Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Tougher Kind Of Thankful

"My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon." Japanese poet Masahide



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I don't know how your life has been, but this past year's circumstances  have reminded me that thankfulness doesn't always come easily. Sometimes it does bubble up naturally from a place of happiness - when the sun is shining in a cloudless northern Michigan sky over blossoming cherry trees, it's easy to love life. However, being thankful is often a commitment to finding that which is good even when the things we love burn to the ground.

As I look back over my life this Thanksgiving, I can see a number of gaps where barns once stood. I don't want to forget that when the smoke clears, the moon (or perhaps the Son) faithfully brings light to even the charred corners of the world. So, here's my attempt to see the beauty in the ashes.

  • I’m thankful that, as a five-year-old, my loyal dog killed a rabid rat chasing me across our dry, Alabama lawn. 
  • I’m thankful that when that dog got rabies, my dad put her down, because not every child has a dad who is there to protect them.
  • I’m thankful that God used the time I was ridiculed for being fat to create empathy for the ridiculed and overlooked.
  • I am thankful that moving 8 times in 3 states by the time I was 15 taught me to be kind to strangers in strange lands.
  • I’m thankful my parents raised chickens, because that was one thing to cross off my bucket list early on.
  • I’m thankful that, when I cut off my toes in a lawn mower, I did not have to learn how to find my balance all over again. 
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“I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” - Matthew Henry, on the night he was robbed.   

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“Oh, what a happy soul am I although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I shall be. How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't. To weep and sigh, because I'm blind? I cannot and I won't.” - blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby

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** "Stuttering is my strength and my weakness – my builder and my destroyer. It pushes me into the fire and, in the process, refines me. It is my worst enemy, but my best friend. It is the monster that hunts me and the warrior that shields me. Stuttering is the ultimate paradox, an oxymoron, an anomaly. It is yin and yang. It might as well be the father tucking you in and the monster under your bed. The sad part is that most people only see it as the destroyer, the monster, the enemy, and they fight against it tooth and nail. But the people that see it as their builder, strength, and guardian often forget to confront the emotions buried deep inside of them. That is why stuttering is everything I’ve ever wanted and everything I’ve ever hated. That is who I am." - my son, Braden

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