Every year in my teaching career I give my students the same challenge that I used in youth ministry. They are to list the things that they are thankful for using every letter of the alphabet. They can only list five names. It’s a challenge, but their creativity makes them realize that even in the darkest times, there is something for which we can be grateful.
This year has been a challenge. For some of us, the challenge has been greater with physical complications, family members with physical complications, job losses, loss of life, forced to move, political unrest, racial unrest, pandemic, lockdowns, shutdowns, curfews, and other personal challenges that people have. Through all of the challenges there are things for which to be grateful. In fact, we can all think of at least twenty-six things. The following are my twenty-six items for Thanksgiving 2020.
A-Adversity—Although no one likes adversity, we learn from it. The adversity this year has taught me many lessons that I will carry into the future.
B—Books—If you know me, you knew this would be on the list somewhere. Books teach lessons and tell stories that take us places that create new worlds for us.
C—Church—Never before have I understood the importance of meeting together on Sundays and throughout the week with my family in the church. We are far from perfect and we have a lot of work to do to represent the love Christ has for all people, but we can do it with meeting together and working together. (Mosaic has my heart.)
D—Dreams—Dreams become goals and goals become reality when we take life step by step to reach them. I have been thankful for my dreams that 2020 has created.
E—Education—I am grateful that I had an integrated education with excellent teachers of all races and religions and students of the same. Education opened doors for me that led into opportunities.
F—Friends—This year has reminded me to take no friendship for granted and to make the time to spend in person with my friends. It has also given me encouragement to make more friends. It’s healthy for all of us.
G—Grace—We are saved by grace and not works. This has been such a blessing to me this year when so many memes on social media telling me that I had to do something in order to be a Christian. Nothing we do will ever be enough for what Christ did for us on the cross.
H—Health—This pandemic has reminded me how important it is to remain healthy. I am grateful that I have been healthy this year. Many of us can be grateful for the health that we have.
I—Internet—It may sound silly, but the Internet has kept me connected with humans outside of my family. There may be negative effects of this invention, but it keeps us connected in a pandemic which is valuable to our health.
J—Jesus—He loves us so much that He died on the cross for all of us, even for those that reject Him. There is nothing I can do to earn his love. All I can do is accept his love and grace and love him back with my love for others every day.
K—Kinfolk– This year I remembered the importance of a family working together for a common cause to heal one family member. Family may not ever be perfect, but family shapes us into who we are. We get to choose to bring righteousness or evil to it.
L—Love—Many people misuse this word, myself included, but it’s not an emotion but an action. Throughout 2020, we have all been challenged to love people who think and believe differently than us. Love. It’s what makes the world go around.
M—Music—As I write, I listen to music. Music creates a space of peace and reflection. I have a love for all different styles and genres of music and during this pandemic, I have been able to have more time to listen and enjoy the sounds that express our feelings and thoughts. Music heals an aching soul.
N—Netflix—I am late to the game. I refused to get Netflix because I knew it would take time from me as the shows all sounded so addictive and I’m already a television junkie, but then, Cobra Kai entered Netflix. I caved and got a Netflix account. Beyond that amazing show Cobra Kai, I have explored documentaries and other series that have been created and take me to another world during this pandemic and political unrest. While everyone was arguing over who won the election, I want to know who killed who on the series I am watching.
O—Opportunities—There are so many opportunities that are out there. I have discovered I just have to start taking advantage of the opportunities that are handed to me or within in my reach. During this time to stay at home, I have become more aware of the opportunities that are offered to me.
P—Peace—It sounds like an oxymoron, but peace is there within our reach when we realize it’s not about being calm, but about remaining faithful and focusing on our goals when there is chaos all around us. It’s the peace Jesus gives us.
Q—Quiet times. I take walks to have times of absolute quiet. It’s difficult to find in the city, but I have found two places that are gems. In those quiet moments, I have prayed, reflected, and discovered answers to my questions.
R—Risks—The only way to accomplish any goal is to take risks. I have to constantly remember that I have only become better when I have taken risks. i am grateful for every risk that I have taken, whether I have succeeded or failed. I have learned from every single one.
S—Self-Awareness—In the past few years, I have been able to reflect on who I am with my flaws and strengths and it has guided me in my teaching and writing. Knowing who God created us to be is powerful.
T—Teaching—I have discovered the importance and love for teaching again as I am in a place with love and support for all the shareholders. We can all be teachers and learners.
U—Understanding—I am grateful for all of those who are understanding of me, especially Jesus.
V—Victory—Along with victory in life, Los Angeles has experienced some victory in the form of sports with the Lakers and Dodgers. They brought bright moments in a world of darkness.
W—Writing—Through writing my voice can speak. My prayer is that more people will be able to hear my voice.
X—X-Factor—We all have been in this pandemic that will have a significant outcome. I’m thankful for those of us who have realized that it is us as individuals that will have the significant outcome with our impact on the world.
Y—Young People—I am grateful for every student that I have ever had the privilege to teach or lead. They have taught me more than I have taught them.
Z—Zany Ideas—God has given us all ideas. It’s what we do with them that will make a difference. I am grateful for all the zany ideas I have had this year, especially while searching for jobs.
May I challenge all of us to find at least twenty-six things for which to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving