For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, on the recommendation of a woman I met during my training for the 3-Day Walk. It’s slow going because she has a very odd writing style, but I’m getting a lot from her message: that we draw closer to God and live in peace when we take time to be thankful for all our blessings, no matter how small. For example, she thanks God for the beauty of the fragile, iridescent soap bubbles when she’s washing dishes.
I think I’ve lived more in an attitude of thankfulness since I’ve been reading; it’s so easy at this time of year. Here are just a few of the joys I’ve been thanking God for:
· Holding hands with my sweetheart in front of our beautiful tree, adorned with the kids’ humble handmade ornaments—just like Mom and Dad’s tree when I was growing up.
· Christmas traditions, old and new—such as making homemade marshmallows. (This is my second time to make them, and Allyson has been begging for them the entire year.)
· The wonder of Christmas music that makes my heart rejoice over the gift of our Savior.
· Dear friends, old and new. I can’t believe how God has opened my heart to so many friends in the last couple of years. I’m not the shy, withdrawn woman I once was. (Hallelujah!)
· New truths revealed after decades of reading the Bible, like today’s lesson that it’s not my job to seek God’s will, only to seek God, who reveals His will to me by changing my motives and desires. I’m seeing this in my life, and it thrills me. Example: I realized on our last weekly nursing home visit that I was actually having fun; it was no longer just an act of obedience.
· The way God has answered my prayer to let me see the beauty in people whom I might have deemed unlovely, and in others I might not have even noticed—like sweet Estella, who loves cardinals, and who grew up watching birds in Nebraska where “there wasn’t much else to do back then.”
· Seeing Allyson’s delight as she played Santa’s helper today, holding out a box of Kleenex to each elderly patient as Santa handed them a bag. She brought them so much joy, and it made my heart glad.
Allyson with My Coworker, Mike
· The opportunity to visit with family at our Christmas celebration. It’s such a pleasure seeing my nephews growing up and getting married, and getting to know them as young adults.
· Watching Ethan grow into a considerate young man, who helps me with cooking and helps Bill with yard work (with a bit of arm-twisting).
· Volunteering with Bill at Allyson’s very first school Christmas party and seeing her in her “natural environment.” (Also meeting her so-call boyfriend Elias. Daddy’s not too sure this falls in the joys category.)
· Christmas cards to remind us of all the friends and family we love so much.
· And… my brand-new Zojirushi Mini bread machine, which bakes a day’s worth of bread so we can have it fresh every day! It just arrived about two hours ago, and of course my first loaf is already inside. Bill’s rolling his eyes at me, but I think he’ll change his tune when we’re enjoying that hot loaf. Then again, he probably has the sense not to eat bread at 11 PM, and by morning it will be a bit stale. And I will go to bed happy but with a tummy ache.
Do You Think She’s Family?
I know this is supposed to be a bullet list, but I can’t resist adding one story about our last nursing home visit. We were saying goodbye to one of our favorite patients, Fabian, when his roommate pointed at Allyson and asked, “Do you think she’s part of my family?” (He’d never spoken to us before.)
I said, “No, she isn’t. But she’ll probably give you a Christmas hug if you’d like one.”
“I’d love a hug from a pretty girl like her.”
She hugged him then, and his grin almost brought tears to my eyes. Next, he surprised me with a firm handshake and a strong, confident voice that reminded me of an executive. “I’m Bob,” he said.
When I told him my name, he said his oldest granddaughter is Sarah too. And then he told me all about her career as a teacher in Japan. I was shocked that I could have an enjoyable conversation with someone who… well, someone so senile. Now we have one more favorite patient to add to our list.
My cup runneth over!
How about you? What are you thankful for this season?