Thankfulness is a spiritual discipline, and it's one I have a hard time cultivating in times like these when my sleep issues are at their worst. What's more, I've found that the term "thankful" has become too trite to be useful for me. Particularly in Christian circles, it seems (and for everyone once the month of November hits), we talk so much about being thankful that it almost becomes nothing more that a rote recitation.
I am reminding myself lately that there are things in my life that I must not take for granted -- things I have right now that I have not always had and will not always have, and I MUST make a point of appreciating their presence while I have them. Here are a few:
Breathing: When I get a cold, nine times out of ten, it settles in my chest, and I end up coughing for weeks -- many miserable, exhausting weeks. I avoid sick people like the plague because a cold just isn't a minor deal for me. I have caught myself many times, while lying in bed in the morning getting ready to get up, taking big, deep breaths and just loving the feeling of air flowing through my lungs smoothly. I know that at any time, I could be exposed to germs that will temporarily disrupt that. I make a point now to appreciate the times when I can breathe.
Being Able to See Enough to Read: My mother had macular degeneration. My eye doctor reminded me the other day that I should probably take some eye health supplements to head off the possibility of having similar problems. Macular degeneration manifests itself in blurry vision right at the center of where you focus, which means it makes it difficult and eventually impossible to read. I am a serious reader. Reading is integral to my life right now: I read books, magazines, student papers, scripts, online articles, emails, my own plethora of to-do lists . . . not being able to read would alter my life profoundly. I like my life. I want to be able to read. And since there's a chance I won't be able to someday, I treasure every day that I can now.
Being Able to Think Straight; My father had Alzeimer's disease. Since there seems to be a genetic component to that, I have always known that there was a possibility of my developing the disease as well. The older I get and the more my father's siblings become similarly debilitated, the more I think about that possible future for me. Someday, I may not be able to remember things or understand what people say to me or keep my own thoughts straight. I want to appreciate the ability to think while I have it.
My Daughters' Presence: This is a biggie. I have a twenty-year-old and a sixteen-year-old. The oldest could very well have chosen to go away to college but didn't. The youngest may very well make that choice in a couple years. I have never enjoyed my daughters more than I enjoy them right now: they are intelligent, caring, thoughtful, FUN young ladies, and wonder of wonders, they seem to enjoy spending time with hubby and me. I know I am blessed. I know someday they will have families and careers, and Mom and Dad will move down the priority list . . . which will be as it should be. So I welcome every moment I can have with them now and treasure up these times in my heart.
Someday, these blessings may be gone. And because I serve a loving and gracious God, I know when that time comes, there will be other blessings to appreciate. But I refuse to get to that day and realize I didn't appreciate what I had while I had it. No matter how crazy my days get . . . no matter how grouchy I am from sleep deprivation . . . no matter how discouraged I am about the direction of our nation . . . I must never, ever take God's gifts for granted.