Tag Archives: Thankfulness

One Way to Respond When “Life” Happens

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

That’s how the saying goes, anyway, so I might as well give it a shot. You see, I started writing this the morning of Sunday, Nov. 5. Ordinarily I would have just gotten home from church, but today—which also happens to be my birthday—has been a little different.

Randy left for church—a 20-minute drive from our house—much earlier than the rest of us because he had tech duties to attend to there. The girls and I got ready and loaded into the van right on schedule, but when I went to start our trusty vehicle, nothing happened.


Thankfulness Journal Highlights God’s Faithfulness

I’ve been thinking about thankfulness a lot lately.

First, it was because Thanksgiving was coming, and, well, what else are you supposed to think about before Thanksgiving? Then, it was because of Christmas, and all the many aspects of this holiday that I love so very much.

North Dakota barn

With all those thoughts swirling around in my head, I imagined it would be fun to go through my thankfulness journal—a record of 1,000-plus blessings that took me more than three-and-a-half years to complete—and make a top 10 list.

My thankfulness journal is precious to me. Several weeks ago, right before the hard drive on our personal computer bit the dust, it was the only file I sent to my internet email account just in case Randy’s multiple backups somehow didn’t work.

I do most of my writing on our laptop, but the PC holds thousands of pictures, videos and other documents we’ve collected for more than a decade. Many of those are priceless, too, but the document titled “1,000 Gifts” is the one I was sure to save.

Intentionally noticing and then writing down the things I’m thankful for is a comforting and settling practice. It’s not just the discipline of doing this that is so beneficial, however. It’s also a huge blessing to have a written record of God’s faithfulness during years of great change and sometimes even turmoil around and within me.

I must admit that there were months on end, during those three-and-a-half years, when I didn’t write down a single thing. But rather than focus on the blank spots, I love to read what I actually did write—recollections and details that would have disappeared from my memory forever had I not recorded them.

I didn’t stop at 1,000, by the way. Once I hit that milestone on Aug. 18 of this year, I decided to keep going, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

Choosing 10 favorites seemed like a quick and easy idea for a blog post, during a season when quick and easy is just what I need. So I opened up the Word document that contains my list and started browsing. And it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I expected.

A few trends were obvious right from the start.

It seems I derive great joy from noticing the first shoots of anything sprouting out of the ground in the spring. Daffodils, lilies, peonies, Siberian irises—you name it, I’m thankful for it! Cardinals (the aviary variety) show up rather frequently (there is a story there but we’ll save that for another day), as do affirmative answers to prayer and (sometimes halting) thanksgiving for prayers that were not answered how I had hoped, but clearly were answered nonetheless.

Some entries in the journal are a few short words, while others are more lengthy. I wasn’t looking for items of any particular length, but as I read, I did notice that many of the most meaningful ones have a back story. In current form, they wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me (and perhaps Randy).

I figured that prefacing each item on the top 10 list with an introduction would completely ruin the effect (not to mention negate the “quick and easy” thing I was after), so I decided to discard the entire idea of writing a blog post based on my 1,000 gifts list.

Then something happened late last week, something that resulted in several journal entries that actually do tell the whole story. It’s as clear in my mind as it was the moment it happened, and because of that, I want to share it with you today.

On  Dec. 5, 2014, here’s what I was thankful for:

• That the crossing guard at Molly’s school takes her job very seriously, especially since someone crashed a vehicle into one of the traffic lights at the crossing a few weeks ago, disabling all the signals at the intersection until a new one can be installed.

• That Molly was the only child with the crossing guard when she crossed the street to meet me after school yesterday.

• That because she was the only child there, Molly was able to hear the crossing guard when she shouted—very loudly—at the truck driver who had ignored the guard’s stop sign and was driving straight through the intersection where Molly was crossing.

• That when she heard the shout, Molly stopped suddenly, halting her progress directly into the path of the truck.

• That Molly’s birthday is Monday, and she will be 10 years old.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Thankful to be linking up this week with Jerralea at the Loft.

 Photo by Claudine Flowers

3rd-Grade Training Lays Groundwork for Peace

A highlight of the third-grade curriculum at Molly’s school is the “Fire and Life Safety” course taught by firefighters from our local fire department.

For five weeks beginning in September, three firefighters come once a week and teach the kids everything from how to put out a grease fire and the top causes of fire in our city, to how to draw up a home-escape plan and the importance of the words “stop, drop and roll.”

Molly fire 4

Molly is fascinated by fire trucks and machinery of any sort. She thinks ahead and has a contingency plan for everything. In other words, this program was right up her alley.

At the end of the course, the students with the highest grades on their very comprehensive homework assignments are named junior fire chiefs and receive all sorts of special awards. Molly was ever so proud to be one of two students in her class to achieve this designation.

Since then, her fire-safety training has come in handy a time or two, like when I poured some oil in a hot skillet and needed help remembering that putting the lid on and removing the pan from the stove would squelch the flames that sprang up so suddenly. (They clearly did not have an extensive fire-safety program in the schools when I was in third grade.)

I knew she enjoyed interacting with the firefighters, but I never really realized how thorough Molly’s training was or how much it had influenced her until a few weeks ago.

The girls and I were at my parents’ home one evening when my dad fell, hit his head on a wall and eventually became unresponsive. We called 911, and someone made sure Lilly, Molly and their visiting cousins were occupied elsewhere as we waited for help to arrive.

Lilly saw my dad fall and was, understandably, very upset. She holed herself up in the bathroom, where Randy calmed her down over the phone.

When I went to find Molly, she was in an upstairs bedroom, talking quietly with her 12-year-old cousin. She had seen the accident, too, but didn’t appear to be the slightest bit upset or scared. Some of this is due to her personality—she trends toward calm and non-dramatic most of the time. As I discovered later, however, her response went deeper than that.

After the paramedics had been there for awhile and things were looking better all around, my younger sister went back upstairs to see how our daughters were doing. Molly’s assessment was both simple and telling.

“I know what they are doing,” she said.

“I know why they are doing it.

“I am a junior fire chief.”

Well, OK then.

Seriously, what else is there to say?

As I reflect on that day, I am thankful for many things. I’m thankful that my dad is OK. I’m thankful that my sister was in town visiting that weekend, which was why we were even at my parents’ home that night. I’m thankful for my older sister, whose steady demeanor helped us do what we needed to do for my dad. I’m thankful that Randy was able to console Lilly over the phone, and that the paramedics who came to assist us were all very kind and competent.

I’m also thankful for that trio of firefighters who visited Molly’s classroom so faithfully last year, filling her then 8-year-old head with the grown-up knowledge that gave her comfort and confidence during a potentially scary situation.

There were times, that evening, when I wasn’t sure how everything was going to turn out. But in the midst of it all, when I was trying hard not to panic, my little junior fire chief was at peace.

A mom can’t ask for much more than that.

Lois Flowers