At night when we get our girls in bed and say our prayers, we always mention at the end gratitude for the simple things…”the roof over our head, the food on our plate, the water in our cups, and the love between us.” To us as parents, we want our girls to remember you praise God for the simple spoils that we often take for granted in our lives. This is especially hard as kids when it’s easier to focus on everything else in front of them, like having to wear a mask now or not participate in normal activities.
Right now our nation is going through a strange and challenging time; however, every day we are truly thankful for the simple things and the people God blessed us with as our family. This pandemic has given us a pause in life. A pause long enough to notice more of the simple details …the way our 4-year-old hums her favorite song while she colors, the way our older daughter walks downstairs in her idea of a “perfect outfit” which is no less most of the clothes she has on her body all at once; enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife in the morning before our kids wake and work activities begin; how our daughter sticks her tongue to the side when she is focusing on something; things we might have missed had we not been asked to pause. Things that we realize we are so grateful to have noticed, soak in, and hope to never forget.
Are we ever aware of “the good ole days” when we’re in them? Sometimes we wonder if these actually are some of the “good ole days.” The days where we aren’t spinning in every direction because life isn’t so busy with one commitment to the next that we don’t miss the simple details that bring us so much joy. When we have the time to be present and time to listen to each other. We are grateful for the ones we are lucky to get to quarantine with. To have each other, no matter what life throws at us is a privilege and something we sing praise to God every night in our prayers.
We are so incredibly grateful for this life we are blessed to spend with our family, and the good ole days that are happening no matter the outside circumstances.
Every week in fourth grade a group of us piled in to Janie’s mom’s car after school and headed off to Bible Storytime at Mrs. Poston’s. Janie’s mom, Mrs. Poteat, and Mrs. Poston were good, dedicated, Methodist women who had a profound influence on my young life. I remember the beautiful flannel boards colored in soft pastels which set the scenes as Mrs. Poston told the story and placed the characters made of felt within the backdrop. However, my most vivid memory was the way Mrs. Poteat began prayer time. She would always begin “Our Father, we come praising you and thanking you for everything……….” Each week she prayed first and then each child could offer their petition. Each week it was the same loving, humble, and grateful voice, “we come praising you and thanking you, Father.” Her prayers helped to frame my prayers, and gave me confidence to pray publicly without hesitation. A Psalm is always a good way to express how we feel at any time, and the 100th is one of my favorites. A memory for which I am grateful, an upbringing that put my feet on solid ground, and two wonderful Methodist women shaped my life. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, serve Him with gladness, enter His presence with thanksgiving, and praise Him forever.”
I find great peace in remembering that we are always exactly where God wants us. Our family has lived in 4 different cities in the last 10 years and now we find our home in Franklin. 2020 has been a year unlike any other for our world and has presented many challenges to how we live our daily lives. These challenges have made me feel grateful for so many things. In particular, I am grateful for the supportive community in which we live: the schools that work so hard to provide a positive experience for our boys every day; our neighbors, and the efforts displayed for an enjoyable Halloween for so many children; and our Church and the creative solutions to stay connected to the families.
God knew what he was doing when he brought us to Franklin.
I’ve always been thankful for my family and friends, but during this time, I’ve been especially thankful. I’ve been at school in person for about two months now, and a few of my friends have had to quarantine. Thankfully, I have not had to quarantine yet, but I’ve tried to be there for my friends who are quarantined right now. As schools and businesses slowly open with many precautions, like my acting group, I’ve had those friends to look forward to seeing every week. My family has helped me through technical challenges with Zoom and with virtual learning, especially at the beginning of the year, so I’m thankful for them for that. At the beginning of this year, I would have never expected to see a “Please stay 6 feet away from others!” poster outside my school, but I’m thankful that everyone mostly complies with that rule in the halls. Classrooms cannot be distanced since there’s a limited space that can fit desks, but we’ve definitely tried to maintain social distancing by skipping every other seat in the classes. The eight-seater tables in the cafeteria became four-seaters. With all this change coming very fast at all of us, I’m thankful that my family and friends have been there through all of it.
This past year will be one for the history books. Many families suffered hardships far greater than anyone could have imagined. In late June our family lost a cherished member of our family, my grandmother and my daughter’s great-grandmother, (GG) for short. GG was 100 years young when she passed away, and while 100 years is considered a very long life, under the circumstances of the world it seemed so empty. We were not able to share our memories with family and friends because of the lockdown of the pandemic. After time, our family came to realize that her entire life was a blessing to everyone she touched and her infectious smile will be with all of us forever. During this time of Thanksgiving our family is truly grateful for the many years she blessed us with her love and unyielding devotion to her family and friends. We are grateful for our GG!
Expressing gratitude is not a difficult assignment for me! My parents greeted each day with praises. My Dad lived in Holland during the war and knew the value of food and friendship. Respect for others was part of his ministry – with nine around our dinner table, there was plenty of sharing and laughter. Living in a foreign land was a challenge, but the Taiwanese language and customs became part of my life – singing hymns was beautiful in the tonal language. Teaching English was part of my life – getting to know students and their challenges.
Gratitude is a part of my life – for health and medical care, family and fellowship, worship and service. Friendships among church friends are cherished. God has blessed me, and I am grateful.
I am thankful for the people who help others and me. First, I am thankful for my mommy and daddy and all my family members for taking good care of me. I am also thankful for all my teachers and my school for teaching me new and fun things! In my nighttime prayer, I say I am thankful for the many helpers during these challenging times. When I give thanks this holiday, I know I have many people to be thankful for!
Given the craziness of the last six months, I feel extremely grateful for the small things in life which I think I notice more than I ever have before. Below are a few small things that I am most grateful for:
Taking my daughter to Chick-fil-a for Chicken Minis Taking my other daughter to her therapies and watching her getting better Having brunch with my wife at Ruby Sunshine Swim lessons and snacks with my Son An afternoon playing golf with my dad and or friends Dinner with my wife and good friends
When my world is spinning, gratitude grounds me. In all the turmoil this year has brought, taking the time to name the things for which I am grateful has kept me calm. Some days, it’s the little things like seeing deer when I run, noticing a bluebird, or watching a beautiful sunrise. I’m grateful for this community of faith and the connections I’ve felt through the online worship and devotion videos, as well as the calls and cards from members reaching out.
Another blessing is God’s continued grace, mercy, and faithfulness, which I have felt in very real ways. Over a year ago, I started a 40-day prayer journal and wrote out my prayers faithfully every day. I had a couple of situations in particular that I was praying over, and God very dramatically answered one of my prayers ON Day 40. As I continue to write out my prayers, he continues to give clarity to other situations. Through all the uncertainty we’ve been through, God has been the constant in my life for which I am most grateful.
I have lived for over 28,000 days but remember very, very, few of them. Events have provided an adequate share of notably wonderful days. I remember them and am grateful. They have also provided some not so pleasant experiences when absolutely everything went wrong, total chaos, even spectacularly disastrous events. These events were not enjoyable at the time, but have become as important to me as the good events, and I look back on both with fondness. They all are chapters in my life story, and they make me who I am. Those numerous days when I remain in my comfort zone are soon forgotten; it is those events at either extreme for which I am grateful. Any day, good, bad, or ugly, that I will never forget, is a great day.
I think the same can be said of our country. We have a great history, but not all of it is admirable, and it seems today we have an inordinate number of challenges. As is often the case, problems are not adequately addressed until they deteriorate into chaos. Chaos is the wakeup call to get to work to solve these problems. That is where we are now, and I am optimistic that this is the beginning of the transformation. There are times in the past when things were so interesting we can say it would have been a great time to live. I fully expect historians will say centuries from now, that this time would have been a great time to live. I am grateful to be part of it.