Thankful Thursdays

For sweater-only weather. No coats, gloves, or hats, just sweaters…and sandals. I see the images from the northeast the last couple of weeks and I cringe. They make me feel grateful tenfold that I live in South Florida. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of low temps, and Miami gives me the kind of March that Charles Dickens wrote about – “days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Well, even if those “winter in the shade” days are few and far between, and it’s more like “cooler in the shade.”

First day of spring is almost here and, in Miami, that means summertime’s near, and I couldn’t be happier.

Wishing all of you a new season filled with energy and fun days.

 Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

 What are you thankful for today?

“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.”
-W.E. Hall

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
-Mark Twain

Miami 3/15/2018 9:30 a.m.

 

Thankful Thursdays

For good parenting. I dedicate today’s post to parents who try like heck to support, guide, and love their kids. I had terrific parents. I owe them a hell of a lot. I didn’t always agree with or appreciate their advice and guidance, but I learned (albeit at snail pace) that their hearts were in the right place.

Fast forward, and same with our kids. We’ve tried our darnedest to provide what they’ve needed, so far, and most of what they’ve wanted (as it’s okay to say no when a no is called for; more than okay, actually). Through the years, we’ve clung to God for every ounce of wisdom prayed for and granted to help us in this parenthood journey.

Now we’re at a point where their wings have spread and the choices made are theirs alone. So we are hopeful, and stay in prayer, that we’ve done a good job. That they’ve picked up enough from us along the way (about sacrifice, responsibility, education, hard work, gratitude, faith…) to help them in their own journey. And that they see what having them has taught us: unconditional love.

So, for all parents practicing good parenting (and I know lots of them), I am thankful. Let’s keep it up, humanity’s survival, today more than ever, depends on it.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

[Note: In case you’re not Spanglish-speaking, “si Dios quiere” means God-willing. Mom finished most of her sentences with that. I added it to my sendoff after her departure].


“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

-Anne Frank

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.”
-L. Wingate

“Everything depends on upbringing. ”
-L. Tolstoy

“I finally had the talk with my kids. I told them
that animals in the wild eat their young so
they better get their shit together.”
-Unknown

Thankful Thursdays

For family. I know this is something I’ve posted about before on Thankful Thursdays, but from time to time, it merits repeating. Because next to God’s love, I can’t think of anything more precious than family.

We’re all so busy most of the time, with schedules that coincide on occasion, especially once our kids are grown. At home, some days we have to settle for group hugs in the middle of our kitchen or in the hallway. But we’ll take it. It’s not always easy for us to gather at the dinner table anymore, but we make a conscious effort to do so and to try and create long-lasting memories. Each and every time we do, we toast to it and we thank God for it, because now more than ever, we realize what a blessing each gathering is.

Support, encouragement, laughter, tears, discussions, arguments, hugs, prayer, love, family. That’s all under my roof, and I am so very thankful.

Until next Thursday’s post, familia…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
-J. Howard

“Ohana means family — no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten.”
Lilo & Stitch

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
-Joshua 24:15

“The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.”
-D. Smith
 

 

Thankful Thursdays

For thoughts and prayers. – Last week, a group of very passionate kids started a movement in response to the Parkland shootings. That’s great, I love to see impassioned youth involved in something other than video games and texting. Especially involved in something as important as this. As a concerned citizen of this world and, most of all, a horrified parent, I agree that there exists a need to fix a gun law system that is flawed.

In the process, however, many of these young individuals, along with some high-profile adults, are claiming “thoughts and prayers do nothing” and “solve nothing” in this regard. This is where I think they miss the mark and are highly confused. At least I’d like to think they are confused and not being mislead. Because the heartfelt thoughts and prayers many people have been sending out since this tragedy occurred are not meant to “solve” the shootings of innocent people or to “fix” laws. The actions to come will work toward that end, hopefully. Rather, they are meant to heal and comfort those left grieving and to lift to heaven those souls lost. And I fear that this activist group’s claim, now entangled in its efforts to push for change, will further along the lack of faith and God in this country and, especially, in our youth’s lives.

This morning I saw “Thoughts and Prayers Do Nothing” t-shirts selling online. While I understand the frustration involved in all of this, as a believer who has experienced first-hand the power of thoughts and prayers, the cynicism exhibited by these young minds, is unsettling. And it saddens me.

“Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” [James 2:16]. True. Much action is called for in this world, and I hope these kids understand, sooner rather than later, that faith is meant to be our initial response and our starting place, and focus their energy and message on the issue at hand. They have a real chance here to make a difference. I hope they do. And so, much thought and prayer should go out to them.

For thoughts and prayers, today and always, I am thankful.

#ThoughtsAndPrayersMatter

“Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can.”
J. Cameron

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” – Billy Graham

Thankful Thursdays

That we are alive. Yesterday’s events in Parkland, Florida were horrific. An absolute nightmare. My heart goes out to all involved. So we began the Lenten season yesterday with extra praying. We pray for the victims and their families. We pray for today and tomorrow to be a safer world.

Let’s not make this Lent just about giving something up. Let’s make it more about turning faith into action. So more about what we “take up” — a positive outlook, more patience, more generosity, more prayer. The extra effort to be better can make a difference not just in others’ lives, but in ours as well.

As usual, this Lent will come and go in a blink. Let’s not let it slip by without us taking advantage of its spiritual charge. Especially now in the craziest of times. For this season of renewal and for each and every breath we take, I am thankful.

Wishing all of you a blessed Lenten season. And safer days.  #PrayerMatters

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
-John Chrysostom

“We need to take time to connect with the poor, resist our unceasing cravings, and pray. But we also need to gather with friends and family, share in God’s good provision, eat delicious food, tell stories that encourage us all, and celebrate the risen Lord.”
-Chris Seay

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
-Genesis 3:19

Thankful Thursdays

For those days when my brave is on. Not only during the sorrows that test my strength, but also in the little moments that test my character. Those moments, for example, when laziness, stubbornness, or pride attempt to get the best of me. Because, sometimes, as we know, it takes a bit of courage to tackle the simple stuff and turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Our reactions during everyday moments define us, and so for those days when I dare to be better, I am thankful.

C’mon, get your brave on!

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.
Dare to be the best you can –
At all times, Dare to be!”
Steve Maraboli

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
-C.S. Lewis

 

Thankful Thursdays

For clear vision. I had LASIK eye surgery just a few days ago. Amazing technology, is all I can say. Anyway, the whole process brought to mind something I posted back in 2009 (which later I included in Scenes Everlasting and Other Essays). I thought it timely to share it again:

From where I sit to read in the mornings I can see the maintenance man clean the glass doors to my office building. Every morning he soaps them up and meticulously wipes them clean. I watch him inspect them once and again making sure he didn’t leave any sudsy streaks behind. How clean he leaves them. How clear I can see through them. If only all my views were always that clear. But they are not. Because it is not through what I look, it is with what I look – – sudsy, smudgy eyes marked with biases, judgments and misconceptions that muck up my view of things, people and circumstances. I have eyes but fail to see. Sometimes I’m as blind as a bat.

Reminds me of that story about a woman who had moved to a new neighborhood and every time she looked out her window she commented to her husband how the neighbor’s clothes hanging on a line were not cleaned well. Each week the woman would look through her window in judgment of her neighbor’s washing skills expressing how their neighbor needed to learn how to wash her laundry better. Then one day she looked out the window and noticed clean laundry hanging from her neighbor’s line. She told her husband that her neighbor had finally learned to properly wash her laundry and she wondered who had taught her. And her husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned the window.”

Like the woman in that story, my eyes are sometimes covered with a tainted film that distorts what I look at and causes me to go into those dreaded and dangerous preconceived notions. Mostly due to years of fault-finding I supposed. But gosh how I kick myself every time I catch myself doing that. Only to do it again real soon. Geeze! I recall a scene in the 1989 movie The Abyss, where one of the main characters tells another: “We all see what we want to see….He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.” That line has always stuck with me. I realize my perception of people and the world will never be flawless, I know that, but I think that behind my looking there needs to be a perspective of faith. A belief that reminds me that everything on which my eyes rest can, in one way or another, tell me about God and His intentions. A belief that would, despite our world’s seemingly deteriorating ways, allow me to trust that there is good in it; a belief that despite what I think and feel when I look at others, would allow me to look through their eyes and exercise tolerance and compassion.

Yet my frustrations flare up at my inability to achieve that because it is so NOT easy. How do I get rid of that cataract-like film layering my eyes? Like the blind man in the story recounted in the Gospel of Mark [8:22-25] who begs Jesus to give him sight, I too desire to see. To see God clearer in things and in others. I pray He keeps my eyes from turning cloudier and helps me remove that impending crust. And instead helps me to look with better eyes than that – – with humble, fair, forgiving, and loving eyes. So maybe every so often, hopefully more often than not, I may be able to say I was blind but now I see.

Today, my eyes can see clearly. But can my soul? That is my hope, my prayer.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
-J. Lubbock

“One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.”
-E.W. Wilcox

Thankful Thursdays

For simplicity. It’s a great time of year to clean house (and I’m not just talking about the closet and garage). Don’t wait ‘till spring time. Start cleaning house now in every aspect of your life – materially, mentally, and emotionally. We should identify what’s essential and do away with as much of the rest as we can. Like the physical clutter, the people-drama, expectations, and negativity that weigh us down and stress us. We should convert some of that stress into spiritual energy. Think God more.

Bottom line is, we take on so many things and bring on so much complexity to our life that enjoying it gets overshadowed. Let’s try to live a more balanced and significant life. And for every time we are able to keep it simple and real, be thankful.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Free yourself from the complexities and drama of your life. Simplify. Look within. Within ourselves we all have the gifts and talents we need to fulfill the purpose we’ve been blessed with.”
-Steve Maraboli

“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the enforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
-Matthew 11:28-30

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
-E.F. Schumacher

Thankful Thursdays

For chocolate. Dark’s my preference. It’s healthier, since there’s that antioxidant factor. But really any kind; anything with cocoa will hit the spot for a chocoholic like me. And, aside from its heavenly taste, it releases feel good neurotransmitters in the brain which can potentially neutralize any crappy state of mind. That’s a plus. No, for real. I mean, yes, God loves even the grumpiest of us, but I’m sure He would prefer we keep it together as often as possible – maybe have a Snickers bar to snap out of it. A Dove drop usually does it for me (inside messages and all). 

Chocolate. Good for the soul. And those around us, thank heavens.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What scrumptious treat are you thankful for today?

“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.”
-S. Boynton

“One filled with joy preaches without preaching.”
-Mother Teresa

 

Thankful Thursdays

To give back. How about that for a new year’s resolution? To give back, plain and simple. Let’s face it, we have so much going on in our lives, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, out of sorts, and miss the big picture. Having an attitude of gratitude can help bring peace to the craziness and focus our vision on what’s important. And when we are aware of all that’s been given to us, it’s hard not to want to pay it forward. In whatever ways we can: donations, service, time, etc.. So I say, let’s count our blessings, like every day, and make those blessings count.

Today, as I think of all that’s been given to me, I’m especially thankful for growing older; I just had a birthday yesterday, and every year that comes my way is more and more appreciated and cherished. By the way, thanks to those who have donated to my birthday fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on Facebook. So cool. If you haven’t and want to, here are the links:
Thru Facebook: Connie’s Birthday Fundraiser to St. Jude
Thru St. Jude: Donate

Family and friends, may we keep our minds uncluttered long enough to remember to keep this goal throughout the year (and every year): to be more grateful and to give back. No matter what.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
-Charles Dickens

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.”
-Steve Maraboli

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson