Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Still Thankful

Dear Readers,My plans for the Thanksgiving series "Attitude of Gratitude" were interrupted by a very persistent cold, which has held on for almost four weeks. It developed into a sinus infection that dropped to my chest, threatening to stay on as pneumonia. I've been bedridden since Sunday. And even though this has thwarted my blogging plans, I want you to know I'm still thankful.

In parts three and four I was going to tell you how thankful I am for nature and for God himself. In all the things I've mentioned: laughter, people, nature, and God - none are limited by circumstances. It doesn't matter whether we are financially secure, happily married, appreciated, or even healthy. These things can be enjoyed by all, with gratitude to our Father who gives them.

That's all I want to say...for now. Barring any further illness, I hope to be back after Thanksgiving with a look at some of the characters in the Christmas story, and how we re-live their roles in the twenty-first century. I hope you will join me.

And now I will get back to being good, which I promised my husband I would, so I can get well. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving full of laughter, safe people, the beauty of nature, and most of all, God.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude Part Two:

 I am Thankful for People

What would life be like without people? I am so thankful for the ones whose eyes sparkle when they see me. For those who are fully present, whoever they’re with, setting aside cell phones and other distractions. I am thankful for people with genuine smiles; who listen fully, love sincerely, and remain cheerful despite interruptions, disappointments, and conflict.

I love people who make me laugh – at the quirks of life, with quick wit, and good natured teasing. I’m thankful for people who have a positive outlook and reveal a fresh perspective when I am discouraged. For people who can enjoy the simple pleasures of life – a beautiful sunset, a great cup of coffee, candlelight, a new book, freshly washed clothes, a walk in the park.

I am thankful for people who give hugs and compliments. Thank you Lord, for those who comment when others lose weight, make wise decisions, win a small victory, or have a great idea. They are the noticers.

True friends offer wisdom, remind me of the truth, let me cry when I am sad, listen when I am distraught or overjoyed. I’m grateful for those who help me process ideas, let me dream, push me to try, and help me accept what is. I am thankful for those who not only bless me, but let me love and serve them as well.

One of my favorite verses about friendship says, “The pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).  I’m thankful for those who encourage me in God’s ways. Their thoughtful questions help me examine where I’m headed and steer me back to the path. These true friends keep me from getting bogged down or self-destructing.

Safe people, we are told by Drs. Cloud and Townsend possess three qualities:

·         They are present

·         They practice grace

·         They are truthful

Safe people are attentive to others. They are loving and forgiving, but they also speak truth.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for the special people God has placed in my life and for ones I don’t even know yet. My husband, children, parents, sisters, friends, neighbors, and many people around the world are dear to me. They are beautiful examples of God’s Spirit in action. I look forward to gathering with many of them around the table this month. And though I will miss the ones who are celebrating elsewhere, they will be in my heart.

Thank you God for creating such a delightful variety of people in this world – the bold adventurers, the thinkers, the dreamers, the artists and musicians, the clowns, the planners, the caregivers, and the movers and shakers. You have created each one to do your work. Help us continue to appreciate each other, even after the feast is over and we are once again involved in the business of life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Part one: I am Thankful for Laughter

laughter with friends
I was walking “the loop” in our neighborhood one day, when all of a sudden a girl in a striped top popped out of the grass-filled ditch to my right. She disappeared with a gasp, followed by giggles. Then I heard a deep voice say, “Pay no attention to the girls in the grass!” More giggles.
I laughed all the way home, every time I remembered the look of surprise on her face and her imaginative response to my presence. In fact, even more than a year later, I still laugh when I pass that spot sometimes.

When I asked my friend Lawrence where they kept the candy corn at Safeway, he told me a story. He said a friend’s four year old kept asking her for caution cone candy and she couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Finally, he pointed to a caution cone on their street and explained, “See, it looks like that and it’s orange and yellow and white.” 

 Just recently, I’ve remembered a funny story about my now twenty-four year old daughter. When she was about five, she loved to play doggie. One evening we were having dinner with my parents and Tara was crawling around the table. We were enjoying some adult conversation, but she kept yipping and scratching at our legs for attention. Finally, my dad said, “Heel doggie, heel!”

There was a momentary pause (or paws, as the case may be) while she tried to figure out what she was supposed to do. The only kind of healing she knew about was from the Bible stories we read every night at bedtime. Suddenly, she raised her hands in the air and exclaimed, “I’m healed! I’m healed!” She definitely got the attention she wanted when we all burst into laughter.

Just recently, Kelly and I went on a weekend vacation with another couple. We were desperate for a break from our busy schedules. For three days we ate, shopped, explored, played games, and laughed. A highlight of our trip was when we discovered crab hats in a late night foray and the shop proprietor took our picture together. We agreed that true friendship is when you can be crabby together.

Laughter is a great way to relieve stress. How many times has a surprise event sent you into fits of laughter and your tension melted away? People can say the funniest things and breathe new life into our day. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

My Grandma Leona lived well into her nineties, outliving three husbands, a beloved sister, and most of her friends. She experienced much sorrow, yet she had a zest for life that was contagious. She laughed a lot. She used to claim that “internal jogging” was part of her secret to longevity. I think she might have been right.

Thank you, God, for laughter. You obviously have a sense of humor - evident in the Bible, as well as some of the quirky animals and plants you have created (not to mention people). You help us laugh at ourselves. You delight us with the antics of children and pets. You give us smiles even on dark days. Laughter keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. It energizes us; makes us sparkle. Laughter is good medicine.

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude Series

During the month of October, my focus was on the saints and how grateful I am for the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us. They passed their faith down to us by living bold, faithful, and sometimes quiet, lives. This year I read about Brother Andrew, President Lincoln, Mary Slessor, Lottie Moon and others. Their tenacious faith to overcome all obstacles in their way inspires me to set aside the petty concerns that tend to get me down and focus more on what is truly important.

Now that November is here, I will be posting blogs leading up to Thanksgiving. I hope you will join me and add your comments on what you are thankful for this month. The Message Bible says it well:

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

Psalm 100, Message

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Relevant Magazine's Article on All Saints Day

Thank you all for your comments, emails, and texts I have received regarding All Saints Day. Jenny is watching movies with her kids and eating dumplings; Linda and Rob are feasting on tri-tip; Ron is busy sharing his research findings with others; Brian and Britney are choosing to raise their soon to be born baby celebrating God's holiday; and Kayla and Skyler are looking for some fun ideas on how to celebrate All Saints.

I am excited that so many Christians are willing to step away from Halloween and look long and hard at what we have been doing with our fall enthusiasm. I applaud those who have done research on their own in order to make an informed decision about Halloween and All Saints. And I praise God for the many who have told me (and those who haven't) that they are praying about what God would have them do.

Today I had another delightful surprise. Relevant Magazine sent out a teaser blurb and a link to an article entitled: "Why All Saints Day Matters" by Ryan Hamm. I have included the blurb below and a link to his well-done article.

Keep spreading the word to other Christians who are sold out for the Lord. Let's celebrate the faith and victorious lives of our fabulous brothers and sisters in Christ!
Beth Vice

It's not just the day after Halloween
For most, Nov. 1 means putting away costumes, counting up candy and prepping for the rest of the holiday season (perhaps with some premature Christmas carols). But for Christians, the day after Halloween is so much more. All Saints’ Day is a time to remember and celebrate the saints of both past and present. From St. Paul and N.T. Wright to Mother Teresa and John Piper, there is a “great cloud” of faith heroes to be honored. Beyond these famous names, All Saints’ Day is also a time to cherish the universal Church—the rich and poor, old and young, male and female. Today, RELEVANT looks closely at this overlooked tradition and the importance of remembering the rich and expansive legacy of the Christian faith.

Here's the link to Ryan Hamm's article: "Why All Saints' Day Matters"