Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #10

Today brings us to the end of Ten Days of Ten Things I’m Thankful For. Not that I’ll cease being thankful! At least my aim is to continue quietly in this vein over the coming days and weeks.

This morning, after fulfilling my usual Monday morning duties at work (that’s introducing out visiting speaker for the week), I headed in to speak with my boss about the possibility of taking a day off each week for the next few weeks – I’ve been struggling to keep up with life and work since arriving in this country and the struggling was getting the better of me. After a helpful chat, he sent me out with the instruction to take a couple of weeks off – effective that hour!

So I, and my pot-plant, walked back out of the college grounds, into my car and down the road to my apartment. And here I am – prescribed rest and quietness.

The pot plant is still experiencing some fragility in its return to full health. So, though the students and staff at work were delighted to see its return today, I trust they will be even more delighted to see it even more strong and healthy in a few weeks’ time. I trust that I too will follow the plant in its trajectory toward well-being.

Today I am thankful for:

1. Over-hearing the tail-end of a talk this morning, from 1 Peter, reminding me that God does his best refining work in us through our trials and confusion.

2. Encouragement regarding my work so far.

3. Permission to leave that work behind for a while.

4. A wise boss that not only gave permission to rest, but gave suggestions in order to make that rest even more restful.

5. A cancellation on a meeting with a student – before I even had the chance to make the cancellation myself!

6. A book to read.

7. Sunshine on my back as I read it.

8. God’s free, unending love for me – without me having to barter with him.

9. A dinner tonight with my family.

10. Hope to hold onto.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #9

This morning I did something I shouldn’t have done. To be more precise, it was something that I regret doing. It’s not that it was something that, in and of itself, should or shouldn’t be done. It’s just that I wish I hadn’t done it.

I looked through a folder of photos on my computer.

The other day, I was intending to download just one photo from my camera to my computer and normally it would just download the one (or ones) that hadn’t already been downloaded. This time, for some reason unknown to me, it downloaded every picture on my camera. That meant I had two years of photos neatly collected in one folder. A lot can happen in two years.

So it was to this folder that I went, looking for one or two photos to ‘pretty up’ today’s thankfulness post.

What I found was many pretty photos, many memories, many friends and family members, many photos that, when taken, captured moments of joy. But in that mix, inevitably, there were photos in which, with hindsight, I now see pain and confusion peeking out from my eyes. There were photos that made me miss my more familiar ‘home away from home’. There was beauty in other lands that just made me sigh.

Within a matter of minutes, my flicking through the photos had produced a growing pain in my heart – a pain of love, loss, regret and yearning. All I had wanted was a couple of pretty photos!

Mercifully, I had to cut short the journey down ‘photographic lane’ to go to church.

It was the best thing I could do. Though, inevitably, there were challenges waiting for me there, I also found comfort. I was reminded that loss is the way to gain and that I follow a Saviour whose victory came through pain.

My heart still feels tender but, at moments like these, I am helped by focussing on the present. Today is the 26th April, 2015 – not some other date or time or era.

So at this moment, on this day, I am thanking God for:

1. The whisper of a friend’s recent encouragement to keep writing no matter how I feel, as I ate my sandwich today and wondered if I could be bothered writing or not.

2. The will to get up and walk to my computer.

3. The blessing of a quiet afternoon and evening ahead to rest.

4. The sound of rainfall outside which gives me every reason I may need to stay indoors and curl up under a quilt in front of the heater and read (or sleep).

5. An old friend at church making me laugh out loud (very loudly!) as he recounted some very ordinary tales of being drenched in storms on his way to work this week.

6. A functioning computer and internet connection.

7. Memories of last night – a ‘Mental as Anything’ Concert that I’d been invited to in order to make up a table. Turns out that I knew (and loved) most of their songs. I smile now as I picture my foot tapping along. I almost had the courage to get up and dance – almost – but I certainly danced on the inside.

8. Boiled Eggs – ready comfort in a neat package.

9. Prayer and a hug from the minister and his wife at church this morning.

10. One beautiful reminder from the photos perused this morning – of one moment in time when I was truly in the moment – and loving every minute of that moment.

Sunshine, an espresso, some reading material and something purple. All good things to have in any given moment.

Sunshine, an espresso, some reading material and something purple. All good things to have in any given moment.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #8

Last night I had dinner with two good friends who happen to be readers of this blog. One of the them commented on the impact the ‘thankfulness’ posts are having on her. The thankfulness lists have been directing her thoughts to things in her own day for which she can be thankful.

I’ve noticed, that the more I am inclined in my thoughts and my heart toward thankfulness, the more it impacts those around me. It’s true for all of us. The things which consume our thoughts will, inevitably – even indirectly – come out in our speech as we share with friends.

That’s not to say that we should never share the things that are difficult in our lives; the struggles we have to come to terms with our present experience. It would be false not to. Last night all three of us shared the things which are troubling us – the areas in our life where we are so in need of help and clarity. However, that sharing was done with our hearts, minds and dinner conversation already engaged in thankfulness. It made all the difference.

Today I am thankful for:

1. Sunshine and warmth, allowing me to open the windows and let the house dry out a little after the storms of the previous week.

2. Dinner cooked for me last night.

3. The gentle heat of a pleasantly spiced Satay.

4. The comfort and familiarity of my own kitchen. We were eating and cooking in the apartment of mutual friends who are away (we had permission!) and therefore reflecting on the challenge it can be to find the necessary implements when cooking in someone else’s kitchen. We can take the blessing of familiarity for granted.

5. A beautiful view of a bay and the city lights from our friends’ apartment.

6. A Magnum ice cream for dessert.

Chocolate and Ice cream: Could I ask for more?

Chocolate and Ice cream: Could I ask for more?

7. Friends to share and pray with.

8. An opportunity to stay in bed a little longer this morning.

9. The anticipation of a sandwich for lunch. The two slices of bread are thawing as I type.

10. A cup of tea in a mug made of fine china.

Daily Prompt

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #7

Today, it’s all about lists!

Lists are right up my alley – or should I say street? I’ve been walking street after street in the Inner West and, if I were so inclined, I could make quite a long list of them.

I’ve also been visiting cafe after cafe – ticking them off the list in the index at the back of the Good Cafe Guide. It’s from 2014, but I figure that makes me a little ‘yesteryear’ and makes me quirky-ly short of up-to-date. Dare I say that it gives me ‘street-cred’?


The Guide!!

Today I am thankful for:

1. A friend offering to get up early and walk with me this morning.

2. Wisdom shared as we walked.

3. The patience of the friend as I ran down the little cul-de-sacs shooting off the main streets, just so that I could colour them in on my map later.

4. The surprising glimpses of bits of Sydney Harbour as we rounded bends and peeked between houses.

5. The quiet streets of gorgeousness that run parallel to the main roads of despair!

One such quiet street of gorgeousness.

One such quiet street of gorgeousness.

6. God-given imagination to wonder at who might be blessed by the $10 note that fell out of my pocket while we walked. (We’re trusting that note may appear on someone else’s list of thankfulness today!)

7. The anticipation of breakfast at the local bakery in the area where we were walking.

8. Anticipation that proved well-placed!

9. Perfectly cooked poached eggs on soy and linseed sourdough toast, in the bakery.

10. Discussions over breakfast about our God who invites us to ‘dialogue’ with him – no matter how pain-filled and confused our side of the dialogue may be.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #6

This morning I awoke to sunshine! Well, once I opened my blackout curtains, I could see the sunshine. I’ve now gathered up the wet towels that had been soaking up intrusive rain through gaps in windows and little, hitherto unknown, gaps in the wall.

Everything is now getting a good dose of sunshine! Things are being put back in order.

Today I’m thanking God for:

1. The return of sunshine and the brightness of things.

2. Being free to get back into my walking routine for an hour this morning.

3. Another seven or eight streets walked on my walking map (more on that in another post)

An older map from a previous project with the catchy title 'The Inner-West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour'

An older map from a previous project with the catchy title ‘The Inner-West Architectural Appreciation Walking Tour’

4. The joy-giving sound of someone practicing the piano as I walked by (I can’t vouch for their joy in practicing…)

5. The sound of a leaf-blower outside signalling the local council’s efforts to get our streets back in order after the recent storms.

6. My brother popping in on his way home from work and washing my dishes for me. Unfortunately I missed him while I was out walking.

7. The colour purple – and the clothes I have in this colour.

8. A stimulating lecture on ‘Otherness and the Book of Job’ last night. My mind is still whirling!

9. A new, inspiring helper in my efforts to get my weight and fitness back in line.

10. Apps. (I had never used these marvels until very recently – the Scrabble dictionary is my favourite)

Daily Prompt

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #5

The rains and winds continue – as does my thanks for shelter and warmth.

However, today my thanks is inspired by an entertaining email sent by a friend regarding ‘collective nouns’. The list contained many examples I’d heard before and many I hadn’t.

I had never heard of a ‘troubling of goldfish’! So today’s thanks are inspired by the lovely goldfish, Dorothy, that I’ve been minding for friends while they are travelling.

Today, I am thanking God for:

1. The fascinating variety of collective nouns.

2. One goldfish to mind being no real trouble at all. A collection of goldfish? Now, that’d be another matter entirely.

Dorothy - pausing her enthusiastic swimming for photo opportunity.

Dorothy – pausing her enthusiastic swimming for photo opportunity.

3. The reaping of rewards after a little trouble taken to clean out the filter pump.

4. The joyous sight of Dorothy, after the filter was working again, forgetting her troubles and swimming ‘like she just don’t care!’

5. A no-trouble stir-fry for dinner tonight (with chicken…not fish).

6. The reward of groceries purchased, after troubling through the wind and rain.

7. News alerts and broadcasts to warn us of potential storm trouble brewing.

8. The comfort to my cold feet, after the trouble taken to fill a hot-water-bottle.

9. Life lessons learnt through troubles.

10. Answered prayer as God helped me to diplomatically and warmly welcome visiting speakers at work today – a mostly trouble-free day.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #4

As I prepare to go to bed,* the wind and rain are lashing against the windows of my apartment. It’s nights like these that my thankful thoughts go immediately to warmth and shelter.

Tonight I finish the day thankful for:

1. A roof over my head.

2. Windows that close.

3. Curtains that dampen some of the drafts.

4. A beautiful quilt that kept me warm as I read a book on the sofa.

Duck Egg Blue - I trust the ducks have somewhere to hide tonight.

Duck Egg Blue – I trust the ducks have somewhere to hide tonight.

5. A fascinating, illuminating and sobering book to read.

The book just happens to co-ordinate with the quilt!

The book just happens to co-ordinate with the quilt!

6. Bed socks to keep my feet warm – in and out of bed.

Warm Feet - Warm Heart

Warm Feet – Warm Heart

7. A bed.

8. Today’s promise of an end to the heat of summer.

9. The subsequent anticipation of wearing clothes that are more ‘wintery’ and therefore more to my liking 🙂

10. A visiting speaker at work today, bearing good news of many who’ve found lasting shelter under eternal arms.

* I wrote this last night. It’s still raining and blasting a gale this morning. I read the Daily Prompt just before I went to sleep and then couldn’t get the song out of my head ‘…red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue…I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.’ It will likely be some days before we see a rainbow anywhere.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #3

Another tip I’ve gathered along the path of practicing thankfulness is to look for the love. Many moments in my life have been wasted wishing for love from unrequited sources, or grieving love lost from places where it once was or promised to be.

Practicing thankfulness helps me see the love that’s already there – love that comes from the God who made me and the people he places in my life. I find my life is a love story if I watch it unfold with eyes open.

Today I awake with the knowledge that I am loved, thankful for:

1. People who notice me and are witnesses to my life. I have been reading a book called ‘Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone’ by Eric Klinenberg. In it there are many stories of people who enjoy living alone and thrive in the solitude and rest they experience. There are also sad stories of people who live and die, unnoticed, unmissed, alone in their homes. While I live alone, I have people who would miss me if I died – eventually!

2. Two friends, who on my arrival here in this country, asked if there was anything I needed. I had most things I needed, but I mentioned that the coffee plunger (cafetière) in the apartment where I am living was a bit defective. They went out and bought me one. They also gave me money to buy coffee to fill it.

3. Friends who go to the bother of catching up after my long absences from this land.

4. Friends who understand that all that catching up can be tiring.

5. An arm around my shoulder.

6. A talk at church yesterday, reminding us of God’s love for us.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 4)

7. A pastor on his knees, praying a loving, heart-felt prayer that we would know God’s deep love for us.

8. God’s love that comes with power to change us from the inside out.

9. A coffee made with love – no doubt with love for excellence in coffee-making, rather than love for the coffee drinker. Nevertheless, the unexpected ‘art’ on a black coffee made me feel all warm and ‘lovely’ inside 🙂

Mountains in the Moonlight?

Mountains in the Moonlight?

10. A little glass of sparkling water, served with my coffee: the love of an ‘added bonus’.

Coffee with Sparkle

Coffee with Sparkle

Daily Prompt

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #2

There are various ‘thankfulness tips’ I’ve discovered along the way.

During times when I’ve practiced being thankful for ten things in the day, I’ve found it causes me to take note of what is happening around me. I wouldn’t naturally do this. Some people do.

I have friends that take in much of the physical world around them at any given moment. They’re the friends who stop mid-sentence in a cafe conversation as they see someone unusual come in the door. Or the friends who suddenly seem very quiet because, as it turns out, they’re taking in the details of a conversation beside them – not in a nosey way – just because they can’t help hearing it.

I’m the kind who must deliberately lift myself out of my thoughts to notice things. Or ‘awake’ from a conversation when I finally notice my companion is distracted and, only then, will I notice that the cafe has filled with an enthusiastic party of ten complete with balloons and presents for one of their party.

So thankfulness helps me take notice of what’s going on around me. Things happening to me (that I might not have noticed in the depths of my thoughts); things happening to others; things happening continuously around me and in the world.

So, on Day #2…

I’m stopping to take note and be thankful for:

1. The taste of the honey on my bircher muesli – honey from the beehives that my Mum takes care of.

Mum and the honey from her bees. The darker frame is due to the kind of sticky stuff that comes from the one of types of trees on their land.

Mum and the honey from her bees. The darker frame is due to the kind of sticky stuff that comes from the one of types of trees on their land.

2. The claw of a prawn that was artfully and tantalisingly peeking out of a small, hollowed out cob-loaf containing seafood chowder at the restaurant last night. It made me want to rip that lid off the loaf and eat that prawn! And I did.

3. The name of the restaurant we ate in: ‘O Crab’. The play on words afforded a whole day (earlier with my brother, niece and nephew) and a whole evening (with my friend) of linguistic humour. We didn’t have time that night, before the theatre show, to order a crab and wait for it to be cooked (hence the order of chowder), but we did stop to take note of the little wooden hammers ready for customers to take hold of and let loose upon the crab before them.

4. The unique pleasure of watching a play on the stage: the way the audience’s knowing chuckles, gasps, sighs and laughter join with the actors’ efforts on stage. That lovely “we’re watching your lives played out, but you’re acting like we’re not” thing that happens in live theatre.

5. Jo, the friend who took the trouble to book the tickets, pay for them, and get them to me. I took a moment to notice the price on the two tickets she’d sent me and gave thanks for friends and their thoughtful, playful generosity.

One of Two Tickets - A Great Gift

One of Two Tickets – A Great Gift

6. A free car park appearing just at the moment we were going to give up and pay for parking.

7. Lunch out with the brother, the nephew and the niece. A lunch in a place that has a great deal of chocolate on offer. As always, I took many moments to take notice of how much my niece and nephew have grown over the years that I’m away from them. I love them to bits.

8. Public Transport.

9. Public Libraries.

10. Public Displays of Affection (some of them, anyway)

Daily Prompt

Ten Things I’m Thankful For – Day #1

Yesterday I posted an introduction to this little project. In summary, I plan to post ten things I’m thankful for, over ten days.

Here, on Day #1, I’m already pausing to wonder if my title is grammatically correct? I will, however, forge on!

I’m waking today thankful for:

1. Dorothy (my friend’s goldfish that I am minding) still being alive. Each morning I head to her tank with my breath ever so slightly bated…minding a friend’s fish is a weighty responsibility.

2. A beloved plant that had all but died, showing ever increasing signs of revival.

3. The first sip of a coffee made from beans that a colleague roasted.

4. The second sip of coffee 🙂

5. The day that’s ahead of me – starting with a pick-up message for a book that I requested from my local library.

6. Anticipation of two outings: one including chocolate; the other including theatre.

7. Washing machines: their general convenience; and the fact that there are two of them in the apartment block laundry, so I can get my washing done in one trip.

8. A warm, sunny day to dry the washing when it’s done being washed. Having spent the majority of my adult life living in the rainy climate of Ireland, I have not yet lost the sense of antipodean novelty in hanging out my washing to dry, and bringing it in…dry…on the same day.

9. A prefect dinner with a friend and her family last night. From the afternoon tea served with fine china cups that only appear when I visit – to the game of Rummikub where everyone’s a winner – to the Lebanese Feast lovingly planned, prepared and laid before us. Such love!

10. The hope of new life, for my life and others’.

The Parabolic Plant – A Tale of Near Death and Revival

The Plant (thriving) and the Desk at Work

The Plant (thriving) on My Desk at Work

Convalescing Plant on Table at Home

The Plant (convalescing) on My Table at Home

Please Note: photos of the plant’s ‘near death experience’ have not been included. Scenes may have disturbed some viewers.

Daily Prompt