Thoughts of Gratitude 2010

As the holiday season begins and Thanksgiving comes upon us, my thoughts turn to the blessings God has bestowed through this year and others. I know I am treasured because I am cared for well.

The greatest blessing in my life has been the gift of my family. We are not the happiest and most well rounded of families, but there is a great reservoir of love between us.

Were it not for my mother’s abiding love, I would not have prospered at all. She has always taken care of me, even when I was unable to care for myself. When the outlook for my life was bleakest, she continued in hope, faith, and prayer for me. I often needed shelter and she gave me a home. I needed guidance and she gently led me. She considered my existence worthwhile, even when all others deserted me. I am eternally in her debt.

My brother, James, who died of lung cancer on March 15, 2009, remains my hero. He did not always like me, but his love for me never ceased. He gave many precious hours in an effort to help me when there was trouble in my life. His efforts made things bearable when situations were dire. He stood in as a strong male figure when there was no one else on whom I could depend.

My niece, Carrie Leigh, has been a stalwart friend and confidant when there were few to whom I could turn. She and I have shared our lives much as sisters and I know she will do what she can to bring a smile even in the most desperate times.

My nephew, Jeremy, has taken on the role of protector that James carried for many years. Though he is young, he can be depended on to do his best in times when he is needed.

My sister-in-law, Linda, is not close to me, but she can be kind. There are times she does things to bring the family together that are beyond my skill.

The person who has most blessed my life is my son, Alex. I never knew before I held him on the day of his birth how large was the capacity of love I could feel for another. My life had often seemed worthless, but knowing he depended on me gave me purpose. Even though the responsibility he brought into my life was great, it could not eclipse the joy he gave from the beginning. I have spent years trying to nurture him and give him a good life. My efforts have paid off in that we are the best of friends and he has become a young man of whom I am very proud. I am so very glad God blessed me with the gift of Alex.

When Alex went to Parris Island to become a United States Marine there was a void in my life. One Sunday after church, Mom and I went to Wal-Mart. In the parking lot, we found Shih Tzu puppies for sale. I held one and we went on into the store. I knew I could not really afford a puppy, but Mom encouraged me to get one. That is how Hope came into my world. She is a great blessing to me, because she loves me unconditionally, loyally, and totally. I can also bestow lots of love on her.

I am blessed to live in the United States of America, where freedom exists and there are so many advantages. I am able to worship God as I see fit and I can speak my mind. I am protected from injustice and allowed to follow my dreams. As a creative person, I may write what I have in my heart, draw and paint my vision, and be unafraid of persecution.

God is my strength and source. All I have and am come from His grace. The Lord Jesus is with me in all my days and every situation. When I turn to Him, He will not deny me. If there is anything good that I have accomplished, it was through Christ’s efficacy. I am nothing without God.

I am grateful for a multitude of things. The details I have given today are only a beginning. I hope as you read my note, it brought to mind things for which you are thankful. Maybe if we all enter the season with gratitude it will make these holidays some of the best we have ever experienced.

May many blessings be showered on each of you.

Jo Ann

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