ABC's of Thankfulness

It is the thankful time of year!  Do not take that to mean that November is THE only time that we need to be grateful for the blessings of our lives.  Oh, no, my darlings!  Gratitude and thankfulness are necessary to daily life.  Like coffee.  This is the time of year, however, that we tend to be more vocal and mindful of our gratitude.  I thought it might be fun to use the alphabet and do a little blessing counting...or listing?  You don't count with letters, right?  Well, Mr. Snark and his engineer people can.  Back to the blessings.

A...Amy, also known as Sister.  She's the spicy to my sweet.  She's the rebel to my goody-goody.  She has a black belt in sarcasm.  She is gaw-juss!  She is so very fashionable.  She makes me laugh like no one else can.  She is so very brave and so very courageous.  Underneath what might seem like a prickly outer shell is a splendid heart of gold.  That outer shell comes from our childhood days.  If you're lucky enough to see that heart, you'll understand the compassion and tenderness that lives within her.  I luff her!

B....babies!  There are two in B'ham...born this summer...who I am DYING to meet.  I cannot say when that will happen.  Hopefully, before they start shaving, so for now, I am content to stalk their mothers' FB pages for pictures.  And when a new picture gets posted, you'd think I just won the sweepstake! 

C...comfy clothes.  Y'all, I have this red sweater that is no longer fit for public viewing.  I bought it in 2001, into the fall just after Y2 was born.  Sort of cable knit, with a full zipper.  It's a combination of a cardigan and a jacket.  So, it's a cardiket!  Maybe a jackigan!  I have worn that thing and worn that thing and I cannot bear to part with it.  When I am puny, I grab my red sweater.  When I get a little cool in the evenings, just lounging around the house, I grab that sweater. daddy.  Right now, I am especially thankful for him and my sweet step-mama because they are providing room and board to Mr. Snark.  They are standing in between us and fourth relocation in eleven years.  A move after a move that isn't quite three years old.  Daddy and Mom Jean have opened their home to him and made him so very welcomed.  I cannot tell you how much better that makes this whole thing.  I sleep better because I know he's not alone in some dumpy trailer or sad little hovel of an apartment.  It has been a battle with my pride to come to this point.  We have never had to ask our parents for any kind of monetary or material help.  Hearing my daddy say it filled him with joy to be able to bless us in this fashion made my pride sit down and shaddup.  Who am I to stand in the way of his joy?

E...Eric.  He's my true dear heart.  The years he's been in my life outnumber the years without him.  This summer will make twenty-five years of wedded bliss.  I can truthfully say that that they have been joyful years.  Some more joyful than others, but I honestly think the joy outweighs the sorrow.  My circuits get a little jammed thinking about the next twenty-five.  Boyos becoming "grown and gone."  Boyos becoming fiancés and husbands...and fathers.  My hairdresser having to work a little harder to cover the silver that is infiltrating at a greater rate. 

F...the friends like family.  The frie-mily.  They don't take the place of blood kin, but when the blood kin is across many state lines, the frie-mily is important for survival. 

G...God.  Sunday school answer?  Perhaps.  I have been learning so much about Him in these last few years. He is faithful and good.  He loves me.  He understands my hurts and my fears.  He doesn't see the warts and bumps and bruises because I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  This is no small thing and it tends to warp my "holy imagination." (Thanks, Bro. Ricky!) I can pin all of my hope on Him and bank on His goodwill for my life.  I don't understand how people get through this life, with all of it's hurts and chuck-holes, without Him! 

H...hummingbirds.  They are amazing!  And while completely real, there is something rather fantastical and fictional about them. 

I...Ireland.  One day, I hope to visit this beautiful island.  Maybe my sweet red-headed Q will take me with her to visit her daddy's homeland and give me the insider's view.  I cannot tell you why, but this place has held a part of my heart captive since I was a child.  I am drawn to photographs of her rolling hills.  I want to rest against one of the numerous rock walls.  I want to visit a neighborhood pub and learn the songs they sing.  Don't even get me started on that accent!!  Di-vine!

J...jasmine.  We have a couple of vines, here at YOHOS.  When it blooms and the breeze blows just right, the smell of it wraps around my brain.  It's magical and earthy at the same time.  It's a very feminine smell.  Like a feminine on a mission...if you know what I mean!  And if you don't, you're probably too young for me to explain.

K...kindness.  There is a shocking and decided lack of kindness in the world.  I'm not talking about the grand gestures.  People will write a check (the ones who still do) or click the e-give option in a heartbeat.  But for whatever reason, a simple thing like a smile or a kind word is difficult.  We have all felt the sting of kindness lacking.  The moments where no kindness is found are sad and lonely.  During this most thankful time of year, go the extra mile and spread a little more kindness.  It will come back to you, I promise.

L...lemons!  Feeling blue?  Feeling glum?  Grab a lemon, roll it on the counter top to soften it just a bit and then grate a bit of the peel...sniff!  Carefully, though, because you don't want to inhale the lemon zest.  I find the smell to be mood altering in the most pleasant sense.

M...memories.  In my almost forty-six (gulp!!) years, I have accumulated a good many.  Praise Jesus, the good far outnumber the bad.  I have known sorrow, but the joy eclipses the heartache with very little effort. 

N...nesting dolls.  Whenever I see a set, I remember my three mission trips to Ukraine.  I think about my team members and how they all used their gifts and talents to do kingdom work.  I think about our friends, our Christian brothers and sisters who lovingly cared for us while we were there.  I think about the brothers and sisters who opened their homes to us and treated us like honored guests.  I think about the hospitality that was lavished upon us...without reservation or hesitation.  I think about the devastation and desperation that the war has caused.  I pray that God would end the war.  I pray that the peace that passes all understanding would prevail.  I pray that our friends who remain in the east of Ukraine will be safe and that their needs would be met.  I pray that they will continue to remain steadfast in their faith.

O...olives.  I can't explain why they are good, but they are.  I think olives are one of those things that you either like...or you don't.  There's not really a middle ground.  I like!  You don't?  Pass me your share...they will not be wasted!

P...purple eyeliner.  I admit the following:  I am a bit marmish.  I am not very adventurous when it comes to fashion.  Never really have been.  I think being adventurous clashes with my practicality and the practicality wins...just nearly every time.  There are the rare moments when I just to stretch and it is in those moments that I pull out my purple eyeliner.  It's a silly thing, I know, but it makes me feel edgy and super cool.  And it brings out the green in my eyes, which I REALLY like. 

Q...quilts.  One in particular.  My granny made it.  It's a navy blue calico that has pink roses and there is solid  navy and there is white.  When I run my fingers over the stitches, I see her in her little sewing room.  I see the button caddy that Papa made her and I see the little rack for her scissors.  He made that, too.  When I'm puny, I grab that (and the red sweater) and pile up under it.  It's not offered for everyday use to just anyone.  Should you ever come to visit and that quilt is offered to you, understand that to mean you are dearly loved.  The tried and true ones...nothing else will do.  Maybe it's biscuits.  Maybe it's chicken salad.  Maybe it's meatloaf.  We all have them and they are treasures.  I like trying new recipes, too.  Along the way, I have run into a few duds.  Some of them easily forgettable.  Some of them not.  Mr. Snark still talks about the spinach-sun dried tomato stuffed chicken leg quarters.  They were just that bad.  Mostly because I didn't realize you had to soak the tomatoes in oil to rehydrate them...since I failed to purchase the ones in oil.  We'll never know, though, because that recipe went the way of the dinosaurs!

S...Stinnetts. They have loved me from the get go. They are, hands down, some of the most fun loving human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I look forward to loving the Stinnetts of the future and the reunion with those who've gone ahead of us.

T...tomatoes!  Red, green, orange, yellow, almost purple!  In a salad, as a garnish to a the star of a sammich (all my Southern people just said, "AMEN!")...breaded and fried.  Glory!  What would life be without home grown tomatoes.

U...umbrellas.  For the utility of them but for a more sentimental reason.  When they were little, The Boyos used to call them "underbrellas."  It makes me think of little boys.  Sniff...I do miss my little boys.  Moments to get away from the normal routine.  Escaping to a place where you are a little more anonymous.  Retreating to a place free from the hassles of normal life.  Enjoying a place where P*blix, Wh*le F*ods and Fr*sh M*rket all exist in the same zip code!!!

W...wishes.  Wishes and dreams are free.  And they are good to have.  They don't have to be rational or logical.  They are a means of coping with the harshness of reality. 

X...xylophones.  What, I like the sound that they's pretty.  I really like the little F*sher Pr*ce ones with the rainbow colored keyboard. 

Y...The Younglings, for reasons that are so obvious it would be criminal to discuss beyond what you already understand about my love for these young men.  YOU...I'm thankful for you!  I do not take it lightly that you give up irretrievable moments of your life to read my ramblings and rantings.  Your encouragement and support is precious to me.

Z...Zatarain's.  It's a Cajun seasoning mix.  One of my college best friend introduced me to it.  I think about her...and the crazy times we had at Eastern Michigan.  GO HURONS!  I think about the many pots of red beans and rice that Mr. Snark and I ate during our first married years.  It was easy, cheap and made leftovers that were better the next day.  The leftovers never went to waste.

I hope you weren't expecting something lofty or high minded.  It's easy to see the "big" blessings.  The ones that aren't so visible are just as important.  All of our blessings are important.  And they are connected.  I see that reading through this list.  If I didn't have one, it means that something that brought it to my life is missing and what a hole that creates!  My darlings, I pray for you a Thanksgiving time full of moments where the often hidden blessings of this life come into view.  I pray that you have opportunities to walk out your attitude of gratitude by blessing someone who needs it.