Tag: thankful

Another Stormy Day…by JoAnn

At present, I live in what is referred to as the “Tornado Belt.” I never chose to live in this part of the country, nor did I ever imagine that I would. But as life often has it, I ended up here with the best intentions and the most naïve heart.

We moved here to Northwest Tennessee in 1992. I had absolutely no idea about this area having a reputation for tornadoes. I had never heard of this tornado belt thing. I doubt it would have kept me away as I was a firm believer in going wherever my husband needed to go for work. After all, we had two little girls to take care of, and I was nine months pregnant with our third. We needed a home and an income. My husband took the plunge and left his only home in Virginia to start a new life and new career for all of us. I will always admire him for that. He was the hardest worker I have ever known. And I trusted him when he brought us out to West Tennessee.

Today I was once again reminded of the potential this area of the country has for storms, bad storms. In the little town we have lived in for the past 30 years, I have witnessed an average of 5 to 10 yearly tornado warnings. Not watches, but warnings. The highest level for a potential tornado to occur. Tonight, we were thankfully spared. We ended up with only heavy rain and what I call a “normal” thunderstorm.

We had been warned for several days that this line of storms could become severe, and it had set everyone on edge. The last time we had storms so severe was December 2021. Several tornadoes set down in communities within 100 miles of us. One of the worst in a town just “up the road” from our own. Many people completely lost their homes or had extensive damage. Buildings were wiped out, and the lovely little town looked like bombs had gone off. They are still trying to rebuild. I have a friend whose daughter had just finished repairing her home and had only moved back into it two days ago. I can only imagine the anxiety she must have felt with the predictions of these storms today.

Every stormy day like this one, I ask myself why I still live here. I had always planned to move back to either Virginia or my hometown in Northeast Tennessee. I even attempted to move away several times. And each time, my circumstances brought me back here. I guess without my even realizing it; it became “home.”

So here I sit, having just witnessed another stormy day, with the warnings, anxiety, and prayers. Thankful that our little town was again spared and grateful that we were only slightly inconvenienced. I can live with that, and I’m sure my neighbors feel the same way.

Thankful Thanksgiving!


Another Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and it’s hard to believe we are already here in 2021. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. This time of year, with its beautiful fall foliage and crisp air, is by far my favorite season! Nothing feels better than wrapping up in my softest old sweater and turning on the heat for the first time.

With the lovely colors on the trees and ground, along with the smells of pumpkin, hay, and dried leaves in the air, it’s the perfect time of year to stop for a while and take an inventory of what we are thankful for in our lives. Yes, we should stop and count our blessings every day. But one holiday a year, towards the end of the year, is a perfect time to do some serious reflection. Usually, by this time, we have lived through many experiences in the past 10 1/2 months.

I think a lot of us just plow through life at a steady rate and choose to just “Keep on Trucking” as the old saying goes. Getting through another day, week, and month the best and quickest way we can. Sometimes it feels if we fall during the race, we will surely end up in the ditch. So, I think it’s fitting that during this season, along with nature slowing down to prepare for its Winter slumber, we too should slow down and not only rest, but take time to meditate on what the previous year has brought to our lives.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to only count the many blessings and to not miss the things we have lost. There is no way around that. Missing our loved ones that are no longer here to enjoy a big family get together is especially hard for all of us. One of the last photos I have of my mother is of her in the kitchen, with her hands full of chopped celery and onions, as she was preparing her famous dressing on a Thanksgiving Day. Every year I miss my mama like crazy. And yes, I miss her dressing too.

For me, it is impossible not to daydream about the wonderful, loving, family Thanksgivings of my past, the warmth felt in every home visited. The smells of food cooking, the scents of spice, and a warm fire. Seeing loved ones that we may have not seen for the entire year. Catching up on family gossip. Noticing how much the children have grown in the past year or meeting a brand-new family member for the first time.

There are so many things that make Thanksgiving special. To me, it is the best holiday to just enjoy family, friends, and being together. There is no pressure to exchange gifts, no pressure for money to be spent at all, just spending time together over some tasty food in a relaxed environment. It’s just perfect!

Wherever you are this year for Thanksgiving, my prayer is that you feel the love and peace that the holiday should bring. Even if you are alone, which I have been too, some years, stop and be thankful, and reflect on your most precious memories of your past. Remember those you miss with love and gratitude for having had them in your life. And if you just happen to get the chance to eat a piece of your favorite pie, do that too! 

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you…JoAnn

The Importance of Saying Thank You

I learned many years ago the importance of the “Golden Rule”: Treat others as you would have them treat you. It’s not only a biblical rule found in Matthew, but a practical one for any culture. My parents and teachers taught me this principle. Throughout my life I have had friends who taught me the importance of this rule, and the many ways it can lead to success. It is one of the simplest rules to remember and follow. Or so you would think.

One of my few pet peeves has got to be when a person does not say “Thank you”. Sometimes the words aren’t so important if you can clearly see with your eyes the appreciation, usually through the look on their face or a smile. A big smile can cover a multitude of unspoken words. But on average, through general communication in daily life, the words need to be verbalized.  

For my need for peace, I have learned to have a golden rule attitude when in public. I consider everyone is out in the world, just trying to make it through another day, just like me. I try to always keep an understanding that I know nothing about what a person may go through in their personal life, and to not judge if their reactions are not what I would like them to be.  

Perhaps the cashier at the grocery store is overwhelmed by the overflow of customers that have all checked out at the same time. Maybe she has a sick baby at home she’s worried about. Perhaps her boss has warned her for the last time about making a mistake at her job. Maybe that mechanic is more worried about how he will make his house payment this month, than he is about your oil change. There could be a million different reasons.     

The point is, I try to not let rudeness, or the lack of basic manners by another person get to me. But sometimes, dang it, it is hard! Usually when I give someone my business, I expect some gratitude. After all, I am giving them my money. If it’s only a smile, or a “come back soon” sails out that drive-thru window, I feel appreciated. But when I am not even acknowledged, as though I am a robot on the other end of my debit card, I get a little aggravated. What can I say, I am human?

It’s all minor in the big scope of things, but little things add up. Just like I believe being kind in small ways can add up to something big, I believe being unkind in little ways can add up as well. Like someone getting the impression that you are a rude, uncaring person, when the opposite may actually be true. Who would want that?      

Perhaps I am way too sensitive and should not take things so personally. I will continue to work on my shortcoming of letting someone’s lack of saying “Thank you” perturb me and continue trying my best to live by the golden rule. I will choose to be polite and sweet to people even when it goes unnoticed by them. After all, you never know when a smile or kind word can actually change someone’s day, or even their entire outlook on life at that moment. Even if they don’t respond, just maybe they will hear it, and that’s all that matters.   

It’s Time To Be Thankful!

There are times when I take things for granted, thinking they will stay the same forever.  Each day, just as dark blankets our neighborhood and everyone is inside their home, their porch lights come on and I walk down the hall into our bedroom. Walking over to the windows to pull down the shades, I observe the quietness and serenity that slides quietly down our street.  I have done this so often that the solitude this moment presents has been taken for granted.  That’s disquieting.  The one thing that 28,566 complete spins on this planet has taught me is that nothing is permanent.  My wife and I were watching the evening news the other night, and it was mentioned that the Columbine High School massacre happened twenty years ago (April 20, 1999).  That seemed impossible to both of us.  I would have guessed it happened 8 years ago.  What had I done with all that time?  How could I think that 20 years was only eight?  For me, there is only one explanation; I take a lot of things for granted.  I am of the opinion that if you assume things will always be the same, the days merge in with each other and become indistinguishable, thus nothing makes them noteworthy.  I can remember as a young boy (1950’s) making the long trip from our home to visit my Aunt Letha (Mom’s sister).  After a couple of hours, my brother and I would fall asleep in the backseat and by the time we awoke the car was parked in Aunt Letha’s driveway.  We had absolutely no recollection of that long trip.  That was the way I felt when I realized that twenty years had passed instead of eight.  It is way too late for a New Year Resolution, but I am making one now.  I resolve to start looking closely at the blessings in my life, to refrain from assuming that tomorrow will always be as charming as today, and to notice the laugh or smile someone makes, or the brightness in their eyes. In the King James Version of the Bible, Job 1:21 says: “The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away”.  I should always keep that in mind.

I read an article recently that stated, “The average wealth of the poorer half of American households has dropped below zero in the years since the financial crisis (2008-2009).  What does that mean? It means that fully half of Americans hold more combined debt than assets.” … David Leonhardt––New York Times.  That is surely a depressing thing to know.  I also read a while back that the average American did not have $450 in the bank and that bothered me too.  I don’t really know why it does, because as a young man with a wife and two children, I would borrow from the bank to buy things our family needed, pay it off in a couple of years, and then borrow again.  I showed up for work every day and tried to do a good job knowing that sooner, or later, my head would pop above the waterline.  That just seemed to be the way things were supposed to work.  I believe everyone should learn that lesson, it worked for me, and I have seen it work for others, so I know it is a feasible life plan.  I have had some blessings along the way to help, it wasn’t all the result of my hard work.  When you invest in the stock market, you may as well be standing at the card table in Las Vegas, because you are going to need some luck (I don’t believe God blesses gamblers, so I’ll just call it luck😊).  The person that says, “I am who I am because of what I have done” ignores the blessings received along the way.  Ernest Dimnet said, “There is not a single man who has not had great moments, has not risen to rare occasions.”  I believe that is true.

My wife and I are avid bird & squirrel feeders, and we have four positioned so we can watch them during breakfast and lunch.  We also have a birdbath sitting on top of a big rock so they can eat, drink and bathe all in the same place. They have a choice of shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet and hummingbird sugar water.  It is easily discerned that squirrels have a hierarchy and, in some respects, so do birds (big birds’ rule).  At night, we have flying squirrels on one particular feeder and then, late at night, Rollo (raccoon) makes his visit.  Rollo is very smart, overcoming just about any obstacle we place in his way.  We only do that because he is so wasteful.  But give him time and he will figure out a way around our schemes to thwart his destructive nature.  Well, lately he has been emptying the shelled peanut feeder on the ground and that annoys me to no end.  So, determinedly, I take the feeder out to my favorite chair in front of my workshop and sit there and scheme some more.  I am proud to announce that I have solved the dilemma, I think. I placed a locking mechanism on the top of the feeder handle, sorta like a device you would use to clamp two steel cables together.  It requires a little more effort on my part to fill the feeder (every other day), but I absolutely refuse to be outsmarted by Rollo.  However, I have to admit that I enjoy this simple little contest with him.  To a younger person this would strictly be an annoyance, but to an old guy like me, this is a “get up off the couch and go do battle” kinda thing. 

“I have no doubt we all appear simple and unsophisticated to superior beings” … Sir Arthur Helps.  I cringe at the thought of Rollo outwitting me.  Stay tuned.

I struggled out of bed at 0500 on Easter Sunday, April 21st , eyes blinking wildly, and got dressed for Sunrise Service at 0600.  As we headed down the road to our destination alongside the James River, I noticed a line of cars behind us, headlights glaring, following us to the Sunrise Service location.  Stumbling around in the dark after we left our car, we all gathered close to the water and Easter Sunrise Service began.  After the service, we left for breakfast at the local United Methodist Church (Trinity). 

I was raised in the Methodist Church.  Each Sunday morning my mother would place a nickel in the hand of my brother and I and that was what we gently placed in the offering plate at church.  There were a lot of Baptist in my hometown and they always, with a slight grin on their face, referred to us as “Warmed-over Christians”.  I believe that was because some Methodist were known to imbibe alcohol occasionally. 

Anyway, back to our Sunrise Service. After we arrived at Trinity Church, hot coffee and a delicious breakfast were awaiting and I dove right in, eating the last delicious morsel about 30 minutes later.  As we said our goodbyes and drove home, the minister’s words were bouncing around inside my head, “Don’t be a Christer”.  He was referring to those who only go to church at Christmas and Easter.  I am guilty of not going as often as I should but I am definitely not a “Christer”.  It is written in Matthew, 18:20: For where two or three gathers in my name, there am I with them.”   Yeah, but I still know he wants me there every Sabbath and not every other Sunday. 

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