November brings with it a number of seasonal peculiarities: falling leaves, premature Christmas decorations, cooler temperatures and now, in the New South, daily thanksgiving posts on Facebook.
I’m not sure when the trend started, but taking the month of November to post “What I am thankful for today” status updates has caught on. Yes, there is the expected reaction of satire and mockery, but overall what fills my Facebook newsfeed these days is more genuine than humorous.
My wife started the November Thanksgiving Facebook status updates last year and has continued the tradition this year. She reports that it’s more difficult to come up with something on harder days, but she always manages to post. So far she hasn’t been guilty of that prayer practice of small children who merely recite their thanksgivings to God by looking around the room and mentioning everything they see: “Thank you, God, for my socks and for Lego and for puzzles and for squirrels and for Thomas the Tank Engine…”
One of the most difficult disciplines is regulating your attitude apart from your circumstances. If we surrender control of our mood to the randomness of life, say a bad commute home from work or a vomiting child, then we will most likely be miserable most of the time.
I haven’t participated in this new Thanksgiving tradition simply because I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t know that I could come up with 30 days of thankfulness in the moment each morning, so to send you into Thanksgiving week, I’m offering a month’s worth of thanksgivings all at once (in no particular order):
- A faith that is strong enough to endure challenges but flexible enough to grow when confronted with truth.
- Carla. Simply stated, the best wife I could have ever been fortunate enough to marry.
- My parents. They instilled in me early on the right priorities and have offered encouragement and guidance when I needed it most.
- Barron. A dad couldn’t ask for a better oldest son. Responsible, creative and funny.
- Harris. Like the crème filling of an Oreo, he makes the middle the best part. I particularly enjoy our talks.
- Carlton. Resourceful and self-reliant, his zest for life re-energizes.
- My in-laws. Gracious, generous and always delightful to be around, they make visits to their home a respite.
- My brother, Lee, and his family. I have the utmost respect for his ministry and know he has more integrity than just about anyone I know.
- My brother, Lyle, and his family. I don’t get to see them enough, so each visit is a treasure, and I know he is preparing for a life-long ministry that will touch many, many lives.
- Our home. Not only do we have enough bedrooms for everybody, we have space to open our home to friends and family on a regular basis, and we are always the better for it.
- Good friends. You know who you are. No matter what segment of my life they enter through, my closest friends enrich my life with laughter, challenging ideas and support. I could have listed each of you as a separate item, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just lump you all into one entry.
- My neighbors. You never want to take for granted having considerate and friendly neighbors. Even just a smile and a wave add something to my life.
- My job. Working at Georgia Tech doesn’t just pay the bills. It stretches and challenges me while giving me the opportunity to form new relationships with quality people.
- Parkway Baptist Church. A place where I can serve, learn and enjoy the company of fellow travelers on the road.
- My daily bread. Haven’t missed a meal, and I don’t take that for granted knowing there is real poverty in the world.
- Good health. Despite a nagging shoulder/back strain right now, I enjoy exercise and nothing makes me feel more alive than a good run.
- Down time. It may be infrequent, but when it happens I cherish it.
- Lilburn. A great community filled with a diverse population who are involved and care about their children and is not so far outside the perimeter.
- Functioning vehicles. This may be a “knock-on-wood” entry, but for now, all systems are “go” on the station wagon and minivan. Never dreamed I would ever be thankful for a station wagon and minivan.
- Google search. Everything is knowable. No more struggling to remember which actor played in which movie or what the lyrics are to a song stuck in your head. It really has become our brain supplement.
- Fantasy football. A diversion I allow myself. It’s fun whether I win or lose.
- Summer vacation. We always go to Santa Rosa Beach, and it’s one of the highlights of the year for our family.
- Sunday afternoon naps. Forced to take them as a child, naps are now the most-anticipated event of the week.
- Scouts. The experience has given me so many opportunities to spend quality time with my boys that no matter what rank they achieve, I know it has been a worthy investment of time.
- Saturday morning pancakes. I contribute so little to meal preparation in my household that it’s nice when I get to prepare our weekly pancake breakfast. Even I can’t mess up pancakes.
- Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s millions of dollars of profit notwithstanding, this has been a great way to keep in touch and reconnect with friends from all over the world.
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Not only was it a fantastic place to work for 10 years, it’s a worthwhile ministry doing amazing things worthy of support.
- Christmas vacation. Always includes a trip to Florida and time with both sets of grandparents. Beautiful weather, rest and great memories.
- Writing. Even though I don’t get to do it enough, I am enriched by each opportunity to express my thoughts. My book will get finished someday.
- Blog readers. You put up with a lot of lackluster writing, but you have hung with me for nearly 20 months now.
Share what you are thankful for by leaving a comment below, then share this post with others!