Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2022:
Last week I shared a post I called Counting or Complaining about counting your blessings. This column will be in the edition released on Thanksgiving Day, and I want to share one of my favorite stories about gratitude from a column I shared in 2014.
On Sunday, Pastor Jason preached about being thankful – yours probably did, too. The sermon was enlightening and inspiring, but what really stuck with me was a comment he made in his introductory remarks: “I’ve always thought we should devote 364 days a year to being thankful and set aside only one day for grumbling and complaining.”
This time of year, a lot of people talk about cultivating an attitude of gratitude, but sometimes the resolve doesn’t last long. It takes time to develop a daily habit of being thankful. In keeping with that thought, I’d like to share a story about a lady who knew what it meant to be grateful. This true account of Anna, a woman who was born into slavery in Maryland, is used by many ministers this time of year, but it was originally told by Fulton Oursler.
Oursler remembered eating with Anna as she sat in his home with her hard, old black hands folded, “Much obliged, dear Lord, for my vittles.”
“But Anna,” he pointed out, “you’d get your vittles whether you thanked the Lord or not.”
“Sure,” she responded, “but it makes everything taste better to be thankful.”
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 17, 2022:
It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s time to begin preparations for the holidays, but it’s also time to complain – about everything! As I finally sat down to write my column after a busy week, I scanned through that valuable source of inspiration – Twitter. As sometimes happens, among the usual time-wasting nonsense, I found a gem – Concentrate on counting your blessings and you’ll have little time to count anything else.
Apparently, there’s not a lot of blessing counting going on these days, because a lot of people are finding a lot of time to complain. Since the mid-term elections were just held last week, politics seems to be the focus of many complaints: the process is not fair, the voting requirements are too strict or not strict enough, there’s no one good to vote for, the counting process takes too long, the wrong candidate won, and too many other complaints to list.
But surely there are political blessings in there somewhere if we concentrate hard enough. We have the right to vote, and we have a variety of times and methods to accomplish that process. And even when all your favorites didn’t win, some did. If you didn’t like any of the choices, you have the opportunity to get involved at a grass roots level to get behind a candidate you can really support.
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2021:
In preparing to write this week, I read last year’s Thanksgiving column called “How Thanksgiving Grows.” The gist of the story was that, because of residual fears about COVID, none of our usual family gatherings occurred, so I planned to fix a small but special meal for David and me. However, by the time the big day came, we had three guests, and I spent the best part of two days fixing the customary multi-course feast. This year we will be sharing a traditional celebration with David’s sisters – and we had to turn down two other invitations.
Although I enjoyed the memories, the article didn’t help much with this week’s column. After that I went to Facebook and scrolled through my photos. I didn’t take many pictures last Thanksgiving, but I did find one of the kitchen island loaded down with food. There was also a photo of the leftovers the next day when we invited the neighbors back for a rerun. I remember feeling grateful that we could enjoy another go-round without all the work and also that all that food wouldn’t go to waste.
From there, I scrolled through the rest of the year. Again, there weren’t a lot of pictures, but there were enough highlights to inspire a gratitude list for this week:
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 28, 2017:
David and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Louisiana with his family. Kitty is much more socialized than she used to be, but we trust her more in familiar surroundings than in the homes of strangers. Consequently, she spent four days and nights at home alone.
She didn’t seem to mind too much, but she’s always curious when we pull out the luggage. She climbed into David’s suitcase, and when he ran her out, she lay down on the open lid of mine. Once all the cases were packed and zipped, she lost interest and went to take a nap. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 21, 2017:
It’s that time again. For the next few days, every time you sit down to eat a meal or have some kind of group discussion, someone will suggest that each person should tell what he or she is thankful for. I know. I did it with the group of AWANA students I was listening to last Wednesday. I had two girls and a boy who were all first graders. They tired of studying verses a few minutes before time to move to the next activity, so I asked The Question: What are you thankful for? The first girl exhaled such a long sigh that I finally moved on to the boy. He shrugged and gave me a look that said, I got nuthin’. The other girl brightened suddenly and chirped, “Turkey!” That works when you’re seven, but when you’re older, you might want to be prepared when the subject comes up. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 3, 2017:
I don’t make a big deal out of the holidays. Aside from a live Christmas wreath my brother and sister-in-law send us each year for our front door, David and I do very little decorating. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the lights and tinsel, but we have a small house with very little extra space for a tree – and now we have Kitty! We also don’t do a lot of shopping. Our needs are simple, and we tend to buy what we want or need as we go along, so we don’t have much of a Christmas list when December rolls around. In addition to decorating and shopping, there was a time when I spent a lot of time in the kitchen during the holidays, baking and making candy and other once-a-year treats. However, since we both deal with health concerns that are intensified by extra sugar, flour, and butter, I don’t do much of that any more either. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 22, 2016:
I developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal years ago when Mom and Dad lived with us. Caring for two people with Alzheimer’s, regardless of how much you love them, is enough to change the most positive person into a grouch. When I realized how negative I had become, I bought a small notebook and resolved to write down at least three things each day for which I was grateful. Finding three things proved to be more difficult on some days than others, but after months of practice and discipline, my attitude began to change. I learned to look for and appreciate the small joys and to overlook the less joyful moments. (more…)
Caregivers are thankful for any small victories and blessings. Now I am thankful for the honor and privilege I had of caring for Mom and Dad for so many years–and for God’s grace when He helped me through the times when I was less than grateful.
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos
On Sunday, Pastor Jason preached about being thankful–yours probably did, too. The sermon was enlightening and inspiring, but what really stuck with me was a comment he made in his introductory remarks: “I’ve always thought we should devote 364 days a year to being thankful and set aside only one day for grumbling and complaining.”
This time of year, a lot of people talk about cultivating an attitude of gratitude, but sometimes the resolve doesn’t last long. It takes time to develop a daily habit of being thankful. In keeping with that thought, I’d like to share a story about a lady who knew what it meant to be grateful. This true account of Anna, a woman who was born into slavery in Maryland, is used by many ministers this time of year, but it was originally told by Fulton Oursler. (more…)
David and I spent Thanksgiving Day with his family at his younger sister’s home. She and her husband have a beautiful place outside of town, away from the noise and chaos of civilization – the perfect place to pause and reflect on our many blessings. I made a quick sweep with my camera while last minute preparations were being made for lunch. As we joined hands to offer thanks, I put down my camera and recorded the meal and the naps and the football and the love in my heart. (more…)
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.