With Gratitude!

Life has been busy, busy, busy and hectic, hectic, hectic. In the midst of this months' challenges and obstacles comes Thanksgiving. This holiday calls me to step away from the stress and demands of everyday life and focus on the many things to be grateful for. Here is a short list of things; small and large, fleeting and reliable, expected and unexpected that I recognize as gifts from a divine source.

a morning shower, the taste of grapefruit, an encouraging word, the sound of my grandchildren calling me "PopPop", my wife's kiss, a donut and coffee, my daughter's belly round with pregnancy, the acolyte's sparkly gold shoes sticking out from under her robe, a stranger's kindness, making "Mickey Mouse" pancakes, a new cd playing in the car stereo, holding hands, hearing the words; "I love you" and saying them in return, and I am most grateful for the children and grandchildren in the photo below.
What would be on your list? I invite you to take a moment and reflect on those "good things that the Lord has surrounded us with". Happy Thanksgiving!

Hugs

One young man, a desire to cheer people up, a crazy idea, and a sign saying "Free Hugs". The result is what is now referred to as "The Free Hug Movement". It began in Sydney, Australia and has spread from South Wales to Tel Aviv. This video depicts how it all began. Click here.
Rescuing Hug
This is a picture from an article called, "The Rescuing Hug." The article details the first week of life of a set of twins. Apparently, each were in their respective incubators, and one was not expected to live. A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. The smaller baby's heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.
They both survived, and are thriving! In fact, now that the two girls are home, they still sleep together, and still snuggle. The hospital changed their policy after they saw the effect of putting the two girls together, and now they bed multiples together.
Ensign magazine May '98 pg. 94 Adapted from the Readers Digest article "A Sister's Helping Hand" May 1996 Pp. 155-56
Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism. ~Leo Buscaglia

Flying!

The prognosis was not very encouraging when our son, John, came to live with us 19 years ago. He began life as a 2lb 1oz premie, suffered a hemorrhage in his brain, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. John was not expected to walk or talk. Today John continues to struggle with a variety of health challenges as he sings beautifully and plays harmonica and piano in addition to other instruments. He is presently in a transition program at the high school that is preparing him for life after graduation which will take place this June. John has been a wonderful gift to our family and a daily example of courage in the face of adversity. Throughout his childhood John has had the opportunity to grow in confidence through activities like Special Olympics, Make a Wish, Unlimited Potential Music Institute, and Double H-Hole in the Woods Camp in Lake Luzerne, N.Y. Double H is one of the camps dedicated to founder Paul Newman's dream to provide a recreational and therapeutic camping experience for children with serious illnesses.This camp has been part of our lives for almost 10 years and it is John's favorite place to be. A couple of weeks ago we experienced why this place of compassion and fun is so important to John. We were invited to participate in a "work day" at the camp on a Saturday. In the afternoon the campers and their families were encouraged to enjoy some of the facilities of the camp. One of those facilities is a high rope course that offers many challenges. The apparatus available that afternoon is called "The Big Swing". After donning a helmet and being secured with a safety harness, John made his way to the top of a 6 foot step ladder. A counselor then clipped him to a cable that would lift him high into the trees. John decided how high he wanted to go and as you can see from the photos, it was very high indeed. After reaching his destination, a counselor on the ground pulled a rope that released John to swing like a pendulum through the trees. That's when his parents hearts caught in their throats as John spread his arms like wings and began to sing, "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.

"I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly"
Click here to listen to song and see music video.