Thursday, July 09, 2015

Thankful Thursday

A lot can happen in two weeks.
A lot does happen in two weeks.
Good things, bad things, and ugly things.
And many, many things for which to be thankful.

* The folks in government down in South Carolina voted to remove the confederate flag from the state house.
* Folks in Salisbury, NC are moving towards removing a confederate statue.
* Conversations about race and community are continuing here in Charlotte.
* Some people are moving beyond conversation into action - a meeting I attended this week was related to reintegrating schools here in Charlotte. They were integrated by busing students from one area of Charlotte to another, then busing stopped. And the schools have returned to an appalling level of segregation by race and economic status. There is a growing number of people who are getting ready to push for reintegration.
* I am grateful for the courage of Bree Newsome and the way she has inspired so many.

*Two of my brother's children are having babies. Does that make me a grand-aunt? I don't know, but I'm very excited. New life. New people to love. Now reasons for hope and hard work to make this world and this nation a place where little people, little brown-skinned people, can feel safe and secure.

* My newfound ability to stand my ground and defend what I feel is right and stand against what I feel is wrong and wrong-headed. I used to back down, to shut down, to step down, and allow others to speak over me and silence me. No more. Enough is enough. I am woman. I am a woman of faith. I am a woman who longs and prays for peace and freedom and justice for all. I am woman who hates guns and war and violence in all their forms. I am not ashamed. I am not intimidated. Whether it's about race and racism, faith, family, parenting, equal marriage rights, financial topics, education, community college versus private college, right or wrong, I am more confident now than I have ever been about speaking my mind, asking questions, and not allowing myself to be dismissed or silenced.

* I spent three hours today looking for a piece of paper that I couldn't find. An important document. I looked high and low. In my house and in my car. In drawers and boxes. No luck finding it. So I ordered a duplicate document online. Paid $15 for it. Printed out the receipt for the duplicate document. Went to put it in the spot the original should have been - the same place I had looked at several times in the previous three hours. Guess what? The original was right there where it belonged! How did I miss it? Why did I waste three hours and $15 for something that was right where it was supposed to be?
* Why am I thankful for this? Because I know there has to be a lesson in there. A lesson about looking more carefully. A lesson about trusting my instinct that it had to be right there, I just needed to look a little bit more intentionally at every nook and cranny.
* Spending those three hours looking for that paper forced me to go through a lot of other papers in search of it. I recycled a lot of papers. I shredded a lot of papers. I vowed to be better about taking care of our papers.
* My husband and I laughed a few sarcastic and droll laughs about how disorganized we are with our papers, our very important papers.
* We promised ourselves that we will learn how to do better and be more responsible about this stuff. After all, it's never too late to do better and be better. As Dr Maya Angelou said, "Once you know better, you do better." Truthfully, that has not always been my personal experience, but after this morning's many hours of searching, I certainly know better. The objective now is this: I have to do better. I simply have to.

* I am going to seminary! I know I've mentioned this here before, but it's starting to sink in. A lot of studying, reading, writing, praying, and preparation to do. Internships. Case studies. Hard work. All in service to the kingdom of God and the people of this world.
* Tomorrow I will drive up to Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, to meet several other men and women who will be starting seminary study this fall. Actually some of them have begun Greek classes already - and they are in my prayers. Anyway, I will meet several people that I have done some online work with over the past eight weeks, and we will spend 24 hours together learning about what can be expected during the next few years of study.

* I've been struggling with fear and worry lately. Fear of drought. Fear of fire. Fear of loss. Fear of accidents. Fear of harm coming to people I love. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of failure. Fear of violence. Fear that the many horrors that are happening around the world will hit us. Fear. Fear. Fear. Worry. Worry. Worry. I hate being afraid. I hate worrying.
* I am grateful for these fears because they send me back to prayer, to journaling out my concerns, to reading the Bible's repeated command (Do Not Be Afraid), to friends who listen to my complaints and encourage me without fail, to old journals that are proof that I have never been forsaken and have never missed a meal, and also my fears, when I can slow my thoughts and my heartbeat and simply watch them scroll by along the bottom of the screen that is my mind, move me to take a few deep breaths and come back to this moment, this very second. And I remember - all is well. all is well. all manner of thing is well.
* I am grateful for those fears because they push me to look beyond myself and my monkey mind out into the world. My life is wonderful. I am blessed. I am loved. Why am I afraid?
* Philippians 4:6-7 are two of my favorite verses - Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
* I have made a lot of requests (and fears and worries) known to God in the past couple of weeks. And with each passing day, I feel a deeper sense of peace. Nothing in my life has changed, but I have been changed. Peace that I cannot explain or understand is taking root in my heart again. Deep breath. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Eyes opened. All is well, Gail. All is well. And even when it feels like all is not well, even when things suck, in everything, in every moment, I can and should find reasons to give thanks.

* I had the chance to visit a Freedom School last week and, after their opening ceremony, Harambee, I read the students a book. The book was written in English, so I read it in English and translated it into Spanish as I worked my way through it. The kids were awesome, attentive, energetic, said a few Spanish words when I prompted them to, and asked tons of questions when I was done.
* I loved being there. I may ask if I can go back and read another book sometime this summer.
* Their energy and interest and attention were therapeutic and healing for my worry-filled, fear-filled mind and heart.

I am grateful
* to be alive, healthy and happy
* to have so much bountiful and beautiful food to eat
* to have air conditioning in our house and in the car on these 90+ degree days
* to have easy access to friends and family
* for lunch dates and long conversations
* for reconnection with friends who live far away but come to visit
* for laughter and tears shared with those I love
* for silence and solitude when everyone else is out of the house
* for sleepovers
* for homemade chocolate chip cookies
* for the gifts of fear and pain, of loneliness and loss, and for how they hone my attention on the people, the relationships, and the things that matter most in my life

* I am grateful for breath and life and love and joy
I am grateful that, even when I stop being grateful and start to complain,
even when times are hard and loss happens,
I am grateful that, even then, I have reasons to be grateful.
Thanks be to God.

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