23 - Cooking
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
~ Julia Child
I am so thankful for the blessing of food, the fun of cooking and the joy of providing a good meal for others. I am thankful that I have plenty and mindful of the fact that many have not enough. As a child, I loved playing "chef" outside with my sister. We would make mud pies, collect "paprika" and other ingredients from the various trees, shrubs and plants around our backyard, and proudly serve our meals. I liked to help cook for real, and probably around grade school I started making a pie at Thanksgiving - usually dirt pie (pudding/Cool Whip/Oreo crumbs) and later chocolate chip pie. I remember the first meal I made for my family in high school - chicken cattiatore with pasta, salad and bread served outside on our patio. As an adult, I've spent countless hours reading cooking blogs and cookbooks, watching Food Network, and creating hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of meals for my family and friends. I get so much pleasure from the whole experience - finding recipes, making a meal plan, grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, setting the table, serving and even clearing and doing the dishes. I am so thankful for the joy of cooking.
24 - Drama/Passion (in fiction, not real life)
“WHY did you betray your own heart, Cathy? I have not one word of comfort. You deserve this. You have killed yourself. Yes, you may kiss me, and cry; and wring out my kisses and tears: they'll blight you - they'll damn you. You loved me - then what RIGHT had you to leave me? What right - answer me - for the poor fancy you felt for Linton? Because misery and degradation, and death, and nothing that God or Satan could inflict would have parted us, YOU, of your own will, did it. I have not broken your heart - YOU have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.” ~ Emily Bronte
Oh the drama and passion of Wuthering Heights! I love it! It's not for everyone, and I totally get why some might find it annoying and unrealistic and even damaging in some ways. But I love it and am so thankful for the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of emotional drama through the pages of a book, a well-written movie, or even a simple TV show. I suppose I enjoy the ability to live vicariously through fictional characters - to imagine how they feel, why they choose to act and react in certain ways, and to know that I don't have to make their same choices but can enjoy them all the same. This is why I'm drawn to soap operas, emotional TV dramas, romantic comedies, YA novels about love and loss and betrayal, classic literature full of heavy drama and not always satisfactory resolutions. However, as much as I love this drama/passion in fiction, it is not my favorite in real life. But I'm thankful for the many ways I can appreciate it in small, manageable doses.
25 - Cats
“I love them, they are so nice and selfish. Dogs are TOO good and unselfish. They make me feel uncomfortable. But cats are gloriously human.” ~ L.M. Montgomery
I love my cats and am so thankful for them every day. We have three of them - an all-black 8-year old male named Cyrano de Bergerac, and two all-white 5-year old female sisters named Talia and Marilyn Monroe. They get along pretty well most of the time and are often found snuggling together. Cyrano can be mean at times and doesn't like most people, however, he LOVES Josh. He seeks him out for lots of love and attention and likes to sleep on his chest and purr very loudly. Talia is very loving and especially like to snuggle high on my chest with her face buried on the right side of my neck. She is also very timid and scares easily, but she's loving and her purr is very very quiet. Marilyn is the most fearless, the most friendly and the most snuggly and she is also deaf. She loves to play, sleeps with me every night (and often likes to be under the blankets), loves chasing shadows and purrs pretty loudly and snores/grunts/breathes loudly when sleeping. We love our cats and are so thankful every day for their unique personalities, loving snuggles and special presence in our lives.
26 - Difficult Experiences
"Maintain your personal relationship with God at all costs. Never allow anything to come between your soul and God, and welcome anyone or anything that leads you to know Him better." ~ Oswald Chambers
Now, of course there is part of me that doesn't like difficult experiences. Who really loves them after all? They are difficult and not something I enjoy going through. However, as I get older the more I realize that the difficult experiences in life are the ones that tend to draw me closer to God, create in me a deeper faith and looking back I can see that without those difficult experiences I would not see the changes in me that were obviously part of God's plan. So although they aren't fun to go through, I'm deliberately choosing to be thankful for them and look forward to the opportunity to trust God more and lean further into His more than capable hands because the end result is worth it.
27 - Art
“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” ~ Bob Ross
I have always loved being creative and as a kid (and adult) I've especially loved coloring and making collages. In junior high and high school, I loved taking art class and am so thankful especially for my high school art teacher Sheri Izzi. She is so funny, talented, encouraging, inspiring and still a daily blessing in my life. Whenever I see beautiful clouds, I can hear her asking me to describe what colors they are and how surprising it is to realize they are often a lavender gray or have a yellowish tinge. She helped me learn to paint beautiful things and to look at things from a different perspective and that everyone sees things little bit differently. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach my niece art when she was in second grade. I'm thankful for artists like Bob Ross who make it look easy to paint and remind us that mistakes are just opportunities to do things a little differently. Art is a blessing and I'm so thankful for the joy I find in it.
28 - Being an Auntie
“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
One of the great joys in my life is being an auntie. I have the blessing and privilege of being an auntie by relation and an auntie by friendship to many wonderful children. I love their laughter, their joy in simple pleasures, the ways they learn and grow, and the opportunity to be part of their lives. I have been blessed to have many wonderful aunties both by relation and by friendship and their presence in my life has helped to make me who I am as well as the kind of auntie I choose to be. I love to send cards with stickers to my nieces and nephews - to remind them that they are loved and special - and to remind them of how much God loves them as well. I'm okay with not having my own children, partly because of the joy I receive from the many nieces and nephews that God has placed in my life to love. I'm thankful for them every day.
29 - Libraries
“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.” ~ Roger Zelazny
Libraries make me happy. I'm so thankful for libraries - for the books they offer, for the silence and peace inside them, for their openness to all. I'm thankful for the blessing of being able to work in a library. I love my job - being surrounded by books all day, my wonderful coworkers, the beauty of our campus, the quiet, the patrons - really I love all of it. Libraries have been an important part of my life and I am so thankful for them.
30 - Grace
“Unprovoked by any act on my part, God gives me breath. He opens his hand and gives and gives and gives. I don’t control his faithfulness. I don’t initiate his mercy. I can do nothing to earn his kindness. I don’t deserve his gifts. The truth is, I am powerless to stop his love for me. I did nothing to activate his goodness toward me. I am incapable of deflecting the endless showers of blessings that come from his store-houses and rain over my life. It’s all grace. Grace upon grace. God’s extravagant grace. Indeed, I am a victim of grace. And so are you.”
~ Robin Jones Gunn
More than anything, more than everything listed and not listed over the past four weeks, I am so incredibly thankful for God's love and grace. I feel like I have always loved God and been thankful for His grace, but in the last few years it has become even more vibrant, even more real, even more vital to my daily life and so much more appreciated. God doesn't have to love us, yet He does. He didn't have to be so full of grace, yet He chooses to be. He doesn't have to be in relationship with us, in all our mess and drama, yet He wants to be and He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. I am so thankful that He does...thank You, thank You, thank You.
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:15
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
~ Psalm 100:4-5
Dear heavenly Father, thank You so much for Your wonderful gifts and blessings in my life. Thank You for all the things I have to be grateful for and help me to remember that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. Thank You for making Yourself real to me, and help those who don't know You to be able to see how much You love them and to seek out a relationship with You. Help me to be a light in the world for You and help me to reach out to those in need. Make my heart open to Your leading and willing to submit to Your desires. Thank You for loving us...I love you too. Amen.