Today I will focus on things I'm grateful for and things I'm looking forward to.
1. Steve and Daniel returned from Florida safely last night. Sun-tanned, sporting new baseball caps, and carrying at least seven baseballs they caught at batting practice, they were quite happy to be home. And we were glad to have them back.
2. Our hairdos came out great. Mother-daughter beauty parlor appointments are a beautiful thing.
3. Kristiana and I both completed new necklaces with our new beads. Great hair and great accessories; what more can we want?
4. Tomorrow I will go before a group of South Carolina social workers to give a motivational speech. I'm still not sure what qualifies me to be their guest speaker, but I was asked to do it, and I NEVER turn down opportunities to share some of what I'm learning on this topsy-turvy life journey with people in need of a word of encouragement and hope.
5. My mother and two of her friends are down in Mississippi this week working with people whose lives were turned upside down and inside-out by Hurricane Katrina. I hope and pray that they are doing well and that the work they are doing makes a marked difference in the lives of the people they meet.
6. Yesterday morning I stepped on the scale and discovered that I have managed to gain 5.5 pounds in the last two weeks. Why am I grateful for this news? One, I am blessed enough to have great food around me at all hours of the day. Two, I have eaten lots of that great food at all hours of the day. Three, exercise in the coming weeks will mean more to me now that I have a clear and present goal in mind.
7. Just by drinking lots of ice water, cutting out the morning dose of super-sweetened coffee, and abstaining from eating mounds of raspberry licorice hearts while watching late night television, by the time I weighed in this morning, I was already down two pounds.
8. This internet thing never ceases to amaze me. Somehow, sometime, somebody read the blog I wrote on February 1, 2005 called "My Name is Gail; I'm a Glue Monkey." That person read the piece, liked it, and added a link from my article to their own blog. So people I will probably never know are checking out that article, leaving comments, and making me feel like my words matter. Thanks, Silver.
9. My daughter and I made and sent out three birthday cards today to some dear friends in Connecticut. I love my friend Karen, but she made my spring very complicated when she decided to have her three children on March 22nd, April 1st, and April 9th. Plus she followed that up by celebrating her own birthday on April 11th. I do fine with her son's March birthday, but I always manage to forget to flip the birthday calendar from March to April early enough, so every year somewhere around the 29th of March, I enter panic mode: three cards, gifts, and a trip to the post office, all in one day. It's all in the mail now, dear. Enjoy!
10. I am grateful for friends whose birthdays I get to celebrate at all. I especially like being able to use the internet to congratulate those who are too far away and who need absolutely nothing that I could buy. Sometimes just being friends is enough.
11. What am I looking forward to? This weekend, there are no basketball tournaments to attend or work at. Last Saturday, we were assigned to work at the concession stand at a local b-ball tourney. Our job was to melt Velveeta in a crockpot for nachos and cheese dogs, to heat up chili to add to the hot dogs, and sell soda and Gator-Ade. What an ordeal! My cooking ability was questioned because I was unfamiliar with the chemical composition and melting point of VELVEETA!!! I'm not sure I've ever eaten Velveeta, but I'm sure I'm never cooked it. Yuck!
12. We have invited one of the pastors from our church and his family over for a meal after church on Sunday. If the weather is good, we will have the first cookout of the season! If the weather is not good, we will send Steve out to the grill in the rain to cook the meat anyway. Fruit, pasta, and green salads along with varied grilled meats are what's on the menu. Sweet tea and lemonade to drink, and key lime pie for dessert. If my friend Jill lived closer, she could make and deliver one of her signature pebble salads. That would complete our salad buffet. But alas... I'm definitely looking forward to our time together anyway!
13. The Psalmist wrote: Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness,
And for his wonderful works to the children of men.
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
I forgive David for leaving out the women in most of his writing, but I join him in his chorus of thankgiving for the goodness of God nonetheless.
Sometimes I worry that I sound too Pollyanna in my easy-breezy writing, but there's so much bad news, so much fear, so much death, disease, and pain in the world. Right now, Laurie, a woman I know from my church is sitting vigil at the bedside of her six-year-old son, Christopher. He is in a coma following a lung infection that caused him to stop breathing. If that part isn't sad enough, Laurie is a widow who lost her husband to cancer when her two children were less than five years old; when I think of the possibility of her losing her son, my heart and eyes overflow. Please say a prayer for their little family.
I realize that there are many in the world who suffer, who do not have enough to eat, who are dealing with the devastation of natural disasters, war, and evil people. In no way do I mean to diminish their sorrow by talking about going to the beauty parlor or eating too much candy. To the contrary, I feel all the more compelled to give thanks for the great blessings that I have received in my life. My husband, our children, our home, family, friends, and all the stuff that we have accumulated in our lives: it's all so much more than I could ever have asked for or imagined was possible for me.
It is the reality of Laurie's situation, the horrors that my mother is dealing with on the Gulf Coast, and the countless other stories that are even more painful than these that cause me to continually give thanks. All those tales of woe are precisely why I am so quick to find reasons to rejoice and point the way to Light in a world that seems steeped in deep darkness most of the time.
Today, I have much for which to give thanks.