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.
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!
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.”
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!
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.