Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankfulness

I posted these thankfulness entries last year, November 2008, but I am still thankful!

#1 Today I am thankful for the beauty of God's creation - the deep blue sky this time of year, the color in the leaves, all the trees and the water all around us.

Trees reflected in water

#2 - Friends





I am grateful to God for my many friends, in real life and on the internet. I am in a Sunday School class full of warm, wonderful women who truly care about each other. We have Bible study every Sunday morning, and monthly we get together for breakfast at a member's home or at a restaurant. This gives us an opportunity to develop our friendship and bond with one another. In the month before the presidential election, we have been meeting weekly for prayer, for the candidates and for our nation. When anyone is in trouble or ill, we call, send cards, bring meals, and offer to help any way we can. We take a collection every Sunday for special projects; to help the local food bank and send "care packages" to servicemen and women.

We are special friends with another couple in our church, and the wife is in my SS class. We get together for meals and games. The guys enjoy garage sales and fishing.

I enjoy corresponding with friends I have met on Bookcrossing, Flickr, LiveJournal, and Blogger. Most of them are people I've never met. (I have met some at the one Bookcrossing convention we attended.) We don't always see eye-to-eye philosophically, politically, or spiritually, but we are interested in one another's lives, cheer each other's successes and joys, and care for and support each other when in need.

I have a couple of old friends from our former home town with whom I correspond by email. We forward jokes and stories, and also write personal messages and share photos of children and grandchildren.

I am truly blessed with good friends!

I can now add that during the past year (2009) I have joined Facebook, and reconnected with some old friends from high school and college! I am thankful for Facebook and renewing old friendships!

#3 - Health

Today I want to express thanks for my health. Even though I have a little arthritis in my knees, am overweight, and possibly have high cholesterol (will get that checked out in two weeks), my neck is completely healed since the accident a year ago, and I have no major chronic conditions, that I know of. I feel good most of the time! I do not take this for granted. I know many people who are in a lot worse shape, and I am grateful every day!
2009 update - Arthritis worse, and now taking thyroid and cholesterol medication. I still feel good most of the time, and I'm grateful!

#4 - Freedom and Right to vote

Today I voted, along with most of my fellow countrymen and women. I am so grateful for the concept of democracy, and for the vision and courage of our founding fathers in giving all citizens this right and responsibility. I do not take it lightly; I voted very seriously and prayerfully. No matter who is elected, I will continue to pray for our nation and for our leaders.

#5 - Family

Today I want to express appreciation and gratitude for my family - the ones who are closest to me and who love me. My parents chose to adopt me when I was an infant, and provided love, care, protection, education, values, morals, ethics, a foundation, security, and hope and dreams. My mother still would do anything in the world for me that she could, even though she now depends on me for many things.

My husband and I have loved each other since we were college sweethearts. We care for each other; we look out for one another; and we love to be together! Neither of us can imagine life without the other.

My sons did not choose to love me; they love me because I am their mother. I am not yet old enough for them to be concerned about me, but they do enjoy having us visit them, talking and spending time together. My daughter-in-law is closer to her own mother, of course, and that's as it should be. She does regard me with affection and respect. Our granddaughter is too young to know how to love yet, but I think she knows when she is with people who love her. She smiles and laughs a lot! She loves us by allowing us to love her! Granddaughter recognizes us even after a few weeks' absence, and she gives kisses! She has named us Maw Maw and Pa Pa.

#6 - Neighbors
Almost living in the country, as we do, our neighbors are not very close physically, because our yards are large. Our lot is about an acre, and our neighbors' lots are that size or larger. We are not close as far as visiting each other, either, but we do have friendly feelings toward each other, as far as I know. We are blessed to have good neighbors.

Our next door neighbors are an African-American family with two young girls. I give them treats at Halloween, and we exchange small gifts at Christmas. When we see each other, we speak, or just smile and wave. If we happen to see each other at a store or restaurant, we speak and joke about only seeing our neighbors away from home.

Our "back door" neighbor is an elderly widow. When we moved in, she welcomed us with a peace plant. We have visited back and forth a few times, and we had her to dinner once. She has invited us to help ourselves to the produce from her fruit trees - figs, blueberries, and satsumas (a small type of orange, similar to mandarin oranges). We call to check on her every now and then (she has a boarder living with her now), and have taken her to the store or done errands for her. My hubby has done some small repair jobs for her. She has told us something of the history of the neighborhood.

Across the busy highway is another friend and neighbor and fellow church member. His wife passed away last year, and he is semi-paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair. We wondered how he would manage, but he can care for himself pretty well. He has a cleaning woman in weekly. The Peruvian couple who live next door to him, and who rent from him, bring dinner over to his house every night and eat with him! Their 15-year-old daughter speaks English, and the parents are learning, but the daughter does all the interpreting. (By the way, they are my ESL -English as a Second Language- students, too!) He (the disabled widower) has said more than once that he thought he was helping them (the Peruvian family), but they do far more for him than he ever expected! The husband does most of the yardwork, too.

We live on a corner lot, and across the side road and on the same side of the highway, is a cemetery. Those neighbors are mighty quiet! Hubby jokes that if we make enough noise to disturb them, we are WAY too noisy! I walk there for my exercise sometimes, and since our breakfast room bay window faces it, we enjoy the pond and the wildlife (water birds), and the flags act as a weathervane, telling us which way the wind blows every day.

#7 - Exhaustion
Why am I grateful for exhaustion, of all things!? Whoever heard of being grateful for exhaustion!? Right now I am exhausted, but I am grateful because it means I am physically able to work. I have accomplished something, have worked toward a goal, and have burned a few calories as well! (More than a few, I hope!) My poor sore arthritic knees are crying, but they will rest tonight. I will sleep good tonight, and will wake up early ready to start a new day and its work.

#8 - The party's done!



I organized a WorldCrafts catalog shopping party at our church.
http://www.worldcraftsvillage.com/
This is the feedback I sent in to the WorldCrafts website: "We had a Christmas shopping party at church. We decorated the fellowship hall with mini-posters from the website, sample products from the catalog, and some fabric and other items that belonged to some of our members. We played Mexican music and African music on the CD player for background music. Different people made recipes found on the website. We played the Scavenger Hunt game from the website, and then explained ordering from the catalog. We were able to sell a few of the samples, too. I will be sending a group order in, but most people took catalogs and plan to order separately. We will leave the other catalogs in the church foyers and hallways for other members."

About 20 people came. We had a nice varety of food, and everyone seemed to enjoy it (especially my Hot Tea Punch!), and I think everyone had a good time. A woman I know and her granddaughter tied for the prize in the one game we played. I had another game prepared, but we didn't need to play it. We showed a video and answered some questions. We all finished and cleaned up and were out of there by 8:10 (the party started at 6:30).

I'll be going to bed early tonight! I'll put some pictures on Flickr if you want to go look.
Church Activities set

Tonight I am grateful that the party is behind me!

#9 - Faith



My faith is very important to me. I grew up attending church and Sunday School, but faith became real and personal for me when I was 25 years old. Other people seemed to have something I was missing. I later learned that what I was missing was a personal relationship with my Creator. Through listening to my Sunday School teacher, my pastor, and reading the Bible I learned that God loves me, but my sins were keeping me from Him. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to teach us about Him, and to die in our place, taking our punishment for our sins so that we can be with Him now and eternally! This is the greatest news in the world -- that God has provided a Way for our reconciliation with Himself. It is too good for those of us who believe this to keep it to ourselves; we want to tell everyone that there is a Way to God and to heaven, and that Way is Jesus Christ!

#10 - I am grateful I finally had a chance to visit inside the new RSA office tower in downtown Mobile.


I watched it being built, and took several pictures while it was under construction. I had been wanting to see what it looks like inside, and especially the views -- it is the tallest building in Alabama, 35 or 36 floors (depending on whether you count the spire or not, I guess). My mother and I had an appointment on the 29th floor, and I slipped my camera in my coat pocket! In the lobby was an information/receiving desk, and we told the receptionist we had an appointment on the 29th floor, and she told us our names and gave us visitors' passes to hang around our necks! Tight security! I asked if it would be all right to take pictures, and the receptionist asked someone else, and he said it was all right. I took several pictures before and after our meeting; you can see them here, the most recent 10 pictures:
My Flickr photostream
and this set:
RSA Tower set

#11 - Today is November 11, Veterans' Day in the United States - the day when we honor our veterans, the survivors of our nation's wars, the men and women who fought for our freedom. I am deeply grateful to them. We should
always honor and respect our veterans, and especially on this day.


#12 - Immigrants





Today I teach English as a Second Language. I have two classes, one Wednesday afternoon and one Wednesday night. My afternoon class is composed of a young woman from China and a young man from Mexico. Both work as servers at restaurants nearby. My night class is composed of a married couple from Peru. They work as caretaker and housekeeper for a local family. All my students are delightful people, and my life is much richer for knowing them. I have tried to teach them English, and in return, they have taught me about their culture, the geography of their countries, and some words and phrases from their native languages. In the past I have also had students from Taiwan, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan.

I am a citizen of a nation that is made up of immigrants; my own ancestors came here from Germany, Scotland, England, and Ireland. Our American culture is richer for the influence of immigrants from every country and continent. Our vocabulary has adopted words from the French, German, Spanish, Scandinavian countries, Asian countries, and many, many more. We enjoy eating at restaurants of many ethnic cuisines, and listening and dancing to the music from many lands.

Some of our nation's immigrants did not come here by choice, but they and their descendents have also enriched our culture with food, music, style, and traditions.

We are a blessed country because of the large variety of peoples within our shores, beginning with the first English immigrants, the Pilgrims who, along with the Native Americans, gave us the first Thanksgiving celebration.

#13 - Computer, internet, and blogging


I am grateful for computers, for the internet, and for blogging! I enjoy expressing myself, sharing my thoughts, and sometimes getting responses from people I never would have met in real life.

Thank you for reading what I write here, and for your remarks. You make my day!

#14 - Pets
Double Exposure

Spite and Crystal are the cats we have now. They are soft, warm, affectionate, gentle, sweet, and I love to pet their soft fur and hear them purr! Crystal has a deep, rumbly purr, and Spite, although he is a big boy, has a soft "whisper-purr." I can hear him only when the room is completely quiet, but I can feel his vibrations even when I can't hear him.

Crystal has always been a bit lazy, preferring to stay indoors and nap; while Spite would be happy to be outside all day long. Lately, he's begun showing his age, and comes inside for a long nap in the middle of the day.

Except for the first year of our marriage, we've had pets, mostly cats, all the time. Our first cat was a black kitten we called Spook. He belonged to a part-time farmer who also worked with my husband, and was one of a litter of farm cats. He was our first "baby," and when our own babies came, he helped entertain them. He learned early that they would stop crying if he walked across the room where they could see him!

A few years later, a striped tabby appeared at our back door out of nowhere. No one in the neighborhood knew where he came from. We took him in, and our older son named him Kermit, after Kermit the Frog. Our younger son was learning to walk, and pulled his tail, and fell all over him, but he would just crawl out from under, and go back for more. He never once showed his claw to either of our children!

Some friends had taken in a kitten found in a parking lot, but they couldn't keep her in their apartment, so we accepted her, as Kermit had died. She was a black and white "tuxedo" cat, and our younger son got to name her. He called her Blink, because he said, "She's as quick as a blink!" (We didn't tell him then that the word was "wink.") She was a tiny cat; she never weighed more than six pounds, and she was not a lap cat, but she loved to ride on my shoulder up the stairs from the driveway and garage to the kitchen.

After Spook died, our only dog was obtained from a local shelter. She was a sweet little mutt; she grew to be about the size of a small beagle - about 15 pounds - and was tan in color. Not being used to dogs, it took me awhile to get used to her following me everywhere I went. It was older son's turn to name the pet, and he first wanted to name her Scooby-doo, but I said I hoped she wouldn't grow that big! He switched to Scooby's nephew, Scrappy, and that's the name that stuck. She was a sweet dog all her life, loving and affectionate, and only barked when she thought it absolutely necessary (at the meter reader and the garbage truck). Blink thought she was her kitten - she washed her face every morning!

After fifteen years, we found ourselves petless, so went back to the same shelter, and adopted two cats, brother and sister. The boy was white with black ears and a black tail, and the girl was black except for patches of white on her chest and tummy. Our children were grown and off in college, so we named them. Shadow was easy; she was so shy that she looked like a shadow with eyes, hiding underneath and behind the furniture. We had to think a few days before deciding on Frosty, after Frosty the Snowman. A few years later, someone told me she thought Dipstick would have made a good name for him, and I said, "Yes, it would. I wish I had thought of it!" Frosty was my lover boy and my laplander; in the morning, he would stalk me until I sat down with my coffee and the newspaper, then immediately jump in my lap to stay as long as I let him. As I said, Shadow was extremely shy; I still remember the first time she got in my lap. I was talking to my mother on the phone, and Shadow stepped onto my lap delicately. I held my breath, afraid to talk or move so I wouldn't frighten her away! After that, she was very sweet and affectionate with me and hubby, but hid from everyone else.

We found Crystal at a campground while we were on vacation. She let us pet her, was very friendly, and even slept in our trailer, but we let her out the next morning, thinking she had a home or people nearby. After the third day, we asked the owner of the campground about her, and he said she had been hanging around a few weeks, and other campers were feeding her, but he was trying to catch her to take her to the pound. He couldn't catch her, but she caught us! We took her home to meet Frosty and Shadow, and after a while they got used to each other. We named her Crystal because Snowflake was just too obvious for a white cat! She fell in love with Frosty (who had been neutered at six months), so we had her spayed. She still had a soft spot in her heart for Frosty, and followed him around everywhere he went!

Our older son by this time was out of college and working, living in his own apartment. He adopted a kitten, against the rules, and named him Spite (in "spite" of the no pet rule). We got Spite for occasional weekends or longer, when our son took a trip, or when he knew the landlady or her son was coming. We got to keep him when our son decided to get a Master's degree in Belgium, and we didn't give him back when he came home!

So, at one time, we had four cats! Unfortunately, Shadow died of antifreeze poisoning; and later Frosty died of an overdose of the sedative I gave him when we moved, so we just have the two, Spite and Crystal, now. All of our pets have given us a lot of joy and companionship through the years.

#15 - Travel
open road

I love to travel. The lure of the open road pulls very srongly, and travel by airplane, cruise ship, or passenger train is just as appealing. I love to go places I've never been, to see sights I've never seen, and to discover that, deep down inside, people are pretty much the same the world over.

Right now, my favorite traveling is hitting the highway to go see our son and his wife, and especially that baby granddaughter! They say she is crawling now, and I want to see her before she starts walking. Since she's been pulling up for awhile now, I think it won't be long before she takes those first steps.
(*update: She is walking now, and beginning to talk. Spending time with her gets more and more precious!)

#16 - Trees


On our way north about 150 miles or so, we marveled at the beauty of the trees along the way. I would guess they are at their peak about now. (Hubby tried to get some pictures out the window as I drove, but unfortunately they were blurry, and he missed the prettiest ones.) I thought about the beauty and the usefulness of trees, not just in their autumn glory, but all the time. In the winter, their limbs look like sculptures against the sky, then in the early spring, the fresh new green baby leaves give us hope for the warm weather to come. Some of them have lovely flowers in the spring, too. In the summer, their rich, full, bright and dark green foliage gives shade to all, offering a cool respite. Their fruit, nuts, berries, and even leaves provide nourishment to man and beast, and their branches offer homes and protection for many animals. Their trunks and limbs even give themselves for lumber for our houses and furniture, and the bits that are left are used to make paper - many different kinds of paper useful for many different needs.

#17 - Babies


One baby in particular, our grandbaby, our younger son's only child, a little girl. So dear and precious to us all, she is the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and my mother's first great grandchild. We are all grateful (especially her parents!) that she is a happy, healthy child, developing normally. At ten months old she's crawling and pulling up. She stood alone for the first time while we were watching the other night! It won't be long before she's beginning to walk!

I think of babies in general. All babies attract my attention when I see them. They are so young, so innocent, have so much to learn of the world. Everything is new to them; everything is a source of wonder. They don't know that they themselves are a source of joy! I wish all babies were as happy and healthy as our little granddaughter is.

#18 - Good weather
Moon, with fall color
Today was a beautiful day, but chilly. In fact, it has been beautiful but chilly all week so far, great weather for traveling and enjoying the outdoors. Sunny, blue skies - I love weather like this. I won't even complain that the sun was in my eyes sometimes. (I'm also thankful for car visors!)

#19 - Colors



I'm glad that God made a colorful world, and that He gave us eyes to see colors! My favorite color is blue - all shades, but I love the bright blue of the sky (and my grandbaby's eyes) best of all.

I also love reds, greens, yellows, purples, oranges, whites - all the lovely bright and pastel colors!

I love flowers in all hues, the reds, oranges, pinks, and lavendars of sunsets, the teals and aquas of the sea, all the shades of green of leaves and grass, and of course the brilliant yellow, gold, orange, and red of autumn foliage.

I'm glad we can reproduce colors indoors, in paint and fabric. It makes our homes and workplaces much more pleasant places to be.

#20 - The simple joys of everyday life.

I went for a short walk today. The sun was shining, the weather was warm (70 degrees Fahrenheit), birds were singing, there was a refreshing breeze, and leaves and pecans were falling. I thoroughly enjoyed walking while a few hundred feet away, cars and trucks were rushing past on the highway. I hope the drivers and passengers were enjoying the day and the scenery, too.

When I returned to our yard, I noticed that the satsuma tree was loaded with ripe fruit (satsumas are like tangerines, small members of the orange family) Hubby provided me with a plastic bucket and a pair of clippers, so I filled the bucket with today's bounty, took them in and arranged them in a glass compote.

I thought they looked so pretty I placed them on a table and put my glass candlestick holders on each side and took their picture!


#21 - Home
Home = shelter, a roof over my head, family, love, respite, refuge, safety, comfort

We are so blessed to have a home; many people don't. We know of a family who are losing their home. Our home is not a mansion, but we are grateful to be able to say, "It's ours and it's paid for."

It's a sturdy, strong house; in twenty years it's survived several hurricanes. It's a comfortable home, plenty of room for the two of us, and friends and family who come to visit. It's an attractive nest, with cathedral ceilings and beams in the living room and master bedroom, large fireplace and chimney, clerestory windows near the ceiling, decorative banister-type railing between the living room and kitchen, and between the living room and foyer, and between the master bedroom and master bath. It's the right house for us at this time. We enjoy living here!

Welcome

Family Christmas
(This is my son and daughter-in-law, not us!)

#22 - Walking
God gave us such a simple and enjoyable way to get the exercise that our bodies need, and it's free, too! Walking! I can walk as fast or as slow as I want. I can stroll along, enjoying the scenery, or I can "power-walk" at a faster pace, swinging my arms, counting my steps with a pedometer, and burning more calories. It gets me out in the sunshine and fresh air and fills my lungs with oxygen. It keeps my heart pumping and my blood circulating. It strengthens my muscles and bones. Why don't I do it more often??? 2009 update - I haven't walked for excercise much at all lately. My arthritis has gotten worse, and I've developed plantar fascitis, which makes it painful to walk.

#23 - Food
Dinner at home
I am grateful for God's gracious bounty of food, so many different kinds of food - cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, meat - so many different kinds of animals from which we get so many different kinds of meat. God is very gracious, and yet there are many people who do not have enough to eat, who wonder and worry how to get their next meal, who cannot feed their children.

Some of us have too much to eat, and our bodies show it. (I'm speaking of myself!) We can choose to eat the healthy, natural foods that God provides, and prepare it in simple yet tasty ways, or we can choose high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, highly processed meals that will contribute to ill health.

It is our choice, and I'm grateful that we have the choice. I only wish that broiled chicken and steamed vegetables were as tasty as chocolate cake!

#24 - Music
Com'on Baby Give Me a Twirl
I can't sing, nor play any instrument, but I love to listen to music (and sing in church, along with everyone else!) I love to "make a joyful noise," but no one wants to hear me; someone once asked me what instrument I play, and I said "The radio!"

I usually have the radio station tuned to a classical station, but I enjoy many different genres: jazz, "old -time rock 'n roll," golden oldie pops and top forty, show tunes from a long time ago, some country (Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton), some blues, rhythm and blues, Motown, ballads, and "crooners" from the 50s and 60s like Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Mathis.

I also like Christian music: traditional hymns, southern gospel, spirituals, and some praise choruses. All of it pleasing to God, I'm sure, but sometimes a little of the latter goes a long way to my human ears!

I enjoy the music and instruments of many different countries and cultures: Celtic, bagpipes, traditional African, the didgeridoo, Middle Eastern and Asian; in fact I can't think of any that I don't like.

I like many different kinds of instruments, too. My favorites are the harp, some violin music (smooth, not screechy), piano, saxophone, and percussion.

High school band music has always been a favorite. I grew up a few blocks from the high school I attended, and in the late summer and fall I could hear the band practicing every afternoon. Years later, my own children were in their high school band (another school, another city), and I loved hearing them, particularly the drum team, as they practiced for their own competitions. Even now, occasionally on Friday nights during football season, I can hear the band from the stadium about a mile or so from our house. It gives me a thrill, and I open the window if it's not too cold, so I can hear better.

Of couse, I like dance music, many kinds: tango, swing, waltz, foxtrot, samba, cha cha, and rumba.

I'm so glad our world is full of music. Nature has a music of its own: bird songs, wind, the many sounds of water from a gentle trickle to the steady surf along the seashore to the wild roaring of the storm. People seem programmed to make music, and all those musicians and performers need an audience. I am happy to listen!

#25 - Memories
Sweet memories of Thanksgivings past, and the preparations. The children used to help me get the house ready for grandparents' visits, and they enjoyed learning to cook, too. Sweet memories, make me smile!

#26 - Forgiveness
I am grateful for forgiveness. I am grateful that God forgave me, and that He enables me to forgive those who hurt me. Bitterness is such a terrible burden to carry. It eats away at the soul of the person who is bitter like acid eats the container that holds it. Yet, we hold onto it. Sometimes we are angry and bitter at another person for years and years, and meanwhile they are going on with their lives. Forgiveness is freeing and transforming. I am so grateful that we can forgive one another.

1 comment:

TJ said...

What an inspiration. I agree with you - God has blessed us more than we could ever express. I am thankful also for everything you posted about. Great post!