Quiet, peaceful Thanksgiving Days. I love them! Because of them, I am more likely to reflect on what brings value and meaning to my life. These blessings (and more) I rehearse and savor often and intentionally to keep my perspective healthy:
1. On the Media, the TED Radio Hour, Morning Edition, All Things Considered,The Story – all NPR programs which help me remember that I am not the center of the Universe and that there are always things to learn.
2. Leadership Journal, Conversations, Christianity Today, Newsweek, Weavings – ditto
3. Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, James Bryan Smith, John Ortberg, Eugene Peterson, Margaret Silf, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Ruth Haley Barton and Chuck Colson – all of whom contributed to my understanding of who I am in God’s sight and who I can become.
4. Teen Mom, Intervention,Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Little People, Kitchen Impossible, Super Nanny, the Voice , Celebrity Rehab- all of which teach me about relationships and life outside of West Michigan and keep me honest when people say they don’t know how people can watch “reality TV” by forcing me to admit that I watch a lot of it.
5. Patricia Cornwall, John Sandford, John Grisham, Laura Lippman, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton (genius writers of detective novels and police procedurals), and Barbara Kingsolver, Jodi Picoult, Anne Lamott, Jane Smiley (just plain geniuses) and a variety of biographers – all of whom give me immense reading pleasure and, unfortunately, keep me up late at night.
6. Lauryn, Nathaniel, Rachel, Jenna, and Emily, grandchildren extraordinaire — all of whom bring me joy and wonder as they grow taller and smarter and wiser and funnier every day.
7. Ryan and Kelly – the fathers of these delightful children who not only are great dads, but also are smart professionals and great and innovative teachers who teach me new things everytime I talk to them . . . and are also attentive sons
8. Cathy, Kate, J.J., Lori, Leanne, Barb N, Sally, Jeanne, and Barb S.–all of whom are strong women who encourage others (including me) to be the same and are also supportive friends.
9. Popcorn, olives, diet Sunkist, cheddar cheese, bacon, Wheat Thins, ice cream/hot fudge/peanuts, vegetable soup, macaroni and cheese – all of which are great comfort food friends.
10. Kassu (Ethiopia), Wazoeli (Tanzania), Pablo (Ecuador), Yair (Columbia), Marina(Burkina Faso), Aibie(the Philippines), and Manisha(Indian)- all of whom are my Compassion International sponsored children who teach me that all lives are valuable and that those who have are responsible for those who have not.
11. Solitude, silence, living in wonder, Psalm 23, the Gospel of John, Jeremiah 29:11. Hebrews 12:28, Colossians 3, media fasts, Sabbath – all of which help me on my “long obedience in the same direction” journey.
12. My husband – who keeps me eternally focused on becoming more like Jesus, provides support and constant challenge.
13. Clean water, a warm bed, a car that starts every time, a roof that doesn’t leak (yet), an absence of mold, insects, vermin; appliances that clean my clothes, cook my food, keep my produce cold and fresh – all of these remind me that I am more privileged than most in the world and that gratitude is needed for all the things I take for granted.
14. Pink petunias, a lovely scented lilac, red geraniums, a tall butterfly bush which is often filled with butterflies, deep purple hyacinths, pungent marigolds, tall and flourishing black-eyed susans, white daisies, cone flowers, blanket flowers, and mounds of chrysanthemums – all of which live in my memory today, but will flourish in my garden in the spring and remind me of the creative genius of the Maker of the universe and his faithfulness to all creation – including me.
15. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – who gave me life, sustain me on my journey, and walk with me in the Kingdom.