Sitting here in my house with two large dogs curled up at my feet and two cats snuggled in the dog bed in front of the fireplace on this cold and damp November morning I am pondering once again. I just finished reading an assortment of news sites, blogs, and other information regarding what is going on in the world, our nation, and our state. Sometimes it seems there is a great deal to be pessimistic and depressed about. There is truth in that notion, it does not take long to look around and know in so many ways our world is broken; too much greed, too much arrogance, too much hate, too little cooperation, too much us and them.

All of this brokenness continues to let me know, my and our work is not anywhere near finished. Injustice, evil, bigotry, refusal to understand, and just plain hate will always raise their ugly heads in opposition to what is good, right, just, and compassionate. But that is not the focus of this pondering, though opposing these things continues to be and always will be at the heart of my passion and life. I decided today’s pondering is to be about gratitude. And so here is a short list, well, as short as a preacher can be as he sits surrounded by warm furry friends, a gentle fire in the fireplace, and time.

I am grateful for our world and all it holds. For every last creature, though there are a few I have no interest in knowing up close and personal. I am grateful for the expansive sky, the wonders of space, the towering Redwood and the majestic mountain, the tiny blade of grass and the pebbles on the beach. I am grateful for the smallest of microorganism, the lumbering elephant, and the love of a pet.

I am grateful for the United States in which I live, for the freedoms I enjoy and the diversity it holds. I am grateful for our President Barack Obama, for his leadership in the face of difficulties, for his character, love of his family, and his love of our country. I am grateful for our State of Kansas whose people will persevere through difficulties and the generous and loving people I have known in my 55 years in this great State.

I am grateful for all the churches I have served, for what they have taught me and the love they have shown through the years. I am grateful for my current appointment to College Hill UMC, certainly not your ordinary church. I am grateful for the staff I have the privilege of working with and I am grateful for our church’s openness and welcome and love. I am grateful for the people and what they have taught me about leadership, worship, celebration, fun, and community.

I am grateful for my family, all of them, sister, mom and dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas and papas, some who are still here with us and some who have gone on. I am grateful for how they have loved me and shaped me and taught me how to be who I am.

I am grateful for my kids, I have no adequate words to express how proud they make me. We could not ask for two better young men to call sons. I am not sure how they ended up as good as they did with the parents they had, but somehow they managed in spite of us. I am grateful for the women in their lives for their love and commitment and I have no doubt help keep them focused, grounded, and out of trouble. And of course our newest addition Kadee Marie, I am grateful for her growth and the obvious expressive character she is already showing at just two months old. Her smiles melt my heart from some 180 miles away.

I saved the best for last, I am grateful for my partner, lover, guide, teacher, and best friend TruDee. She has managed to put up with me going on 36 years now; ups and downs, laughter and tears, moving from here to there and there to here, late nights and early mornings, and just the general weirdness which is me. I am grateful, is an incredible understatement for how much I love her…but for this pondering it will suffice.

With all that can seem so wrong with the world around us I think we often forget to remember the incredible opportunity and grace we have that surrounds us and fills us every day, every moment. Take some time in the next few days…and then in every moment to come to be grateful, it will feed your soul and nourish your body. I am grateful.

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