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My son has had trouble waking up for school for years, but in the last few months, it had really become a challenge. A blood test at the doctor’s office revealed that he has a thyroid problem and a Vitamin D deficiency. I was relieved to hear that there was a reason for his fatigue; now we could begin to treat the issues and things would change for the better.

So I got right down to the important task of expressing my gratitude to God in prayer.

Thank you for resolving this long-standing problem, Lord. I appreciate you giving us the information and tools we need to help my son.

Next thing I knew, I lapsed into what I call a “weighted” prayer. That is to say, I am genuinely grateful for the things God has done in my life, but as I send thanks skyward, it’s fraught with an underlying heaviness and I can’t help but add a little snarky postscript, like so:

But you know, it would have been great if You’d done this sooner! I mean, You created all the planets, minute life forms like paramecia, and they say Your eye is on the sparrow. Why did this slip by You?

As with everything, we’ve got a New Jersey phrase for what I was doing. In Jerzese, we call it being a Stunod. A Weisenheimer. A Jamoch. I was busting God’s shoes! What in the world was I thinking. Did I not recall that, while mostly merciful, God is also in possession of a wicked-hot thunderbolt? Tread lightly there, self!

Over the summer, friends helped us cut down a dead tree, and since that time, I’ve had a pile of branches in my yard. The other day, a contractor came to the door and offered to haul the load away. He was someone who’d done work for my neighbor, and his rates were reasonable. This was a good thing, so I prayed about it.

Thank you Lord, for sending an honest contractor to clear those branches. ‘Course, it woulda been great if You’d sent him sooner….

Back seat driving? When God’s at the wheel? Now that’s nervy. Like attaching an anchor to a prayer. Sending a beautiful love note with a thumb tack in it.

A prayer needs to have just enough substance to pack in what you have to say, but enough lightness and lilt to wend its way up to Heaven.

I’ll work on my habit of editorializing and Jerzifying as I send prayers of thanks. I know that the best way to express appreciation– to anyone, but particularly to the Source of my Strength – is to put it simply and graciously, without any extra weight. And certainly, it’s best to can the ‘tude when talking to the One holding us (and everything else in existence) together. Simply put: From my heart, Lord. Thank You.

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Last week may have been Thanksgiving but as this verse ran through my head, I was anything but Thankful.  Why should I be?  A friend died on Friday.  We were burying her on Tuesday.  And I had been asked to work the funeral luncheon.  Quite frankly, I didn’t want to do it.  As an introvert, this was just a bit much.  Thankful?  I don’t think so.

Funerals are never easy but there were things about this one that made it especially difficult. Darlene reminded me an awful lot of my mom. Ninety percent of the time, that’s a good thing, but they both died of lung cancer and pneumonia.  Nope.  Not feeling grateful.

At the funeral, I ran into another friend.  It was nice to have someone to walk in with and we cheered each other on. Together, we’d be okay.  Then we ran into another friend neither of us had seen in over a year.  Strong arms, plentiful hugs and friendship.  I managed to muster some thanks for these things.

But I still didn’t want to work the luncheon.

At church, I put vases on tables, slipped casseroles into the oven and reached pitchers none of the other ladies could reach.  We had three hours between the funeral service and the luncheon, but the time didn’t drag as I thought it would.  Together, we talked about Darlene and her husband, Roy.  We compared memories, swapped stories and talked about other family and friends.

We laughed at the playful debate about how to arrange sliced tomatoes on a platter (lines or rounds) and how best to lay out the flat wear.  That said, the humorous highlight of the day may have been when they asked me to cover platters with plastic wrap. Yes, I have seen it before, but it generally wins the battle.

I may not have wanted to work, but I needed to work and fortunately that’s where I ended up even if I was too befuddled to hear that still small voice.  I found myself just where I needed to be — among friends, sharing hugs and tears and laughter.

I’m still not thankful for my loss.  I tear up every time I see her empty chair in choir.  But I can’t help but smile when I look around at the friends we shared.  I can give thanks for that and there will be more to come.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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