Tag Archives: year of gratitude

A Year of Gratitude: November

November is considered the month of gratitude. Many are sharing daily gratitude posts. I have done that in the past and I believe it is a good practice. In December of 2018 I challenged my congregation to a “year of gratitude.” At the end of November the year will be technically over.

Gratitude is never out of season, or over. The challenge, to write thank you notes and to find ways to give thanks is one way to live life fully. Paul in his letter to the Philippians writes:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And in 2 Corinthians 9:

You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us;  for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

Gratitude flows from generosity, from faith, from love and from an understanding that our thankfulness allows us to see the world with different eyes. Thankfulness opens our hearts and spirits to more than the pain, grief and anger in the world. Gratitude opens us to the all the goodness in the world which I believe is much greater than the evil and hate in the world.

So today, I am grateful for many things: an unusually beautiful day, lunch with a good friend, a walk in the afternoon, a stunning sunset and a sense that God is at work in the world in ways I do not yet understand.

I pray I may continue to see the world and my life with a grateful heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grateful for Family Promise

If left to my own devices, I tend to be an early morning person. When I have no set schedule, and can sleep until I am done, then my regular rhythm is to be awake early. at this point in my life that is not true. I tend to be up later and consequently am not that “early riser.”

On Monday night, First Church was hosting Family Promise. This great organization supports homeless families and helps them get into housing. Many, many congregrations enable this to happen by either “hosting” (which means having homeless families in their building for one week four times a year) or by supporting the hosting congregations.

Each family has their own room for a week, the evening meal is provided, as well as transportation from the day house to the church and back to the day house in the morning. The children then ride the bus to school, the SAME school everyday so they are not moved from school to school. The parent(s) either go to work or do some sort of schooling or apply for jobs.

Andrew and I were the overnight hosts.  Basically we spend the night and if there is an emergency, then someone who knows the church can help in what ever way possible. The families had to be in the van at 5:30 a.m. After Andrew drove them to the day house, we had a lot of morning left.

We went to the Y across from the church. This is our “normal” Y, but usually we are not there at 6:03 a.m. Who knew so many people were up working out and running at six??? The gym was very busy almost uncomfortably so on the track. We are not particulary fast, but we walk quickly. Many were “running” around us.

That morning, the views from the 3rd floor were stunning. To see the dawn slowly moving into morning with the crown from our steeple was lovely.

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Then just a few minutes later, the sunrise woke up the sky! Both First and St. John’s Episcopal were breathing taking.

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“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118: 24)

I am sure this is why sunrises were made! Tuesday was a long day. Sleeping at the church was not terribly restful, but the work of Family Promise is important, important enough to a lose a little sleep. What a gift it was to have that early morning to see the hope of a new day, to walk out the kinks from an uncomfortable bed and be reminded of the goodness of God and God’s constant invitation to be part of making a better world.

Today I am grateful for the ministry of Family Promise, for the opportunity to share a small part in that ministry and to be reminded of “joy comes in the morning” and each day is a day that God has made.

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Thankful for All the Saints

Today in the Christian tradition, it is All Saints Day. This day sits in the middle of a triduum (a series of three days, we use the word for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday as well.) This period begins with All Hallows Eve ( Halloween) continues with All Saints Day and ends with All Souls Day. “Traditionally” today is the day we remember the named saints and tomorrow is the day we remember “everyone.”

I almost always write a blog on this day.  A couple of examples of what I written are here:

https://revcindylee.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/all-saints-day/

https://revcindylee.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/all-saints-and-remembering/

So many people have touched my life and I miss them. After 35+ years as a pastor, I have done countless funerals and this day is always a big poignant for me. I don’t think I am maudlin, but I do believe that as a culture we are uncomfortable with grief and tend to want to move on. I know I often do.

Today, after a couple of unseasonable cold and blustery days, the sun is shining. I have taken down the Halloween decorations and am working on the Thanksgiving decor. The colors of autumn remind me of how precious life is, how deeply grateful I am to be alive and to remember. As the leaves turn colors, I think of how many share the best of who they are in the final time of their life.

Autumn is an invitation for me to take each moment as a gift, and to live with love and gratitude. As I finish up an intentional year of gratitude, I am grateful for “all the saints who from their labors rest.”  I am grateful to honor their lives and spirits and be challenged to share the best of their faith, their love and their gifts with others.

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Year of Gratitude, October Week 2

Our year of gratitude is pairing well with our stewardship sermon series, “Lifecycle of Giving.” The image we are using is from seed to sapling to flowering and fruit bearing tree to the next generation of seeds from the tree. The fall is the time of the final harvest of the year and for some crops, planting for the spring.

In the first verse of Natalie Sleeth’s song, Hymn of Promise, it states,

“In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree, in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterlies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

This hymn became popular across denomination lines after it was penned in the mid 1980’s. Sung often during Easter time and at funerals, Ms. Sleeth points to the deep mystery around life and the life hidden in seeds and bulbs and other places where we least expect it.

Gratitude seeds itself in our hearts, minds and spirits. This seed is nurtured by faith, and love and grace and is made real in who we are and how we express ourselves. Gratitude and thankfulness when allowed to sprout, can bring deep meaning to our words, our actions our lives.

Natalie Sleeth’s second verse says, “there’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; there’s dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.” Gratitude helps me and maybe you see past the darkness, to listen deeply into the silence and know that  we are not alone when the world seems to be cold and alien and uncaring. God is not outside of the darkness or the silence, gratitude helps me cling to to my faith that God will  not desert me or let me flounder in the depth of my fear or uncertainty.

 

Hymn of Promise, like many songsof the faith can provide the sound track to a life of gratitude. The words and melody sung to the tune of gratitude, allows us to participate in the mystery of God at work in the world. In this particular season of autumn, the shorter days and longer nights, the leaves turning colors and falling the ground reminds us that gratitude sown, nurtured and harvested brings hope and faith into the world.

During this month of gratitude, is there someone you can thank for the nurture and care you have received? In you moments of silence and darkness who was there for you? Who listened, who cared, who helped you find ways to be grateful? Write them a note, visit them or find a way to say thank you.

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Year of Gratitude: October

We are eleven months into our year of gratitude. Today, the temperature has plummeted from high sixties into high forties. Kansas can be a drama queen when it comes to weather. October’s focus is the harvest of our lives. Autumn is that time of planting somethings for the spring (think tulips and other bulb flowers, garlic and wheat to be harvested next year.)

October 2019

Harvest: This month the garden season is winding down and in many places the first frost hits. It is the season of autumn when reflecting on the harvest of our lives is possible. What seeds have been planted and grown and harvested in your life and spirit? This month we give thanks for the harvest of our words, actions and lives.

The harvest of our lives begins with those who planted the seeds of faith and of love and grace and acceptance in our lives. Who was the first person you remember in your life who made it absolutely clear you were loved and adored. For some of us, that person comes later in life, but for many that person is first part of our immediate family.

What person encouraged the seed of faith and confidence in you? Who nurtured those seeds that that might begin to take root and grow?

If any of those persons are still alive, this is a good time to write a thank you note and tell them exactly how much they mean to you. If they are not, think of a way to honor their life and legacy. Perhaps you can write a note of encouragement to someone who reminds you of them or perhaps you give a donation in their honor or do one random, beautiful act of kindness.

As the leaves begin to turn and the nights grow longer and the days colder, the season of harvest is an invitation to give thanks for the life and love of those who plant seeds of deep faith and gracious love in others.

 

 

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Year of Gratitude, September

Last year we began a Year of Gratitude. My intention had been to post weekly prompts as well as reminding us to be thankful. Mostly I have been successful and then somehow in July I got off track. I was still putting slips in my gratitude jar, but the weekly prompts did not happen. In fact, I didn’t do any in the month of August.

So I am back on track this week. Today is September 12 and I thought it would be good on this day to focus on gratitude and thankfulness. September 11 is usually a day of remembrance that is difficult and sad.

On September 12, 2001 people woke  up and began to focus on our unity, not our divisions. My exchange student daughter from the Republic of Georgia posted these words on my Facebook page yesterday:

 I remember that day.. and the unity of American nation that followed it.. Flags on every single house – something that had surprised me a lot – for a country of 200 years of history only, the unity and dedication of every american was remarkable… Years after I was blessed to get to the 9/11 memorial in NY to remember the victims of terror and honor the heroes… Thank you for sharing the post Cindy, that exchange year is very dear to my heart.

As I mentioned yesterday, it must have been very difficult for Ella’s parents having her so far away and in a situation where everyone was overwhelmed and afraid. I am grateful for Ella’s insight and her remembering the unity and dedication that followed that awful day. I, too, remember the acts of kindness that followed, the determination of people not to allow hatred to rule our lives and to stand up against bigotry. I am grateful for those memories and am once again challenged to live into a sense of unity and love.

September’s gratitude focus is this:

September 2019

Mentors/Teachers: As school is in full swing again, it is a good time to give thanks for those who have been our teachers and mentors. School teachers, neighbors, parents, children, friends, pastors, counselors, bosses or those who mentor us formally or informally make a big difference in our lives. This month we give thanks for teachers and mentors.

If I was writing that today, I would also say, “heroes and sheroes.” There are many people who on this day began the hard work of rescue, recovery and rebuilding. There are disasters that are still raw for people: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods. The devastation after Hurrican Dorian is still being assessed.

So on this day, I invite you to write a thank you note to someone who consider a hero. Maybe they are not famous, perhaps they are known only to you. Write a note of thanks for their courage, their bravery and their service.

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Year of Gratitude: July

The month got away from me, particularly because I was on vacation from July 2-13. Yes, I could have blogged, but I didn’t. I am grateful for the “vacation/sabbath” with my husband and then having time with children and grandchildren.

July’s focus for our year of gratitude is:

July 2019

Service Personnel: This month begins with a celebration of the United States. It is a good month to be thankful for all those “service” people who are part of our lives. That would include military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, government officials and those we often overlook: postal carriers, trash collectors and others in “service” industries. This month we will give thanks for those who serve.

Service people are all around us and often unseen and unappreciated. Those who service in military or those who serve overnight as EMT’s, fire fighters and police officers work diligently to provide security and safety. In the next couple of weeks I will focus on other service workers, but this week I do want to ponder what I experience because of the people who offer themselves in this line of duty.

This was particularly brought home to me as I read my friend Jeanne Wood’s post about being a 9/11 survivor and hero. She didn’t use the word hero, but that is what I would call her. I have known Jeanne online since 1999 and had an opportunity to meet her in person as well as continue to be friends over all these years. If you are on Facebook, you can see her post on my page. 

Sometimes it is easy to point out all of the flaws for those who serve. Yes, we hold them to a higher standard (as we do preachers, teachers and others) and that is not a bad thing. There are flaws in every system and sometimes people make terrible mistakes. Day in and day out, however, these people who serve do so because they feel called to do something that matters to others.

At Vacation Bible School this week we have been been focusing on “Going Beyond With….Faith….Boldness….Kindness.” We have had some off duty Wichita Police Officers assisting us in the evenings. The last two nights we have had Officer Shannon Meyer. The children have adored her and I have enjoyed getting better acquainted.

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I am grateful for her choice to serve the city of Wichita and serve us downtown. Todays theme for VBS is “Going Beyond with Gratitude!” I am grateful on many levels for the Wichita Police Department, our Wichita HOT team, our Firefighters and EMT’s and all who serve and put their lives on the line day in and day out.

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My challenge for us this week to write a thank you note to someone you know, or a note of appreciation to a group of service personnel. Or stop by your local police or fire department and take them a plate of cookies or a pan of brownies. Thank them for serving.

 

 

 

 

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