Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

* apple picking adventures with Heather, Shawn, and Graeme

* fresh homemade green juices (today's is deep orange because of carrots)

* watching my son make sandwiches to cook in the panini press

* my daughter's 22nd birthday tomorrow

* butternut and acorn squash roasted with coconut oil, and freshly ground sea salt and rainbow peppers and topped with a scoop of brown rice

* being invited to preach again at my church last week

* Fall Fest @ First - the fall festival at my church two Sundays ago: Food trucks, awesome jazz music by Tyrone Jefferson and A Sign of the Times, face painting, pumpkin decoration, and other fun activities

* we worked together to create a book of prayers and words of encouragement for Mother Emanuel AME Church down in Charleston, SC. 

* meeting an absolutely fascinating, funny, wise, well-read, well-traveled, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, uni-gorgeous group of seminarians last weekend in Clinton, Tennessee, at the Racial Ethnic New Immigrants Seminarian Conference, hosted by the Racial Ethnic and Women's Ministries arm of the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA, my church's denomination). 

* this beautiful statue of "Mother Africa" at Alex Haley Farm, which is where the conference/retreat took place

 * the ark of safety at Alex Haley Farm down there in Tennessee - it is actually the chapel. The farm is under the auspices of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), which is led by Marian Wright Edelman. The statement on the logo of the CDF is, "Dear Lord, be good to me. The sea is so wide and my boat is so small." Hence, the large boat - a place, an ark of safety.

* some of my new friends - from Puerto Rico, Kenya, Korea, Dominican Republic, and the USA. We talked, prayed, read Scripture, and worshiped in our own languages. Magnificent.

* the chance to pray with and for the group during one of our times of worship

* you know me - if there's a library, I am going to find it and figure out a way to get there by myself

* this is the view from the main window of the library

* being back in contact with a dear, dear friend after more than a decade without intentional, ongoing contact. We may not be able to see each other face to face, but emails and phone calls and facebook messaging feel pretty great at the moment.

* I met up with a friend for dinner last Tuesday, a wise, funny, thoughtful woman who advised me on a dilemma I'm dealing with these days. As I walked back to my car, I pondered the "extravagance" of spending $21 on dinner. Why couldn't I have picked something less expensive on the menu? Why do I insist on wasting so much money on restaurant meals when we have so much good and healthy food at home? As I belittled and berated myself for what should never be considered a punishable offense, I crossed my arms and began to look down at the sidewalk - where I discovered a $20 bill!!! How funny and perfectly timed was that??? God has such a great sense of timing and humor.

* the miraculous diminishment of Hurricane Patricia before it did horrific damage to Mexico

* this article written by a new friend, Amanda, a beautiful young woman (inside and out) who I walk with here in Charlotte. This coming Sunday afternoon at 2 PM we will begin our final walk at the train in Freedom Park. I will miss these people, our spirit of unity, our love for one another, our welcoming community, and our courage to enter so many areas in Charlotte that we have never explored before. This group will have completed more than 100 miles walking together. May our rear ends and our hearts be forever reshaped and reformed because of the time we have spent and the distances we have covered together.

* last week, I asked you to consider giving money for the building of a maternity ward and women's health facility in Haiti. This is what happened: $475,141 given in 24 hours with the average gift being $22.

* having the best spiritual director I could ever hope for. To sit with her and share my heart, my questions, my stories, my doubts, my tears, and have her ask the best questions, direct me to listen to my own heart, to descend into the knowing place where God speaks quietly and gently, where Spirit breathes and moves, where grace abounds, and where love grows. 

* Life itself. I am enormously grateful to be alive. To breathe. To walk. To eat. To travel. To read. To write. To laugh. To take hot showers. To drink cold water. To wear clothes I love. To attend a church where I am welcomed and where I serve. Seminary classes and classmates. 

*At the end of his sweaty Tae Bo workouts, Billy Blanks often says, 
"Every day above ground is a blessed day." He is right about that. 
Life is not always easy. Life is not always simple. Life is not always comfortable.
But for me, even in the worst of times, I am grateful to confess that life is good. 
To be alive is a blessing and a gift. 
Thanks be to God.

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