It has been a rough few months, but there is still so much to be grateful for in my life. I just spent a few days down in Vegas with my mom and youngest daughter, and that made me realize just how precious each moment in life really is.
My mom suffered a severe stroke in September which stole her speech and movement on her right (dominant) side. It’s been a long recovery (and probably still a lot more to go), but I am so tickled pink by her progress. She is learning to communicate again and each word she manages to utter is completely precious. Seriously. I already love the power of words because I’m a writer. But seeing her lack that gift right now makes each word even more powerful when they leave her lips.
When she struggles to say “I love you,” I feel the emotion and power behind those three little words…and they mean more to me than ever before. When she speaks gibberish (although I know she’s trying to speak real words), she gets embarrassed and laughs at herself. I tell her to keep talking gibberish. That’s how babies learn to speak eventually, and she’ll get her voice box to work right again if she keeps trying.
I would never wish for hardships to come to anyone, but I have seen so many instances in my own life and that of my close friends and family to know that rough times do make us grow. Adversity can also make us bitter and mean.
So why do some people grow so much through their challenges and others stagnate or become worse?
I think the difference lies in Gratitude.
When we are thankful for our lives, whether we are enjoying bounty or struggling through obstacles, our eyes are open to how much we truly have. Some of the people I felt had the hardest lives felt the most blessed because they were grateful to God for all they still had. Their lives. Their families. Their many other blessings. The hope for a better future.
Gratitude makes it possible to see all that we still have–even during trials.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday–hands down–because of how gratitude is celebrated and encouraged. I hope you’ll take time out each day to think about what you are thankful for. I know for my mom and our family, it would be easy to focus on all she has lost. But what good would that do us?
Instead, when I start counting blessings, I realize we are tremendously blessed. She can eat. She has a loving husband who takes tender care of her. She has nine great kids (pat myself on the back here–ha ha) who love her more than ever and aren’t taking her for granted now). She has made great strides and is becoming a little more independent each day. She has a beautiful house to live in–instead of the hospital. She can laugh (I’m so incredibly glad she didn’t lose her sense of humor). She has gained more expression than she previously had–maybe to compensate for the loss of words. I keep saying her expressions tell me more than a thousand words.
I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, there is a lot I am thankful for–so much so that it brings tears to my eyes when I think of it all. She’s alive. That’s the best one. We all are alive and can improve each day from the person we were yesterday. I like that.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll end with some shout outs for great books I’ve read in the last month that taught me, entertained me, or changed me. I’m thankful for these authors who use their words to make a difference.
Bad Blood of Rosewood by Gina Barlean – Great mystery that ends this awesome series. Gina’s writing is sharp, witty, and leaves me in awe every time I read one of her books. She’s an author worth looking into if you haven’t read her stuff before.
Ocean Echoes by Sheila Hurst – This debut book by my Cape Cod author friend taught me a lot about the ocean and its wonderful creatures. The plot was beautiful and riveting as I joined the heroine scientist on her ocean excursion of discovery. I visited new places like the Panama Canal and the Atoll islands and felt like I was almost scuba diving for real (or as real as I’m going to get since I can’t unplug my dang ears). Bravo.
Blind Date Anthology – These Timeless Romance collections based around some theme are fun if you like lighter stories from a lot of different authors. These collections are a great way to find authors you connect with and check out more of their books. I love how all the stories in this one are so different from each other.
Walk of Infamy by Sheralyn Pratt – Oh my! Can’t say enough good about this one. If you like action and thrilling plots…look no further. This book was phenomenal and works in a character that comes into play in the book The Pimpernel (that I absolutely loved!). Rhea Jensen is the kick-butt heroine in this book (and I guess she has 5 or 6 other books before this one that I now want nothing more than to buy and read before the end of the year–we’ll see if I get that done). I picked up this book with a “I don’t know if I’ll like it” attitude and came away screaming, “More, more, more please!!!” It’s that good.
Stay tuned for some deals on my books coming up in time for Christmas shopping. I’ll alert my blogging and newsletter readers first about them. Happy Thanksgiving this week. May your heart always be full of gratitude.