Friday, March 16, 2012

15 Things I'm Thankful For Today

It’s been a while since I last wrote, mostly because I took a five-day trip home over the first weekend in March to help my sister, Julie, celebrate her 18th birthday. We had a great time!

I’m going to do something unique with this post. In the Lenten schedule that I shared back in February, one of the challenges was to write down 15 things you’re thankful for on a piece of paper. I may still write them down on paper, but I’m first going to pencil these things out here. There’s no particular order to the list. They’re reflections of things that I’m grateful for today, on Friday, March 16, 2012. I don’t want to delve too much into the past because I want to be attentive to today. Here goes nothing!

I’m thankful for…

1.       My parents. Their wisdom, laughter, lives of maturity, and faith has been the second most influential and shaping force in my life, and I cannot express my thanksgiving adequately. The first force, of course, is Jesus Christ, the one to whom all these thanks go and the source of every good and perfect gift.
2.       My sister. I have a fantastic sister. Who else would eat a piece out of the very center of the cake for her birthday? (She claims it tastes best.)
3.       The ability to sing praises to God and the rhythm to dance. (This includes spontaneous Friday night dance parties with my housemates. Can you really dance to the mellow music of Enya? We found a way.)
4.       God has given me a renewed hunger for reading. I had a dry spell of months and months after college where I could read barely anything except cookbooks and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I recently read Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner and LOVED it. I just finished Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner, too. I’m now in the middle of The Secret Garden, and my stack of books from the library grows daily.
5.       Throw backs to childhood. I found the weighty book The Roald Dahl Treasury at the library on Friday. I simply loved Roald Dahl growing up and re-reading anything by him is a delight.
6.       Helping kids learn. Last Sunday, my co-teacher and I started teaching our 5th and 6th graders the Presbyterian Beginner’s Catechism in Sunday School. It is such a privilege to help these kids make God’s redemptive story the foundation of their lives. I want the words of Scripture and liturgy and hymns and the catechism to be so ingrained in their hearts and minds that these words become like bedrock, popping to mind in good times and bad and sanctifying their ordinary and extraordinary humanity.
7.       Playing with kids. I played basketball outside this week with the two kids I baby-sit and the neighbor girl. It was really cold out, but we got warm from the inside by playing Pig and Bump. The kiddos kept laughing at me because my basketball would ricochet off the curb, and I’d have to run wildly after it. There’s something so basic and fun in playing.
8.       God’s winnowing. I have realized many things in me in the past couple weeks that are chaff and keep the good grain from reaching its full potential. In several circumstances, particularly at work, God has blown away the chaff and taught me some good lessons in loving others.
9.       Pain. I was privy to a particularly painful situation last week and visiting the person in the throes of that pain was good for my soul. It reminded me of the capacity God gives pain to strip away human folly and remind us that we’re bound together in community. In the Body of Christ, her pain is my pain. I felt her pain physically, and God continues to bring her to mind. But it’s also a reminder that this road we’re on to Easter is the dark road to Calvary. There is no pain in this world which the incarnated Son of God has not already borne. Surely that is worthy of thanksgiving.
10.   The time to savor good food. Mind you, good food is often simple. Here’s a taste of what I mean: banana bread with peanut butter; sautéed sweet onions, cheese, and scrambled egg in a tortilla; Funfetti cake with Funfetti frosting; homemade pizza with big rounds of cooked tomato; black bean and sweet potato burritos (I am seriously addicted to these!); celery, peanut butter, and raisins; chips and guacamole; juicy oranges. I could keep going, but I think you get the idea! (I’m tempted to put peanut butter on its own line that’s how much I love the darn stuff.)
11.   A clean house. There’s something about cleaning your house and getting things in order (doing laundry, sweeping, scrubbing counters, etc.) that is good for the soul. I’m trying to put my finger on what it is…I think it has to do with stewardship, with taking pride in caring for that which has been entrusted to me.
12.   My co-workers. It’s a delight to get to know my co-workers a little more every day. This happens in random ways—throwing coffee grounds on the floor in an attempt to fix the coffee machine, waiting in line for the two bathrooms, playing ping pong games, and trying to make the microwave clock reflect Daylight Savings Time.
13.   The big rack of primroses I pass every time I go into Fred Meyer. I am also thankful for the one I have on my dining room table, given to me by a dear friend. Its sunshine-yellow petals fade into a stunning rim of deep pink. Praise God for new life! This little flower is a harbinger of spring.
14.   My church. I love my church, the people who attend, the liturgy, the worship, the Word of God preached. I’m thankful for church in general, too. I’m thankful for the time each week to sit and be silent with a room full of fellow believers, praise God with a room full, listen to the Word with a room full, and come into God’s presence with a room full of humans, broken and sinful, but also beautiful and purposeful.    
15.   God’s promises which are new every morning.