Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful 6: Freedom

Today I am thankful to live in a country where I am free to practice my religion as I see fit, to speak my mind without fear of retaliation, and to cast my vote for the candidate that I think is best for the job. While I am frustrated on this election evening with the the results, I consider it a privilege to use my constitutional right to choose a leader.

I have disagreed with many friends around the nation regarding issues related to this election. Most have been kind and we have agreed to respectfully disagree. Others have been adamant, intolerant (which they accused me of as well), and generally insulting. My freedom extends to choosing who I want to enter into intelligent dialogue with and who I simply want to ignore and cut loose.  I've made that decision as well and feel very comfortable with it. That's something I certainly do not regret.

I do not agree with many of the policies put forward by the Obama administration. That's my opinion and my prerogative. However, I do honor the office which he holds and will continue to give him the level of respect the office deserves. I will continue to pray for President Obama and for God's grace and mercy to continue cover the nation that I call home.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful 5: Chocolate

Today I am thankful for chocolate. Plain milk chocolate......or filled with peanut butter.....or pretzels.....or in a warm mug. That is all.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful 4: Health

Today, I am thankful for the blessing of health. Although almost every member of my family struggles with a minor (dare I say self-inflicted) health issue due to poor choices over the years, I am thankful that we are mostly in good health. Recent events have reminded me of how quickly it can be taken away.

Over the past few years, both of my parents have faced health issues that frightened my siblings and me. Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998; earlier this year, Mom experienced issues related to her heart. Thankfully both of them have been given a clean bill of health and we now deal with health issues related to their age and weight -- although not insignificant, these health issues are more expected and manageable.

While having lunch today with my family, my sister made a comment that we could simply look at the table next to us and realize how good we have it. Immediately I knew who was sitting there since I had noticed the family enter the restaurant earlier. Who was at the table? A family of four -- the oldest child, a beautiful young woman confined to a wheelchair. It appeared as though she suffered with Muscular Dystrophy or some similar disease. I cannot imagine the trials this young family has faced nor the fear that each trip to the doctor brings. As I drove home, I found myself deeply thankful for the health of those closest to me and praying for this family I only knew from the restaurant.

I take my health for granted so often. Like many people, I never think that a health crisis will impact my plans. When a health issue arises, I am quick to complain because of the inconvenience it causes me and how unfair it is. If only I would stop and consider how often I am blessed with the gift of health, I think my complaining would be greatly reduced. Beginning today, I intend to be very intentional in noticing the blessing of health and strength this week. May I never take for granted this priceless gift given by a loving Creator.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful 3: Friends

Today, I am thankful for trusted and loyal friends. Some have stood by me for many years through extremely difficult circumstances; other friendships have developed over the past few weeks. It is such a wonderful blessing to know that I have friends who love me unconditionally and are willing to laugh and cry with me.

This week has reminded me of the stability friends bring to my life. During a particularly stressful event, a new friend provided much needed laughter. Another friend came to my defense against false accusations when it would have been easier for him to stand by and say nothing. Obviously I'm quite excited to see some of my closest friends later when I return to the West Coast later this week. Even though we are separated by great distance, the bonds we share remain strong.

It would be impossible to mention all of the people who have impacted my life over the years. In this month of thankfulness, know that you are all in my heart and forever treasured because of who you are and the joy that you have brought into my life.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful 2: Music

It should come as no surprise to most of you, but today I am thankful for music. I don't mean the ability to play music or work in the field (although I am truly thankful for both of these things and will probably share about them later this month). I'm simply thankful that my life has been blessed with the sounds of music to communicate emotions and ideas bigger than me.

What brought on this thankfulness right now? Today has been filled with music. I had the opportunity to share some of my favorite music with students this morning and to rehearse wonderful pieces with young singers all afternoon long. The culmination of my day was performing a wonderful recital this evening. I was struck by the depth of humor, angst, and worship that music can convey. It is such a blessing to explore those emotions (as well as others) whether I am playing, listening, or discussing music.

Throughout the ages, many have considered music a way of communing with a higher power....a way of experiencing a nearness with the God of creation. I am so thankful that this precious mode of worship and self-exploration has become such a vital part of my personal, professional and ministerial life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful 1: Rest

Normally I don't participate in the daily challenges that I see online.  Often I think they are rather mundane and annoying. Those that interest me I stumble across after they have been going for sometime. Since it's November 1 and I've struggled with blogging recently (mostly because of lack of time) I decided to make a run at participating in the month of thankfulness this year.

Today, I am thankful for rest. I have experienced extreme levels of exhaustion recently that have effected me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was thrilled to finally have a day that had very few scheduled appointments. I slept in this morning (to the incredibly late time of 7:30am) before moving to the couch. I spent the majority of the day sitting right there with the remote in my hand, watching mind-numbing television. Some days I just need to be dumb!

As I write this post, I still feel tired and sore in body.  Emotionally, I continue to feel somewhat overwhelmed. Still, I am thankful for the time of rest that I experienced today. Even when our rest periods don't allow us to completely recover, they do provide hope that better days are ahead. I anticipate next week to be some of those better days when I return to California for a short-term work project....and hopefully some time for play and relaxation!

Spiritually, I am clinging to the truth found in Isaiah 40:29-31:  "He gives strength to those who are tired.  He gives power to those who are weak.  Even young people become worn out and get tired.  Even the best of them trip and fall.  But those who trust in the Lord will receive new strength.  They will fly as high as eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not grow weak."