Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday

My alarm sounded at 3:50 this morning. I kissed my husband's forehead and climbed out of bed.
Feet into slippers. Arms into robe. Body into bathroom.
I dressed quickly, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and shuffled downstairs to the kitchen.
Turned up the heat, turned on the kettle, and reached for my Sevilla mug and matcha green tea powder and coconut milk. I poured the steaming elixir into my travel mug.

I backed out of my garage at 4:16 am. A few minutes into my trek, I was forced to make a u-turn and head back towards home, but not because I had forgotten something or changed my mind about my destination. Police cars and fire trucks blocked Providence Road, so I had to turn around and find another way to church. But not before I breathed several prayers on behalf of those that were being aided by those men and women trained to respond to what had to be a crisis situation.

Back on the right path, I pondered where I was going and why. I was on my way to church. I needed to be there before 5 am to work as the church's host to nearly 100 volunteers who were mustering in our fellowship hall before the "Point in Time Count."

Cities all over the country are charged with counting the number of their citizens who are living with homelessness - to choose a "point in time" and do the count. An organization called Housing First has laid claim to the hope and expectation that they will be able to end chronic homelessness in our fair city by the end of 2016. But in order to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, we need to know who they are and where they are.

This morning, tomorrow morning, Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31st, groups of volunteers will meet at the church and then fan out all over the city and county to look for, greet, and talk to those who are currently sleeping outside - in camps, in their cars, under overpasses, on benches, wherever they may be.

My job was simple - be there, be a welcoming representative of the church I love, the people I love, and the God I love. I admit to being a wimp when it comes to cold weather and having to be outside in it. I admit to being a wimp when it comes to talking to people who live outside. But I also admit to enjoying the opportunity to talk to, encourage, and serve those who aren't as wimpy as I am.

Those brave survey takers arrived in boots and hats and coats and scarves, and left with hygiene packs and towels and blankets and plates of muffins for those who might want or need them. Those brave men and women walked around the center of our city and drove to the edges of our city. They introduced themselves to those they encountered and offered services as well as the tangible goods they carried.

When they returned an hour or two later, they were chilled to the bone, but glad to have been out there on the search. I offered them hot coffee and fresh muffins. I listened to them talk about the folks they met, calling them by name as though they were friends. As it turns out, some of the volunteers have had previous conversations with those they interviewed this morning at various locations that serve and support those who are without housing.

I spoke to one volunteer whose wife died a few years ago of a chronic lung disease. When he saw me writing in my journal - cuz I write in my journal everywhere all the time, even at 5:20 in the morning in my church's fellowship hall - he told me about the journal his wife kept when she was sick. She wrote lovingly about his tender care for her during her illness, driving her to work, walking with her, loving her through her decline. As he shared that with me, his emotions flowed down his cheeks with his tears. He encouraged me to love my husband and children, to spend time with them, and to write about them in my journal. He reminded me of something kanswer taught me: life is short, so live and love well.

I spoke to a woman who attends our church regularly but isn't sure she wants to join. She's never been a member of any church and doesn't know why membership matters. We talked about homeschooling. We talked about stomach bugs. We talked about parenting. We talked about the woman who had coordinated Charlotte's Point in Time count. I listened. She listened. I talked. She talked. I hope we see each other again.

I talked to three of the men who work at the church in security and as custodians. We talked about the cold weather and football and food and the work they do at the church and the people they work with and teenagers who think they know more than their parents and people they know who have lost their homes. We talked and laughed and made predictions about the Super Bowl.

As the sun rose and those great-hearted men and women exited the church to return to their regularly scheduled Thursday morning programming, I thanked them for their work and wished them well. Most of them responded, "Thank you for being here. See you tomorrow."

What? You're gonna get up at 3:45 tomorrow morning as well? And Saturday too?

I assumed there would be a fresh batch of volunteers each morning, and there probably will be some newbies on hand. But apparently, there will be many returnees. I will not be among them.

Tonight as I fall asleep and tomorrow as I wake up, I will pray for them and for their safety in their work. I will pray that many more volunteers sign up next year. I will pray that word of this project will reach the hearts and minds and wallets of those with the means to help end homelessness all over this country - and beyond.

More than that, though, I will pray for those who did not wake up this morning in warm pajamas in a warm bed. I will pray for those sleeping at the top of concrete embankments inches below highway traffic because that narrow sliver of concrete is the only place where they are not directly in the wind. I will pray for those living in invisible tent cities in the woods and on the fringes of this city and all cities. I will pray for those who have lost hope that they will ever have a steady job and a home that is their own. And I will pray for reminders to pray for them daily.

I am thankful that Erika sent out an email asking for someone to host this morning.
I am thankful that I said "yes."
I am thankful for the men and women I met today.
I am thankful for their willingness to talk to me and share their stories.
I am thankful for the chance to serve and support those who serve and support others.
I am thankful for the men and women who made the coffee and baked the muffins and breads.
I am grateful for a church that opens its doors, not only to volunteers on these three cold Charlotte mornings, but also two nights each week to those who would otherwise have to sleep outside.
I am thankful for The National Alliance to End Homelessness and The Urban Ministry Center and the work they do.
I am thankful that I am finally acknowledging and confessing my fears about interacting with those living with homelessness.
I am thankful for the call to move through and beyond temporary discomfort for the sake of love, peace, and justice.
I am thankful for the conversation on race that I listened to last night and all that I learned from those amazing activists at TransFORM Network. (One of their mottos is "Love God. Love your neighbor. Take collective action." They talked about race. They talked about homelessness - and the ways in which we can strip the dignity of people when we do "the sandwich toss" or stand behind counters and serve food from our place of abundance into "their" empty bowls. They talked about how not only black lives matter, but also women's lives matter and gay lives matter and homeless lives matter as well. My mind was blown. My heart was expanded. My toes were trampled. Ouch. But it was a good and necessary pain.)
I am thankful for the many ways in which God is tearing back the veil over my eyes and showing me the pain and suffering of others in ways that are moving me to do something and not just pray - not that prayer doesn't matter. But prayer alone doesn't feed the hungry or provide housing for the unhoused.
I am thankful that in a couple of hours I will climb back into my warm bed in my warm pajamas and snuggle up next to my warm husband.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I love women.

There, I said it. It's true. I love women.

I love women who laugh and women who cry.
I love women who call me on the phone and pour out their hearts, their triumphs, their sorrows, and their tears.
I love women who are willing to do that in person.
I love women who welcome my phone calls, my complaints, and my boasting.
I love women who send me notes and cards and bookmarks via snail mail.
I love women who bake me cookies and make me granola and treat me to lunch.
I love women who allow me to back them cookies and invite them out for coffee and dinner and lunch and breakfast too.
I love women who wear white socks while sitting out on their front porches.
I love women who reach out to my children and pray for them.
I love women who are trying to raise their black sons to be strong and confident men in a country that greets them with fear and disrespect.
I love women who are raising strong daughters in a world that tries desperately to deprive them of their voices, their strength and their dignity.
I love women who are preachers and teachers and leaders in their communities.
I love women who face, fight, and overcome kanswer, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and arthritis.
I love women who don't have children and don't want children.
I love women who refuse to fit in, to conform, to be predictable.
I love women who speak the truth, even when it scares themselves and others.
I love women who are applying to grad school, to seminary, to college, to new jobs.
I love women who homeschool and women who have stopped homeschooling.
I love women who run, walk, swim, do yoga, and bike.
I love women who refuse to exercise at all.
I love women who live in houses, in apartments, in cities, and in small towns.
I love women who are transitioning from homelessness to homes of their own
I love women who decided that enough was enough and they said, "no more."
I love women who decided that enough was enough and they said, "yes."
I love women who love men.
I love women who love women.
Most of the women I love love both men and women - and I love that.
I love women in Spain, in India, in England, in Nicaragua, in Haiti, in Ecuador, in Australia, in South Africa, and all over these United States.
I love women.

Women are amazing, beautiful, strong, determined, creative, generous, loving, wise, resilient, long-suffering, kind, gracious, forgiving - except when we're not...

One of the women I have loved for a very long time died last Friday morning.
She had overcome kanswer. She had overcome pneumonia. She had overcome widowhood.
She was truly an overcomer.
But now she is gone from our sight, gone from our arms, gone on ahead to check out our next stop on the journey.
Until I see her and can love her in person again, I will love her daughter.
Te echaré mucho de menos, Marta.
Gracias por ser una mujer de mucho amor, de mucho gozo, y de mucha fé.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We Will Be Landing Shortly #SpeakeasyBookReview

This is what Mike Hamel chose to put on the back cover of his book entitled, We Will Be Landing Shortly. The quote is superimposed over the photograph of an airplane window.

I've tried to learn from life events beyond my control, including cancer (his spelling, not mine) and the death of a spouse. I've thought deeply and written candidly about their physical, emotional and spiritual impact. While I'm unique, I'm not special. Our experiences may be different but we're on the same flight from the past to the future and we can encourage one another on the way. 

This book caught my eye in a Speakeasy email back in November or October because of his reference to his wife's death to kanswer. Kanswer sucks. When it claims a life, when it deprives a family of someone beloved, one of the ways in which that person can be honored is through the telling of her or his story. I thought the entire book would be the telling of her story, but I was mistaken in that assumption. I'm enormously grateful that this book is more than the story of her illness and her death.

This book is Mike Hamel's story - and not only the story of losing his wife, but also the story of finding himself adrift in a sea of questions and emotions, of doubts and ambiguities, and how he is making his way along the journey. Some people write reflective books like this with the tantalizing promise of explaining how they found their way back home to a strong and unshakeable faith. Some write about the Bible verses that inspired them along the way and the sermons that answered their questions. Some write only about the joy of the Lord being their strength, refusing to be truthful about their anger.

Mercifully, this book is not like that. This book speaks of the ravages of time on the body and the ravages of false assurances of easy answers on the mind and spirit. This book challenges the believer and the doubter. This book unearths gems like these -

Early in the book, Mike explains that he made the decision to no longer be a teaching pastor in a church and dedicated his life and time to writing. Once I no longer felt responsible for leading others, I delved more deeply into what I thought I knew about God. When I started pulling on some loose threads, parts of my theology began to unravel. Through the holes I saw some troubling discrepancies between the goodness of God and a suffering world. I prayed for help but the heavens went silent. My spiritual life cooled. My relationships with God and his people changed. (p. 6)

I believe theology reveals more about its authors than its subject. I believe asking questions is not a sin, even if we sometimes come up with the wrong answers. (p.18)

Just as there's something in us that recoils from suffering, there's also something that resonates with pleasure. I don't mean the excesses of hedonism, but the small sips of life's ambrosia: a child's laugh, beautiful music, the touch of warm skin, variegated sunsets, a good night's sleep, ocean waves, fresh fruits and the ten thousand taste buds to enjoy them. (p.36)

As my faith has wavered under close scrutiny I've come to lean more heavily on hope to keep doubt from debilitating me completely. I'm not alone in this regard. Many have questioned or abandoned the faith of their youth but are reluctant to lose hope. Faith is the light and hope is the heat in a relationship with God. I see the two intermingled as in a flame. Flames cast shadows, an apt metaphor for doubt. Not everyone is troubled by the shadows, but I am. (p. 179)

Rare is the pastor, rare is the follower of Christ willing to admit to a cooled spiritual life and changed relationships with God and God's people because of the silence of heaven. Rare is the book that lays out such confessions, questions, pondering, and wondering and leaves so many of them unresolved. Rare is the author who speaks angrily of death and dying and then tenderly about fresh fruit and life's pleasures. Rare are the books that speak so candidly about doubt, loss, death, fear, atheists, agnostics, evangelicals, Catholics, widows, pastors, heaven, hell, the Bible, prayer, homeopathy, and the placebo effect - and manage to hang together coherently. This book is rare and precious for all those reasons.

Warning: do not read this book if you want easy answers to your big questions about suffering and God and evil and kanswer. Do not read this book if you want to be told what to think and believe. Do not read this book if you are safe and comfortable and have no questions or doubts about what, why or in whom you believe.

Then again, you should read this book even if you want easy answers, want to be told what to think, and are completely secure and satisfied with your faith journey. This book will raise some questions that are worthy of consideration and will prompt you to think and rethink, consider and reconsider your positions and stances. You should read this book if you have lost a loved one to kanswer and think you would find solace in reading someone else's experience of that same painful outcome. Read this book if you find yourself wondering about the practice of parsing Scripture to suit our own needs and agendas, a practice we tend to criticize in others but defend in ourselves. He calls it "weighing Scripture" - and he dedicated a chapter of that same name to this prickly topic. Read this book if ambivalence and ambiguity about the things of God have found their way into your deepest and darkest moments.

I certainly don't agree with everything he says in this book. For example, he shares the story of obtaining medical insurance even after being diagnosed with kanswer. (Yes, he has had kanswer as well - more than once.) He wonders if being able to get insurance was a miracle or merely the result of having a fortuitous connection with someone who walked him through the application process. At the end of that chapter, the author writes this: "Daily miracles" is, after all, a contradiction in terms. Well, anybody who reads this blog or knows me personally knows that I completely disagree with that statement.

He also wrote: We have vast networks of highly specialized pain cells but no nerve cells dedicated to pleasure, which appears to be a product of neurochemical processes alone. (p. 36) What about the nerve cells of a woman's clitoris? Perhaps I misunderstood him here. Perhaps I don't know enough about neurochemical processes - but I questioned and commented on that statement in the margin of that page.

There are a few other places in the book where I underlined passages or drew boxes around them and wrote, "No!" "I disagree." "Not true." Even then, I was deeply and attentively engaged with the writing. This book encouraged me to stay strong and maintain hope on my faith journey. It offered me reasons to be more grateful in and for my life. It increased my desire to write more candidly about my own uncertainties and my yearnings, my pain and my losses. I highly recommend this book.

Indeed, we will be landing shortly - landing on the other end of the journey we call life. I thoroughly enjoyed the questions and challenges, the insights and exploration this book provided regarding the remainder of the flight. Traveling mercies to Mike Hamel and to all of us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review, and the review and opinions offered here are my own. I do not receive any compensation for writing this review or posting a link to purchase the book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Monday, January 19, 2015

On this day...

My husband and I went to see the movie Selma today. We sat in a crowded theater surrounded by white people and black people and Indian people watching that movie about voting rights and freedom and racism and anger and fear and courage and justice and determination. When we left the theater we both used the restrooms then walked across the plaza to a pizza restaurant where we ate and drank and talked about the film we had just seen.

In a movie theater.
In a restaurant.
In Charlotte, North Carolina.
Fifty years after those brave people put their lives on the line that separated black people from white, angry people from peaceful people,
fearful people from other fearful people - because they all had to have been terrified.
But there they were.
And now here we are.

They were granted the right to sit anywhere they wanted on buses and trains.
They were granted the right to eat at public lunch counters and other eateries.
They were granted the right to stay in hotels and motels along our nation's roads.
They were granted the right to attend desegregated public schools.
They were granted the right to vote.

Sadly, the right to vote, the right to easy access to voting is being overturned in many southern states. Schools are increasingly separate and unequal yet again.
Our prisons are populated disproportionately by men and women of color even when their crimes are the same as their white counterparts.

Violence trumps peace on nearly every side.
Greed trumps generosity.
Fear trumps trust and courage.
Apathy trumps involvement.

And today I ask myself: what am I going to do?
What am I willing to do? To not do?
What am I wiling to say? To not say?
For whom will I speak? To whom?
What price am I willing to pay for my own freedom and for the freedom of others?

Today we saw a movie that I think everyone should see. Everyone. North and South, East and West.
Today we were reminded of why the third Monday in January is a national holiday.
We were reminded of why Dr King earned the Nobel Peace Prize and also the ear of so many people; some loved him and others loathed him, but they all heard him.
Today I was challenged to continue that march, because of Dr King's own words, written in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama: "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Thank you, Dr King. Thank you, Coretta King.
Thank you to all the marchers and supporters and volunteers and prophets.
Thank you to the ministers, priests, nuns, rabbis, mothers, fathers, children who stood and fell, who lived and died for the sake of righteousness, justice, and peace.
Thank you to the brave women and men who continue to fight that good fight,
to speak for the oppressed, suppressed, depressed, and dispossessed.
Thank you to my parents for surviving the brutality so present in North Carolina and South Carolina where you grew up so that you could meet each other in Brooklyn, New York, get married and give me and my three brothers an easier life than the one you endured.
Thank you to The Lovings whose love for one another forced the Supreme Court to strike down the laws that prevented interracial marriage so that my husband and I could go to the movies today.
In Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Daily Bread

I woke up this morning with an odd image on my mind; I assume it came to me in one of my dreams. It is the face of a child, a boy, holding and staring at a large lollipop. He is clearly pleased with his possession, but there is something else happening as well. His gaze is both on the lollipop and beyond it. He is deciding whether to eat the sweet treat now or save it for some other time. If he eats it now, then the next few minutes will be the happiest and sweetest of the day. If he saves it for later, then he will have something to look forward to. If he eats it now, then what will he eat later? If he saves it for later, then what will he eat now?

I think it odd that the face in my dream is that of a little boy because I often struggle with that lollipop dilemma. I will buy a dark chocolate bar with almonds (one of my favorite sweet treats) and save it for weeks before beginning to eat it, small square by small square. I will buy a box of mints at the cash register at Trader Joe's and not eat it for months. I will buy clothing and not wear it for unreasonably long stretches of time. Pens and journals are safely held in my study closet stash far too long.

If I eat it now, if I use it now, if I enjoy it now,
then will there be enough later?

For a brief stretch of time a few years ago, I read about and began to plan a way to purchase and store enough food in my house to last us a year - just in case we lost our income or there was a shortage of food or an earthquake or ... Kind of like a doomsday prepper, but without the guns, ammunition, gas masks, and bomb shelter. I looked at websites and scrolled through impossibly long lists of how much and how many of each item we would need. I looked around my house for places to store the items. I tried to decide which kinds of grains and beans and condiments and hygiene products could last a year. I even thought about starting a vegetable garden in our backyard.  Yes, me - the chick who would rather be in a doctor's office drinking a radioactive drink awaiting a bone scan than digging in the dirt where I might touch a WORM or encounter a SNAKE!!!

Then I remembered: Give us this day our daily bread.
Then I remembered: Do not worry about tomorrow, what you will eat or drink or what you will wear.
Then I remembered: I could never keep a year's worth of food in my house, providing only for my family, if my neighbors were hungry, if my friends were hungry.

We started eating through the stash of canned beans and bags of rice and boxes of Quaker Oatmeal Squares that no one in my family knew I was creating. I brought some of my hidden chocolate bars into the kitchen so that my family could enjoy my hidden treasures - some of them, not all of them. I tore the tags off the unworn clothing and started wearing it - joyfully and gratefully.

But more than that, I laid my fearful heart open in my journal and in prayer. I asked for the courage to enjoy this life in this moment and not worry about the future. I have always been provided for. I asked for the willingness to share with others from the abundance that we have received. Others have shared so much with me. And even more have far deeper and more chronic needs than I have ever experienced. I asked for the ability to recognize when the inclination towards saving and planning leans over into hoarding and worrying. I asked to be able to give more away as my worry increased. I asked to regularly be reminded that --> All has always been well. All is well. All shall be well.

There may yet come a time when our cupboards are bare, our refrigerator is empty, and perhaps even our electricity is off. God knows and I know that billions of people on our planet live on far too little far too long. That may be in our future as well.

But on this cool Sunday morning, in this house, on this quiet street, I have been provided with my daily bread - and my daily tea, my daily green juice, my daily eggs, my daily cereal, my daily salad, and my daily clementines. My cup and my cupboard and my closest and my chocolate stash runneth over.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Mad Ones

Jack Kerouac wrote:

The only people for me are the mad ones,
the ones who are mad to live,
mad to talk,
mad to be saved,
desirous of everything at the same time,
the ones who never yawn or say a commonplae thing,
but burn, burn, burn,
like fabulous yellow roman candles
exploding like spiders across the stars.


I want to add to that list of the mad ones:

the ones who are mad to seek the truth
mad to speak the truth
mad to hear the truth

mad to tell their stories
mad to listen to the others' stories
mad to write their stories
mad to read their stories out loud

mad to ask questions
mad to live into the answers
mad to keep learning
mad to share wisdom

mad to see, notice, list and marvel at the ordinary
mad to see, notice, acknowledge and name the miraculous
mad enough to give thanks for both

mad to serve others
mad to pursue justice
mad to feed the hungry
mad to sit with the lonely
mad to weep with the sorrowful
mad to laugh with the joyful

mad to admit faults and failures
mad to not hide wounds and scars
mad to ask for help when help is needed

mad to stand up for those who have fallen
mad to help the fallen back to our feet
mad to offer help when help is requested

mad to seek deeper meaning in their lives
mad to journey with other seekers and pilgrims
mad enough to keep walking the path even when the destination is unknown

mad to share the road with others
mad to share the lessons learned along the way

mad to spend time with others
mad to enjoy separation and solitude

mad to wonder
mad to wander
mad to walk the camino, the journey with eyes, mind, and heart wide open
mad enough to believe that we will all find our way home

mad to sit for hours over coffee and talk
mad to nurse a mug of tea and talk on the telephone if face-to-face meetings aren't possible
mad to nurse themselves and others back to health and strength

mad to hope
mad to dream
mad to hope in, dream about, believe, and do what others think is impossible

mad to remember the past and all the dreams that have come true
mad to live in the present moment while nursing dreams for the future
mad enough to believe that all shall be well, present tragedies and sorrows notwithstanding

mad to move
mad to be moved
mad to rest
mad to be still

mad to pray
mad to meditate
mad to talk about, talk to, listen for, and live for God
mad to listen to, live alongside and love those who don't believe in God
mad enough to believe that Love will win in and over every heart

mad for peace
mad for joy
mad for contentment
mad for fullness of joy
mad for fullness of life
mad enough to live fully to the very last moment of the last day

Friday, January 09, 2015


Why do we do this over and over?

Insult one another.
Belittle one another.
Humiliate one another.
Taunt one another.

Incite fear and loathing.
Incite anger.
Incite attacks.

Arm ourselves.
Justify ourselves.
Excuse ourselves.

Threaten one another.
Goad one another.
Torture one another.

Bomb one another's places of worship.
Shoot one another without provocation.
Blame one another for our own terrible and tragic choices.

Kill one another.
Kill one another's children.

Call me simple-hearted and heavy-hearted -
but these days of tragedy, of horror, of brutality still shock me.

I don't believe that violence ends violence.
I don't believe that guns make us safer.
I don't believe that anybody should insult anyone else's religion -
not even in the name of journalism or satire or sarcasm.
I don't believe that "freedom of speech" justifies racist or sexist or homophobic or any other kind of fear-inducing, hate-mongering speech.

I do believe in the power of Love to heal and restore brokenness.
I believe that listening to each other's stories and fears and hopes can also bring about healing.
I believe that walking alongside one another on our life journeys, talking, sharing, asking questions summons the Prince of Peace to walk with us and open our eyes and hearts to the message of Love that has been the common thread being woven through all of time.

I believe that saying, "All these things are signs that we are in the last days," is an excuse for not being angry and not doing something, anything, to foster peace and wholeness and healing and the building of the peaceable, beautiful community Jesus came to earth to establish.

I believe that all things will be made new as God promised in the Bible.
I believe that Aslan is on the move. In us and through us.
I believe that, in spite of all that is being blasted on the news today, change is coming.
Revolution, a revolution of love and hope, is already underway.
Perhaps in small ways, in tiny increments, behind closed doors.
I believe that there is much to be done, much that I can do to help bring about that newness God promised.
I believe and I will keep on believing.

What choice do I have?


Lord, I am part of the tension and injustice in the world.
     Forgive our human selfishness, to which I contribute;
     heal the resentment between people, of which I am a part;
     and come into the world's conflicts, in which I share by being human.
Take my unworthiness and sorrow,
and use them in your great work
of healing and redeeming humanity.
(The Book of a Thousand Prayers, compiled by Angela Ashwin, page 199.)

Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
(And may we learn to have mercy on one another.)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Especially Thankful Thursday

I am thankful every Thursday whether or not I write a post here. In fact, I am thankful every day. I am thankful for every day, every hour, every moment that I am alive and active in the world.
But I am especially thankful on Thursdays.

I am thankful for the rising of the sun.
I am thankful for sunsets.
I am thankful for the beauty that begins and ends each day
- even when sunrise and sunset are hidden behind clouds and buildings.
I am thankful for every new day, for the mercies and compasion that accompany each one.
I am thankful for the ways in which days flow into weeks, then into months, and then years.
I am thankful for the decades that my life has included.
Today I am especially thankful for the gift of the days, weeks, and months that will comprise this new year - 2015.

I am thankful for the countless miracles and blessings that I experience every day.
I am thankful for a warm house, robes, and slippers on this frigid day.
I am thankful for food and water, for electricity and natural gas.
I am thankful for the safety and protection of my family.
I am thankful not only for our good health, but also for access to excellent medical care when we need it.
I am especially thankful for our warm house on this frigid day.

I am thankful for the gift of good friends.
I am thankful for their invitations to coffee, conversation, movies, and meals.
I am thankful for their emails, cards, texts, and gifts.
I am thankful for their challenges, wisdom, advice, and guidance.
I am especially thankful for how well they love me and support me even when I am not as attentive to them as they are to me.

I am thankful for the library. 
I am thankful for books and magazines and blogs. 
I am thankful for the ways in which men and women far wiser and more eloquent than I find ways to combine the 26 letters of the English language into words, phrases, poems, articles, and volumes that inspire, challenge, and entertain me. 
I am especially thankful today for Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore

I am thankful for humor and laughter.
I am thankful for curiosity and questions.
I am thankful for anger and cuss words.
I am thankful for forgiveness and grace.
I am thankful for sadness and sorrow and tears.
I am especially thankful for the ways in which my tears have sculpted and shaped me just as steady and slow-moving waters sculpt and shape caverns below the earth's surface and mountains above it.
(Speaking of humor, if you have two minutes to spare, click on this link and enjoy a good laugh. Make sure you watch all the way to the end.)

I am thankful for the body of Christ, broken for us more than 2,000 years ago.
I am thankful for the body of Christ, broken on a daily basis in churches and homes and other places on a daily basis.
I am thankful for the body of Christ, people who welcome other broken people into community.
I am thankful for the way that this thoughtful, prayerful woman describes her ordination and installation into a leadership role in her church.
I am especially thankful for the body of believers in and followers of Christ into which I have been invited to serve the body of Christ as an elder, the role into which I will be ordained this weekend, broken, wounded, scarred, afraid, awake, alert, hopefull, joyfull, and tearfull though I most certainly am.

Thankful, thankful, thankful, thankful.
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.

What are you especally thankful for today?