Thanksgiving Alphabet (Days 3 and 4)

I started a little late, so, I’m including a couple to help me catch up.
Day 3 – C – I am thankful for my wife’s cooking. We’ve been married for over sixteen years and I can honestly say that it has only gotten better. As a young married couple we started out like many couples do, I’m sure, with some pretty basic meals, but, the old adage that practice makes perfect seems to apply here. The more experienced she gets, the better her food is! Sure, once in a while something plain and simple like hot dogs or tater tots will show up, but, when they do, they’re good. Usually, though, the kids and I are treated to expertly seasoned vegetables, a marinated or seasoned meat, and one of a variety of sides ranging from stuffing to cous cous. I do interrupt Angela’s normal routine every now and then with something from the grill or baked extra-sharp macaroni and cheese (like my dad used to make), but, the kitchen is definitely a place where my wife excels and I am thankful!

My dad (1940-2012) preparing breakfast for guests at the local homeless shelter

Day 4 – D – I’m certainly thankful for my Dad. By simply being who he was – not necessarily by telling me or prodding me – but, by being who he was, my Dad taught me so much. I often tell people, long before my Dad’s end-of-life acceptance of Christ, that he was the best model of how to love your neighbors as yourself. He never talked about it. He just did it. That was the way he lived his life. I don’t know that I’ll ever fill his shoes, but, I am certainly grateful that I was blessed to be able to be raised by the one who did.

Thanksgiving Alphabet (Days 1 and 2)

Starting a little late, so, I’ll include a couple here to start trying to catch up.
Day 1 – A – I’m thankful for the institution of ADOPTION. I have so very much to be thankful for! My wife, my job, the team of people I teach with,
friends, and family! Actually, to list them all like I just did seems to diminish the significance of each one and make it sound just like a general, cliché statement, but, I can assure you that I meant each part of it sincerely and thoroughly. But, the fact is that I was born to a mother who was not mentally fit to care for a child and, while I don’t know all of the specific details, God worked through the woman who would eventually become my aunt, Lori Naylor, to get in touch with the woman and man (Ceil Scutt and James A. Rockwell) who would eventually become my mom and dad. I was born in March of 1976 in Susquehanna, PA, but, by April of ’76 I was settled at home in Whitney Point, NY and by June it became official. Because of my biological mother’s decision to put me up for adoption and my Aunt Lori‘s willingness to step in and care for me until my mom and dad stepped forward to adopt me, I am who I am today, thankful.
fall-foliage-wallpaper1Day 2 – B – I’m thankful for BEAUTY. At 40, I’ve lived long enough to realize that beauty isn’t to be taken for granted. There is so, so much pain in this world – all of it rooted in sin – some level of God’s design twisted and contorted to the advantage of somebody’s selfish desire that leaves some level of pain in its wake. So many people are hurting due to racial tensions, hunger, sickness, grief, and stresses that we were never designed to carry on our own shoulders. But, every now and then, if we look, we can see breaks of beauty coming through. For me, it may be in a glance at my wife Angela or in being able to witness a moment where one of my kids chooses to do what is right, for the right reason. But, I’m often able to catch glimpse of beauty during a hike in the woods, when a student gives me a drawing, or when I see one stranger help another. Whatever form true beauty takes in my life, it is another glimpse of the grace of God that continues to break through in a world that is ever-increasingly more selfish and insensitive. One day, He will set it all straight, but, until then, I’ll keep looking out for glimpses of His beauty.

Thanksgiving Under An Overcast Sky

We live in the midst of an instant gratification culture. Whatever will help us do what we want to do faster, whether computers, diet supplements, or lotto tickets, we gravitate toward them en masse. Consequently, when things aren’t going well, we want to blame what is easiest to blame: someone or something else. I know people, specifically, who, when asked about their relationship with God, they respond by asking, “What has He done for me lately?” Likewise, in one of the only conversations in which my dad let down his guard about how much of a personal burden terminal brain cancer was for him personally, before he passed away last year he said, “I just don’t understand why it has to be this way.” That statement, which may seem insignificant to most, coming from the cast iron vessel that I knew as my dad, was a signal flare of true despair. I, too, was asking many of the same questions at the time.

But, through life lessons that I’ve learned since he passed away, I’ve found hope and a measure of peace in the notion that there is a far bigger story being told that we are a part of. As outlined in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, some of the most significant figures in the bible acted on faith in accordance with God’s plan without ever having the chance to see a payoff, let alone a happy ending. We all have a chance to choose. We can either live our lives in a perpetual search for instant gratification, viewing life through a short-term lens that always takes into consideration our own inclinations, first and foremost, or we can trust God with the big picture, adjust our perspective by focusing on the needs of those around us, and be thankful for what we have.

“Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” Hebrews 11:39-40 (The Message)

I have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is the peace that came over my dad in his final hours, after a period of distinct restlessness and frustration, when I promised him that, in a very short time, Jesus was going to welcome him and that everything would be better. Now, almost two years later, I am thankful for that same promise and the hope that, after counting my blessings here, there will be so many more there.

Happy Thanksgiving.