Thankful Thursdays

Wow, what the heck? People are being crazy and cruel. Some are ruining whatever they’re passionate about with negative and hurtful behavior, instead of turning all that energy into right action. Who or what are they letting rule their inner voice? You know, the voice – conscience – that God-given gift that guides us and motivates us to do [albeit sometimes reluctantly] what is right and good. For me, sometimes a soft whisper is all I need. Other times, depending on my thoughts, a loud scream that I just can’t ignore. But watching the crazies these days, it seems like they are tuned in to a different frequency all together. What a shame.

I admit that it [my conscience] can be a little confusing, and that can weaken me. But the Holy Spirit, in which I so strongly believe, is what keeps my Jiminy Cricket in check. And for that, I am so thankful.

Who or what are you letting rule your conscience? And what are you thankful for today?

“You can spend your time arguing about national politics or getting involved in your local government. One pleases the ego, the other makes a difference.”
K. Eschenroeder

“Don’t cut your conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”
-L. Hellman

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2

Thankful Thursdays

For water.  Today, around 289,000 children under five die every year from diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes. [ Statistics]. Even sadder, is that I start to feel deprived if I think I have to go without a shower for a morning. Then I recall the images of those days I spent among some of the less fortunate, but richest people I’ve known, and it snaps me right out of it. I wrote about them, and those missionary trips, in Once Upon a Time I Was a Princess – And Then I Woke Up. That was perspective on steroids, my friends.

From those life-changing experiences, LIFO (Living Instruments For Others) was born. In 1985, my friend, Albert Perez, with whom I shared some of these experiences, founded LIFO, a grassroots,  non-profit organization based in Miami that helps some of the poorest people in the Dominican Republic improve their living conditions, education, and health. For over 30 years, LIFO volunteers have been bringing these communities access to clean drinking water, sanitation resources, and healthcare. I encourage you to read about LIFO, and donate to support its great mission.

Water is a blessing most of us take for granted, especially clean drinking water. Here in the U.S., we don’t have to walk miles to get muddy water from a river for a drink on a hot day. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

What are you thankful for today?

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
-W.H. Auden

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-Anne Frank

Thankful Thursdays

For friends. This Sunday is Friendship Day. A day when we celebrate old friends, new friends, long distance friends, close friends, those friends we see often, and those we see once in a blue moon. We celebrate, especially, those characters in our lives who stir our ambition, those who snap us back to reality, those who share our faith, those who test us and in turn teach us, and those who always have our backs.

I’ve been fortunate to have been blessed with all of the above. And today, as I reflect on my connections and the quality of our interactions, I thank God for each of YOU.

Who are you thankful for today?

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
-Henri J.M. Nouwen

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
-C.S. Lewis

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.” –
-Shel Silverstein

[Friendship day was originally founded by Hallmark in 1919. In 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations (believe it or not!), and in April 2011 the United Nations officially recognized July 30th as International Friendship Day; although most countries celebrate it on the first Sunday of August!]

Thankful Thursdays

For those who nurture my faith. Especially, my husband. When all hell breaks loose and the struggles get real, there is nothing like having people in your life who will step up and reassure you that things will be alright because someone is watching over you. If you’re a person of faith, whatever your religion, then you know the importance of being surrounded by people who help nurture that faith so you can get through life’s struggles. People who pray with you, even when all is okay, and make you feel grateful.

To be able to share my life with those who keep God at the center of theirs, is one of my biggest blessings. From my family, especially Ray, who, thirty-three years ago, joined me in my Christian walk and now lights our path, to my circle of friends, whose godly connection I feel in my heart. For all of them, each an integral part of my survival, I thank you, Lord.

May you find yourself surrounded by those who carry God in their hearts and wear their faith on their sleeves.

What are you thankful for today?

“Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.”
-S.L. Alder

“And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them.”
-M.W. Smith

Thankful Thursdays

For “Life goals!” It’s so easy to get discouraged nowadays given the state of our world. We fear for our children’s future most of all. Does it feel kind of hopeless at times? Maybe. But that’s why I think it’s so important to encourage our children, and ourselves, to have goals. Instead of resting on our laurels waiting for things to happen, we should be looking ahead, planning, and setting goals. This focuses our vision on working hard, and nothing gets results quite like hard work. Of course, not everything we plan for or every goal we set is destined to come to fruition. Sometimes it’s the journey itself (and its lessons) that is the reward. My faith leads me to believe that. And the surge forward sure does set hope in motion. I know that for a fact. Sure, God may laugh at our planning, but He must surely give us credit for our hopefulness.

Still, I used to get somewhat concerned whenever my daughter would say, “Life goals!” after every mention of a bucket list item. I’d be like, “Oh brother, she keeps piling them in.” But the more I heard Lauren throw stuff in her bucket and claim “Life goals!,” the more I saw her work hard toward those things, and accomplish quite a few. Along the way, she and Danny have experienced disappointment, but we’ve taught our kids that worse than disappointment, is to give ourselves nothing to look forward to. Which explains why they are so gung-ho about their endeavors.

Now, before we go tossing more stuff in them, let’s make sure our buckets are lined with integrity and values. That they contain not just fun-filled plans geared at short-term satisfaction, but that we’re also adding plans that will improve our lives and the lives of others for years to come.

Let’s be thankful for what we already have, and let’s keep our eyes peeled on those “life goals!”… they keep hope alive.

What are you thankful for today?

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
-L.M. Alcott

“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”
-E.J. Cossman

“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
-Yogi Berra

Thankful Thursdays

For patience — a priceless virtue in our fast-paced lives. We need patience while in traffic; at the store and on the phone; patience with our co-workers; patience with our kids, our spouses, our parents, and our friends. Patience with ourselves! And, most of all, we need patience while we wait on God to do what He’s going to do, no matter what our prayers are.

Patience. It can make us. Lack thereof can break us. For those who are patient with me, I am grateful.

What are you thankful for today?

“God, teach me to be patient, teach me to go slow,
Teach me how to wait on You when my way I do not know.

Teach me sweet forbearance when things do not go right
So I remain unruffled when others grow uptight.

Teach me how to quiet my racing, rising heart
So I might hear the answer You are trying to impart.

Teach me to let go, dear God, and pray undisturbed until
My heart is filled with inner peace and I learn to know your will.”
-H.S. Rice

Thankful Thursdays

For those who set the right tone. Like Jose, one of my building’s security guards, who holds the door open for us every morning and greets us with a super cheerful “Good morning, happy [whatever day of the week it may be]!” I must confess that some days on my walk up to that door, I’m like “Ugh, back to work.” But, Jose’s energetic and genuine greeting snaps me out of it and puts a smile on my face. How refreshing it is to encounter people who project positivity. I do believe attitudes are contagious. Wouldn’t it be great if we were carriers of the right kind? So, for those who bring their own sunshine, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” – D. Mannering

“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
-C. JoyBell C.

Thankful Thursdays

For unrealized blessings. Can one run out of things for which to be thankful? Never. We can pass our days muttering to ourselves a bunch of thank-yous, for big things and little things; good things that happened and bad things that didn’t. Even if yesterday we were thankful for our health, or our kids, or our mother-in-law’s cooking, or for that boring job that pays our bills, we can express gratitude for those things again today.

But, in case at some point our gratitude starts to feel repetitive (like maybe after 284 consecutive Thankful Thursdays postings…wink, wink), we can always be thankful for the blessings yet to come. That kind of gratitude and faith surely must nudge God to action on our behalves, no? Let’s not miss out.

What are you thankful for today?

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”
-A.W. Tozer

Thankful Thursdays

For this great season. Summer means beach and pool. Here in Florida, most of the year really, but especially now. As we head out to enjoy our outdoor activities, please don’t forget the sunscreen, use caution, never be in the water alone, and hang out with someone who can swim. And speaking of swimmers, it’s always a good idea to bring with you that One who can walk on water. Enjoy your Summer! Our tans will fade, so make memories that will last forever.What are you thankful for today?

Hair gets lighter. Skin gets darker.
Water gets warmer. Drinks get colder.
Music gets louder. Nights get longer.
Life gets better.”

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.
-A.L. Huxtable

“God offers us yearly a necklace of twelve pearls; most men choose the fairest, label it June, and cast the rest away.
– T.W. Higginson

Thankful Thursdays

For one heck of a journey! In 1997, we visited our first national park. What we thought would be just another vacation with the kids, turned into a national park quest. For 20 years, we’ve been fortunate to visit and explore some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Some of them so awesome and inspiring, we’ve had to repeat. And even then, they always feel brand new.

What has made this quest immensely special is that each and every time, it’s included the four of us. Our countless photos and videos will always help us relive our experiences with fondness, but that’ll never beat the feeling of being there together. For that amazing blessing, I am forever thankful. To my gang, my traveling partners, Ray, Lauren, and Danny, I pray we have many more adventures together. I love you guys.

Today, we’re celebrating this very special 20th anniversary where else but at one of our favorites. Greetings from the Grand Canyon!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien

“Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.”