Things I'm Thankful for:
- My wife of 24 1/2 years. She makes me laugh, keeps the household clicking on all cylinders and is an amazing cook and mother. Often times she does it seamlessly and without complaint. Blessed to have her in my life.
- My kids Sarah and Benjamin. Now as "little adults" it is fun to laugh with them around the dinner table. They are both great students and even more importantly, warm, compassionate, accepting people. I don't know what we did to deserve such low maintenance kids.
- My faith. It's simplistic and complex at the same time. This year has introduced some big changes in how I look at and live out my faith. Thankful that God has pushed me out of my comfort zone.
- Snyders Mustard/Garlic pretzel nibs and (one) Staghorn beer. My post work, wind-down indulgences of choice.
- My Minnesota and New York family. Support and love of the deepest kind.
- My dog Toby. Everyday he treats me like I'm the most important thing in his life. Our walk time is his favorite time of the day.
- My publisher, eLectio Publishing. For making a lifelong dream come true this year. For believing in me and cheering me on.
- My laptop, phone, and tablet. As bad as screen time is, they've allowed me to keep in touch with faraway friends and family, to laugh at stupid videos, to write and blog, to work from home rather than going into the office, and even to watch all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad.
- My cats. They bring another element of life into my home. If I could only get them to stop shredding my furniture. (Supposedly declawing is cruelty. Well, so is watching my couch get shredded.)
- My writing colleagues at AllWriters, especially the Monday Nighters. I have the best network of supportive writers a person could ask for. Our success this year has been amazing and I don't know where I'd be without each one of them. Gifts of all kinds.
- My 92 year old house. It's drafty, old and it's drains are all slow. But it's also warm, dry and the place in the world where I'm happiest. Our "starter home" has become our "ender home".
- My $40 Leaf TV antenna which frees me from $100+ cable bill every month. It's cut our TV watching down to football games and occasional news updates.
- My Thursday Theologians coffee buddies. We meet for 1 hour a week for coffee, and the books we study challenge traditional faith structures about church, Christianity and religion in ways that really make you think. We also cover home maintenance, world issues and the treatment of the marginalized.
- A fiscally responsible local government (county and city).
- My snow blower. Winter no longer scares me.
- My job. Blessed to be working in a field I love for over 25 years now.
- My fishing buddies, Steve and John. We don't always get a muskie, but these guys make the effort a lot of fun along the way.
- The Guest House of Milwaukee. The days I serve there touch me and make me a better, more compassionate, accepting person. It is humbling work undertaken by an amazing agency. Blessed to be able to do the little that I do.
- The Steaming Cup. My Saturdays here with my wife are a chance to reconnect and see where we are at. It centers me for the week. It is also my writing refuge. The rattle, hum and smells of the place help churn up literary inspiration.
- My longtime friend Bill Lee. For getting back in touch with me. His laughter and presence rejuvenates me.
- The Friends of the Boundary Waters organization. Keeping our wilderness wild.
- The Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers football teams. Nothing more fun than watching Jordy Nelson running free in the secondary and Melvin Gordon turning on the jets.
- My Kayak. It is my refuge from chaos and being in it is my happy place.
- The Mega Bus. For it's cheap rates which enable my daughter to affordably come home to visit.
- My health. At 52 it is great to be thin, healthy, and happy.
I need to stop now. It's funny because I could go on and on. This list doesn't scratch the surface of all that I'm thankful for. I think that's so, so important to do. It's so easy to grouse about what you don't have or how you're struggling.
This past weekend I served at the Guest House and ran into two guys who have literally everything they own in a small chest at the foot of their bed. But these two guys have a deep faith, a faith given to them by God through their circumstances. It is that faith that makes them happier than a lot of people I know with a lot more material possessions. I need to keep them at the forefront of this coming holiday season.
They taught me much about giving thanks to Him who gives us all.