One of my modern heroes remains Fred Rogers, who taught people of all ages what it really meant to be a neighbor, :)

Thank you to all of my “neighbors” who have joined me through my thankful journey!

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 29 – still thankful!

thankful2

As colds tend to linger, I’m still feeling far from good, but taking things even more slowly leaves even more room to recognize my many blessings! Such as what, you ask?

  1. “Streaming” technology – When sickness keeps two folks at home on a Sunday morning (when they wish they could be in church!), I was extremely thankful that our local service was streamed digitally, and we could follow along with the fantastic message that Tom shared this morning. How nice!
  1. Kleenex – I am so thankful that single-use, disposable tissues are readily available. Having to rewash hankies while dealing with colds would be a rather icky task, I think. I also recall making fun carnations out of fan-folded Kleenex of various colors when I was growing up… whatever the brand, disposable tissues have lots of uses, and I am indeed thankful for them!
  1. Fuzzy socks are wonderful! :)

    aahhh… fuzzy socks!

    Fuzzy socks – Even in the summer, toes can grow cool… I love being able to slip on a pair of fuzzy socks to reduce the chill for a few moments. The socks come off before long, but this particular pair makes me smile as I think of the friend who gave these to me as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. :)

  1. goldfinches

    beautiful goldfinches!

    Natural yard – Though our home isn’t exactly rural, it is such a joy to watch and hear signs of wildlife through our windows! We get to see birds, but other critters can be seen also.

  1. Wellness – With my husband and I sick today, I am so thankful that this hasn’t passed on to our daughters! They begin school on Wednesday, so I pray it stays this way. (We’re doing what we can – handwashing can’t be overemphasized!)

I’m thankful for more than I can say… it will be hard to choose five final “thankful things” tomorrow. But what a special experience this 30-day journey has been!

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 28 – many thanks today!

fluxx back

the back of the card you see in #4

As you could likely surmise yesterday, I’m not feeling wonderful. But I am able to still experience many wonderful parts of life, and there is so much to be thankful for!  What, you ask? Well…

  1. Cough medicine – When two bugs hit one at the same time, antibiotics may have tamed the infection/fever, but a good, strong cough medicine helped me finally sleep soundly last night. Thank you, NyQuil! (I very rarely use this, but last night was a night it was needed.)
  1. Online school registration – When our daughters were in Kindergarten, I remember going in the week before school to complete and sign innumerable numbers of forms, and I had to wait in at least three different lines (I think four, including the line for bus routes). This would take a few hours. I recall asking. “Do we really need to do this in person?” Thankfully, they did start digital registration a few years ago, and this year’s new software at the school made it go more smoothly than any other year. As of yesterday, our registrations are successfully completed. Awesome!
  1. garden bruchettaGarden Bruchetta – Though actual bruchetta at a restaurant is generally made with diced tomato and such, for our own version, we have found that toast, covered with garlic scape pesto, then stacked with a large, fresh tomato slice and Parmesan cheese is a wonderful lunch snack!
  1. Angie fluxx

    my own Fluxx card that is only valid when signed by the game creator. 

    Family game smiles – One of my favorite family games for the last few years has been “Fluxx.” T.R. and I first played this game in 1997, and at Gen Con this year, we received special cards signed by the creator, Andrew Looney (a former rocket scientist who now runs a game company, Looney Labs, with his wife). The pen and ink illustration is a fun representation of the game maker. If you’ve not played Fluxx before, give it a try. Or at least come and read the cards… they’re fun in a quirky sort of way.

  1. Mostly free movies – When we search online, we use Bing! and collect points we can turn in for rewards… a month of regular searching is more than enough for $5 toward a Fandango movie ticket. I know this sounds silly, but using these certificates has helped us view some great movies at the area theater. At the start of the week, we enjoyed “Mr. Holmes.” It was indeed lovely! A fun imagining of Sherlock Holmes a few decades after his retirement, and Ian Mckellen portrayed the elder Sherlock splendidly.

As some less enjoyable parts of life keep inserting themselves, I am certainly enjoying the task of purposefully, pointedly finding where I should be giving thanks. I am incredibly blessed, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are also. Nice to remember, isn’t it?

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 27 – unlikely “thanks

thankful2

As I said in the header, today will be a day of “unlikely thanks.” You’ll see what I mean…

1. Unexpectedly patient husband in the middle of the night – I had felt “a little under the weather” Wednesday afternoon, but I hadn’t realized things would escalate, making it hard for this MS girl’s legs to even think about moving. So T.R. got to help more than he may have expected when we turned in for the night. Glad we’ve made it through! (When somebody with MS has a fever, the internal heat sort of messes things up. Returning to normal temperature later fixes things, so legs and such work again..)

2. Doctor office – So thankful that our local office could fit me in! (Thanks!)

3. Antibiotics – Found out that I have an infection, so once these antibiotics kick in, it is so nice to know this will be gone.

4.Daughters who do the dishes – While I’m writing this, I hear the girls behind me as they’re washing dishes. (Some of these are from baking one girl chose to do… mmmm!)

5. Our dear friend Matt – Matthew Pickut was a sharp, funny, talented, hyper-intelligent college friend who was a dearly-loved pastor and assistant speech coach in Plymouth, Indiana. Three or so years ago, Matt experienced septic shock, and after the coma that ensued for many, many days, he was never quite able to fully rejoin the world. Yesterday morning, he passed away. Why is this a “thankful” thing? Matt’s body was finished, but we join his wife Barbie, young daughter Abi, and other friends and family in rejoicing for the legacy he left and the promise before him.

(I first wrote this yesterday, but being sick made it not get posted when it was first completed in the evening. I had been too quick with #5, and that deserved a bit more thought that my groggy mind had offered. I am glad that I had extended my thirty days of writing of thanks to the girls’ school starting time – they begin classes August 12. Three to go! )

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 26 – Gen Con Thanks

thankful2

I mentioned on Friday how I wouldn’t be able to post again until Monday, and I said I’d explain. So here we go. On Saturday morning, I was able to travel to Indianapolis, where I spent the rest of the weekend with T.R. and the girls at Gen Con! The time was very full, not to mention tiring, but it was lovely in its own very special ways.

5 things I’m thankful for about Gen Con

  1. It is in Indianapolis! – This convention, which people travel to from around the world, is a 90 minute drive from our home. When we were first married, T.R. spoke of wishing he could attend Gen Con, but then it was in Geneva, Wisconsin, so this just wasn’t going to work. Twelve years ago, it was moved in Indianapolis, and T.R. was first able to attend (and be a part of a booth) four years ago.
  1. Gencon family selfie

    Angie, T.R., Emily and Rachel

    Family event – With a family of self-proclaimed “geeks” (and proud of it!) , this was a lovely way to make special summer memories.

  1. Gencon musicNeat worship together – Sunday morning’s Christian worship service started with nice music led by somebody I’m sure we’d not have seen on the stage at our church (not with that hair piece, anyhow, but she did a lovely job of leading, with the acoustic guitarist beside her). How great to join with few hundred brothers and sisters from different places and various walks of life.
  1. Great messageGencon service – “Here there be dragons” – using Ephesians 6:10-20, the “Geek Preacher” shared the importance of the “armor of God,” particularly peace and truth, grasping our shield of faith.
  1. Special experience for T.R. – He did a wonderful job organizing and running the booth for Modiphius Entertainment – you can see great photos of his experience on his blog, Freelance Knight. You can see why I am so proud of him!

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 25 – bits of heritage in sweet momentoes

thankful2

Spending a few days with my parents, there have been special moments of sharing. After Mom pointed out an embroidered piece hanging in the guest room where I was staying, she shared some fun bits, most of which I hadn’t realized before.

So this will lead to my list for today:

5 pieces of family heritage I am thankful for:

  1. Emma Wuethrich embroidery

    stitched by Great-great Aunt Emma, 1933

    Strong family roots – The loving, committed family roots of my parents continue to enrich our lives, as I hear stories of relatives of previous generations. The piece hanging on the wall was embroidered by Emma Wuethrich, unmarried sister of my great grandfather. Knowing that she wouldn’t have attended formal schooling for very many years, I can appreciate her sunny outlook and overlook the misplaced apostrophe. (I know college graduates who still haven’t mastered this punctuation skill.)
  1. NickeeFamily pets – When in the second grade, I received a sweet little poodle, “Nickee.” He was my very special friend, and he stayed around until he passed away when I was in college. Mom showed me a shelf where she has little animal statues, and this is one she has in honor of my little fellow… this brought a smile to my face today.
  1. cooler Dad won at a high school "sock hop'

    cooler Dad won at a high school “sock hop’

    Proof of parents’ youth – I have seen this Coca-Cola cooler in the past, but I didn’t realize until Mom told me that this is a cooler Dad received as a prize at a high school “sock hop.” This reminded me of two things: Dad was indeed young once, and (more of a surprise) he attended high school dances! :)
  1. desk Dad purchased for Mom while he was in Vietnam

    desk Dad purchased for Mom while he was in Vietnam

    Story behind the ornate desk – There is a gorgeously carved desk where Mom has always kept stationery and cards, and I knew it was “from Vietnam,” but I learned a little more about it today. At one point during Dad’s year in Vietnam, he had purchased this desk in Okinawa. It was then shipped to Mom in Indiana (she thinks for her birthday), as Dad knew this was the type of thing she’d like. He was right.
  1. Legacy still lives – During my few days here, I have gotten to see, up close and personal, how both of my parents still hold strong to the values of faith, love and commitment. I love you. Dad and Mom!
    Lyons anniversary pic

    Mom and Dad at the recent 50th anniversary celebtration

    (note: my last five “thankful” posts will come Monday and beyond, as this weekend I will not have the opportunity to post. Why? You’ll see next week!)

Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 24 – 18  years of …

18th

Eighteen years ago on this date, it was similar to today in that it was rather hot. And quite humid. And very sunny. (Of course it was… it was July in Indiana.)  So what made it memorable? July 30, 1997 was the day of the official word, the day that Dr. Stevens confirmed that the preliminary June diagnosis was correct: I had Multiple Sclerosis.

Today isn’t exactly a celebration, though it is strangely encouraging to know that my MS can now vote… not really, I know, but it does build a more substantial “life experience” dwelling (cottage or sky scraper or sand castle, I’m not sure). I may not be in a “lighthearted” sort of spirit, but I do wish to portray a thankful one. Why? Eighteen years into my MS journey, there continue to be blessings that I see.

I will still never be “Thankful for MS,” but as I type this, I am reminded of my daughter who told me last week that she plans to “Never say never.” …to which her twin sister responded, “You do know that by saying that, you’ve said ‘Never’ twice, right?”.

So let me rephrase that: I don’t believe that I will ever be thankful for MS. That having been said, here are things am I thankful for in the midst of MS:

5 Things I’m More Thankful for with MS in My Life

  1. Needed Slowness – I’ve never been super speedy, but MS has enforced a movement level that has me running races with snails, and sometimes they win. But you know what we’ve discovered? When you refrain from being speedy, you notice and appreciate things. It can be refreshing.
  1. Connections with others – There are more people than I can count who have contacted me for assurance or advice – or commiseration – after receiving a frightening diagnosis. This is never a lesson I had planned to teach, but I’m thankful that I’m able to step in here at times.
  1. Little everyday ADA blessings – I credit the ADA for many bits of blessing, and I am thankful for things like not-too-steep ramps, early boarding for an airplane, and special seats at the theater. I read earlier this week that we are now a part of “Generation ADA” – we have indeed come a long way. I have an understanding here that I never would have before!
  1. Learning the blessing of giving AND receiving – For some of us, giving is a lot simpler, more comfortable, more joyful than receiving. And rightly so… but I have finally realized that by being an appreciative “receiver,” I bless the life of those on the other side of the equation. For a proud and independent type of person, this wasn’t a simple lesson, but I feel that I am experiencing this truth more fully after eighteen years.
  1. Deeper family relationships – Life as it is in the Knight house requires a level of giving, understanding, patience and love that I don’t think would be if not for challenges MS brings our way. My husband and daughters are so very special, and there are bonds within our family that have been strengthened by this thing called MS.

So “Thankful for MS”? Not today. Thankful for (sometimes hidden) blessings that abound? You bet!

30 Days of Thanks – Day 23 – Looking back 4 years… thanks for today!

thankful2

When I started this “30 Days of Thanks” annual tradition,, it had been inspired by my mother’s experience. In July 2011, mammogram displayed a lump, and the cancer diagnosis and treatment that followed was a journey I know Mom and Dad will not forget. And neither will I!

Today’s 5 Things of Thanks

  1. Good news – Happy about Mom’s recent visits to the surgeon and oncologist who led in the treatment of her disease. She is still cancer-free!!
  1. How far we’ve come – It was a blessing yesterday to spend the evening with a couple who had been friends of my parents when I was young (their son and my little brother were friends). When Joyce was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in second grade, and remember how the year of treatment drained her so much… but the cancer did go away at that time. Though it has had recurrences, the fact that Joyce is now doing beautifully speaks volumes as to how far treatments have come!
  1. double delight roses

    These “double delight” roses are from Dad’s rose garden… I wish you could smell them!

    Dad’s roses – Mom’s favorite of my Dad’s rosebushes is “double delight,” one that not only boasts beauty of red-tinged petals, but boasts a beautiful aroma with intensity unlike any other.

  1. Phone calls with faraway friends – What a blessing it was today to enjoy a long conversation with a friend who lives far away – and find out I’ll get to see her soon!
  1. God’ love – …that is so evident in his creation, in ways he uses medical technology to heal, and how he works to show compassion and love for those who do not experience physical healing,

I know that every good and perfect gift comes from God above (see James 1:17), and I hope this “30 Day” adventure can help me remember to thank our Lord for these many gifts. And to notice them when they’re right here in front of my face.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 22 – more “everyday” thanks

thankful2

This summer continues to be filled with lots of special moments. With yesterday’s celebration of 25 years of the ADA, it brings to mind some of the things I take for granted.

Day 22 – More everyday thanks

  1. Canvas bags – We have myriads of canvas bags, most with ads or messages written on them. But no matter what they say on the outside, I love being able to carry items in a sturdy way. Many of our bags have fun memories attached… bonus indeed. :)

  1. suitcase
    Suitcases with wheels – I remember going to camp as a child, bringing a hard suitcase that I lifted and carried. Even a small carry-on is now easy to roll along – how nice!
  1. Lists – I find more and more that things I’m sure I’ll remember… well, I remember them tomorrow. Maybe. So I am very thankful for lists!
  1. Greater cultural acceptance of disability – T.R. shared with me a nice example of this. Take a look here at a lovely image of an aunt and her niece… the most telling thing to me is that the aunt may be in a wheelchair, but this fact is not celebrated or degraded. It just IS. And that is beautiful. (After yesterday’s celebration, this was particularly telling.)

5. E-mail – I recall when I was in college and used email for the first time – it was winter 1992. I was rather amazed. Then in 1994, During my first year of teaching, my school became connected to the Internet… and it was my privilege to show students in my science class the magic of e-mail. When we typed a question to “Bill Nye the Science Guy” then received a response the next day, this was a special kind of magic. Today, I’m still amazed when I look at the screen of my “inbox,” viewing the list of places these messages are from, when they were sent, and pondering the “magic” of today’s technology.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 21 –  Happy 25th Birthday, ADA!

  1. disabilitiesSummer 1990 was a time of transition for me, as I was preparing to move away to college. My senior year had been an eventful one in the big scheme of things… the Berlin Wall had been torn down in November, student protests at Tiananmen Square in Beijing had shaken the world just a few months earlier, and Nelson Mandela had been freed after 27 years in South African prison.  After graduating, I had no idea that our President would sign a bill that would have more of a personal impact on me than any of these other storied events that filled the news ever would. On July 26, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As he stated at the signing, this act was meant to tear down another wall, removing some of the barriers experienced by those facing disabilities.

Has the ADA succeeded in tearing down that wall, as the President stated? Though I know implementation has been imperfect (what isn’t?), The ADA has succeeded in making life fuller, places more accessible than many would have imagined 25 years ago. So this leads to today’s thankful list:

5 Things That Make Me Thankful for the ADA:

  1. Parking places – Because of the requirements legislated by the ADA, those of us who have difficulty walking (or using a cane, walker, or wheelchair) may park in closer spots. Before I started using a cane, I would often use my tag and park at these spots – I may not have looked “disabled,” but MS left my legs less cooperative than I sometimes wished, and my internal battery just didn’t hold any extra charge.
  1. Required Accessibility in Public Places – Except for older locations, all public places are required to allow those who are disabled to use them. So doors need to be wide enough, an entrance without stairs must be present… the power of this law became obvious to me when I called the restaurant where we were planning my parents’ anniversary. Not having visited this out-of-town establishment before, I asked whether the room was handicap accessible for one in a wheelchair or using a walker. The answer was immediate, “Of course it is. It’s the law.”
  1. School stuff – For me, I was able to quietly make arrangements to have the location of a college course changed, as I researched in advance to discover that the planned classroom was one that had a few steps at its entrance. Though I was only using a cane, I knew that the unpredictability of MS could require the use of a walker later in the semester. So the room switched. And the other students never knew about this. (At first, the instructor had questioned whether this needed to be switched, but when I copied a college administrator on the email conversation, the prof was told that I shouldn’t have had to ask more than once, and law required that this reasonable accommodation be made.)
  1. “Magic Doors” – This is what they seem like anyhow. Though automatically opening doors are not an ADA requirement for many locations, they do help for the accessibility standards to be met. Pressing a button to open a door allowed me to enter school, work, and church.
  1. Elevators! :)I was thrilled to hear a report last Friday about ways the ADA has made a difference in the lives of those who may not face disability. I can only imagine navigating New York City in a wheelchair, but I was very encouraged to hear of subway stations that are in the process of adding (or are planning to add) elevators. Here at home, I appreciate the existence of elevators, more than I used to, and I know the ADA has helped fund improvements here nationwide.

Curb cuts, accommodations, accessible theater seats… there is so much this law has helped make available. This isn’t only for the disabled community as it is now, but for those who don’t view themselves as “disabled” but find their lives enriched by structures, events and cultural trends impacted by the spirit of the ADA. Thank you, George H. W. Bush!

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