A day to be thankful for…well…everything God’s given to us.
On Facebook this month a lot of my friends have been filling my timeline with daily thoughts of thankfulness.
I decided to do it all today.
So…here’s my ThanksThirty. One for every day of the month of November. Outside of the top one, they’re in no particular order.
1. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. Yes, they’re three-in-one. Yes, I could make them 1-2-3 but I think that would be cheating in a way to make the list easier to complete. Everything I have, everything I am is due to God. He is first in all things.
2. Dale Jacob. My oldest son named after my grandfathers. (Dale and Jacob were my grandfather’s names.) I can’t describe my love for him in words. He’s shown me what pure love can look like every time he runs over to give me a hug.
3. Elijah James. He’s shown me an entirely new way at looking at the world. He’s shown me how to have pure joy in the smallest things. He’s also cured any desire I may have had for chicken and french fries.
4. My parents. They’ve been a tremendous amount of support for me through many, many trials in my life. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been and I’m very thankful for that.
5. My brother Justin. He’s had to deal with many difficult situations in his life and the way he handled them with integrity and honor speaks volumes about him as a man, husband and father. Plus he owns a horse that likes to drink Pepsi.
6. My ex-wife Tanya. She’s been a great mother to the boys and provided them with a God-centered home. I’m so thankful she’s taken such great care of them when they are with her.
7. NASCAR. In seasons of my life when the stress has been overwhelming, it’s provided me a much-needed time of relief and enjoyment. Most Sunday afternoons when I get down because I had to take the boys to their mother, I’ve had the race to turn to and ease the transition.
8. The Horn Family. Kemp, Michele, Michael, Christiana, Megan, Jessica, Leah…they’ve been such strong friends of mine through the ups and downs of life. They’ve been so gracious to me and to Dale & Eli. I can’t thank them enough for how great they’ve been to my sons. Class acts all the way around…
9. The gang of the OTBA. I’ve been part of this online baseball simulation league since 2005. We’ve moved from folks who play games online to actual friendship in many cases. We’ve been there for each other offline like the time these guys sent a TV and DVD player after my apartment fire so the boys could watch Spongebob when they came for their visits. I can’t say how much I’ve appreciated them and it also helped drive to my close, personal friendship with…
10. Kevin Langford. Kev has been one of my best friends walking with me through some of the darkest times of my life. He’s been a confidant I can count on when I know I need solid advice. He’s been at some of my biggest joys as well. I wouldn’t be where I am without his friendship.
11. Chris and Michele Williams. Chris has been a great friend for years, sharing my obsession with a certain Canadian band that is the Greatest Band To Ever Play Music, and I’ve been blessed to get to know his wife in recent times. They also were tremendous help to me when my car was being less than friendly.
12. Chris Brewer. Chris is one of my closest and oldest friends. We have similar backgrounds in broadcasting and journalism so that was a strong common ground upon which we built. Also, we both are total Jesus nuts. He’s been iron for me and I hope I for him.
13. The Annoying Orange. I never knew how much a silly little cartoon orange can make a difference. However, since he first worked his way into our life, he’s brought hours of joy and laughter to Dale and Eli and I.
14. Megan Weaver, Andrew Lietzen and the staff at the Jim Bakker Show. They rolled the dice on me when I’d been out of work for a year and allowed me to get back on my feet again. I really appreciate the way they allowed me to find me again.
15. NorthBridge Church. I’m so thankful to have a solid, Christ-focused, Bible-believing church home. I’m also very thankful they have staff who can work with autistic children.
16. My counselor. My counselor has worked so well with me to help me deal with some really serious issues and I can say without a doubt I’m a better person…more of who I really am inside on the outside…because of our work.
17. Michael D. Perkins. (photo right) I have a lot of friends I’ve met through blogging but MDP has been more than an “online” friend. He’s been a confidante, counselor and pastor to me when I thought I had no one else to turn to. But I have to give thanks for…
18. My blog-related friends. Oh, this list could be so long. Jenny Rain. Bill Grandi. Larry Hehn. Moe. Tony. April. Sundi. Oh…the list would be long. All of them have brought something into my life and made me think and grow and want to be a better writer.
19. Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. When I still believed I was going to be writing fiction…well, before I seemed to be unable to write anymore…they were always supportive and always made me feel welcome. Even when nothing else seemed be working, I never felt unwelcome there. (I may have made myself uncomfortable but it was never them.) I realize now what a blessing it was to have a group like that in my life.
20. High school/college friends I’ve reconnected with on Facebook. Look, if you’ve read the blog you know I was not a happy youth. Most of it I brought on myself and my untreated depression didn’t help but I felt like I was hated in school. I’ve come to find out from discussions through reconnections online from folks like Erin and Kim and Beth and Sam and Brenda…(it’s a long list) that I missed a lot of chances for friendship and happiness. But it’s also allowed me to get closure and reframe my past. It’s helped me move forward.
21. My new job. I can walk to work, I put less miles on the car and spend less on gas. Plus, I get to help the blind. Wins all around!
22. Long drives. Yeah, I know this is a little counter to the last one but long drives where I can pray, enjoy nature and discover new places renews my spirit. I know even on my worst days I can get on the car, take a drive and feel better. (I miss the Natchez Trace Parkway in Nashville…)
23. Discount coupons to area events. Look, I’m still broke. It’s hard for me to take the boys to do things when they come to visit because there’s not much extra cash in the budget. Discount coupons to events around here…and “local discounts” for shows…have been a real blessing in allowing me to take the boys to experience things.
24. The generationNOW kids. Sometimes they frustrated me…sometimes they made me scratch my heads wondering if they got it…but then I realized they were just kids. Kids with passion, desire and hope for the future of their generation. You can’t be around them for any length of time without soaking up the hope. There were a lot of days I needed it and knew I could get it from them whether it was a high five from Nolan, bright smile from Sasha or a “Hi Jason” from Rose. I miss ‘em.
25. Old friends from Springfield who welcomed me back. There’s a LONG list of folks that I could put here. When I came back from Nashville, I was at one of my lowest points in life. They helped me see bright spots in what seemed like the last place I wanted to be.
26. New possibilities for the future. Things are starting to open up after a long, cold, harsh winter. HTN is coming together slowly but surely. Hopefully we can have it up and running by early 2013. Other blessings seem to be around the corner. God is definitely moving and the possibilities for positive things is very encouraging.
27. Bill Forsyth. He’s provided vital support and web space hosting for Human Trafficking News. I can’t thank him enough for the thousands of dollars of material and supplies he’s given to help me get HTN moving forward. (Bill G. and Clay, thanks also!)
28. My grandfather, Dale King. Yes, he’s been with Jesus for quite a while. But I will never stop being thankful for him and the things I’ve learned from him. And even years later, as I think on his life, I find myself learning new things. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.
29. Swedish Fish. Everyone needs some kind of comfort food and that’s my comfort food of choice. It’s only slightly above a Philadelphia Cheesesteak on the list of things I want to eat before I die.
30. Rush. As if they wouldn’t be on a list of things I’m thankful for considering they’ve been a major part of my life since I was in junior high school! Their music still can bring welcome relief even on the hardest, most stressful days.
Hey, the list could have been significantly longer than 30. My original list of things to be thankful for just from one sit down and write was over 4 pages. I just picked several at random, a few that meant the most and tried to mix in some humor.
Even in your darkest times, there are things in your life to be thankful for even if it’s as small as a bag of Swedish Fish.
I’m also very thankful for all of you who read these posts, who comments, who send e-mails…it means a lot. Thank you.