With Thanksgiving this Thursday, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on those very things for which I am thankful…and maybe you are, too.
This last stretch of life has made money quite elusive for my family. Frankly, it’s no fun trying to simply make ends meet, as I’m sure many of you can relate. But then I remember that 11% of the world doesn’t have something as fundamental and necessary as clean drinking water…and I know my challenges are “first world problems” indeed.
In this age of so much “stuff” that we believe we “need,” the truth is that…that’s not true. Beyond meeting our basic life necessities, our “needs” are much less than many of us focus on. And so today, I’d like to share the things I am truly thankful for…every day…that don’t cost a single penny.
- FAMILY—isn’t it the obvious go-to response for things to be thankful for? I am grateful for the people in my life who help to give it meaning. There is the family you are born into, and the family you make—and both can be a source of incredible joy (and pain!) I think about the names that define me within my family—wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt…I am blessed to have those relationships…even on days where I might want to choke someone.
- FRIENDS—and isn’t this the second obvious go-to response? My father used to say that if a man dies with four true friends, he dies a rich man. I’d like to think I am a rich woman in this regard—though I’m not dead yet, so I suppose there is time to tank in this realm. But for now…I am rich. And I am grateful. With each passing year I learn more and more of the value of true friendships. Priceless.
- HUMOR—I can’t imagine a life devoid of laughter. I wouldn’t want to live it. Even in the darkest of times, humor has been a constant companion to me, and for that, I am grateful. Without a doubt, God has an enormous sense of humor. Just look around. Don’t tell me he wasn’t giggling when parachute pants were popular. And how about the platypus? Bedlington Terriers? I guess saying that I think God has a devilish twinkle in his eye would be a bit blasphemous, but you know what I mean…
- NATURE—the beauty of nature continually washes over me. Sure, there are the “big mamas” (or “papas”) of nature like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, but there are the everyday “regular” goodies of nature that we too often dismiss in our busyness. The perfection of bright red maple leaves splayed on the ground in the autumn rain or the hues of pinks and oranges as the sun tucks itself in for the night…When I make it a point to stop and look, I almost always find something to pause and offer thanks for.*
- ART—what would the world be without art? I’m not just talking about the works you find in museums, but the art that is all around us…nature included (see #4!) Too often we put the term “art” on a pedestal that can only be reached by a few—but the truth is that each and every one of us has our own kind of art within us—and we need to let it out! The world will be a better place for it. Just look at what the unleashed art of the world has already done…Whether it’s a beautiful sculpture, poem, painting, film, song, play, photo, story—or whatever speaks to you—the world will be better because you shared it…and I will be grateful that you did.
- EXPERIENCES and MEMORIES—to me, having experiences that result in making memories is the real gold I’d like to store up in my vault. I’ll take the memories of my son’s first day of school over a new pair of shoes any day.
- LOVE, GRACE, MERCY, and FORGIVENESS—this one is two-tiered. The first tier is my thankfulness for the package deal of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that God offers me. He loves me, so he grants me grace and mercy, and since I continually mess up, he continually forgives me. It’s everything, really. And because of that everything, I am called to do the same for others—though in keeping with the “continually messing up” part, I continually fall short. I am thankful that each day I get to try again. And again. And I am thankful for those who strive to do the same for me. Lord knows I need as much love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness as I can get my hands on!
- FAITH and HOPE—these two are pretty intertwined in my world. My faith offers me hope, and I am very grateful for both. I do not know what tomorrow brings—more so these days than ever before—but I have faith and hope that the road laid out for me is exactly where my feet should go. Of course, if God could punch in my next destination on my internal GPS, that would be lovely. Right now, all I’m hearing is “recalculating”…
- OPPORTUNITIES to SERVE and GIVE—sometimes we can look upon the need to serve and give as a burden, but they are really something to be thankful for. I don’t think there has ever been a time that I was able to serve or give that I was not the better for it. Supporting one another in various ways brings deeper meaning, connection, and appreciation to life. It makes us all a little bit more alive.
And, lastly…at least for today’s list…
- BABY TOES—because this is my list and I can pick whatever I want. I mean, come ON…baby toes…do I really have to explain?
*The whole “thankful for” topic has brought about many a dangling preposition. The Oxford Dictionary says that’s okay. Whew.
All photos are my own.
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