I don't remember exactly when or where I heard this challenge for the first time, but someone once said that a great exercise in being thankful is to write a list of 25 things you are thankful for at any moment in time. I remember taking this challenge, thinking that it would be a stretch to get to 25 items that make me give thanks. I also remember how I had to make myself stop at only 25 things!
Since then, I have updated my Thankfulness List a handful of times. In fact, my current list is old enough that I need to bring it up to date. But let me at least share with you a Thanksgiving Top Ten for 2007. If you attend my church, this will be a bit of a rehash, as I shared these during Sunday's sermon. But I've added some explanation to each item, so off we go!
10. Fantasy Sports. Why does this make the list? Because fantasy sports gives me a unique opportunity to connect with friends. I play the role of Commissioner in two leagues: a football league and a hockey league. Through the years, I've been crowned champion twice, but more importantly, the guys in the leagues have created friendships simply because of our mutual focus for a few months out of each year. And as an added bonus this year, our hockey league's postseason get-together was attending a Detroit Tigers game. The one where Justin Verlander threw his no-hitter! Yep - fantasy sports are worth keeping on the list.
9. My Church Family. There are some great things going on at Tallmadge Community Church. If you're part of the congregation you know exactly what I mean. If not, let me just say that we are experiencing a unique blessing from God right now. I had a goal to have 15 new Christians as a result of our ministries during the 2007-08 fiscal year. Well, we're halfway through the fiscal year, and we've had 19 people make the decision to ask Christ to be Lord of their lives! We've surpassed our goal and we're only halfway through the year! And that's just one example. Suffice it to say that TCC is, as one of my long-time members told me last week, "perking up all over the place."
8. Being 40 (at least, so far). I hit the big 4-0 in September, and I must say that I'm finding it to be a great excuse for turning my life around! I have made a few specific decisions to improve my life since hitting that milestone, and I feel much more focused. Yeah... 40 ain't so bad a couple of months into it.
6. My Health (at least, so far). My doctor insisted that I exercise more, so I'm trying to do that. And rumor has it that there's this food group called "vegetables" - my doctor says I should familiarize myself with this food group. Other than that - and my high blood pressure, bunyons, halitosis and the knees of a 79-year-old construction worker - my health is ship shape.
4. The Pittsburgh Steelers. There's something about that black-and-gold team from PA. I've loved the Steelers since I was a kid, and that won't be stopping anytime soon. In fact, my kids are starting to take an interest in my beloved team. How great is that?!?
3. Music. Another staple on my thankfulness list, music simply cannot be overrated in my life. I love it. From Third Day to Three Doors Down, Jennifer Knapp to Nirvana, Steve Taylor to Stone Temple Pilots. Music gets me in touch with the creative, philosophic part of me that all-too-often gets little to no attention.
2. Cathy. Becca. Andy. My family is phenomenal. I am so in love with them all! I take Becca on a weekly after school date, and I look forward to Tuesday afternoons because I'll be able to sit with my girl and catch up on what's happening in her life. In a similar vein, I take Andy out every Wednesday after preschool for, as he calls it, our "boy time lunch date." He chooses the restaurant, and we have some quality time. Whether it's Applebees or the IHOP, Wednesdays are good time. And the highlight of nearly every day is when the kids are in bed and Cath & I can simply spend the evening together, playing games, watching TV, talking... it doesn't matter. We're together, and that's all I need.
. . . and the #1 thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving 2007 is . . .
1. Faith, Grace, and the whole Christian journey. There's a beauty in living the Christian life that can only be understood by living it. Michael Card puts it best in his song Joy in the Journey: "there is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for those who obey." I cannot fully explain the depth of assurance, peace, confidence, and rest that I feel knowing that I am not steering myself through this life of mine. No, God is leading me along this journey. And for that, I am thankful.
What are you thankful for this year, my friends? I sure would love to hear about it! Email me, or better yet, post a comment so we can have some discussion on this topic.