It's Thanksgiving, so everyone will be posting gratitude lists this week, but I believe we can't have too many reminders of reasons to be grateful.
This year I am thankful for:
Dollar Tree stores
Freshly sharpened pencils
The smell of Play-Doh when I open a new jar
Electric space heaters that look like cute little stoves
Plenty of good food
And a table to share it
Friends and family and the love of God who provides for all we need
What are you thankful for this year?
May you have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving Day.
I put up my hair; stepped into my swimsuit and flip-flops; collected sunscreen, sunglasses, and a water bottle.
Together we walked downstairs and across the courtyard to the pool area. We found the gate chained.
The weather was perfect, warm, but not scorching. My daughter had taken a vacation day off work so we could spend the afternoon hanging out by the pool. The lounge chairs beckoned, promising peace, relaxation, and conversation; but that gate was chained.
We called the complex office. "Only a couple of hours," we were told. "Maintenance is adjusting the chlorine levels. The pool will reopen soon."
So we waited, frustrated, annoyed, irritated. We walked repeatedly up and down the concrete steps to check on the poolman's progress.
The gate remained chained.
We ate lunch, then checked the gate. We ate ice cream, then checked the gate. We drove to the massive aquatic center across town, then decided against paying to sit beside the crowded pool when we had a beautiful, free pool back at the complex. We drove home and checked the gate. Still chained.
We sat on the couch in the cool living room and watched a few episodes of Brain Games until the rain started. We didn't spend a minute by the pool or gain a degree on our tans.
"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
I am grateful because I spent an afternoon with my daughter. We ate burgers and ice cream. We laughed about the silliness of walking back and forth to check on the padlocked gate. We shrieked over the dead mouse we found in the parking lot. We learned from Brain Games that compassionate feelings are shared and generated by compassionate actions. And we enjoyed the peace, relaxation, and conversation we had planned, but in the comfort of an air-conditioned living room.
I am grateful for every day I spend in the company of the people I love. I appreciate every moment I have with them, whether in clear skies or rain, sun or shadow.
What are your plans this summer afternoon? What will you do if your plans suddenly change?
"Your pregnancy test is positive."
Kelsey heard the news without responding at first. The dim office lights flickered. Outside, the storm thundered and the cold autumn rain pelted the office windows.
"I guess I'm happy," Kelsey finally murmured, "but I have freshman orientation next week."
"What do you need to help you take care of your baby?" the counselor quietly asked.
"Everything," Kelsey answered, her deep sigh drifting up slowly like a faint echo from an empty well.
Sooner or later we all fall down the well of helplessness and need. When we call out that we are overwhelmed and can't continue on our own, God responds and sends the people who can help us out the most.
The people at Birthright answer those calls from women facing unplanned pregnancies. Birthright volunteers respond with free counseling, information, and support to help expectant moms make the best decisions for their children and families.
Kelsey needed provision.
Birthright gave her a bundle of baby blankets, onesies, socks, diapers, and books. The counselor directed her to organizations that donate cribs and car seats. Some Birthright locations help moms with maternity clothes and baby formula.
Kelsey needed information.
Birthright gave her referrals to community services, healthcare clinics, and childcare centers. The counselor helped Kelsey connect to an ongoing network of support that continued to help her after the birth of her baby.
Kelsey needed friendship.
Birthright gave attention to her concerns and acceptance without judgement or pressure. Birthright counselors are trained volunteers who donate their time to offer hope, love, and encouragement to moms in need.
Kelsey came to Birthright on a stormy autumn afternoon. Sooner or later we all face storms that rattle the windows and drench the ground where we stand. Those rains also refill the wells that feed new growth in the spring.
God knows where we are and what we need. He will provide the people to help and shelter us throughout the storms.
Do you know anyone who has been blessed by Birthright? Do you need information on the services Birthright provides? Click here for office locations, or call 1-800-550-4900 for 24/7 counseling and referrals.