16 - Mister Rogers
I have always loved Mister Rogers and I am very grateful for him. As a child, I loved watching his show, especially when they went to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. As an adult, I've loved his wisdom, his slow speech and gentle kindness on the show, and the feeling of welcomeness and love that is infused in his way of speaking and talking to his audience of children (and adults). Through the memoir, I'm Proud of You by Tim Madigan, who shared correspondence and friendship with him for many years, I also came to know about Mister Roger's many years of friendship and correspondence with the writer Henri Nouwen, whom I've come to love and admire. I am thankful that Fred Rogers loved God, loved children, and loved people and that he was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to provide a lifetime of encouragement, affection and wisdom through the simple beauty of his show and his life.
17 - Language
I am thankful for words and language. Obviously, we all know I love quotes. I love the ability of words to express beautiful thoughts, lovely phrases, or even troubling questions. I've always been drawn to words and have loved reading my whole life. It amazes me to see how authors can create whole novels full of worlds and characters and thoughts and dreams. Language is an incredible gift and I'm thankful for the many ways it touches and impacts my life and world.
18 - Mentors
I am so thankful for my mentors - both people who I can talk to and spend time with in real life and those whose words have deepened my faith and I will not get to meet until heaven. Marcus & Shauna have been spiritual mentors of mine for many years. I look to them as a sort of spiritual older siblings I suppose and I know that they are always there for me ready to listen, pray, offer wisdom and encouragement and always there to support me in my faith and life. I am incredibly blessed by them and love them very much. In the theological study I've been through in the past couple years, I was introduced to many spiritual mentors who have encouraged me, deepened my faith and helped me to seek God's Word through their writings. Men and women who are willing to share their faith, in both good times and bad, and be real with what they've learned about God. I've been especially blessed by the writings of Henri Nouwen who I feel closely bonded with in personality and struggles and his words of hope, doubt and ultimately faith and trust have encouraged me immensely. In a book, I heard about this South African word ubuntu which means "I am because we are" and this word sums up a lot of what I feel about my spiritual mentors.
19 - Scripture
While I have always appreciated the Bible and have believed it to be God's Word and even memorized many verses - it wasn't until these past few years that I feel like I truly developed a love for Scripture. During this time, I have felt amazed, overwhelmed, encouraged, convicted, and blessed beyond measure with the blessing of being able to read this gift from God. So many things were new to me (like the minor prophets and some of the historical books), even more things felt fresh and brand-new to me (like Psalms and Romans) and all of it became something I looked forward to reading and constantly wanted to remember and write down or underline. I am so thankful for the ability to read and know God more intimately through His Word and I am also grateful to not just read it, but also love it and want to read it.
20 - Quotations
Isn't that a fun sentence? So descriptive and detailed - it makes me smile and picture it in my mind. Sentences like that are part of what make me love quotations. Once, while watching the film Batman Begins, I was so taken by a sentence near the beginning that I spent the rest of the movie repeating it to myself so that I could write it down and remember it. (Here's the quote, in case you wanted to know - "Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding" - doesn't that just make you think?). Ever since I can remember I've been drawn to quotes and have many scraps of paper and notebooks full of quotes written down. I love quotes and the way they make me stop and think and ponder, feel encouraged or feel upset, or just seem to perfectly capture something I've always thought but was never able to put into the right words.
21 - Hospitality
I'm not sure if hospitality is the right word, but it's the closest I could figure out. I am thankful for hospitality - when it's offered to me and my family, and when I have the opportunity to offer it to others. I believe that it is one of the spiritual gifts I have been given and I consider it a special privilege to open my home to others and try to make them feel welcome and accepted. On the flip side, I love those people who open their homes to me and make me feel welcome and at home - who aren't afraid to let me see the pile of laundry in the living room because everything they own is dirty, who still have dinner cooking in the oven an hour after we arrive, who might have a home that looks like a magazine but encourage us to sit on the furniture, relax and feel at home and we actually do because they make us feel like family. You have to be vulnerable to do these kinds of things, but to be able to be vulnerable and then feel that acceptance and love - that is precious and I'm so thankful.
22 - YA Novels
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
~ C.S. Lewis
I love books in general, but I do have special affection for YA (young adult) novels. Sometimes, as an adult, I feel a little self-conscious about my deep love for these adolescent tales, but ultimately I try to remind myself that all reading is good and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. And so many YA novels capture the feelings and experiences that we can all relate to. My dad often has said that he still feels young inside and as I grow older, I realize how true that is. I may be 35 on the outside, but on the inside I often feel like a young adult still learning and experiencing life. These books help me to feel empathy, to imagine life in ways I've never experienced it, to sort through challenging life experiences, and sometimes to enjoy that I'm not a young adult anymore...but mostly they are just simply something I enjoy reading. I'm thankful for these books...and if you're interested, I can share some of my favorite titles and authors. :)
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the many wonderful people and things in this world You've created. Thank You for the special people You've placed in my life to love and encourage me in my faith. Thank You for creating language and allowing us the ability to use it in so many ways. Thank You for Your wonderful Word, the Bible. For the many ways it helps us to come to know and love You and see Your plan for our lives and for the world. Thank You for the gift of hospitality - for the ability to be accepted with it and for the ability to use it to bless others. Help me to be open to Your leading and to allow You to work through me to bless others. Thank You for loving us so much...I love you too. Amen.