Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for electricity and heat and running water and food.
There's a dreadful winter weather forecast for our area.
Snow and freezing rain and ice. Potential power outages.
Schools have already been closed for tomorrow.
I know it's nothing compared to what is expected a few hours north of here.
I know it's nothing compared to what is the norm in many northern cities and states.
But I live in the South. We don't do snow. We don't do ice. We don't do freezing rain.
We panic. We load up on milk and eggs and bread - an inch or two of snow can paralyze the region for days. Ice takes down our power lines and plunges us into panicky darkness.

At times like this, I worry about the folks who sleep outside in tents, in parks, on benches.
I worry that there aren't enough beds in shelters and churches for those who live with homelessness.
I worry about people who don't have heat in their homes.
I worry about those who may be indoors, may have heat, but don't have enough food.
Worry is the wrong word - I think about them often. I pray for them even more.
I know, I know - praying is good, but it's not good enough.
So after I pray, I give. I serve. I try to find other ways to help.
I encourage others to do the same.
All the while, I give thanks for the blessings of our home, my family and God's bountiful provision.

I am thankful for my children.
I have a friend who has four daughters. When they were younger, she regularly thanked them for choosing her to be their mother. She would say something like, "Before you were born, you were in heaven and God told you that you could pick a woman to be your Mom. I'm so glad you chose me."
Parenting is not easy. Not at all. But I am thankful that my children chose me to be their mom.
I am grateful that they still choose to tell me so much of what is going on in their lives and hearts and relationships.
I am thankful for the homeschooling journey we completed last year.
I am thankful for my children's independence.
Even though I spent more time than I care to admit worrying that they would never be able to handle academics in "the real world," even though I worried that they weren't really learning anything at home, but they were just glad not to have to take the school bus every day - even though I was a chronically underprepared homeschooling mom, they are both articulate, self-motivated, self-confident, critical thinkers inside and outside the college classroom.
I am grateful for all the leftover school supplies - spiral notebooks, colored pencils, folders, glue sticks, watercolor paint, stickers, staplers, paper clips, rubber bands, to name a few - that I still get to play with, journal with, and even use for seminary.

I am thankful for the tough conversations around issues of justice here in Charlotte.
School segregation and desegregations.
How churches can and should be involved in these conversations.
How uncomfortable it makes us all feel.
How we are reminded of our desire to ignore what doesn't affect us personally.
I am grateful for the many people working together and working separately to educate our children.
I am grateful for the challenge to remember that I cannot be concerned only for my children;
rather, I must be concerned for our children. All of us. All of our children.
I am grateful for the patience exhibited by those who are on the forefront of these discussions about equity and education with those of us who are less aware, less involved, less fluent in the language of justice.

I am thankful for -

* adult coloring books. No, I am thankful for coloring books.
I am not sure why some are for kids and others are for adults.

* sweet potatoes, especially when they are peeled and cubed ahead of time

* my yoga mat and the stretching and breathing I get to do when I'm on it

* my Bosu ball and hand weights - and the balancing and strengthening they provide

* stories like this one that give me hope, stories like this one that make me groan, and stories like this one that make me smile. Discussions about how to end - or at least, diminish - racism, watching Stephen Colbert, and travel planning all make me think and live more deeply.

* seminary! Have I mentioned that I love my seminary classes? Or how every Sunday I understand more of what I hear and experience at church because of what I am learning in seminary every Saturday? Or how, even though there have been disagreements and misunderstandings, there have also been moments of discovery and delight? Prayers I have prayed for decades, songs I have sung, beliefs I have embraced - some of them originated more than fifteen hundred years ago, and finally they begin to make sense to me.

Potentially dangerous wintry weather could result in cancelled classes this weekend. Because I have always been addicted to school, tonight is not the first night I have prayed that the forecasters are wrong and that school will be open. Beginning early in elementary school, I was the kid who prayed that school would not be cancelled. I was a conflicted child because I wanted to go to Sunday School five days a week and weekday school for two days. Except for when I wished I could go to my weekday school five days a week. I always wanted to be in school - whether that was at church or elsewhere.

All this writing and thinking about the winter storm approaching has reminded me that I need to get on my robe and pajamas before I strategize about what we would do in the event of a power outage. What we would eat. And what tropical island I will fantasize about living on as this cold night turns into a cold morning.

Stay warm, my friends.
Stay grateful.

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