December Thankfulness

“Gratitude” comes from the same word as freedom (gratis = free). Gratitude is the freeing expression of a free heart toward one who freely gave.  –Ravi Zacharias


56 thoughts on “December Thankfulness

  1. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – to share a meal with my mentor Auntie, whose business and personal chutzpah inspires and focuses me, and whose love blesses me
    – to be able to help my parents
    – for so much simple, clear evidence of God’s caring, active presence that my jaw feels permanently stuck in the open position
    – for the beauty of broken pottery
    – for the misty touch of tonight’s fog

  2. Ann

    grateful
    ~to better know appropriate caution and limits, at least regarding my back
    ~for the warmth of family
    ~there is promise in a new year
    ~for retreat time set aside
    ~to see huge progress made over time in staying away from the place of despair
    ~to feel/sense/hear clear invitation to a new way

  3. Ann

    grateful
    ~to be able to walk the neighborhood with Sophia today
    ~for the gift of oranges and limes from a friendly neighbor
    ~to get all the holiday decor stashed in an organized way
    ~for the gorgeous orchid next to me that’s been in full bloom for many weeks
    ~to live in a place that has wonderful sights, sounds and smells all year round

  4. Ann

    grateful
    ~for another day
    ~to be able to enjoy a drive through the mountains
    ~to be a listening ear to a hurting friend
    ~for grandmothering
    ~to read Sophia to sleep, something I just love

  5. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for being speechless with wonder yet again
    – for the gift of another day with my son
    – for my parents’ delight at having granddaughter time
    – for Aaron Brothers’ buy 1 get 2 canvases free sale
    – for naps

  6. Phaik

    grateful for
    ~ the medical officer who went out of his way to help us
    ~ the many ex-students of D’s who have become dear and loyal friends
    ~ recognising my actions today were akin to those by someone else that had caused distress yesterday (God is so good about giving me these insights!)
    ~ wordless prayers
    ~ Westhope

  7. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for the joy of seeing loved ones enjoy a favorite recipe
    – for the gift of another day with my son
    – for how jaw-dropping the ways of God can be and the marvel of witnessing his activity in my life
    – for the endless layer of meaning in scriptures, and the way God reveals himself there
    – for the star Sirius, a bright marker in the sky to help me remember that God heard my heart’s plea

  8. Ann

    grateful
    ~to be able to go for a nice long walk with Sophia in the sunshine
    ~to enjoy figuring out how to play a new cooperative game
    ~to recognize a need and be open to answering it
    ~for success with two new recipes
    ~for a friend’s change of heart about spirituality after many years of witness

  9. Ann

    grateful
    ~for space to question and wonder
    ~when family times end on a high note
    ~to hear from my cousin, even if it’s only at Christmas
    ~for the way my grandchildren stretch my heart
    ~to be able to be of help tomorrow

  10. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – that God can orchestrate circumstances in ways that bless in all directions and leave me speechless
    – experiencing the desires of my heart being heard, even after I had resigned myself to an outcome that did not include them
    – more time with my son!
    – for a friend who understands my fears
    – for quiet

  11. Phaik

    grateful
    ~ that I attended the worship service, however different in style it was from what I’m comfortable with
    ~ for good conversation with a faithful friend
    ~ that my first driving experience here was uneventful
    ~ for how my parents care for each other
    ~ for Wendy and Ann, for staying alongside me in this practice

  12. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – to catch up with cousins and aunties and uncles, and for the ongoing faithfulness of my extended family to each other
    – for my father’s love for good food and the way he likes to share that joy
    – for the stretching that comes when plans change
    – for my son’s laughter
    – for the bittersweet ways roles are changing as my parents age
    – for the gift of each day of life

  13. Ann

    grateful
    ~for restorative sleep
    ~for fun holiday facetime calls
    ~for relief from a nagging calf cramp
    ~to be considering change
    ~to feel inner strength as part of discernment

  14. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for my parents’ ongoing interest in learning new things
    – for the love of family
    – for time to deepen relationships with my sister and brother-in-law
    – for the ways that being in the kitchen knits us together
    – for time with my son
    – for Ann and Phaik and our gratitude practice here 🙂

  15. Ann

    Merry Christmas!
    grateful
    ~to share this beautiful practice here with you, Wendy and Phaik
    ~for the experience of worship yesterday
    ~to let go of the frantic nature of readying the sanctuary and music for last night’s service
    ~for the surprise of old friends coming to both
    ~to know my mom is surrounded by family today at her home
    ~to see pics early this morning of the little ones out in the snow

  16. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – to remember that the Christ is present in the division, suffering, and loss around me, prompted by this year’s “provocation” nativity done by the Fransciscan monks in Assisi to draw attention to suffering in the world – the baby Jesus placed in a bed of 445 bullet shells.
    – for the sweetest dog curled up next to me on the sofa
    – for the way technology can keep loved ones connected from far away
    – for the quirkiness and love in my family of origin
    – for sweet conversations with my son

  17. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for the comfort of dear friends
    – for the shooting star that took my breath away and the wish I made
    – for chocolate souffles that bake temperamentally and friends who still enjoy them
    – for time reconnecting with my son and enjoying being in the same space together
    – for the dilemma of choosing from the
    endlessly delicious wonders at Gayle’s bakery, a problem I wish I had far more often!

  18. Phaik

    grateful
    ~ for realizing that what I’d thought was a request, was really an invitation, and thereby totally changing my perception of that interaction
    ~ that my tummy didn’t rebel after my gluttony of 4 banana fritters
    ~ for the box of memorabilia – to honor the memories, photograph the most sentimental, and discard
    ~ for the gift of books
    ~ for illuminating conversations

  19. Ann

    grateful
    ~for second sleep making up for the wee hours awake
    ~for my HOPE Christmas coffee cup, part of a long-ago gift set from a friend
    ~for shelter, heat and blankets on a 27 degree morning
    ~that big God questions are swirling around and not keeping me down
    ~to have fruitcake to deliver today…it feels good to use all California fruit and nuts
    ~silly things can bring a smile

  20. Ann

    grateful
    ~for a beautiful solstice eve gathering to honor those we mourn
    ~to be touched by the setting as well as singing
    ~to crest the hill into town earlier and see the ocean in the distance awash with blazing golden sunlight, shocking and other-worldly
    ~for Mike’s forbearance in enduring my outbursts of temper, unusually short with frustration
    ~to be home for the holidays, as travel would be very difficult….and I’d be cranky…

  21. Phaik

    grateful
    ~ for hearing the life-stories of family members that I didn’t know I had
    ~ that the fall wasn’t serious
    ~ that the conversation yesterday may help chip away deeply-held convictions about what is ‘normal’
    ~ for finding the missing phone
    ~ for being here

  22. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for the freshness in the air after the rain
    – for the amazing young mom juggling 3 toddlers at the post office
    – for fresh popovers
    – for the fun of planning surprises
    – for airports bringing good friends to me

  23. Ann

    grateful
    ~for an unprecedented 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep
    ~for rain in the night and brilliant blue morning sky
    ~for deep and poignant sharing with Raina and Erik in our creative meeting
    ~worship last night was tender and moving
    ~trying to cope, in healthy ways, with bitter disappointment is at least taking some of the bitterness away
    ~for the day to rest my back before singing again tonight

  24. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for the abundant beauty of the accumulated gratitude here
    – for news of a conversation long needed in my cousin’s marriage, and of the restored wholeness they are walking in now
    – for Erik’s gift of spiritual direction
    – that my daughter swung by to pick *me* up for a sweet dinner together
    – for her clear joy in giving gifts

  25. Wendy

    Thankful….
    – to be thinking and praying for my parents and sister as I finish their presents.
    – the way God keeps nudging me forward, through a different chance conversation each day for the last four days (all right already, I say. What action will you take?, says God)
    – that God can meet me and pour out insight for my life through anything, even an editorial about renovating a home.
    – for sore knuckles that were able to massage out what was almost a migraine.
    – to finally be almost finished with an old abandoned fabric project from….20 (?) years ago, and being happy with how it’s progressing.

  26. Ann

    grateful
    ~to hear a bit of thought-provoking Alan Watts
    ~for groceries in and soup made
    ~to enjoy time with M but also precious solitude
    ~to still be pondering yesterday’s question of who I am, without roles or relationships
    ~to experience some calm amid erratic FEELINGS

  27. Phaik

    grateful for
    ~ two helpful customer service reps. on the phone
    ~ getting the printer to work
    ~ a public universal health care system
    ~ small acts of kindness from strangers in a packed elevator, in a bewildering hospital complex and in a waiting room
    ~ not getting too worked up – yet – over a misplaced phone

  28. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – that my uncle can return to his home in Carpinteria because the fire danger there has passed
    – for how completely comfortable my sofa is
    – for the delight of introducing a young friend to the deliciousness of egg bagels
    – for a pastor who loves God and loves people
    – for the happy anticipation of being with my son on Friday

  29. Ann

    grateful
    ~for safe driving today
    ~for the outlet of tears
    ~for Wendy’s kindness and loving heart
    ~just to acknowledge being in a rough place
    ~for a welcomed nap

  30. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – the honor of leading 5 grieving women through an experience of spiritual care and healing
    – the best night of sleep I have had in a really long time
    – an opportunity to practice being fully present, clear, and firm as a parent at 2:30am
    – the comforting sense of family with my Asian American small group
    – my Uncle’s continued safety, though his Santa Barbara location may have to evacuate as well
    – the invitation to describe what in the world it is that I do, and the challenge of doing so

  31. Ann

    grateful
    ~for fun with Sophia cookie baking
    ~for the smile from lots of twinkling lights
    ~to be learning new limits for my back comfort
    ~for M’s patience with volatile emotions
    ~for practices that help bring calm

  32. Ann

    grateful
    ~for easing of headache
    ~to be feeling a shift that seems good to have time to wonder about
    ~for trying to stay open to what’s here and now
    ~to have today to stay in
    ~to be listening to my own needs, surprised at how hard it can be

  33. Wendy

    Thankful for:
    – the beauty of glass and being able to enjoy a trip to the glass store with Rollin
    – a NAP!
    – the end of finals, celebrated with a new recipe for Roy’s chocolate souffles
    – how yummy the souffles were!
    – feeling near to God’s heart as I prepare to lead a group of moms through a reflective, art-making time about loss tomorrow

  34. Wendy

    Thankful…
    – for the chance to let a professor know I have witnessed the amazing difference her work has made in my daughter’s life
    – for the joy of my daughter’s personal growth this semester as she continues to step into her new story of being a strong student
    – for a tuition bill that put me in a place of speechless awe at God’s abundance
    – for Martin Buber’s “I and Thou”
    – for increasing clarity about vocation

  35. Ann

    grateful
    ~for the gift of written prayers from a surprising source
    ~for the emotional space to sit with them and let them sink in
    ~for good moods today and lots of stuff done together
    ~for fun facetime call with little Hazel, who calls me Gum
    ~for really good sleep the last few nights making such a difference in my energy

  36. Ann

    grateful
    ~Mike’s somewhat complicated dental surgery went perfectly
    ~to have been gentle with his anxiety
    ~driving him the long way to and from was not painful but tiring to my back
    ~tomorrow is a stay at home day
    ~for persistence of a surprising thought regarding “the gift” of this year

  37. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – being able to let our gardener know how much I appreciate his careful and good work on our yard each week
    – time with a longtime friend and pondering what it means to care for one’s soul
    – a warm house
    – the beauty of glass
    – writing explorations into the mystery of the in-between

  38. Phaik

    grateful
    ~ to Jeanne for introducing me to the novels of Louise Penny
    ~ for reminder to recognize and modify unhelpful reactions
    ~ for a friend’s suggestion to visit the mum of another friend who lives abroad
    ~ for a delightful visit with the mum
    ~ for figuring out how I need to position my finicky laptop charger so that it will work

  39. Wendy Toda

    Thankful for….
    – the help of a banana holder for my improvised photo studio
    – the window lighting in our home
    – the joyful challenge of framing just the right image
    – my Uncle’s safe evacuation from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara
    – day 1 of both kids’ finals being done

  40. Ann

    grateful
    ~for a day of calm
    ~for time spent baking sweet treats to send to family
    ~to be content lending a listening ear when there are no words
    ~for deep and weathered friendship
    ~for a warm and cozy home on these cold mornings

  41. Ann

    grateful
    ~for the framework of worship helping me get out of my own way
    ~for the comfort of great fellowship with our dinner group
    ~for so many invitations for retreat time during this season
    ~for profound insight while considering the “gift” of 2017
    ~to be feeling so much relief in my whole back, giving new hope

  42. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – laughing so hard with Kimber that I had tears coming down my face, I could barely speak, and my stomach hurt
    – the beauty of watching ballet
    – a growing friendship with a friend’s daughter
    – the way the Spirit sings through Ann and touches my soul
    – that Reiner and I finally got the spinning Christmas tree to work at Hanging of the Greens

  43. Ann

    grateful
    ~to have left behind yesterday’s sudden, painful angst
    ~for sleep, assumed impossible due to my emotional state
    ~for quiet centering in the early hours bringing peace at last
    ~today was much easier to enjoy time spent busy in the kitchen as well as walking and shopping with Mike in the warm Santa Cruz sun
    ~for community to look forward to in and around worship tomorrow

  44. Phaik

    grateful for
    ~ the sounds of a city waking up
    ~ regaining full access to my primary email account
    ~ an opening to broach a difficult subject
    ~ the cooling relief of a tabletop fan
    ~ time with extended family

  45. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – that my uncle and sis/bro-in-law are still safe, though they are close to the Thomas fire in Ventura
    – that my uncle has nearby help and is prepared for evacuation
    – for the sweetness of a good night’s sleep, helping balance out the sleepless night before
    – for the generous way God shares ideas with me
    – for remembering what a thrill it is to listen to God about ideas and wishing I could write faster

  46. Ann

    grateful
    ~grief has ups and downs
    ~for a rare night of utterly peaceful sleep
    ~to realize, with quite emotional relief, that back pain is truly waning
    ~to be able to walk to Sophie’s school, enjoying her chatter on the way home
    ~to be able to laugh at my continued efforts to regulate/schedule time with God

  47. Wendy

    Thankful for….
    – a refreshing walk
    – for rest
    – the nightly cheeriness of all the lit street trees in our neighborhood
    – for the neighbor who somehow get lights to the top of the light pole and wraps it like a candy cane every year
    – for a daughter who cares about our relationship and wants us to be right with each other
    – that there are such things as bipartisan public policy firms in D.C. , run by Democrats and Republicans together

  48. Phaik

    grateful
    ~ for the unknown woman who planted flowering shrubs by the road leading to my parents’ neighborhood
    ~ that the knoll by that roadway remains untouched, even as all other sides of the neighborhood have been surrendered to high-rise condos
    ~ that a quiet explanation pacified a justifiably upset driver
    ~ that I don’t usually have to boil water for drinking
    ~ for the New Year treats that were saved in the freezer for eleven months

  49. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – an interesting technique to try (Dremel tool on a canvas, without going *through* the canvas)
    – that my jury duty call time is 1pm tomorrow and not 8am
    – for Janet and the gift of feldenkrais
    – that my sister and uncle are safe so far with the Southern Cal fire that is near them in Ventura.
    – for all I learn about myself when I find a car blocking my driveway
    – seeing young moms blessing their children by how they speak to them
    – for far-ranging discussions with my daughter as we cooked dinner together

  50. Ann

    grateful
    ~to know Phaik arrived safely
    ~for one more emotional detail taken care of in the closing of a life
    ~for an easy recipe from my daughter for luscious soup made from chanterelles
    ~for quiet time alone while Mike is out for the evening
    ~to have been asked to sing Taize for a service for those grieving through Christmas

  51. Phaik

    grateful for
    ~ being back in my childhood home
    ~ 24 hour eateries
    ~ sounds and sights of nature in this city of concrete
    ~ time and space to process issues always-deferred
    ~ opportunities for kindness and gentleness to myself and others

  52. Ann

    grateful
    ~to be in a place to wonder at my self without condemnation
    ~to be at what feels like another crossroad and not afraid
    ~to find Sophia’s reading tested proficient six grades ahead of her own and her joy at the acknowledgement
    ~for the always amazing power of moonlight, though not conducive to sleep
    ~to enjoy quiet hours in the night, awake but content

  53. Wendy

    Thankful for…
    – my daughter’s exuberance *and* the quiet when she’s gone
    – for not having to report for jury duty today or tomorrow
    – for Janet’s Feldenkrais work (on me!)
    – for new opportunities to stretch into vocation
    – that God is so much bigger than I can fully know

  54. Phaik

    grateful for
    ~ this morning’s service
    ~ the invitation to wake up and see with fresh eyes, to examine what stirs within when speaking with others
    ~ the delightful high tea with friends, old and new
    ~ the breathtaking moonrise
    ~ the quiet of this evening

  55. Wendy

    thankful for…
    – a friend who knew how to get all those wires to fit back in the junction box
    – for the crispy clean air and sunshine of today
    – for God’s gentle nudges forward into more of life
    – for opportunities to practice being a steady, loving, well-boundaried parent
    – for the way the Spirit sings in and through Ann

  56. Ann

    grateful
    ~for a beautiful worship experience
    ~for hugs and loving condolences
    ~for the mystery, and what often seems miracle, of singing
    ~to feel amazingly ok after falling, a knee giving way going down stairs
    ~for progress over time illuminated surprisingly

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