Tag Archives: blessings

Thanks Enough

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:9

Read: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Ponder:

“For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.” — William Blake

Reflect:

Committing to a life thanks-living means expressing thanks in all conditions and at all times. The apostle Paul knew a thing or two about being thankful in any situation. Even while imprisoned in Rome with an uncertain future, Paul still found time to give thanks for the communities he had helped to mentor on his missionary journeys.

The baser side of our human nature encourages us to think of what we do not have. Whatever is bad, sad, or ugly in our lives floats to the surface like toxic flotsam. It clouds the waters of our perception and prevents us from seeing all the blessings of God.

Today try to see the world through Paul’s eyes. If that doesn’t work for you, read some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s work.  I recommend The Cost of Discipleship for starters. Click here to read excerpts. To read an inspiring story about finding the best in the worst of situations, click here to read the story of two men who forged a friendship from the ashes of anger and death. If your thoughts turn to the negative, take a deep breath and find something to praise or something for which to be thankful. Remember that you are where you are and who you thanks to the work, love, and sacrifice of many others, including Jesus who gives you life forever.

Thanks-Living:

Today make a list of people and things for which you are thankful. Give thanks to God for your many blessings. Call or write one person on your list to let them know that you prayed for them and give joyful thanks for them. Take delight in the life you have this day.

Mea Culpa…Well Sorta

IMG

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I apologize. My mother came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I took advantage as much as possible of the precious time we had together. And we did have some wonderful times! She recounted stories from her childhood for both Mr. Husband and me. We played Scrabble, and she soundly whooped both of us on her last night here. And we talked, and ate, and talked, and ate some more. How fast six days can fly by when you’re spending time with someone who is so very dear to you! Every hour is a precious and fleeting one.

So after shedding a few tears as I watched the gate attendant help her to the plane, it’s back to life as usual and the beginning of one of my favorite seasons of the year–Advent. That means I’m back to writing about thanks-living as well as living it.

For the next 24 days my gift to you is a daily guide to slowing down and savoring the season. Even if you don’t celebrate this liturgical season, I hope you will find something of use to make your day a little brighter and your mind and heart a little calmer. Consider this your on-line Advent Calendar; instead of chocolate or a trinket you’ll find a saying, a scripture, and a few thoughts on savoring fully this special season.

Blessings…from my heart to yours.

Sharron

“How Can I Help?”

He even poses for pictures without a fuss!

“How can I help?” Today I am thankful for these four simple words that mean so very much, and I’m even more thankful for the one who speaks them to me.  You see, these four words comprise a question my wonderful spouse asks at least once a day, and I have come to treasure them as a reflection of his love and care for me and our family.

He’ll walk in the kitchen door and see me preparing dinner, set down whatever he’s carrying, and immediately ask “How can I help?” No task is too great or menial. I’m a terrible chopper; my lefthandedness and clumsy fine motor skills never have been helpful when it comes to chopping vegetables. Mr. Husband can chop as well or better than any food channel chef. He’ll set the table if asked or make a salad. In fact, he’ll frequently make an entire meal; we are true partners in the kitchen just as in other aspects of our marriage.

Mr. Husband doesn’t limit this question to meal prep and clean-up either. He is incredibly handy and able to fix almost anything. Broken faucet? No problem. Leaky shower? No big deal. Need an oil change? Done! His acts of service know no limit, and I’m convinced he can make just about anything work again.

If I’ve had a bad day or am worried or dealing with excess stress he’ll simply ask “How can I help?” Help might be a back rub, a listening ear, or a cup of tea. He’s also really good at inciting some awesome belly laughs. He’s also patient, kind, and calm.

So today I am grateful for my spouse, and for his servant heart, gentle spirit, and true partnership. Thank you, Mr. Husband, for your love, your friendship, and your partnership. You’re the best!

How often do you ask “How can I help?” Who has been of great help to you? Who can you thank today?

Photo by Linda Fleagle. Thanks!

Thanksgiving with the Girls

This blog began last November as a way to increase gratitude and turn everyday life into a lifetime of thanks-living. I wanted to learn to live more gratefully, fully, and simply and encourage others to do likewise. The journey has been one both of learning and celebration. We may have a national holiday here in the USA called “Thanksgiving,” but living with gratitude and thanks all the time sure does trump a single day’s remembrance.

But since it is “Thanksgiving Day,” and since I have so much in my life for which to be thankful, I don’t want to neglect the chance to be especially grateful right now in this present moment.

For the first time in many years my mother and both of my daughters were gathered with me around the table. Our dear friend Debbie joined us, too. I was able to cook up a traditional family feast without massacring the turkey or ending up with lumps in the gravy. It was a good time; however, it came at a price.

My mom took a lot of risks to fly up here. Her health has been tenuous for a while now, but thanks to the good folks at Delta Airlines and her friend, Greg, she braved the journey. It has been wonderful to have her here, and she even made us one of her awesome pecan pies for dinner.

My wonderful husband also paid a price. It is his tradition to travel to New England to be with his family at Thanksgiving. Pastors have a tough time getting away at Christmas, so if you want to spend a holiday with family Thanksgiving is the window of opportunity. Because my oldest daughter had surgery and could not travel, Mr. Wonderful Husband suggested I stay home with her and have a holiday with the girls. When I mentioned flying my mother up, he was completely supportive because he realizes how precious time with family is and how seldom I am able to see my mother (who lives in Tennessee) and have both daughters home, too. I am grateful that his family understands why I stayed home this year.

So the day has been joyous. It has been fun. It has been a bit bittersweet, too. Gathering around a table spread with all the good foods that have been a part of my (and my daughters’) childhood, with my mother seated next to me, with prayer, laughter, and much joy has been better than any Hallmark sentimental moment.

I am thankful for family. I am thankful for traditions that bind us together. And, I am thankful that on occasions tradition can be broken or altered through acts of love and caring that are truly gifts of the heart. Thank you to my family–all of you–for the gift of this Thanksgiving Day.

What about today meant something really special to you? To whom do you need to say a special word of thanks?

And as my Thanksgiving gift to you, here’s my recipe for Tipsy Taters (a decadently delicious take on candied sweet potatoes)

Tipsy Taters

You will need–

Enough cooked and sweetened yams for the number of folks you want to feed (or a large can or two of yams)

1 egg

brown sugar to taste (I use about 1/4 cup with sweetened canned yams or more for fresh)

spices to taste (I use cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg)

somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 cup Kahlua or other good coffee liquor

2 to 4 tablespoons melted butter (margarine won’t cut it–don’t even try)

Mash and mix these ingredients and place in a greased casserole dish.

For Topping (get ready to sin and sin boldly)–

Mix together brown sugar, sweetened flaked coconut, and chopped pecans using enough to liberally cover the contents of the dish. Melt 1/2 cup butter (again, no margarine please) and Kahlua to taste. Pour melted butter and Kahlua over sugar/coconut/pecan mixture and stir until you have a lumpy but not overly moist mixture that can be sprinkled liberally over the yam mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes (topping should be bubbly and browned but not baked to a crackly crisp). Enjoy!

The Gift of Doris

(This is a guest post by friend, author, and fellow Compactor, Julia Park Tracey. Be sure to check out the website for the book. Enjoy!)

For the past year I have been sharing snippets and excerpts from the “Doris Diaries,” a collection of diaries from the 1920s through 1940s that I inherited from my Aunt Doris. The first volume of these has just been published as I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926). It has been an unexpected pleasure to spend time in the presence of someone I miss very much, and whose presence in my life was akin to a fairy godmother.

When my great aunt Doris, who passed away in 2011, was beginning to fail, starting to lose some steam in that last of her 101 years, she asked me to take care of her private things, not to leave her frillies and her secrets open to just anyone.

At that time I did not know that Doris had kept journals all her life. I did not know that she had held onto her teenage scribbling – those that embarrass us so much later in life. After she passed, my mother gave me a box of letters and diaries, and I was shocked and thrilled to find this fresh voice, this impish artistic soul, in pen and ink. For all the years I knew Doris – since 1963, if you must know the numbers – I never knew she wanted to be a writer, and never heard this voice. And this voice is lovely and amazing.

When I first started to read her words from 1925, I couldn’t keep from laughing. What a dry wit! I couldn’t keep from swooning with her over the handsome boys and flirtations and moonlit rides in a roadster. Such stories she tells, so casually elegant, so refreshingly blunt. So Doris!

I’ve been asked if I’m telling her secrets and how she would feel about that. I feel confident that Doris, knowing I’m a writer of 30-plus years in publishing and journalism, would not have directed in her will to give this box of her life to me in particular, if she hadn’t wanted to share her story. And the Doris I knew wanted to tell her story; she published her memoirs in 2006, when she was 96. To quote the 16-year-old Doris of 1926, “I love to cause a sensation!”

For me, the gift has been getting to know someone I had already known for 50 years – again, and better, and deeper. And though I miss her, it’s different, and not the sense of absence and loss that usually accompanies a loved one’s passing. I realize how rare and special this is. And I’m grateful, every day.

Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning blogger, journalist and editor. Her book, I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926) is available at your local bookstore or through Amazon. Follow Doris’s ongoing diary adventures on Facebook and Twitter at The Doris Diaries, or www.thedorisdiaries.com.

Photos courtesy Julia Park Tracey. Thanks!

Nota Bene: Today is the last day to leave a comment on the blog or on my Facebook page in order to be entered in the drawing for your own copy of I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926). Don’t miss this opportunity!

Healthcare and Pizza?

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. I consume a lot of it, most homemade, but still a hefty portion at various restaurants. But here’s one thing I won’t do any longer–stuff my face at the expense of the pizza delivery guy or gal. That means no more patronizing Papa John’s Pizza.

I was appalled to read today that Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter plans to cut hours for his already meagerly compensated employees. Why? To avoid having to absorb the cost of medical benefits associated with the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare). Earlier this summer he was chided when he stated that the cost of each pizza would increase by 11-14 cents because of the legislation.

Nobody asked me, but I’d gladly pay more for my pizza if the company CEO told me that he was providing a living wage and benefits for all employees. Fast food employees make close to minimum wage. That means the average pizza delivery person makes $15,000 plus tips in 2010 dollars. Don’t forget, said employee also drives his or her own vehicle and absorbs the cost of gas and car maintenance. Plus, that’s assuming the employee is full-time. Mr. Schnatter and other restauranteurs plan to avoid hiring full-time employees, meaning that same pizza delivery person will have to work a couple of part-time jobs to keep a nose above the U.S. poverty level.

As a community college English instructor, I always had students who delivered pizza while working on a degree that would afford them better earning potential. Oh, the tales they told! Don’t count on customers being good tippers; many tip poorly if at all. If these hourly wage earners get sick, need surgery, or are pregnant–too bad. No work equals no pay. The vast majority of these individuals were bright and articulate. Many of them were working to break out a life of poverty or to overcome the consequences of poor choices.

Mr. Schnatter and other entrepreneurs certainly have the right to run their businesses the way they see fit. There’s a reason they are wealthy, and I am middle class. That’s what a culture of choice and free enterprise is all about, right? What I have trouble squaring is a business that doesn’t put the well-being of its employees on at least the same level as the well-being of its customers and its quality control. After all, happy workers help ensure good quality and satisfied consumers.

Mr. Schnatter is quite the success story, although not one of rags to riches. He was a go-getter, a hard worker, and created a company that has done amazingly well, with a net worth worth somewhere around $400 million. The University of Louisville football stadium was named “Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium” thanks to his more than 10 million dollars worth of generous gifts to the University’s athletic program. Papa John’s is also the official pizza of the NFL and the Super Bowl, and you know that cost a pretty penny. Spokesperson Peyton Manning just signed a deal to own 21 Papa John’s locations in the Denver area and appears in television ads touting the pies.

Again, great business decisions and advertising. I’m not faulting Mr. Schnatter for being less than savvy. But come on, can’t you invest a little of the profits in the workers in the trenches? Can’t you help revolutionize the industry in a new and more humane way, one that would make Papa John’s an ethical star in the industry?

Mr. Schnatter understands the high costs associated with health care because he has a daughter who was born prematurely as the result of an automobile accident and who has had access to the best therapies and treatments medical science has to offer. Might that not motivate this CEO to assist his employees with basic healthcare? Evidently not.

In a People Magazine article from 1997, Mr. Schnatter was talking about the family mansion in Louisville and the addition of a 6,000 square foot carriage house that will never house any horses. “It’s too nice for them,” he says. “I just like building stuff.”

That’s cool, Mr. Schnatter, and I can appreciate that you enjoy building businesses and stuff. It’s what you do. As for me, as a pastor and writer, I’m in the business of building up people and working on behalf of justice for all God’s children. So, let’s make a deal. I’ll start eating your pizza again when you put your money where your mouth is and do right by your employees. And yes, I’ll gladly pay extra for it because that’s how business works–somebody has to pay.

In the meantime, and I suspect it may be a long time, I’ll make my money count by putting what I might have spent at Papa John’s into my church’s offering plate to benefit hunger ministries and the working poor. I’m going to invite everyone I know to join me in this effort, too. How’s that for a deal?

Wondering what this has to do with thanks-living? I’m glad I have the choice to make a difference and stand up for fellow Americans who don’t have access to healthcare like I am blessed to have.

Photos by moresheth, Arturo de Albornoz, and Keith Allison. Thanks!

No Place Like Home

How wonderful one’s own bed can feel! Not that the hospital bed was uncomfortable–I actually slept pretty well all things considered, and all the caregivers were excellent. Still, it was good to get home this afternoon.  It was relaxing and fun to sit at the dinner table with my family, although I had a tough time not laughing and straining my neck.

Yes, the blessings of a soft bed with fluffy pillows, potato, chive,and sharp cheddar soup with homemade breads, and being with the ones I love are not to be taken for granted. Fresh coffee, a refrigerator and pantry full of good, healthy food, and plenty of heat and light are blessings indeed. Oh, and I’m quite sure a hot shower will be counted among my blessings when I can finally take one! Have to let that surgical wound heal a bit more, you know.

It’s amazing to me how easy it is to take the basics for granted, at least this thought crossed my morphine-muddled mind several times yesterday.  Simply shuffling across the room while “dancing” with the caddy that held my IV bag or attempting to eat the delicious crab cake on my dinner tray despite a raw throat provided opportunities to reflect on the ordinary blessings of walking and chewing. Even something as simple as blowing in the respiratory therapy device brought to mind that every breath is a gift of God.

My situation is miniscule compared to those being faced by so many other folks right now. I think of people who are facing life-threatening illnesses, devastation from Superstorm Sandy, or economic calamity. Boy howdy, I am lucky. Even if I get a not-so-nice report on the nodule biopsy, I’ll still count myself in pretty good shape because I have access to good healthcare, a loving family, and a broad network of support. Most of all, I have faith in a loving and generous Creator who proclaimed everything good and desires good for all of us.

One final blessing I’ll share with you is Nurse Andi. She was an awesome nurse–patient, kind, efficient. I kept thinking she looked familiar but couldn’t quite place her face with a context. Today, on the ride home, I remembered. She was a student in one of my freshman English classes at the local community college several years ago. How cool to see that a good student has turned into a most capable healthcare professional.  That one small connection was a true blessing. You never know when something in your life will come full circle.

Off to follow Dr. McKee’s orders–rest, rest, and more rest! And blessings abound.

So how about you, friend? What about your home has been a blessing to you today? What have you taken for granted? What can you do to be a blessing to someone else right now?

Photos by sblezard and Valerie Everett.

Bridge Over Life’s Troubled Waters

You never know when life will throw a curve ball in the midst of a smooth inning. One minute things are looking just ducky, and the next minute you are dealing with a crisis for which you are patently unprepared. It might be diagnosis of a major illness, an accident, the death of a loved one or friend, the loss of a job, a natural disaster, or any combination of nightmarish components. In short, it only takes one instant for life as usual to shatter like glass at your feet.

I’ve been there; perhaps so have you. My curve ball was a breast cancer diagnosis on the heels of a traumatic divorce that left me a single parent in a vulnerable financial state. At the time, I could barely fathom how to pull myself out of the muck of my predicament. Thankfully, other people could see more clearly, and family and good friends came to my aid. While no one can carry another person’s load, my friends, parishioners, and family journeyed with me–forming a bridge of solidarity between despair and hope. It was their faith, their hands, and their prayers that carried me across. I am so thankful for each one of them. I am where I am today because of the many relationships that formed a net of security and safety against the onslaught of suffering and fear.

Now it is my turn to be there for others whenever possible, however possible. We live in a world marked by suffering. Right now, well over a million people have had their daily existence altered by Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern United States. Some people have lost everything; their lives will never be the same. Sure, some day life may be better, but right now that horizon is nowhere in sight. They need that bridge that you and I can be–in prayer, through dollars given to relief efforts, and in messages of care and support. You and I, all of us, can send waves of prayer and healing intentions out to those in need in addition to tangible forms of aid. We can seekto stop rash judgments, blame, and negative energy that works against hope and  healing. We can make a difference.

Tonight the congregation I serve is hosting a screening of The Line, a new documentary film by Linda Midgett, presented by Sojourners. This 40 minute film tells the story of four people who have fallen below the poverty line–plunging from lives of hope and promise to days and nights of fear and anxiety. As their stories make quite clear, there are very few of us who don’t walk this line and who aren’t immune from falling below it. All it takes is one major illness, one job loss, a divorce, an accident, or a natural disaster to change life forever. The thing that separates this film from others I’ve seen is that it does offer hope., and it lays claim to a better future for all people by inviting everyone to the table to engage in dialogue about how to fix broken systems and outdated policies. It is a gem of a film. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to spend 40 minutes of your precious time watching it and thinking about it.

As for me, The Line and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy remind me of how grateful I am to have had a bridge to walk, crawl, and be drug across in my own needful hours. I am so thankful for the many hands that would not let go of me, for those who insisted that I get back up and start walking on the other side to a place of greater strength and stronger faith. You all are living proof of the strength we bear when we journey together. So, today I give thanks for you–family, friends, and colleagues. I give thanks for health. I give thanks for a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive, and work that is meaningful and delightful. I give thanks to the Creator of the Universe who loves me and is there for me no matter what. There is so much for which to be grateful. I could count blessings all day long and still not run out of reasons and people for which to be thankful.

Yes, the waters of trouble and suffering may run high and dark, but tides ebb and the sun rises again, and always life is still very, very good. Never, ever take your gifts and blessings for granted. Count them carefully and joyfully. Thank as many people as possible. Look for ways to be a blessing to others. Do something each day to make this world a better place.

What can you do to brighten your own part of the planet? What one thing can you do right now, today, to make someone’s life a little better? Please share your thoughts, intentions, and ideas. Blessings to you!

Photos by c.mcbrien, sojo.net, and theps.net. Thanks!

Gratefully Astonished

Pay attention. Be astonished. And tell about it. We’re soaked in distractions. The world didn’t have to be beautiful. We can and should think about that beauty and be grateful. — Mary Oliver

I came across this quote when reading a blog post by Brandon Hook yesterday. Brandon was fortunate enough to attend an event where both Mary Oliver and Billy Collins, two of my favorite poets, spoke. (Lucky you, Brandon!)

Brandon’s reflection and Mary Oliver’s words reminded me of how grateful I am for those precious and brief instances when time seems to pause and a flickering window of awareness opens before me. You’ve no doubt experienced similar moments. It might be that instant when you hear the song of birds overpowering the roar of traffic. Maybe such moments come in the silence of freshly falling snow, when the world is still and peaceful, blanketed in hope. Perhaps such bliss fills your heart while watching the delight of children at play, noticing that for them time has little meaning. Children live fully and joyously in the present moment until we teach them otherwise.

The most recent awakening to life came this week when we lost power during Superstorm Sandy. We were lucky; our electric was only off for 24 hours, while others in our area were looking at up to a week of outage. We had a camp stove, oil lamps, a french press for coffee, and a big industrial eight-burner gas stove at our disposal right next door. It was a minor inconvenience, for we were safe and comfortable. But I was astonished by the silence and by the ceasing of constant waves of information streaming in via the Internet and radio.

There was no hum of refrigerator or clank and whistle of the radiator pipes. Traffic noise outside our front windows was nonexistent. Our cell phones were powered off to conserve battery life. The only sound was the natural noise of a relentless wind as the western edge of the hurricane passed over us. In the eye of the storm all was quiet, and I was astonished afresh at how much is lost in the hustle, bustle, and frenzied scurrying of our modern life.

We played Scrabble by lamp light. We slept late under think blankets. We relished the hot coffee that was a result of the combined effort of camp stove and press. We cooked a big meal to use up what would spoil in the refrigerator, inviting friends to join us. Mostly we gave thanks for the many gifts we take for granted, and we prayed for those upon whom Sandy visited stunning devastation.

Not all is beautiful, but there are hints of beauty to be found in all of life. I continue to be astonished at the beauty of so many people helping one another, of neighbors reaching out to neighbors, of strangers helping strangers, and of emergency responders doing their work with dignity and strength. Countless moments of grace and light are everywhere.

We must, you and I, pay attention. We must treasure this lovely, fragile creation and one another. We must be astonished by the small glints of beauty and kindness, the nanoseconds of hope and grace that fill our days. And, oh how we must learn to be grateful for it all! Give thanks for those who tell and point the way–for the poets and prophets and the everyday saints. May it be so. May this beautiful life be so.

Photos by sblezard, david_shankbone, and Paul Lowry. Thanks!

 

Thankful for Access to Healthcare

Me before first chemo session. I shaved my head and donated the hair to Locks of Love rather than watch it fall out. I figured someone ought to have use of it!

Several events of this week have made me aware of just how thankful I am to have access to healthcare. I am extremely fortunate. My spouse and I serve as pastors to congregations that are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). One of the biggest expenses in the benefits category to our congregations is our family healthcare policy–and it is a wonderful policy. Our denomination also places a strong emphasis on wellness and preventative medicine, offering us both incentives and resources to attend to our health as an act of stewardship and faithful discipleship.

One of the reasons I am so thankful to have insurance is because I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in June of 2004, and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation between late summer and Easter 2005. The diagnosis came just one week after my girls and I had moved to Rushville, New York, to begin internship. What could have been a nightmare turned out to be a formative experience and a lesson in blessings, the goodness of God, and the importance of community.

My internship supervisor, the congregations of St. John and St. Paul Lutheran, the UMC in Rushville (in whose parsonage we lived), my extended family, dear friends and neighbors, seminary professors and staff, and an amazing team of physicians, technicians, and caregivers surrounded me with more love, prayers, and care than I could have ever imagined. I would never wish a cancer journey on anyone else, but I can say that the blessings and gifts in the experience far outweighed the difficulties.

Here’s the important thing about my experience. Had it not been for a free mammogram and basic student health insurance, I might have waited too long due to financial insecurity and the rigors of grad school and single parenting. My cancer was aggressive and moved extremely quickly, breaking out of the breast into my lymph system. St. John and St. Paul worked together and threw a chicken barbeque benefit with help from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans that raised enough money to keep us from bankruptcy, and the hospital and cancer center helped me find a study, subsidies, and grant funds to help offset what student insurance would not cover. Even so, I am still paying down student loans that were necessary to take, especially considering the cancer slowed my graduation by an extra year. Still, I maintain that I am one of the lucky ones. I am alive and healthy. Every day is a gift.

Because of the cancer, however, other insurance would have been difficult to get. I was able to move directly from student insurance to ELCA insurance, but when I went on leave from call to assist my parents in 2009, I was not able to find insurance that I could afford, so I had to stay on the ELCA plan and pay the premiums out of pocket. I was lucky to have that option, but the year and a half I was on leave was financially devastating–even though I worked three jobs (a contract family and youth ministry position at my home congregation, adjunct teaching at two colleges, and freelance writing). It was a tough time, but again, the gifts of being able to be close to my parents outweighed the sadness of leaving a call, a community, and friends I loved and the tenuous financial situation of living hand to mouth.

I’ve been reminded of the gift of healthcare this week as I’ve seen and heard about others struggling with serious health issues. Two family members were hospitalized. Both have insurance, thanks to Medicare. Were it not for insurance, all of these folks would be in horrible situations.

My own 24-year-old daughter would not have affordable healthcare were she not able to remain on our family policy (thank you, President Obama). She currently works for a non-profit ministry as a mental health worker, and they offer no group coverage, only a minimal plan brokered through a local insurance agent that has a high deductible and minimal benefits. This was a shock to her after returning from working in Korea as a teacher–where national healthcare is good and provided at a minimal cost.

Today I read Nicholas Kristof’s essay in the New York Times about his friend, Scott, who is without healthcare–a Harvard educated, intelligent, thoughtful man, who simply took a chance on not purchasing a private plan and ended up with stage four cancer. Click here, please, to read the story for yourself. It reminded me again why I am grateful to have health insurance and ready access to fine healthcare.

June 6, 2010–Six years a cancer survivor and just married, with daughter the younger, my mother, and Mr. Husband. Daughter the elder attended the wedding via Skype. Every day is a gift!

If you do not have insurance, please look into how you might get some; don’t play roulette with your life. If you cannot afford it, pursue every avenue to find subsidized insurance. We can all inform ourselves about the issue, seeking facts behind the polarizing rhetoric, and write to our elected officials urging them to continue to pursue a way to provide care for all citizens. Finally, if you do have insurance, be sure to give thanks for it. It could save both your physical and financial health some day.

P.S.: To all the many people who walked with me through the wilderness of cancer, thank you again. You will always be held close in my heart, and I am grateful for each and every one of you.