Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thankful Thursday

It's a rainy Thursday evening in South Charlotte.
Daffodils are in bloom, past their prime in some yards.
Trees are budding. Spring is springing.

What am I thankful for - other than all of that?

I am thankful for our empty nest. My husband and I talk more and laugh more and spend more time together than ever. On Sunday evening, he was on his way back from visiting our son and I was on my way back from dropping our daughter off at the end of her spring break. I called him and we set up a date at the airport overlook - we leaned against the hood of my car and enjoyed the view. We wondered where each aircraft was headed and dreamt aloud about our future travel plans.

I am thankful for new recipes that my hubby and I are enjoying. I don't like to cook, but since I have to do it on a regular basis, I may as well try new things every now and then. Earlier this week, I made taco soup, a spinach salad, and pan-fried polenta - delicious vegan dinner. Tonight it was salmon and broccoli and what we call dirty rice - brown rice with cranberries, pine nuts and pecans. Both of our children are allergic to most nuts, so we are taking advantage of their absence to incorporate pecans and walnuts. Small things, I know - but I am hugely grateful for the small things. Aren't you?

I am thankful that my children are healthy and strong and doing well. I am thankful that even when they aren't feeling well, when they are stressed, and when life isn't easy for them - even then, I am thankful they are mine. I am thankful that they call us and text us and share their needs and tears and sorrows with us.

I am thankful for the simple process of printing photos - sending them to a local printing place directly from my computer. I am thankful for a seven year old laptop that still functions perfectly. I am thankful for pots and pans and a functioning stove. I am thankful for the washing machine, the dryer, and the hanging racks in the laundry room. I am thankful that every time I pull into a gas station, there is gas available. I am grateful for the drastic reduction in gas prices during the past six months. I am grateful for pens and paper, for staples and thumb tacks. I am thankful for thank you notes and for the gifts that motivate me to both write and receive them. Again, these may seem like small things, but they are all amazing things.

I am thankful for the connection I have made with the young man I tutor in Spanish. His parents adore him and want him to do well, not only in Spanish but in all of life. His smile is sweet and quick. Today I had the chance to meet his teacher. Hard working, dedicated, encouraging, and direct, she has high hopes for him, and so do I.

I am thankful for the tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement about my admission to seminary. From church friends. From the pastors at my church. From friends who don't go to church. From neighbors. From family. I am excited. And nervous. And looking forward to the next phase of my life journey. (I cannot wait to meet Katie Cannon, one of the professors at Union in Richmond, VA. I may have to go up there for a summer course or some other class that she teaches.)

I am thankful for Anthony Smith. He and his wife, Toni, are heavily involved in community development up in Salisbury, NC. They have founded Mission House, a new worship community there. Night crawlers, a group that walks through the town at night, talking to folks, sharing blankets on cold nights, offering friendship and connection to many that are on the margins of their community. Man Up Mondays, getting men involved in the lives of needy boys around them. Challenging everyone who will listen to stop complaining and do something, touch somebody, make a difference. My daughter and I got to hear him speak last Saturday, and he introduced me to a new way of reading Scripture and understanding what God is up to in the Word and in the world. He talked about how God disturbs us, disrupts us, and interrupts us. We've got our plans and ideas and hopes. We know what we want and expect and what we dream. But God has a way of disturbing our complacency, of disrupting us in the midst of our feeble attempts to protect what we think we deserve, and interrupting us when we are trying to go back to sleep, to crawl back into our safe cocoons. As I have thought about Luke 24 this week, I have been stunned by the illusions and disillusionment of the women who went to the tomb expecting to find a dead body and the disciples who were hiding away in a locked room in despair over their slain Savior. Thank you, Anthony, for moving me to a deeper place, to a deeper reading and understanding of the stories of our faith. Thanks to you and Toni for all that you do for those around you. Toni, I'm praying for your Mom.

I am thankful for all that is yet to come -

* my son is coming home for the weekend
* I will talk to my dear friend, Lisa, tomorrow morning
* time on Saturday morning with a friend from Ecuador
* dinner on Saturday evening with a friend from Puerto Rico
* speaking a lot of Spanish, the language of heaven, this weekend (you'd better start studying, people!)
* writing class next Tuesday
* I will be speaking next Wednesday at noon at First Presbyterian Church (Why do I still hesitate to use the verb "preaching" in a sentence that begins with the word, "I"? I'm gonna have to process that in my journal one of these days.)
* planning a date with my friend who lives on the lake (I miss you and I miss us!)
* Finally, I am thankful for the banana dessert I am about to go make. Two ingredients - ripe bananas in the skin, cut open the long way. Lay them face down (fruit side down) into a saucer covered with soft brown sugar. Then lay the sugar side down in a hot non-stick pan. After the sugar begins to bubble around the edges of the skin, let it sizzle for about 30 more seconds then lift it out with a spatula. Eat it with a spoon out of the skin. Once you take the bananas out of the pan, if any brown sugar is still bubbling in it, toss a few almonds into the sugar and make a quick almond brittle. Your eyes will cross with delight. Simple, bubbly, sweet, and (mostly) good for you. Yum yum.

Thanks be to God.

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