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Thankful in February 2012

January 29 – February 4:

As I’m working on weeks, I’m starting to view the passing time in chunks.  When I was doing daily Thankfuls, it was all about going into the day wondering what I would end up being thankful for.  The chunks were smaller.  It only makes sense that, as I’m doing weekly Thankfuls, I’m seeing themes that I wasn’t seeing before.  Clearly, when you step back and open up the range of what you’re looking at, you have to adjust your focus.  And as my focus broadens, so does the lesson.  And those themes compound on each other as the weeks pass, to form a grand curriculum.

As I look back on this week, the main thing that was going through my mind was how I had left God out of the Thankful equation.  Maybe it’s not so much that I left Him out, as that I did not put him first.  What I realized is that I’m acknowledging my thankfulness, but I’m rarely talking to God about it.  On the one hand, I know He knows.  On the other hand, that’s not enough, because it’s kind of rude.  More importantly, part of what I’m working on is my relationship with Him.  Part of that is acknowledging where the bounty comes from.

Maybe I’m still a little bit on the fence about some things, like getting a green light.  There are times when I really do feel that God has paved the way for me, and there are times when I just think it was a fortunate coincidence, good luck.  Where does the boundary lie between good fortune and God-sent fortune?

There is time to figure all that out, but the main thing I’m taking out of this week is to put God first and myself second.  Or third or fourth or fifth, or where-ever I end up.

February 5 – 11:

I was thinking about big and little things this week.  The little things that happen in a day that bring a bit of joy and delight to our lives, those are important.  And it’s important to acknowledge them; they make living worthwhile, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.  For example, I saw two cows having a tiff today.  I just caught a glimpse, but it was enough to make me laugh and to think about whether cows have much personality, and wonder what a couple of cows have to fight about.  This morning, I saw a turkey fly!  It spread its wings, jumped up, flew over a guard rail and glided down to the water below.  I didn’t know turkeys flew even that much!  But it was just a moment of joy for me to witness that sight.

There are also big things, things that really get your attention.  For example, I was prompted all day on Thursday to check my propane tank. It was so much on my mind that, when I got home, I immediately went over to the tank after I let Louis out.  And it was on empty.  They had miscalculated the delivery need, and I could have been without heat for the weekend had I not listened to my instincts.  I could have dealt with it for one weekend, and have before, but I’m so glad that I didn’t have to.

And what about the fact that I have heat at all?  There are people who don’t have the “luxury” of heat.  Or a place to live, or a car, or a job, or family.  Those are the big Thankfuls that are even easier to forget about, or dismiss.  The big Thankfuls such as relatively good health.  I may be falling apart (okay, it just feels that way sometimes), but I’m not chronically ill.  I’m not dying.  These big Thankfuls are brushed aside, I think, because they are part of the everyday fabric of our lives.  We fail to notice them anymore; let’s face it, it’s easy to take your job for granted until it’s gone.  Or your house.  The truth is there are other concerns and burdens that demand our attention more, things that are louder and more disruptive.  

And that’s really the thing, isn’t it?  Being Thankful requires you to take a step back, to fold in a bit, to be quiet and still and reflect on what you do have, on what’s working.  When our lives are full of chaos and we’re surrounded with whirling dervishes of annoyances and tasks and troubles and demands, it’s hard to find that peaceful moment to reflect and be Thankful.  That’s what the daily Thankfuls did for me, and I’m so glad I made time for them.

While I was at my sister’s house this week, I saw an article about a young man who has been battling brain cancer since he was 12 years old.  He’s turning 17 next week and his family has asked the community to send birthday cards.  Right away, I was struck with the desire to send him a card, and to ask others to do the same.  This is the kind of thing that happens to me, though; I have the strong desire to do something nice for someone, to be a light and to give them joy, but then I don’t follow through.  I’m sure I would have done the same thing this time had it not been for my resolutions.

This time, I forced myself do something that made me feel uncomfortable: I wrote a post asking others to help me out with this.  I took all the birthday cards that I had at my house to work and asked my co-workers to fill them out.  I wasn’t uncomfortable with that part, but I was glad that I followed through.  We were able to send him 6 birthday cards between us all at work.

I’m thankful for the resolutions. In a way, it may seem bad that I have to “force” myself to carry through with a nice gesture, but I don’t care.  I want to be a person who follows through with the gesture and not just a person who has nice thoughts or nice intentions.  If that takes practice, then so be it.

And I’m so thankful for my own relatively good health, and that my family is in pretty good health, and that the kids have been healthy.

February 12 – 18:

I finally got to the doctor’s office this week to see what’s up with all this fatigue and tired muscles.  I’m thankful that I went and that he did tons of blood tests.  I just want to get tested for everything and see what turns up!

In other news, I also finally got a new Query posted.  As I was writing it, I was surprised to I realized how much I missed doing Queries.  I miss the interactions with people as they answer the questions, and the insight I get into myself and into my own opinions as I type them up and summarize.  I’m thankful to have them back, even if it’s just once a month for a now.

February 19 – 25:

Last weekend I drove to southwest Virginia to visit Vicki in Chilhowie.  I had a wonderful time, very relaxing and fun, and I enjoyed spending time with her and Tony.  I’m so thankful for the friends that I have, and though I don’t see or even talk to them very often, I know that they are always there for me.

I have had my fair share of bad friendships, so-called friends who caused me pain, and real friendships that could not stand up to the tests of our immaturity.  But for most of my life, I have been blessed with great friendships.  I am making the effort to reach out and spend more time with the great people who I know, and I’m so thankful for them.

February 26 – March 3:

I had an okay week this week, except for being tired and kind of lethargic.  All I wanted to do was just relax and read.  I have been wanting (mentally, anyway) to get the post finished about visiting Vicki, but it’s been like pulling my own teeth.  I have spent time going through the over 1100 photos that I took, but it all feels like such a chore.  On Saturday, I worked all morning and afternoon on the post, then I went to dinner and the movies with Toni on Saturday night, and that was a lot of fun.  I haven’t seen her in a while, and I haven’t been to the movies since I went to the last Harry Potter with her and Jeff.

So where is the Thankful in all that?  Certainly, I am thankful that I got to spend time with my friend, and I had a lot of fun at the movies.  I’m thankful that I’m not allowing this fatigue to totally derail me, although I would kind of like to let it.  I’m thankful that I have some days that are more energetic than others.

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