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Reasons for Gratitude

April 23, 2011

When I was in high school, I found this book called 14,000 Things to Be Happy About (or maybe Mrs. Hourihan, my 11th grade English teacher, had it and loaned it to me?  I was a fairly stressed-out kid).  The author had kept a list of things that made her happy, in no particular order, over a long span of time, and published it in the early ’90s.  So inspired, I started my own list that I go back to from time to time, and it’s an interesting way to track epochs in my life:  I have distinct memories of why I might have written “masses of snow geese carpeting the fields” or “dogs who catch frisbees.”

And so I returned today to my list with so many more things to be grateful for:  

  • Getting clearance from my doctor yesterday to go up and down stairs once a day, meaning I can be part of the world more than I could from my bedroom. 
  • Sitting in the sun on our front porch to watch the neighborhood Easter egg hunt. 
  • Neighbors offering to stop by this week while Alan is at the office training his team’s new manager, so I can stay off my feet. 
  • Having two neighbor girls, 6th graders, decide it would be “fun” (they actually used that word) to take over our raised beds this year–and so have been in our yard all day, tilling, planting, digging. 
  • Our neighbor John trimming our hedge and mowing our lawn for us. 
  • Elsa bringing Communion from Good Friday and praying with me for the triplets. 
  • Jen taking our list on her way to the grocery store and returning with our groceries for the week. 
  • Barb and Guy, my in-laws, bringing not only Easter dinner but also lunch tomorrow so we will have plenty of leftovers.

And this is just today!  You may notice that many of my entries have to do with food.  Are you surprised?

Another friend posted on Facebook about the controversy recently surrounding Greg Mortenson, the hero behind Three Cups of Tea and the non-profit building schools that welcome girls in central Asia, primarily Pakistan and Afghanistan.  There is much murkiness to the story, many unanswered questions about where some of the donations went and how well-organized the institution was to handle and disclose the wealth of funds they received.

I did not want to read more, since that book inspired me as much as Mountains Beyond Mountains, about Dr. Paul Farmer’s free health clinic in the poorest part of Haiti, or my own college friend Dr. Mark Bisanzo’s efforts to build emergency clinics in developing nations (see his work in rural Uganda at Global Emergency Care’s website).  Why is it that so many seemingly altruistic designs attract scandals?  It can be kind of depressing, leading one to think that maybe there is no true selflessness in human nature (a topic my sophomores avidly debate year after year–many of them coming down on the side of “selfishness rules”).

My experience–which is limited to about 2 weeks’ worth–of hospital care and bedrest has shown me that selfishness does not rule.  People have come out of the woodwork, to use a cliche, to volunteer all kinds of help for us.  Not because they expect anything in return, not because they have ulterior motives, but because they are good, kind, decent people who look forward to helping others when they need it. 

Of course I don’t wish illness or injury on anyone so they can find this out firsthand!  But truly, today has given me uncounted things to be grateful for.  And having uncounted things to be grateful for may also have to go on the list.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2011 9:20 pm

    Great post, Michelle! I’m so glad that you have wonderful friends, neighbors and family close by to help you and Alan. I wish I could be there to do some of those things for you, too! I’m continuing to think about you all and send love, light and positive energy your way.
    This post also made me think about a similar exercise I’ve been doing recently – writing out what I love and am grateful for about myself. When we think about what we love and are grateful for we often forget to think/feel those things about ourselves.

  2. Lynne Yaple permalink
    April 28, 2011 4:48 pm

    The world is truly a beautiful place if we only open ourselves up to it. You look great.


  3. Neal & BJ permalink
    April 25, 2011 10:55 am


    As I’ve told you many times before, I love your blog! The last two were especially nice. I know you and Alan well enough to know you would be doing the same things for other people. That’s so great that you can now move out from the bedroom and go downstairs. I know you feel that your whole world has opened up. I understand about the multi-tasking . . . I’m the same way! Take care, and we love y’all!


  4. Meredith permalink
    April 24, 2011 5:30 pm

    What a wonderful post! I also sometimes update my “gratitude journal” to remind myself of all the many things I have to be thankful for and happy about. I’m very content lately–more than I’ve been in a long time–so you’ve just inspired me to update my journal!

  5. Penny Pension permalink
    April 24, 2011 7:17 am

    So glad to hear you can do the stairs once a day. I think I’m jealous of all the books you can get read without feeling guilty for not doing other things. It’s nice to have a break from multitasking. I wish I could be there to help with some of the chores. It would be a killer commute. It sounds like you have really nice neighbors. That is a blessing.
    Happy Easter to you and Alan and the trips. You all have lots of prayers surrounding you.

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