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An Attitude of Gratitude – late November, early December 2013

December 9, 2013

I started this post well before Thanksgiving and then didn’t complete it.  Not wanting to waste these thoughts I am finishing it today. 

A lot of my friends are posting the things they are grateful for on their FaceBook pages each day during the month of November.  Seeing that, here in America at least, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November that seems appropriate.  In years past I have joined my friends.  This year I have not.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to be grateful for, I do, I am not able to count all the blessings in my life.  It’s just that I believe that the key to true gratitude is being grateful every day of the year. 

I then looked at how sadly I have neglected this blog the past couple of months.  I’ve neglected even more than I’ve been neglecting my bicycle riding, which has been pretty bad.  The only excuse I have is a reason, not an excuse but a reason.  My life has been pretty busy lately.

I decided that if I had been writing a blog post every day for the month of November I would need to write about 150 things I am grateful for this month.  Since I so often repeat things that I am grateful for I decided that today I would sit down and list as many things as I could think of, in no particular order except for the very first one.  I won’t get to 150, but it will be more than 5.  The number one on my list is the thing I am grateful for above everything else.

  1. God loves me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the redemption of my sins and to bring me into reconciliation with Him.  This will bring me to tears every time I think about it.  There is no greater gift in this life.  Sometimes I act as if I have forgotten this.  Fortunately, I know that God forgives me.  I am blessed.
  2. My oikos. An oikos is the ancient Greek equivalent of a household, house, or family.  In this case I am referring to the people in my life with whom I spend the majority of my time: my parents, the members of my two Bible Study groups and my other close friends.  These people love me, understand me, support me and tell me when I am out of line.  They are not harsh, critical or condemning.  They are my spiritual family.  I love them.  My relationship with them helps me grow.  I am blessed.
  3. My children. My daughter Sara, and her fiancée, Mike.  My son Robert, and his wife, Jennifer.  My daughter Megan, and her fiancée, Cory.  Okay, I must admit, I’m not too thankful for Cory at this point in time but my mother told me a story Sunday evening that gives me hope.  I am blessed.
  4. Lessons that God is using my children to teach me.  Lessons about how I value myself versus how I should be valuing myself.  Lessons about love and respect.  Lessons about trust and integrity.  Lessons about letting go of the things in my life that are toxic for me and causing me pain.  Lessons about when to hang on, even while the going is tough.  I am blessed.
  5. My home.  It may be a humble little apartment but it keeps me warm and dry.  It’s a place to keep all my belongings while I’m out earning my living.  It’s a base of operations for me, my office where I paint, my rooms where I care for myself and my pets, my kitchen where I cook and create meals for myself and friends.  I am exceptionally blessed by having a home.  I am fully cognizant of the fact many people don’t have adequate shelter, living in motor vehicles and/or even tents, boxes or lean-tos.  I am not exposed to the elements, can protect my pets and my belongings and retreat to when I need peace.  I am blessed.
  6. My Job.  I have a place to go where my contribution is valued.  In addition, it allows my to keep my home, feed myself and my pets and keep gas in my car.  It gets me out of my apartment each (week)day.  It allows me to afford gifts, small trips and charitable contributions.  I am blessed.
  7. My furniture.  I am fortunate to have furnishings to make my home comfortable and welcoming.  I remember once, many years ago, moving into a home and all I had was three mattresses and a living room chair.  Some people never have more than that.  I am blessed.
  8. Kitchen furnishings.  I have plates and silverware, pots, pans and other dishes.  I have bakeware.  I have a microwave and a regular oven.  I am able to prepare my own meals as well as meals for family and friends.  I do not have to eat out every night or try to prepare dinners on a little hot plate.  I am blessed.
  9. My car.  I have quick and comfortable transportation to get wherever I need to go.  I have used my bicycle, the bus system and even trains to commute but I much prefer the ease and freedom having a car gives me.  In addition, driving my car saves a lot of time.  There are many people without a car or even a driver’s license.  I am blessed.
  10. Medical, dental and vision insurance.  I currently have medical insurance provided by my employer.  In the last few years I have had broken bones, surgeries and concerns with my vision.  I have obtained contacts and glasses.  I’ve had medical tests and doctors visits.  I’ve been to the dentist for teeth cleanings and to have a plate made.  I would not be able to afford the majority of these except that I have medical, dental and vision coverage.  I am blessed.
  11. My bicycle.  In addition to using my bicycle for fun and recreation it is a tool I can use for socializing and for commuting.  It gives me exercise and transportation.  It has helped me make new friends.  I have also gotten involved with the American Diabetes’ Association’s Tour de Cure through my bicycle, a way to contribute to research for the cure of this terrible disease.  I am blessed.
  12. My artistic talent.  I love to draw and paint and I love that people enjoy my finished product.  I want to use this talent to glorify God since I know it is a gift from Him.  My talent has also opened doors for me, doors to new experiences and new friends.  I am blessed.
  13. My sewing ability.  More than 33 years ago I made a simple dress for my oldest daughter to wear while she was being christened.  Today I am working on her wedding dress.  What a wonderful gift to be able to create something that will bless my daughter on two of the most important days of her life.  I am blessed.
  14. Grace.  I am not a perfect creature.  I am not a perfect human being.  I have made mistakes in the past and will again in the future.  Grace covers all my mistakes.  All of them.  I am blessed.
  15. Lucy and Sid.  I love my pets.  They keep me company.  They keep me amused.  They keep me human.  They are loving and forgiving.  They are always glad to see me.  At night, they keep me warm.  I don’t always deserve their love, I can be forgetful and neglectful, but they don’t care.  I am blessed.
  16. My new glasses.  I picked up my new bifocals this morning.  Contacts were no longer helping my vision the way they should so I am trying bifocal glasses now.  (Yes, I had bifocal contacts.)  There will be an adjustment period but my vision is now nice and sharp and clean.  Well, except for the floatie I still have in my right eye.  I am blessed.
  17. My NutriBullett blender.  A couple of weeks ago I got this new blender and have been drinking green smoothies for breakfast every morning.  I’ve been dropping the weight, feeling healthier, craving much less sugar and even my meat consumption is down.  The real test will be when I go to BloodSource this weekend to donate blood.  I’m curious to see where my iron level is after eating all this kale and spinach.  I am blessed.
  18. My single status.  Okay, this is another one I am having a difficult time appreciating, at least, until I need to go somewhere or do something that a significant other might not be interested in.  I had no one to object when I went to Brazil on a mission trip.  I never had anyone to object to my going to Mexico (I did have a few men I was dating express displeasure).  That’s not to say I expect my future spouse to object.  I don’t know him yet so I can’t even predict that, but for now I don’t have that additional worry to stress over.  I am blessed.
  19. My Thanksgiving Day.  I told a friend of mine that I celebrate Thanksgiving in a little different manner than a lot of people I know.  This Thanksgiving I once again boarded the bus at my church and headed to San Francisco to serve the homeless and poverty-stricken at the rescue mission.  I spent several hours packing turkey, ham and/or beef into styrofoam take out containers and passing them down the line for the rest of the meal.  Those meals were then delivered door to door to people and families living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.  What an honor it was to serve them.  I am blessed.
  20. Friends.  I had friends on that San Francisco trip with me.  One of them insisted I go to his cousin’s house for his family’s Thanksgiving celebration.  Since the alternative was to go home and look at the empty pie shell and avocados in my refrigerator I did not argue too strenuously with him.  I am blessed.
  21. My mother.  In October my aunt and uncle celebrated their 60 year wedding anniversary.  A few days later my uncle turned 60.  My mother opened her house to the family for a celebratory party.  My mother is opening her home and making her sewing machine available to me so that I may sew my oldest daughter’s wedding dress.  (My machine is currently not working properly, plus, a 6 month old kitten and 7 1/2 yards of lace do not mix very well.)  I do not always see eye to eye with my mother, and sometimes we argue and fight, but the bottom line is my mother is loving and generous.  I believe I learned those characteristics at her side.  I am blessed.
  22. My step-dad.  Loving, gentle, self-effacing, the man is flat-out wonderful.  He puts up with my mother when she is off her rocker and enjoys her when she is happy.  Top that with the world’s best chicken on the barbecue and you have a wonderful man.  I love him dearly.  I am blessed.
  23. My art group.  To have the love and support of a group of women who encourage me and enjoy spending time with me is a huge blessing.  To create together, whether individually or collaboratively, is an even larger blessing.  To study the Word of God with them while we are in that process is fantastic and so very fun.  I am blessed.
  24. The American Diabetes Association.  Have I mentioned my parents have diabetes?  So does my uncle, various assorted cousins, and several friends and acquaintances.  My brother and his girlfriend both have pre-diabetes.  If I add them all up I can come to more than 15 people in my immediate circle with diabetes or pre-diabetes.  I fundraise for and ride the Tour de Cure because of all the work this agency does, not only in the areas of diabetes education and research but also in advocacy for those who suffer from this disease.  Due to their educational efforts I may be able to stop myself from contracting the disease.  I am blessed.
  25. Telephones and the Internet. Quick forms of communication and research.  My job is so much easier because of them.  My company actually has offices all over the west coast and I am able to communicate with whoever I need to in order to get my job done quickly and efficiently.  I can also use them to communicate with my family and friends.  I am blessed.
  26. FaceBook.  While there are inevitable problems with having a FaceBook account it is another method of communication with family and friends.  I can communicate with friends in Brazil just as easily as my friends in my immediate neighborhood and/or across the US.  I am blessed.
  27. Christmas trees. A beautiful reminder of a beautiful gift.  I know Christ was not born in December.  I know the manger was probably a cave in the side of a hill or a flat area in a meadow and a stone trough.  I know the wise men numbered anywhere from two on upwards.  The thing I am grateful for is Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity so that He could come live amongst us and share with us the Good News.  I love the sparkle and shine of Christmas decorations.  I love the feelings in my heart this time of year.  No, I’m not speaking of the secular feelings, I am speaking of the joy and goodwill placed there by Jesus.  I am blessed.

Dear Lord,  while this is not a comprehensive list of things I am grateful for, neither is it anywhere near the 150 items I wanted to list, it is a list of blessings that I am very grateful for.  Please help me remember to have a grateful heart every day of every year.  I want to praise you with my every thought and deed.  In Jesus’ precious name.  AMEN

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