Goodbye, Hello, and Thank You

Saying goodbye to an old friend is not fun – even when it is necessary and desirable.

A recent farewell to my faithful van of 15 years was…believe it or not…a sad event. My highly modified van is a dear friend!
– It took Brent and I everywhere we went for our first eight years together.
– My mom rode next to me on the way to chemo treatments until she used a wheelchair and rode in the back.
– My precious former canine assistant, Murray, perched himself in the front seat as we went to work each morning; he flirted with other drivers the whole time, of course he curled up behind me in the back seat after a long day at the office.
– Tahoe, on the other hand, sticks with me and rarely hops on the seat when he rides.

So many memories..

Goodbye van
Although excitement is brewing with the thought that I will soon wheel around town in a new accessible sports car (aka a minivan), a few tears ran down my cheek as I watched my big old gem take its final trip from our home.

Isnt it funny how we hang on to the old in lieu of the new?

My recent ‘goodbye-hello’ experience sits smack dab in the midst of two bible studies – one from Deuteronomy and another from Exodus. OK,  I really appreciate it when the bible whacks me on the head! I knew this was a season of change in many ways….and like the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Wilderness to Canaan, I resist, don’t listen enough and take provision for granted…

…add an illness and a busy schedule and I might enter the land of complaint.

‘Hold up!’ I tell myself! I can live in the land of thanksgiving instead of the land of complaint.

The land of thanksgiving is full of provision. It may be quail and manna or it may be milk, honey, fruits and grains…but there is always provision.

Praying you choose the land of thanksgiving during your seasons of change.

– Madge

Here’s a short, but powerful verse for my scripture memorizing friends.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  
1 Chronicles 16:34

Family Visit

One of my brothers, Brian, brought his 14 and 15 year old girls from Cincinnati for Thanksgiving.  His wife’s a nurse and had to work over the holiday (God bless our health care workers!)  We ate, played games, visited friends and family, watched movies, did homework, shopped, went hiking and four-wheeling…and goodbyes came too quickly.

Here we are in the mountains…I love my family and miss those I don’t see often.

People say my brother resembles Anderson Cooper. He’s closest in age to me and helped me adjust to life in a wheelchair…in many ways, he and my parents suffered more than I did after my accident. The support of my family made all the difference in my growth and adjustment – I am blessed.

Some handsome guys hiking with the crew…Our friend David, Brian, and my love, Brent.

Girls have a special bond and these teens bring us great delight. What fun…it was so warm, I hardly needed my borrowed hat. I’ll brave the cold weather to see the grande six foot icicles that form on the waterfalls next time.

My friend, Carolyn, keeps me from falling over while everyone hikes to the falls. Her family is one of the most generous and loving that I know.

Leah is a happy girl..Carolyn and David are brave to help Brian teach the girls the tricks of the four wheelers. They have fifteen year old triplets and manage to minister to and love on multitudes of kids from other families.

Maya, is my goddaughter, and so is Carolyn’s oldest daughter, Rachael. I’m so proud of both of them. Driving on rough terrain is good practice for the day Maya drives on the smooth streets.

We had chili for lunch and pizza for dinner and had to top off our ‘healthy’ day with s’mores. I love a perfectly toasted marshmallow.

Tahoe was happy to get home and play with his kong after spending much of the day in the van. He didn’t like staying in the van while we went out…the kong makes everything better…

…and so does the bed.

Nothing like friends, siblings, girls and Tahoe to usher in Christmas joy…”For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!” Isaiah 6:6.

Let us savor each moment!

Thanksgiving: It’s a Matter of Perspective

A past family thanksgiving photo reveals a giant turkey with Brent’s mom and brother (we sure miss you, Jess). The bird was a only a 13 pounder,  yet it looks like it weighed 25 pounds!  Perspective can be deceptive!

This turkey confusion is not unlike our human ability to make a mountain out of a molehill and see our life issues from a negative perspective. There’s nothing like a paradigm shift toward gratitude to help our health and well-being. Studies show that the practice of gratitude has a variety of benefits.  Dr. Robert Emmons of University of California, Davis, runs a research lab dedicated to the study of gratitude and thanksgiving.

“Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.  “So much of gratitude is about one’s perspective and framework for looking at the world and at self. People who tend to be more mindful of the benefits they’ve received tend to focus their attention outward,” Emmons explains.

Some specific areas affected by gratitude are:

  • lower stress levels
  • higher energy and alertness
  • measureable improvements in mood – more positive emotions and optimism
  • lower levels of depression
  • fewer headaches and colds
  • better physiological health (heart rhythms and sleep patterns)
  • greater sense of being connected to others

People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002).

Emmons has found that grateful individuals place less importance on material goods and are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated.  They are less envious of others and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.

The bible heartily promotes gratitude and thanksgiving and mentions the word ‘thanks’ in our English translations over 100 times.  My quick research of the Hebrew and Greek words reveals that ‘thanks’ is actually much more pervasive than the surface reveals.  ‘Praise’ in many instances in the Old Testament and ‘grace’ in the New Testament find their roots in the same words otherwise translated as ‘thanks’, ‘thanksgiving’, ‘grateful’, or ‘gratitude’.

Be joyful always; pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.  Jeremiah 33.11

Need practical ways to increase your ‘gratitude’ factor and potentially integrate gratitude as your everyday attitude?  Stayed tuned for tomorrow when I’ll share some effective tips.