Monday, November 19, 2012

Growing Pains

All around me the holiday season is gearing up and before you know it the sounds of Jingle Bells and Marsh-mellow World in the Winter will be in every store. The Christmas tunes will be inescapable and the cheer will be in every store window and on the lawns of houses throughout America. I love this time of year. The season kicks off with a hearty dose of thanks and then the joy rolls on through the celebration of the birth of Jesus and tops off with a welcoming of the things to come in the new year. It is a whirlwind of excitment and activity. What's not to love?
I find it appropriate that the whole parade of holidays begins with Thanksgiving. It is fitting, don't you think? It puts our focus on what is important - an easily forgotten truth when the sales abound at the mall and shopping threatens to take over every spare moment. But on Thanksgiving we aren't worried about the stores (unless you happen to work at Wal-Mart or Target this year - but that is another matter). For most, Thanksgiving is a day set apart. It is special and sacred. It puts our thoughts on the blessings we enjoy. In this world it is easy to get caught up in what we don't have and our Christmas wish list but not on the last Thursday in November. On that day we look at all we have and thank God for it.
In anticipation of this day I have been mulling over what I am especially thankful for this year. Each year at Thanksgiving dinner every member of the family writes down on a scrap of paper what they are thankful for. We keep the papers anonymous and throw them all into a bucket. Then each person draws out one of the papers and reads it aloud so the rest of the family can guess who was thankful for that particular blessing. Sometimes it is silly like "The coin shop" (I can see my brother Danny writing this) and sometimes they are serious, such as "God's forgiveness" (my pick two years ago). I love this tradition. I think my niece came up with it or maybe it was an adult. I don't remember. Nowadays the kids in the family spear head the tradition.
So, what will I write this year? This is a big decision. I only have one scrap of paper and I need to make it count. But narrowing down my options is proving difficult. How do you pick one single blessing to be thankful for above all else? Every time I turn on the TV I realize that I have a million and one things to be thankful for. The world around me is full of turmoil, sadness, destruction and unrest; yet my little world in Erie, PA is so comfortable and peaceful. Sure, there are uncertainties and circumstances that are less than ideal but when I take account of my life I find that I am overflowing with blessings and reason for thanksgiving.
Thank goodness I don't need a million scraps of paper to give voice to all the things I have to be thankful for. I have a computer.
- I am thankful for Pippy. She gets me up and out, enjoy nature and the great outdoors.
- I am thankful for my bed. Hands down, the most comfortable bed: EVER.
- I am thankful for fuzzy slippers. I just looked down, saw my sheep skin, Acorn slippers. They keep my feet toasty no matter what the temperature.
- ....a warm cup of coffee....
- ...a book of witty humor and quirky remarks.... (thank you Lisa Scottoline)
- ....Oswald Chambers....
-.... Parkside Church....
-....American Thinker (website - check it out)
- .....a house full of books - from history to humor to Christian inspiration and a host of magazines, our house is a library....
My list could go on but I've already decided what will be written on my scrap of paper this Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for the past 3 years I've had to spend at home. It seems silly to say, but I wouldn't trade these 3 years for anything. This isn't how I expected my life to go. I thought I'd do the 4 years of college thing like most others I graduated with, but that wasn't my path. To be honest, I couldn't be happier about the road I've been taken on. I've been given experiences for spiritual growth that I would never have had without the trial of ill health that has forced me to add patience to my faith.  Without this time of struggle I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to spend countless hours with my Mom; crying when times were tough, traveling around the country for answers to the health mystery and simply enjoying each others company over thousands of lunches and too many good books to count. I cherish the time we've had together.
This Thanksgiving when my family is mulling over their multitude of blessings, considering which to write on their scrap of paper, I will have mine prepared and ready. It hasn't always been easy to be thankful for this trial I've faced, but in the recent months I have been given eyes to see the wonderful gift it truly is.
You don't grow when things are easy. You grow when you are stretched. I guess that is why they call them growing pains.

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